Our story of Achim begins in the garden. From there he follows the crowd into Yerushalem to Annas’ house. In part 3 we left Achim with his friend Libi. She was delivering a platter of food to the high priest, Caiaphas.
He nodded. He continued to keep pace with her, but when she came to a doorway, he paused. She walked through. Light spilled out of the rectangular opening along with raised voices. Achim stole a glance around the edge of the wooden frame. What he saw took his breath away.
Torches lined the walls along with beautiful tapestries, the likes of which he had only seen in bazaars. Low tables spread around the room held men reclining at them. The men all wore tunics of fine weave. They were arguing among themselves. In the middle stood Yeshua!
“He is guilty of death!” one man yelled.
“What proof do you have?” another replied.
“You want proof? Here,” a man at the far side stood up.
He motioned to something in the shadows and two men came forward. Their clothes looked more like what Achim had seen in the courtyard—poor and course. They stood in stark contrast to the opulence of the room. Several men placed a cloth in front of their noses as if to protect them from the odor.
“Men of the Sanhedrin,” the first spoke, his eyes constantly moving, shifting from one side to another, “That man,” he pointed to Yeshua, “said he would destroy the temple!”
A gasp made its way around the room. Libi exited and pulled Achim back from the doorway.
“What do you think you are doing? You’ll get us both in trouble!”
Achim hung his head. He didn’t want to cause problems for Libi. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to see.”
Her eyes softened. “You weren’t caught, so we’re okay. What did you need to tell me?”
Achim lifted his head. He remembered what had drawn him to follow Libi.
“There is a man over there. His name is Shimon. He is a friend of Yeshua. Before I came to Yerushalem, I saw Yeshua in the countryside with his followers. That man was with them.”
Libi’s eyes widened. “You’re sure?”
“Of course I am. I wouldn’t have bothered you otherwise.”
Libi nodded. Achim could almost see her deciding what to do as the firelight reflected from her brown eyes.
“I’ve got to report back to Abigail. I’ll see you after a while.”
Achim watched her go. Part of him wanted to see what the Sanhedrin did to Yeshua, while the other part knew it wasn’t wise. A chill wind blew across the courtyard. Achim rubbed his hands along his arms and moved toward the fire. Without realizing it, he found himself beside Shimon. The man seemed anxious and nervous. He wrung his hands together over the fire. The other men chatted quietly. It seemed the energy from before had been released.
Achim had almost fallen asleep on his feet, when he heard Libi’s voice.
“You were with Yeshua.”
Shimon jumped as if someone had poked him with a spike. “I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
The burly man moved away toward a side entrance. Achim closed his mouth. He hadn’t realized he had opened it. What had Libi done? Did she want to get Shimon in trouble as well? Achim followed Libi away from the fire.
“What was that all about?” he whispered harshly, his anger showing through.
“You said he was one of Yeshua’s friends. I don’t want any trouble. Abigail said the Sanhedrin is condemning the teacher. If he has followers here, they’ll revolt, and we’ll have a fight on our hands. Besides, I’ve heard about Shimon. He’s hot-headed.”
Achim shook his head. He didn’t know what was happening any more. He turned away from his friend and looked around. Another figure hid in the shadows. He was a small man, not much older than Achim. He leaned against the wall with his arms crossed. As Achim watched, the man wiped at his cheek. Was the man crying? Achim moved closer to see better. What he found surprised him.
The young man smiled at Achim.
“Hello,” he said in a gentle voice. “What brings someone as young as you to Caiaphas’ house?”
Achim’s first instinct was to lie, but something in the man’s eyes said he understood.
“I followed the men.”
The man nodded. “I did, too.”
The two stood quietly leaning against the wall. A stray memory seemed to play at the edges of Achim’s mind. He couldn’t place it.
A commotion caught their attention. At one of the fire pits men were gesturing wildly. A voice rose over the courtyard. Achim had heard swearing in his young life, but the man yelling topped them all. Achim recognized Shimon’s voice.
“I tell you, I don’t know the man!”
To Achim’s side, Yeshua walked through the door, or rather was pushed. His hands were tied behind his back. Whether it was the eery lighting of the courtyard or something else, Achim wasn’t sure, but it appeared that Yeshua’s face was black and blue. The teacher paused and seemed to look directly at Shimon. Silence hung in the air. A rooster crowed. The man beside Achim hid his face. As if on some unspoken command, noise returned to the courtyard. Shimon rushed out the door his sobs reaching Achim’s ears.
Achim didn’t know where to look—at Shimon or Yeshua. The decision was taken from him, as Yeshua moved toward the main gate. The Sanhedrin exited and followed behind him. Some looked pleased while others seemed to hang their heads in shame. Achim wondered what it was all about. Then he saw the high priest. Caiaphas’ tunic was rent in two—a sign of mourning or extreme anger!
As the last one left the courtyard, the man beside Achim reached out and touched the boy’s shoulder.
“Come, we should go. By the way, my name is Yochanan.”
At the mention of his name, Achim took a closer look. The man was older than what Achim remembered, but it was still the same young man who had leaned in on Yeshua’s side to ask the teacher to answer Shimon’s question of who was the greatest.
Achim nodded and followed Yochanan out the door. While they walked, Achim introduced himself. He was surprised to find that they were walking along the street with the temple looming over them. Their steps led them to the Antonia Fortress. That did not bode well for Yeshua.