The fear has gripped me since that day. There are times when a chariot rushes by and the ground trembles ever so slightly. Yet it is enough. Fear overwhelms me and for a moment I am unable to move. It is as though the white vision rises before me once more, even as it did that fateful morning in the garden of Arimathaea.
I am a guard under Caiaphas, the High Priest. I am stronger than this. As one of God’s chosen people, I do not fear pagan spirits.
Hours spent analyzing my fear has not lessened it. I avoid the others who were there that day. The others who also felt the ground tremble, saw the vision, woke to an empty grave.
It was some trick of devilry; I know this. A curse was in the air, and while we were under its power the body was stolen. Perhaps that is the cause of my fear. Was the curse effective because my faith is weak?
Tonight is my chance to redeem myself. Tonight I can look evil in the face once again, and this time I will stand firm. Two of the followers of the blasphemer have been caught and are even now lying in the very prison at which I am guard.
As night falls, I enter the familiar halls, a prayer on my lips. Flickering candles do little to drive away the darkness that lies on the stone steps. They are shadows I know as I know my own hands, and even tonight I do not allow them to phase me.
I wave away the day guard and take my place. It is easy to pick out the two men, these with falsely open faces, confident, I suppose, in their own evil powers. I return their look, and I yearn for the real Messiah to come. To show them who He is. Their paltry Jesus will shrivel away in their minds.
The evening drags on. I wonder what I was nervous about, and it is easy to laugh away my fear in the stillness. Sleep overtakes me.
I am awakened even as I am thrown to the ground. The earth is shuddering as it did once before--on that morning in Arimathaea. Even in my fear I see that the prison doors have been flung open. Undoubtedly the prisoners have fled. I am aware of only one thing.
I have failed.
Once again the trickery has bested me. Once again my fear has overcome me. Once again I will be brought before the courts in ridicule, and this time I shall suffer the death penalty.
No! I cannot bear the shame. I draw my sword even there on the grime of the floor. Just as I prepare to drive the weapon through my own heart, a voice breaks through my consciousness.
“Do yourself no harm! We are all here.”
The sword falls to the floor and I grope for a light. The flicker reveals that the man has spoken the truth. The wards are still full.
The faces of the two men shine with power and with love. My soul understands then, though my head does not. There is only one God with both power and love. I fall once more on the ground. I hear my voice speaking. “What must I do to be saved?”
I, a guard who has never been driven by love, am overwhelmed by the selflessness of these men. Men who, instead of fleeing to freedom, have stayed so that they may speak with me.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, and you will be saved.”
I listen to the gospel of Jesus. My fear melts away and I am able to hear. I believe, not in a god of fear, but in a Messiah of love.
I have overcome.
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