“Pardon me, rabboni” Judas shrieked as the noose tightened. It didn’t finish him instantly. Judas counted thirty seconds, one for each piece of silver. His body juddered on the Cercis tree. He heard the crack of the whip and the wail of his rabboni.
*Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? *
The Cercis tree rained pink flowers. A blood-red, crescent moon loomed over the grey sky. It was an unusual lunar eclipse.
“Let me out; I cannot hide like a coward!” One of the disciples said. His voice echoed against the timber walls of the barley barn. After the crucifixion of their rabboni, the 11 disciples were hiding in a barn on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
“We can’t risk being captured. We keep our lips sealed and wait for the right time, as rabboni once said,” said Simon Peter, hiding his anxiety.
“Wait? For What? So much for the King of Israel,” one of them stomped on the loose wooden planks.
“Don’t disrespect rabboni, we will rip you apart,” a few others roared. A feud ensued, but a knock on the door stunned them.
“Judas is dead. He hanged himself on a Cercis tree near Akeldama,” a messenger delivered the news, and a loaded silence engulfed the barn.
“Traitor! He rightly deserved it!” Most of them cheered, but a few were silent.
“He was one of us,” a meek sound sprouted from a corner.
“One of us? He betrayed rabboni! Don’t pity that snake!” They geared up for another fight.
“We have all betrayed our rabboni. I had denied rabboni thrice. Who are we to judge Judas?” There was a collective gasp, and Simon Peter hung his head low. There was no more cheering.
“The Sabbath has begun. Nobody will touch his body. Judas’s body will bloat and rot on that Cercis tree,” All of them shuddered. As devote Jews, they couldn’t even wish it for their enemies.
“Judas was one of us. He drank and ate with us for three years. We should pay respect to his body. We owe him a burial,” One of them implored.
“We will not touch that wretched body. Especially on a sabbath!” a collective hum engulfed the barn.
“Rabboni had taught us to do good on the sabbath!” Thomas, who was silent so far, murmured.
Mayhem ensued. Quarrels broke out and soon turned into fights.
“Rabboni has asked us to forgive. Even our enemies,” Simon Peter jumped into the middle of the fight and shouted.
“We should forgive Judas first,”
There was silence.
When the evening came, they opened the doors of the barn – hearts pounding loud, but eyes filled with compassion. The marched towards Akeldama. They saw the body of Judas hanging from a high branch – bloated. It was hanging from a high branch. Judas was a good climber, some of them remembered.
“We need to cast a net under the tree. If we cut the body and if it falls on the stones, the guts will spill out,” one of the disciples warned.
Come with me, and I will teach you to catch people. Rabboni’s deep voice echoed. One of them climbed the tree and cut Judas loose.
With a thud, the body hit the net. They wrapped him in a linen cloth and buried. There was no sorrow, hatred, anger, or doubt. They marched out of Akeldama as new men. They were no longer afraid of the Romans.
*And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” – Matthew 27:46