The great marble hall stood silent, though filled to overflowing. Each present, save one whose attire shone more resplendent than the rest, responded to a personal invitation, affecting the entire realm. His bearing, alone, carried a hint of satisfaction absent in the others assembled here.
All eyes locked on the throne centered at the front of the chamber. But it was the Presence enveloping it that drew their attention. Pain marred the glory of His face. The pain’s tangible heartbeat brought tears, constricting throats.
Yet, no such emotion filled the uninvited presence. Instead, the obvious sorrow of the King wrung from him a discordant note of delight, quite out of place in this somber gathering.
However, it was only noted by the One on whom all eyes were fastened, and by the Son, sitting quietly by His King’s side. Both pair of eyes unwaveringly sought out this unwelcome attendee’s jubilant expression, showing only the merest flicker of recognition.
Then, turning towards the others, the King’s sorrow-filled eyes sought each one, lingering in shared pain, until finally they came to fully rest on his Son, sitting beside Him with a quiet knowing. For immeasurable moments they shared a look, holding an understanding others present couldn’t ascertain.
For the merest instant the smirk faltered on the features of the intruder, his heart skipping a beat, before confidence again replaced the confusion that had passed like a shadow across his countenance. He had them. And they knew it. And the gloating of his pride, now a living thing, could no longer be contained.
His sneer shattering the stillness, all present gasped, the collective echo nearly drowning out the challenge the interloper flung disparagingly at the King.
Though at this moment a trespasser, he was no stranger to these courts. These chambers had been his domain, and he was known by all present.
The multitude parted before his arrogant stride till he stood, unrepentant, before the King.
“I said, ‘You lose!’”
With deliberation he turned his head, his penetrating stare locking with the Son’s. But the Son’s fixed gaze never wavered, and the interloper, unaccountably, found his own gaze shifting, momentarily. Then, a hardened look filling his eyes, he turned back to the King.
“They’re mine! All this…mine!”
Gesturing triumphantly at the heavens above and the earth below, his jeering words echoed in the great chamber’s unnatural stillness.
But as he spoke something shifted in the hall’s atmosphere. Subtle, but a shift he noted with growing bewilderment.
Looking about the room, his confident postulating returned as he noted all eyes cast down. And laughter . . . celebratory laughter exploded. But it didn’t grow in volume, its reverberation filling the chamber, as it should. Rather his jubilation was absorbed, swallowed up before gaining full voice.
Swinging back towards the king, fully expecting to see dejection draped there upon the throne, he met, instead, an indescribable gaze, rooting him to the spot. His confidence wavering, this one-time friend looked around the hall.
Then it struck him. Their eyes weren’t cast down in despair; rather, they were drawn down, in awe. Again, throwing a look towards the King and His Son, he was riveted by a knowing he didn’t comprehend, yet clearly visible on both their faces.
Almost against his will, his own eyes were drawn downward. Unexpectedly, instead of a chamber floor, it was a garden he knew well filling his vision. A garden he’d roamed, had staked claim to as his own. And a man, and woman.
A chuckle, beginning when he saw them, quickly slipped away. When he’d left their side, garments of leaves feebly covered their nakedness. But that shameful covering was gone now. In its place bloodied garments of skin . . . grace-woven garments.
Puzzlement began to replace the confident sneer he’d worn into heaven’s chambers just heartbeats before. A puzzlement quickly growing to agitation as the scene shifted before his eyes.
The verdant garden gave way to a rock-strewn hill sprouting a bloodied cross.
Laughter’s deep voice began building again in his chest when, without warning, the scene altered one last time, to another hillside. And a tomb, now empty - the death stone forever rolled away.
A sound continued to gather deep inside him. Lifting his eyes at last to the throne, they fell upon hands. Hands outstretched. Nail-pierced and bloodied.
When sounds gathering in his chest finally tore free, a feral roar filled heaven’s court, echoing throughout the ages.
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