Many of my friends and family were proselytes to the Jewish faith and traditions. Even here in Cyrene in Africa. I remember it well. how can I forget!!. It was several weeks before the Passover and If I intended to be there in Jerusalem, NOW was the time to leave. As it was I thought I was cutting it a bit fine to arrive on time. I said by goodbyes to friends and family and set on my way at around dawn.
Travelling on foot part of the way, then by camel, then by nomad caravan. The journey of several days was never boring or tedious, for each mode of transport had it unique stories to tell and ways of doing things. One caravan took me to Jerusalem. As it turned out they were going to the Passover too, but, sadly where they were booked in was full. So, we parted company and exchanged good wishes. We arrived on the Friday shortly after sunrise, a bit later than I had hoped but the journey was worth it.
To search for a place to stay I weaved through the cities many alleyways avoiding the main streets where a major procession seemed to be taking place. Managing to avoid the main part of the procession I had no luck in finding accommodation. The last place I tried was a short distance from the main road. I could hear the shouting and noise get louder as it drew nearer, so curiosity overtook me and I went to the corner and looked for myself what the centre of the commotion was all about. Somehow I was pushed to the front by other onlookers, Not being able to secure a rear vantage point I looked at the 3 men in the centre of the processions attention. All 3 were carrying cross beam on their shoulders. These were solid pieces of tree roughly shaved into a squarish shape. to bare them to the execution site was added torture for they were solid wood. This much I found out , they were all to be crucified before the Sabbath to abide by the Jewish law.
As I just found a way back into the crowd I was grabbed on my upper arm from behind, a very tight forceful grip forced me to step back into the street. In one continuous movement the Roman Soldier had ne kneeling on the ground beside one of the criminals. As I went to kneel he said "You - Pick up his cross and carry it" This particular criminal was stumbling with the weight of the cross and he seemed to be in a more severely beaten state that the other two. Having no choice but to carry the cross, I jerked it to my shoulders with my forearms wrapped around each end with it resting on my shoulders. I can tell you, yes it was very heavy, no-one hardly noticed me carrying the cross as most people's attention was on the man who's cross it was.
As we walked or stumbled up the hill passing a multitude on the side of the road, I found out the man's name was Jesus. Most jeered at him but some wept. I thought " What could he have done to deserve this". My lifestyle in Cyrene dictates that I have a very strong physique but even I had trouble baring the cross to the top of the hill. On the way up the hill Jesus was hurried along by the whip each time he fell. I was told to stop and wait for him which increased the weight of the cross no end. Finally, we reached the hill top, Jesus was dragged by the shoulders onto the waiting post to be dropped into the ground. The soldier who had "assisted" us up the hill directed me to set down the cross next to Jesus' shoulders. For a space of maybe 10 to 15 seconds His eyes met mine. For some reason everything that I heard along the road went through my mind, oddly not as I heard it but crystal clear as if I were standing next to the speaker. I did not blink but moved my head in emotional posture as this man's story revealed itself. I knew He was special, a smile came to his face as this was realised in my head. then reality struck and a cry rang out from this man as nails were driven through his feet.
The same soldier grabbed my arm and dragged me away and told me to leave him and go. How long does 15 seconds last?. How much can God tell us in that time. God's hand continued on my life 50 days later. The feast of Pentecost was only 50 days after the Passover so I stayed on for that and intended to go home after that has passed. On that day early in the morning. one of Jesus main disciples, Peter, was addressing a crown in the market. Then his fellow disciples who were mostly locals from Galilee, spoke out in to them were unknown languages. I say they were unknown to them but I heard the glories of God in my own tongue. What I heard actually matched up with what I heard at the top of the hill with Jesus.
My Friends, yes God is real. yes HIS son died, I saw it happen, although I did not see him in His resurrected body, I KNOW He is alive. His Father, MY Father has turned me on to want to know His ways. If this letter serves but one purpose then let it be to certify in your hearts and minds that The Father of Jesus and any who declare they are His, wishes to have a relationship and be in any and ALL parts of our life.
I bid you farewell in Jesus Christ
David Hardy December 2013