Friday, December 22, 2006

The Trial of Jesus

Originally written in late 2004, last edited on January 16, 2005. This is the modern story of Jesus of Nazareth, NY and his trial, if that's what you wish to call it. Beware, I never claimed that I could write fiction --
And He just sat there, unmoved as the prosecution began their case.

“Members of the jury, we have before us a deplorable citizen. The State brings this man before you on three separate, yet equally despicable crimes. “First count, tax evasion. Second count,” the prosecutor said putting more emphasis on each consecutive word, “terrorist threats to destroy a designated house of worship. And thirdly,” he takes an overly dramatic pause for emphasis, “Treason!

“Members of the jury, it is your duty as citizens of the United States of America to condemn this man, thank you.”

“Do you have anything to add?” Judge Pilate said to the accused. He just looked up at Pilate, and stared blindly with a strange smirk on his face. He shook His head and whispered, “No, he may speak as he will of me.”

“Proceed,” said Pilate.

“Thank you, your Honor,” the prosecutor said. “The state would like to call their first witness to the stand, Mr. Judas Iscariot.” Judas arose from the crowd. He had sat himself away from Mary and the eleven in an aisle seat in front. Judas could not bear to face them. Not now, not as he walked to the stand about to condemn their master to death.

Judas placed his hand on the Bible, right hand raised, and gave his word that he would not lie. The whole time, he starred at Jesus. He could not keep his eyes off Him. That sad, pathetic man, he thought. Why has he allowed himself to be condemned? Why? It did not have to be this way, but it is far too late now. I will speak my part as I have been asked.

Judas took his seat.

“Mr. Iscariot, how long have you known this ‘Jesus’?”

“About three, maybe four years, Sir.”

“What was your initial opinion of him?”

“He was different, he was unlike any other person I had met in my entire life. He cared not for himself or what became of him. He had no house to call his own, no job, when I met him. He was homeless and penniless, yet a deeply spiritual and intelligent man.”

“And now?”

“I am not sure what exactly to think of this man anymore.”

“Judas, do you mind if I call you Judas?” the prosecution asked, with obviously no intent on receiving an answer, “Why did you decide to aid in turning this man into the authorities?”

“Everything had gotten out of hand. He began to talk of a Kingdom of Heaven, himself as the Messiah or as the king of all mankind. It all became frightening, it was a lot different than before.”

“Interesting. Now, Judas let’s begin to talk about Jesus’ individual crimes. Tell me about his tax record.”

“What record?” Judas said, “He has not paid any taxes since he stopped working for his father.”

“Really, never paying any?”

“Not a one, he never appeared to spend any money actually, not sure.”

“And what of his comment about Albany’s beloved temple?”

“Well, Jesus said that the temple will be destroyed and…”

“He said destroyed?” the prosecutor cuts off Judas.

“Yes, destroyed.”

“The state is finished with him, your Honor.”

“Anything from the defense?” Pilate asked. He gave no response. “Fine, Mr. Iscariot you may return to your seat.” Judas sulked down from the stand. “Any more witnesses for the prosecution?”

“No, your Honor, the prosecution rests.”

“Anything from you, oh silent one,” the Judge said to Jesus. He just sat there, looking up at the Judge. He shook his head.

“You don’t even attempt to defend yourself?” Judge Pilate was confused.

“It is His will, and not mine,” Jesus said.

“All right, fine,” Judge Pilate looked around at the crowd, then at the Jury, and finally at the condemned. “In my mind, Jesus, you are probably an innocent man, but it is their will,” pointing to the jury, “not mine.

“Members of the jury, take into consideration everything when you go into deliberat…”

“There is no need, your Honor,” the foreman said, cutting the Judge off, “The Jury has come to a unanimous decision.” Judas couldn’t bear any more of this. He stood up and walked out of the courtroom.

“Um, all right,” Judge Pilate was in shock, “What say you?”

“In the case of Jesus Smith of Nazareth versus the United States, we find the defendant, Jesus, guilty of all charges brought against him. We also would like to ask, no beg the court, to have this man executed for his treasonous ways.” A chant then arose from the jury, and soon the crowd followed. “Execute him! Kill him! Execute him! Kill him!”

“I…I don’t know what to say,” the crowd continued to chant as Pilate spoke, “surely this man should not be executed. He may be a bit outlandish in his claims, but surely this is not worthy of execution.” The chanting continued, growing louder and louder, one could barely hear their own thoughts over this frenzied mob.

“Order!” yelled Pilate, “I will have order in my courtroom.” The chanting began to die out. “I will send this case and this man before Governor Herod to see what his opinion on the matter is. If the Governor gives the ok, then I will continue to discuss this matter of execution.” And with that, Pilate smacked his gavel against his desk.

Jesus was brought before Governor Herod in his private office. He was tossed into the chair before his desk, shackled arms and legs. His head hung down.

“So, you are the Jesus character that everyone’s been talking about,” Herod said, in the most condescending way possible. “You’re the one that has all of the state frenzied. You’re King of mankind?” Jesus looked up, but did not say a word.

“So, the strong, silent type I see. Mr. ‘King of the World,’ do you know why you are brought before me? I am to decide whether execution is a fair punishment for you. Doesn’t that upset you?” Again, he sat there quietly staring. “Again with the silence. I do not understand you. Do you even care if you die? I think you do.” No response. “I cannot believe that you would just sit there as I speak with you,” the governor began to raise his voice, “Do you not fear my wrath? The State has convicted you of treason, a crime for which I can allow you to be executed. Don’t you even care at all?”

Jesus sat there quiet and still, it began to frighten Herod. “I’ve read your file. I know the case. You are a pathetic little man. Answer me. Don’t just sit there as I yell. Defend yourself, boy!” Herod began to scream. Outside the room, Judge Pilate and the few guards became unnerved. Never had the governor been so violent in his speech before. “Jesus, you have been convicted as treasonous,” regaining his nerves, “I can not help you, especially if you do not speak with me. I have all the power here, Jesus.”

“You have no power, you have no control,” Jesus said, “Everything has been decided already.”
“Finally you speak; but speaking in riddles will not help you. It has been decided that you are guilty, I will not deny that or grant you pardon. You may be executed, if Judge Pilate deems it so. Your crimes are enough to warrant it. Be gone, Jesus, get out of my sight.” At that the guards entered into the governor’s chambers and escorted Jesus out. They were followed by Judge Pilate. He was breathing heavily. This frightened him; he had never been put into a position like this. This sad, but obviously innocent man was convicted and it was his job to sentence him. He could not sentence him to death, he was sure that he could not do it.

Judas ran from the courtroom. He couldn’t bear it any longer. He ran away from the building as far away as he could. When he looked around he found himself in the park. It was quiet there, the media was at the trial of Jesus, and many people were outside to hear of the verdict. “Why did you let this happen?” Judas cried to the heavens, “He was innocent. Why did I do this to him? Why did you make me do this to him?” He threw down his wallet and kicked it. “All the money in the world would is not worth this, for my hands are stained with his blood. The money is stained with his blood.” Judas fell to his knees and looked up. “I know you can’t hear me, but forgive me, forgive me…” With that Judas began to sob.

“So, the King is once again a guest in my courtroom, you may all be seated,” Judge Pilate said. The crowd took their seats, Jesus remained standing. “Jesus, your record is here before me. You have been convicted of three high crimes. The governor himself has given me the power to execute you. The crowd and the jury both want me to. What have you to say for yourself, Jesus of Nazareth?”

Jesus looked up at him and stared. He said nothing.

“Why do you continue this silence? I know you can speak. Your followers would all say that you spoke at length about God, life and the treatment of others. You have even spoken of yourself and the temple. Yet you cannot speak of the most important thing that has ever come to pass in your life.”

And Jesus said, “Nothing is more important than the Lord, not even my life.” The crowd began to bustle with noise.

“Not even your own life. You would lay your life on the line here, Jesus? Your life sits here in the balance, and yet you do not even begin to attempt to help yourself from all this. I’m not sure whether to admire your bravery or scoff at your insanity.” Pilate paused for a moment, as the crowd began to chant their death call. “Execute him, kill him!”

“Again, the crowd calls for your death,” the chanting becomes louder. Mary put her head down and sobbed; Jesus’ mother puts her arms around the girl. “You can not help but wonder why they wish for your death.” Once again, the chanting becomes louder, as does Pilate. “Why do you wish for his death? Why? I see no harm in this man. He has done no wrongs; no murder no thievery, nothing!” The chanting grew in magnitude, and Pilate’s voice grew with it. “You! There is no helping you. It has come down to this one moment, Jesus. It is life or death for you, and I cannot decide.” The crowd roars violently for Pilate to kill Jesus.

“I can not help you, Jesus. You have been tried, and you have been found guilty of all these crimes against the great State of New York. I will not put you to death though,” He points around at the crowd, “You people have. I wash my hands of your blood, Jesus. You will be executed tonight, for it is the will of the Jury and this Courtroom.” Pilate slams his gavel into the table and Jesus’ head sinks.

“Why have you allowed this to happen, Jesus? Why?” Judas screams. He throws down a bag and draws from it a rope. He begins to tie a noose. “How’d you let these things get so out of hand? It could have been fine. We could have helped all mankind. It did not have to end this way, my friend.” He puts the noose around his neck and swings the other end over a tree branch. “Lord, forgive me for what I have done to your beloved. I have caused the death of your beloved,” tears streamed down Judas’ cheek. “My beloved friend.” He climbed the side of the tree and tied the knot into his rope. “Jesus, forgive me for killing you. Forgive me for killing me.” Judas said as he looked up to the sky. Judas is on the top branch. He jumps. His body falls and swings limply on the tree.

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