The night has not been restful for Achim as he follows Yeshua across Yerushalem. The night is about ready to change to morning, but there’s still no relaxing for Achim.
They waited in the shadows, sometimes talking, sometimes silent. Before too long, voices rose above the walls of the fortress, angry and demanding. Achim looked at Yochanan. What was going on? He wondered. Yochanan just shrugged. The front gate lumbered open. Achim watched as a man walked out with a bowed head. His steps indicated extreme exhaustion. The moon, which had been dancing with the clouds, shone full on him as Roman soldiers took his arms to direct him down the street. It was Yeshua! Where were they taking him now?
Yochanan grabbed Achim’s shoulder and pulled him back farther into the shadows. After the soldiers came the Sanhedrin. Achim noticed their once bright clothing was beginning to look dull and wrinkled. Once everyone had walked back toward Caiaphas’ house, Yochanan let go of Achim’s shoulder.
“Let’s go, but be quiet,” the man said.
Achim rolled his eyes. He didn’t have to be told to be quiet. He lived on these streets. He was more worried about Yochanan making too much noise. If they were caught, Achim didn’t want to think what the consequences would be. Without a sound, he exited the shadows and trailed the crowd past the temple far above them and Caiaphas’ house, back the way Achim had come originally.
“Herod!” Achim whispered.
Yochanan looked at him. “What?”
“They’re taking Yeshua to Herod.”
Dread filled the boy. He had heard tales of Herod’s cruelties to those convicted of crimes. From the look in Yochanan’s eye, he knew the implications.
Back through the quiet streets of the upper city they traveled. No lights shown from these homes. Their occupants had already settled in for a good night’s sleep. Achim let his mind wander to what it had been like to have a place to call home. Warmth and happiness filled him until Yochanan stuck out a hand and stopped him. Herod’s palace stood in front of them, a guard at the gate. The crowd had also paused. Achim imagined the soldiers giving a scroll to the guard. The guard would have to read it and then let them in. When the group moved on, Yochanan stayed put.
“We can’t go any closer. If we are caught, we will be added to the trial as criminals.”
Achim looked questioningly at the man. “Why? What have we done?”
Yochanan rubbed a hand across his face. “We have been with Yeshua. That is all it takes. Why do you think Shimon swore he didn’t know the man? He’s afraid. We’re all afraid. We all ran and left him.”
Shame filled his voice, and his words trailed off to nothing. Achim felt sad for the young man. The wait against the cold stone wall reminded Achim of Momma. He had waited in the middle of the night to hear about her.
“Go, Achim,” Momma had said in a voice barely above a whisper. “Get the physician.”
Achim had dreaded hearing this order. It meant Momma had finally given in to the pain that wracked her body. He ran with all his might to the doctor’s house.
“Please, rabbi,” he had said, “please come help Momma.”
The man had grabbed his bag and followed Achim, much slower than the boy wanted to travel, back to his home. There Achim was told to wait, out in the cold night air. He waited and waited. Achim tracked the moon’s path through the sky. Finally, when the boy had given up and the cold had seeped into his soul, the door of his house opened. The doctor paused to touch the doorpost, then closed the door behind him. His footsteps were even more sedate than before. Achim stood rooted to the spot, not able to move, fear gripping and cementing him in place.
“Ah, Achim,” the doctor said as he caught sight of the boy. “I am so sorry. There is nothing I can do to help her. I will get the women to come and take care of her body.”
“No!” the boy screamed. “No! Do something. You have to do something!”
The physician took the boys arms and held them from pounding the man’s chest. With gentle but forceful guidance he directed Achim away from Momma. The days that followed had been a blur for the boy. Only two things had stood out, Momma was gone and he had no place to live.
“Achim,” Yochanan’s voice brought him back to the present. “Are you okay?”
The boy shook his head and rubbed his hands together to warm them. “Just thinking.”
“We have plenty of time for that,” Yochanan agreed.