We left Achim remembering a time with Yeshua years earlier. Now reality closes back in.
The moment passed as the men led Yeshua on. Achim’s mind whirled, but he followed at a discrete distance. This time Achim noticed his surroundings, making sure he knew where he was. The men led him across the city without fear or much variation in their route. A sinking feeling settled in Achim’s stomach. It was similar to when Momma became too ill to move about. He pushed the thought of Momma aside and focused on Yeshua. Soon, the temple loomed above them. The men paused in the street as if waiting for a door to open and then filed through.
Achim glanced around. He recognized the large gates of the high priest’s house. He waited for everyone to enter and then walked past the main entrance and around to the side of the house where a door admitted servants. His friend Libi worked for the high priest. Maybe she would let him come in where it would be warmer.
He tapped lightly on the wood, wondering if anyone would be wandering the back hallways. To his surprise, the door opened almost immediately.
“Achim?” Libi’s soft lilting voice called his name in surprise. “What are you doing here?” She glanced over her shoulder. “Come on in. There’s enough visitors in the main courtyard you won’t be noticed there.”
Achim noticed her dark curly hair trying to escape the headdress. He smiled. Libi usually looked prim and proper—all except her hair. It seemed to have a mind of its own.
“Achim, this isn’t a time to smile,” she said, her hands on her hips. “Do you realize the Sanhedrin has come and is holding a nighttime meeting? They meet up in the Royal Stoa in the temple, not at Caiaphas’ house! Something is not right.”
The amusement from Libi’s unkempt hair faded. Achim looked down. “I know. I followed them from the garden to a place by Herod’s palace and then to here. They have Yeshua.”
Libi’s hand went to her mouth as if to stifle the gasp that came out. “No! That can’t be! I’ve heard my mistress and master talking about Yeshua, but I didn’t think it would come to this.”
Achim nodded and pushed a stray hair out of his face. “They bound him and led him away from the garden. His friends all fled.”
Libi turned and led Achim through the hall to the front coutyard. A large gate dominated the one wall, while braziers burned in various spots spread out over the tiled floor. The moonlight that had lit the streets seemed to have hid itself behind some clouds. The only light in the courtyard came from the small fires. People’s faces held an eery glow, and shadows dominated the area.
“I have to get back to serving,” Libi said.
Achim nodded. He walked over to a side wall and stood. He noticed the people in the room were all men. Some wore rough clothes as if they lived in the lower city. Others sported fancy tunics. Here, men who would not have associated with each other stood side by side quietly conversing. Often their eyes darted across the courtyard to the wall furthest from Achim. From this distance the boy couldn’t see what the other wall held. Once he was certain no one saw him or cared that he was there, he began to slowly make his way around the wall to the front and then to the other side.
His movements did not portray any of the worry or nervousness he felt. His years on the streets of Yerushalem had taught him if he looked guilty men would assume he was guilty. So, he walked purposefully as if he belonged in the courtyard. If someone paid more attention to him than he thought good or necessary, he’d sidle up to another man and act as his son. He stayed in the group until the attention had long passed away. Then he would continue his journey.
It was while in one such group that a voice caught his attention.
“Ah, now ya got it all wrong! That’s not how you go about it.”
Achim looked up to see a man waving muscular arms as he explained how to get the best price at market. Achim felt his eyes widen. This was the man who had asked Yeshua about being greatest in the kingdom! What had Yeshua called him? Achim thought and thought. The memory came back along with the man’s name, just as Libi passed him. Achim followed her.
“Pst, Libi,” he said as he moved toward her. “Libi, wait up.”
She turned but didn’t really slow any. Achim hurried to catch up. The tray in her hands held dried fruits and a basket of bread.
“I have to take this to Caiaphas, Achim. You can’t come in.”
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.