Rumors have been circling the land of Israel for as long as Atalia could remember. They were about a man who could make the blind man see and raise the dead. News spread quickly in Atalia’s village. Many of the Jewish leaders speculated he was the devil’s spawn. Others assumed he was insane.
Atalia was fascinated with these rumors. She often heard of miracles, occurring for those that needed them the most. She wanted to meet him, the miracle man.
Atalia was the youngest of her siblings, and the only girl out of three older brothers. All three of them had already left home in favour of leading in her village’s synagogue. Her father was a leader in the community.
She sighed, wishing her mother hadn’t died when she was younger. She was left to be raised by her father and brothers. As she grew, she gained a huge interest in community matters. She started taking an interest in the local news.
She was ten years old when she heard of the trial. Why it did not surprise her, she didn’t know. All she knew was the fact she was deeply interested to see where it would go.
She was in Jerusalem for Passover with her father. The sights and the sounds of the city amazed her. Even the temple there stunned her because of its enormous size. Many were bustling about for the holiday. As a result, Atalia stayed close to her father.
As Atalia and her father were getting ready to head back to their village, they saw a horde of centurions march in. There was a crowd following them, quite a few spouting horrible things. Curious as to the commotion, Atalia and her father decided to follow the crowd.
* * *
They found themselves looking at the gates of the palace of Pontius Pilate. The curiosity was killing Atalia at this point.
“Father,” she asked, looking up at her parent, “what is happening here? I thought only the harshest criminals were brought to be judged here.”
He knelt in front her, her youngest brother’s green eyes looking back at her. “There are rumors, Atalia. Do you the miracle man?” he prompted.
She nodded. It had been a while she last heard of him.
“They say he claims to be the son of the Lord,” he continued.
“But why is he here?” Atalia insisted.
“It’s blasphemy in both the synagogue and in the state of Rome,” he sighed. “You know the penalty for blasphemy, right?”
“That’s death, isn’t it?”
“But he was a good person! He healed people.”
“As good as he was the Pharisees wouldn’t let him get away with the claims he made.”
“But it’s Passover. Surely the state of Rome would show some mercy.”
Her father smiled at her. “How about this: we go watch the trial to see whether or not Rome is kind to the miracle worker,” he suggested.
“Don’t protest, Atalia. I’m taking you to see the trial. It appears to be open to the public.”
“But I’m a girl.”
“Women are going, too, sweetheart.”
Atalia sighed. Of course, her father was right. Women were allowed to spectate the trials of criminals. As far as she was concerned, the miracle man was truly an innocent man that both the Roman Empire and the Pharisees couldn’t agree with.
Thanks to being homeschooled by her brothers and father, she knew how the political system of the empire and the synagogue was handled. It wouldn’t surprise her that both saw the miracle man’s parables were some form of propaganda against both.
But, deep down inside, she knew things would not go over well for the miracle man.
* * *
Atalia wasn’t too sure how many people were present, but she knew she couldn’t see the events that were transpiring, even sitting on her father’s shoulder.
A hush fell over the crowd as the prisoner was brought forward. His hair was to his shoulders, and the color of honey. Atalia could see that much through the gaps between the heads of people.
Pilate sat in his chair, waiting for the hushed whispers to die down. In a loud voice, he called out, “I have found no evidence in his case to give him the death penalty. As a result, I will release him.”
“Crucify him!” the people around Atalia and her father screamed. “Crucify him!”
She exchanged a nervous glance with her father. “Why are they calling for his death, Father?” she asked. “Pilate said he found nothing to condemn the miracle man with.”
“I hope Pilate does what is right in the eyes of Roman law,” her father answered. “Don’t worry, love. I’m sure the miracle man will be fine.”
The pair listened with anticipation as Pilate protested in favour of the miracle man against the bloodthirsty crowd. The crowd had eventually won Pilate over.
“If you insist,” Pilate said, shrugging. “His blood will be on your hands.”
The crowd roared with approval.
Atalia was shaking she was so angry. The miracles she heard about since she was three would cease to occur. The blind man wouldn’t be able to see, the lame man wouldn’t be healed.
Her father set her down on her feet. “Would you like to leave now?” he asked kindly.
“I was wrong,” she muttered. “I want to leave, now, Father. I don’t want to see the miracle man get hurt.”
He walked with her toward the gates. “Then let’s go home,” he said.
* * *
News spread like wildfire through the area one spring morning. The tomb where the miracle man was laid to rest in was empty. According to her father, the women closest to the miracle man found it that morning.
Atalia’s heavy heart only felt heavier. “Tomb raiders,” she dismissed. “They stole the body.”
“Atalia,” her father sighed, “don’t you believe in miracles, anymore?”
“Not since the miracle man was killed.”
“They say he’s risen, love. They say he is alive. They say he appears to his faithful. You believed he was an innocent, darling.”
“Come with me, love. There’s someone in town that would be able to tell you the story wholly.”
“Are you sure it’s not just another rumour?”
Her father smiled. “This someone is named John, and he knew the miracle man quite well.” He offered her his hand. “Your curiosity will get the better of you someday, my child. Why don’t you hear the story now?”
“If you insist,” she said, taking her father’s hand.
Together, Atalia and her father left their home to hear the whole story of the miracle man.