The cave was dark and dreary, and Max could feel the cold damp air on his skin.
He was dressed in a flannel shirt and blue jeans and he stood about six-feet-tall. If one could see him in the dark, with his rough yet handsome features, he might be mistaken for an old cowboy.
He walked to the back of the cave and sat down. He took his hat off and set it on the ground. His left leg cramped up and as he stretched he decided to put his hat back on. Once he got as comfortable as he could, he leaned against the wall of the cave and closed his eyes.
His sleep was interrupted when the ground beneath him began to shake. He reached out into the darkness but there was nowhere to place his hands. The ground continued to swell and with the earthquake came a sound…a single cry of pain and sorrow. He looked at the ceiling of the cave as if looking to heaven itself, and a tear formed on his face. The crying became so loud he couldn’t bear to it. With his hands he covered his ears, trying to protect himself from the constant moaning.
And then all was silent.
And he finally relaxed.
And he waited.
He heard noises outside the cave. Two men were quietly talking. One seemed to be reciting a prayer of sorrow, and the other was weeping. They entered the cave and Max could see that they were carrying something. It was wrapped tightly in linen cloth. Max remained silent and still as the two men lifted it to a rock-bed that grew out of one of the cave’s walls. They reverently laid it down, and then with a short prayer and more tears, they left the cave.
Max could hear a loud rumbling sound and then the cave went completely dark.
He got up and walked over to the bed of rock. He removed his hat and knelt beside it. After a moment of silence, he sat down next to the bed.
At last, he and Jesus were alone.
And the waiting continued.
And he dreamed…
He saw a manger, and shepherds in a field.
He saw a small boy teaching in the synagogue.
He saw hungry people fed.
He saw sick people healed.
And he heard voices…
“Turn these rocks into bread.”
“I believe. Help me my unbelief.”
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
“It is finished.”
And he saw visions…
He saw a white horse.
He saw seals being opened.
He saw the enemy cast into the abyss.
He saw the final victory.
For twenty-four hours Max went in and out between dreams and visions. From time to time he would move over next to Jesus. He would stay completely still as he looked upon His body. And again the tears would come. But this time, they were tears of joy.
And on Sunday morning…he awoke.
He awoke to Jesus’ smile. Max smiled back, watching as Jesus stood up from the bedrock. His grave clothes fell – as if in slow motion – to the very spot where he’d been laying.
Max fell to his knees and closed his eyes.
Jesus took him by the hand. “Well done, Mahanaim.”
Max loved being referred to by his heavenly name, especially when it came from Jesus’ lips. He slowly kissed Jesus on the palm of the hand, close to the scar.
“My King,” he whispered. And suddenly the unseen voice of the Master filled the tomb. “This is my beloved Son. I am well pleased with Him.” And as the word him faded into thin air, so did Jesus, a smile still on his face.
It took only a moment for Max to gain his composure. He noticed that the handkerchief that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head had fallen to the ground. He picked it up, folded it, and set it back on the grave, slightly away from the clothes.
He began to walk toward the entrance of the tomb. When he got close, he stopped and raised his right hand. A single beam of light shot out from his hand to the entrance beyond. He closed his eyes and looked up to heaven, and as he did the large stone that blocked the opening began to roll away, letting in the first rays of the morning sun.
When the two women entered the tomb they saw Max sitting on the ground, and they were very afraid. Max stood up and smiled, and as he did a long white robe replaced his flannel shirt and jeans. His hat was no longer.
Light radiated all around him.
He looked at both women. “Mary,” he said. Then he repeated the word. “Mary.” He smiled again, and immediately both women were comforted. One began to speak, but Max interrupted her by putting his finger over her lips. “The one you seek. Jesus of Nazareth. Look,” he said. “He isn’t here.”
They both stared at the place where he had lain, and they were in awe. “Now quickly, go and tell the disciples.” Max spread his arms wide and high, and the bright light filled the entire tomb. He is risen.” The women bowed their head’s slightly in a parting gesture and ran out of the tomb.
And the heart of an angel was filled with joy.
He was sitting alone on the back row of the little church. The pastor had just finished his sermon and was walking back toward the doors to greet the folks as they left. The pastor caught Max’s eye as he walked past him. Max smiled. The pastor smiled back.
“Enjoyed the message, Pastor.” Max said as he reached out his hand.
The pastor took it. “Thank, you…”
Max smiled again. “Max.”
“Thank, you. Max.” He looked into Max’s eyes. “I don’t believe I’ve seen you around here.”
Max shook his head. “Just passing through.”
“Well, we’re glad you’re here. Do you plan on staying long?”
Max started down the steps of the little country church. At the sidewalk at the bottom of the steps, he turned and looked once more at the pastor. “Wherever the Master leads, Pastor.” He smiled as he put his hat on his head and turned to walk away. “Wherever the Master leads.”
He looked first to the left and then to the right. He adjusted his hat, and then began whistling a familiar hymn as he slowly walked toward Town Square.
The Max Chronicles (starring the angel Max) is available at the FaithWriters ebook store for $2.99: The Max Chronicles