01 April 2018

The Day Christ Died

Birth of a Religion
When supernatural events and human drama,
coincide in timing and enormity,
and are witnessed by many. 

Memoirs of Pontius Pilate by James Mills
Pontius Pilate: "The darkening of the sky and the coincidental occurrence of the earthquake proved to be as fortuitous for the subsequent growth of Christianity as the star and the coincidences surrounding the fellow's birth. It was the events that he and his followers could not arrange that have made the stories about him so appealing to common people."

The Wonderful Teacher by Elijah Brown
Hundreds of thousands of people were in Jerusalem, who had come from everywhere to attend the Passover. It is doubtful if any other death was ever witnessed by so many people. The sky was darkened, and the sun hid his face from the awful scene. A great earthquake shook the city; the dead came out of their graves, and went into the city, appearing unto many, and the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom. No eye had been allowed to look behind the veil, except that of the high priest, and then only once a year, on the great Day of Atonement.

The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazantzakis
Jesus spread wide his arms and opened his mouth to cry, Brothers! but the soldiers seized him and hoisted him up onto the cross. Then they called the gypsies with the nails, but as the hammers were lifted and the first blow was heard, the sun hid its face; as the second was heard, the sky darkened and the stars appeared. The crowd was overcome with fright. The horses on which the Romans were mounted became ferocious. Rearing, they began to gallop furiously and trample the Jewry. Then earth, sky and air suddenly grew mute, as at the beginning of an earthquake. The world seemed to have fainted. Deathly pale, it was now just barely visible in the bluish darkness.

King Jesus by Robert Graves
About noon, when the soldiers had begun to prepare their dinner, a hot wind blew from the east and the sky darkened. It was not the wholesome darkness that heralds rain with the distant growl of thunder and flicker of lightning, but a smoky darkness such as terrifies those who live in the neighborhood of active volcanoes; and as the cloud spread across the sky as far as the western horizon, blotting out the sun, the earth began to heave sickeningly and a distant rumble and crash was heard as an enormous piece of masonry fell from the Temple into the valley below. A scream of terror went up and many fell on their knees and gazed upwards, believing that the Day of Wrath had come at last.

The Day Christ Died  by Jim Bishop
One of the soldiers walked around to a position in front of the cross and looked up into the agonized face of Jesus and said: “If you are the king of the Jews, then save yourself." He looked into the sky, and others looked. There were no clouds. But the heavens had deepened from a pale azure to a deeper hue. The sky continued to darken. It was not a sudden thing; the color of the sky continued to deepen to a robin's-egg blue and then on to a darker blue.

The people forgot for a moment the three men on the crosses, and many in the crowd pointed to the sky. Some said that a storm was coming. The crowd began to break up, and many hurried toward the gates, the women flinging shawls over their heads and running with their children to get to shelter before the storm broke. There was no sound of thunder. There were no lightning flashes. There were no clouds. The sky darkened until the sun could be stared at with the human eye. The blue deepened until the darkness of dusk descended over all. The darkness lasted for the rest of the day.

From Jesus' lungs came the final cry: "It is finished!" The body sagged on the cross. The earth trembled and a small crack fissured the earth from the west toward the east and split the big rock of execution and went across the road and through the gate of Jerusalem and across the town and through the temple, and it split the big inner veil of the temple from the top to the bottom and went on east and rocked the big wall and split the tombs in the cemetery outside the walls and shook the Cedron and went on the Dead Sea, leaving fissures in the earth, the rocks and across the mountains.

Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace
The country filled rapidly with all kinds of temporary shelters for the pilgrims of Passover. Every part of the world was represented among them – cities upon both shores of the Mediterranean far off as the Pillars of the West, river-towns in distant India, provinces in northernmost Europe. These representatives had all the same object - celebration of the notable feast. All to behold one Nazarene die.

The guard took the Nazarene’s clothes from him; so that he stood before the millions naked. The stripes of the scouring he had received in the early morning were still bloody upon his back; yet he was laid pitilessly down, and stretched upon the cross, the arms upon the transverse beam. The spikes were sharp and with a few blows, and they were driven through the tender palms; next they drew his knees up until the soles of the feet rested flat upon the cross; then they placed one foot upon the other, and one spike fixed both of them fast. The workmen put their hands to the cross, and carried it, burden and all, to the place of planting. At a word, they dropped the cross into the hole; and the body of the Nazarene also dropped heavily, and hung by the bleeding hands.

Suddenly a dimness began to fill the sky and cover the earth – at first no more than a scarce perceptible fading of the day; a twilight out of time; an evening gliding in upon the splendors of noon. But it deepened, and directly drew attention; whereat the noise of the shouting and laughter fell off, and men, doubting their senses, gazed at each other curiously: then they looked to the sun again; then at the sky and the near landscape, sinking in shadow; at the hill upon which the tragedy was enacting; and from all these they gazed at each other again, and turned pale, and held their peace.

The dimness went on deepening into obscurity, and that into positive darkness, but without deterring the bolder spirits upon the knoll. The third hour came, and still the people surged round the hill. They were quieter than in the preceding hour; yet at intervals they could be heard off in the darkness shouting to each other, multitude calling unto multitude. A tremor shook the tortured body; there was a scream of fiercest anguish, and the mission and the earthly life were over at once. The multitude was informed of the circumstance. No one repeated it aloud; there was a murmur, which spread from the knoll in every direction; a murmur that was little more than a whispering, “He is dead.”

While they stood there staring at each other, the ground commenced to shake; each man took hold of his neighbor to support himself; in a twinkling the darkness disappeared, and the sun came out; and everybody, as with the same glance, beheld the crosses upon the hill all reeling drunken-like in the earthquake. They started to run; they ran with all their might; on horseback, and camels, and in chariots they ran, as well as on foot; but then, as if it were mad at them for what they had done, and had taken up the cause of the unoffending and friendless dead, the earthquake pursued them, and tossed them about, and flung them down, and terrified them yet more by the horrible noise of great rocks grinding and rending beneath them. They beat their breasts and shrieked with fear.

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