The Sound of Blood Money

Malchus had studied about the Jewish people as a boy in Spain, and he had learned much more while living in Jerusalem. He knew that any legal action by the Jews against Jesus would have to come before the Sanhedrin, and that this group of seventy-one men could not legally meet until the sun was up. He was not surprised therefore when the men of the high priest brought Jesus out of the Great Hall to walk the half-mile to the Gazith Hall in the Temple.

As soon as the band of guards and religious leaders moved out of the courtyard, Caiaphas approached Malchus and said, "I want you to go to the Temple area and watch over the goods in the booths. I am calling together the members of the Sanhedrin, which will include many of the priests working in our booths and shops. As you know with Passover, this will be a busy day for all of the shopkeepers."

With these explicit instructions, a weary Malchus headed across the upper city toward the Temple. The sun had not quite reached the horizon. The morning air was crisp, and Malchus looked forward to the rising sun to warm his cold and fatigued body. When he reached the shops, the religious leaders were already gathering. The Sadducees and Pharisees, who were normally bickering amongst each other, were discussing together plans for the trial. Both groups agreed they should search out additional witnesses to testify against Jesus. Only a few shook their head to the side when a Pharisee suggested even false witnesses would do.

At about the first hour after sunrise, the man in the scarlet robe passed close by Malchus as he hurried into the sanctuary to hear the verdict. Malchus, being curious, followed a short distance behind to observe the man who had kissed Jesus in the olive grove. In a few moments, Malchus, standing near the open door, heard, "You have condemned an innocent man! I donít want your silver," followed by the sound of coins clattering across the sanctuary floor. As the one in scarlet came out, Malchus could see his face in contortions of anguish.

The religious leaders just inside the door argued, in voices loud enough for Malchus to hear, about what to do with the thirty pieces of silver before agreeing that they couldnít return the blood money to the treasury. They finally agreed to buy the potterís field as a burial place for strangers.

Many of the people were now following the crowd gathering behind Caiaphasís men, who were forcing Jesus to walk out of the Temple area. Those in the crowd were yelling, "To Pilate! Crucify Him!"

Malchus was glad when the crowd was out of sight. He thought, "Iím grateful that Rachel and Ruth are shielded from such an awful sight. If all of this is in the name of religion, then I want no part of it."

The shops began to fill with shoppers buying on this day before the Sabbath and the beginning of Passover. However, at the sixth hour (noon) an eerie darkness set in. The untimely darkness so disturbed the people that they roamed around like a herd of frightened sheep. The animals, too, were nervous. The darkness lasted for three hours.

Just before the ninth hour, Malchus issued orders to close the shops, since this was the time for the killing of the Passover lamb. As the last shop was secured, the ground began to shake. The Temple priests came running out exclaiming, "The veil of the Temple has been torn in two from the top to the bottom!" Malchus remained in the Temple area for another hour while all the shopkeepers were securing their goods.

The dayís happenings left Malchus in a quandary. He knew he must return to Caiaphasís compound, but he felt a compulsion to walk by Golgatha first, for that is all that the people in the shops had been talking about. When he came close by the place of death, he could see three crosses. The crowd had dispersed except for a few stragglers. Malchus could see three women huddled near the center cross. He stopped and watched as the three stood with bowed heads touching their folded hands. In this first moment of quietness of the day, Malchus questioned, "What good could ever come from a cross?" When a small group of Roman soldiers arrived, the women moved on. The soldier who seemed to be in charge listened intently at the foot of each of the three crosses. He then issued orders to break the legs of the outside two men, but not of the man in the center.

Malchus turned back toward the city gate. The events of the night and of the day lay heavily on his mind. First, there was the disappointment in the religious leaders for treating Jesus so cruelly. Then the Romans had joined in the persecution as well. As he walked the streets toward Caiaphasís compound, he wondered about manís inhumanity toward man. He had always hoped for fair treatment for all people. Tired in mind and body, Malchus focused his thoughts on the serenity of his small room and the prospect of time with Rachel in their hideaway at sundown.

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