Denial in the Courtyard

As Malchus walked across the courtyard, Jesus, still bound, was being transferred from Annasí quarters to the Great Hall where Caiaphas was gathering the chief priests, elders, and scribes. Jesusí eye looked red and swollen, as though he had been struck with a fist. Malchus decided to stay close by the door of the Great Hall to see what was to become of this one with such compassionate eyes who had miraculously healed him.

At the other end of the courtyard near the gate, Hans stood next to the fire with one of the women who worked with Rachel in the kitchen. He held his hands over the fire and rubbed them together to remove the chill of the night. One of the guards, who had been involved in the capture of Jesus in the garden, headed toward the fire, kicking at a rooster that had been disturbed by the nightís noise and confusion.

While still rubbing his hands together, Hans asked the approaching guard, "Did you see what happened back there in the garden?"

The guard, looking for someone with whom to talk to pass the time while Jesus appeared before the priests, drew closer to the group gathered around the fire, "You mean when they arrested Jesus?"

Hans, turning his head so the guard could better hear him, continued, "Well, that - and also when one of Jesusí men drew his sword and sliced off a manís ear."

"Wasnít that something?" the guard replied as he moved in next to Hans and began to rub his hands together over the fire. "I never expected that to happen," he said shaking his head in disbelief.

"Neither did I," answered Hans.

"I couldnít see too well in the dark, but the one losing an ear looked like Caiaphasís yeoman."

"Yes, it was Malchus. Did you see who cut it off?"

"Come to think of it, he looked a lot like that man standing across from us on the other side of the fire," the guard said, pointing with his chin.

"No, come on. Youíre kidding."

"No, Iím serious," he said.

The servant girl sitting on the rock next to Hans decided to settle the issue once and for all. She spoke across the fire to the man standing on the other side, "Arenít you one of Jesusí disciples?"

Quickly the man answered, "Of course not!"

Smiling, the servant girl turned to Hans. "There you have it. You were right, and he was wrong," she said pointing at Hans first and then the guard.

Nodding his head at the servant girl, the guard lowered his voice so only Hans could hear, "I think heís lying."

Surprised by this accusation, Hans answered more intently, "Are you serious?"

"Listen to his accent more closely," the guard said, "Doesnít he sound like a Galilean?"

Hans was silent for a moment, as he listened to the men across the fire talking to one another, "You know what? I do recognize that accent."

"And what about the man sitting next to him?" asked the guard, "Doesnít his accent sound the same?"

"It does. As a matter of fact, the more I look at that first man, the more I think youíre right. He was the one who cut off Malchusís ear. I was toward the back of the group, but I could swear that the man who did it was wearing the same type of clothes as that man is."

"Youíre right," exclaimed the guard, "the more I look at him the more I know he has to be one of his disciples. Why donít you ask him this time? Maybe heíll answer you truthfully."

"Didnít I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus?" Hans asked across the fire.

"Thatís it," the man said as he kicked a rock into the fire. "Iím not going to answer any more questions," and he began cursing and swearing like a soldier. When he came to the end of his rampage, he looked straight across the fire at Hans and the guard saying, "I donít even know this fellow you are talking about!" Before he had even finished his sentence, the rooster that had been strutting around the courtyard crowed loudly. Suddenly, the man grew gravely silent, kicked another rock into the fire, and walked out of the courtyard. His friend, seeming to be faithful to him, followed after him with a concerned look on his face.

"I could have sworn that was the same man," said Hans.

"Me, too," said the guard.

"But I donít think Jesusí disciples would have cursed and sworn like that. Wasnít he some sort of religious leader?"

"That was my understanding, but if his disciples act like that man just did, maybe he wasnít such a great leader after all. Maybe that is what all of this stir is about."

"I heard that they were trying to find some witnesses to testify against him."

"Did they find any?"

"Probably so. Some people will do anything for a little money. Didnít they ask you?" Hans questioned, as he looked at the servant girl.

"They did, but I just wouldnít have felt right about it."

"Good for you," Hans said. "You did the right thing."

Back at the other end of the courtyard, Malchus was still standing near the door of the Great Hall. Up until now, he couldnít make out the muffled arguments from inside. Then, all of a sudden, the shouting became so loud that Malchus could hear clearly through the door the chant, "Death! Death! Death!"

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