George A. Blair
Copyright © 2013
George A. Blair
"Yes, Master?" he said.
"David, as I have often and often told you, I am not your master." replied Matthew.
"I know," he returned. "I am sorry; I cannot help it."
"Well, it is of no consequence, I suppose. But you would be doing me a favor if you would remember it."
"I will try, Ma--"
"Ma-- I cannot say that either."
Matthew laughed. "Well, I do not want to cause you distress. Do what you can, but do not fret over it."
"Yes, Master. Thank you. But what is it you wanted to say?"
"You saw how we left Judas on that horrible night?"
"How could I forget it?"
"Well, I am all but certain that no one has taken him down and buried him."
"But you must remember that the Master--our only real Master, David--loved him--I know he did--and died for him, as well as the rest of us; and he told us at the dinner before he died that our new commandment was that we were to love each other as he loved us. And so we cannot leave Judas thus."
"But he was responsible for the Master's dying! Hanging there and letting the crows and vultures pluck at him is far too good for him!"
"I feel as you do, David; but the way we feel is not relevant. Jesus would want us to cut him down and give him a decent burial."
"Are you asking me to help you in this?"
"I thought you told me that you had forgotten to hate."
"Well, the more I think of what he did to the Master, and the more I remember the Master hanging there on the cross--because of him--I am beginning to learn it over again."
"All the more reason, David, why you should help me."
"Master, I cannot be the kind of holy person he wanted us to be! Let him rot there, I say! Perhaps I would not do anything to him, much as I would like to--rub his face, or what is left of it, in the dirt, for instance--but it is too much for you to ask me to actually bury the--there is no word for him!"
"David, I know you will help me. I cannot do it alone, and there is no one else I can ask."
"Well--well, if I must, I will do it for you. You cannot ask me to do it for love of him!"
Matthew smiled. He had won his point, and pressing the matter would not help. David would do what had to be done, and the very act would have its salutary effect--he hoped.
The result was that he and David found shovels and a wheelbarrow, as well as knives to cut down the corpse, and headed out to Judas's mansion on the outskirts of Jerusalem. As they walked along, Matthew said,"There is no point in taking him anywhere else to be buried; no one would accept the body. So we might just as well dig a grave there in the yard, and put him in it."
"You are not going to wrap him with spices and things, are you?"
"I think not. It has been over a week. Whatever the spices could have done for the body is of no avail now. In fact, I brought some cloths soaked in vinegar for us to tie over our noses and mouths because the smell may be overpowering."
"We should cut him down and put him as far away from the grave as we can, so that we will be able to dig it, if we must do so. Then we can drag him over and dump him in and cover him and rid the world of the pollution which he is!"
"Well he is. Spiritually and now physically and in every other way! Who can deny it?"
"Well, there is the house--Dear God! I can smell it from here! He must be buried if only to preserve the whole area from contamination!"
"I know, David, I know. Let us go and get it done."
So they went first to the horror that was still hanging from the branch of the terebinth tree, and David righted the box that Judas had stood on and then kicked out from under him, and with a few swift strokes cut the body down--it was not someone that either wished to look at, half eaten by the birds and insects, which were crawling all over it. They let it fall on a large cloth that they had laid under it, and took the edges of the cloth on either end and pulled it as far off to the side as they could, and then went to the other extreme of the yard, and each, as quickly as possible, began digging a grave deep enough to keep it from animals, where it could finish decaying in peace. David, of course, who was used to farm work, though he had done little in the past two years, did by far most of the digging.
It was hard work for both of them, and as they toiled, both Matthew and David relived the time when each had done this for his own father. Tears fell from their eyes, not only because of the vinegar in the cloths around their mouths and the stench that worked its way through, but because of the memory that each of them could not escape..
Finally, David pronounced, "That is deep enough. He will bother no one, and no one will bother him, more is the pity. Let us get him in there and fill in the grave, and be done with it."
With an exhausted sigh of relief, Matthew rose stiffly, and climbed out of the--rather shallow, it must be said, but probably adequate--grave, and the two walked over to the skeletal figure in the cloth, and picked it up by the corners, averting their faces not only because it was sickening to behold, but because they could not stand the smell, and dragged it unceremoniously over to the grave and all but threw it in."
"There!" said David. "Let us cover it and leave here! I need a complete wash!"
They hastily filled the grave and left a considerable mound over it, knowing that it would settle as the body decayed as well as with the normal settling of earth, and finally it was done, and the smell had been vanquished.
"Let us go!" said David, turning to leave.
"A moment!" replied Matthew. "I am not as young as you, my child. This has taken more out of me than I expected. Let me sit for a few minutes. I will go inside, where there are comfortable seats. He will not mind our using them."
"You sit if you wish. I cannot be still."
So Matthew went into the luxurious house and found a richly covered seat upon which he sat, feeling a bit guilty that he was making the upholstery filthy with the robes he had been using to dig the grave, but realizing that it made no difference. Now that there was no odor and no scarecrow out in the back hanging from the tree, it would not be long before thieves stripped the house bare.
Matthew thought of all the Scripture passages that spoke of those who amassed wealth only to leave it to someone else. Judas, however, had no one to leave it to, and so his wealth, which he essentially stole, would be stolen from him, and what did he have to show for it all?
What could he have been thinking, all this time?
"What is this, Master?" asked David. "It looks as if it might be a book of some sort."
"That is a codex, David. Some people, instead of making scrolls, as most do, make books that are little sheets of papyrus bound together on one side as this is, and find them easier to read than scrolls."
"This seems to be something he was writing. I found it over there on that table, with a quill and an inkwell that is just about dried up."
"Indeed? Perhaps he kept a diary, or something. What does it say?"
"I have no idea! I cannot read."
"Oh, of course. Let me see it."
He took the book from David's hand, and said, "It is a diary. He seems to have begun it just after he met Jesus for the first time, because the beginning speaks of the meeting. It seems he thought that he would be joining a movement that would change the world. I wonder if he also thought that he would be ending it."
"Who cares what he thought?"
"Well, it might be instructive to read. I often wondered what was going through his head; he was such a brilliant person, but he had misinterpreted Jesus so badly. I wonder if at the end he realized this."
"Let us leave, Master, if you have rested enough. This place makes me feel as if things are crawling all over me."
"Yes, let us go; I must say I share your sentiment. But I think I will take this book and see what is in it. Do you wish to hear it?"
"I can read it to myself."
"No. Go on. Let me hear it."