Wood And Nails

Benaiah was relieved. The soldiers had just left and he was glad. He always felt uncomfortable around them and this was no exception.

He had been hired to build something for the Roman Council, which was no big deal, he had built crucifixion crosses before. He didn’t enjoy doing it, but the drachmas he received paid the bills. This had been a rush order for three. His suppliers were having a hard time getting olive wood that wasn’t gnarled and stunted. When they had it they charged a premium for it.

He had told the soldiers that his price was going up. They had threatened him and told him they would go someplace else. He had told them to go ahead and try to find another carpenter to make them. They grumbled and then backed down. They paid the price and left.

Benaiah had a good idea of what was happening. There had been much talk about an upcoming trial. There was a man, Jesus, who proclaimed that he was the King of the Jews. Benaiah didn’t know much about him other than he had a large following, supposedly performed miracles, and, of all things, claimed to be the Son of God. Benaiah dismissed it as being a fabricated rumor.

In the distance, he could hear an uproar. At first, he wasn’t sure what it was. Then he remembered the trial. Usually, it was a cut-and-dried situation, if it wasn’t then there wouldn’t be a need for the cross.

The shortest way to Golgotha was the street in front of his shop. In the distance, he could see the red capes of the soldiers as they came his way. What caught his eye was the man they were escorting. At least he thought it was a man. He was almost unrecognizable, having been severely beaten. It was the worst he had ever seen. On his shoulder was one of his crosses.

As they got closer he watched the man stumble and drop the cross. A soldier viciously struck him with a cat o’ nine tails. Trying to rise, he stumbled and went down again. The soldier reached into the crowd, grabbed a man, and ordered him to carry the cross. He hoisted it to his shoulder and again came his way.

When they got to his shop, Benaiah stepped back into the shadows and watched as they went by. The man glanced into the shadows, saw him, and nodded.

Benaiah began to weep. What had he done? He didn’t know this man. Why was he crying? Was it the look on the man’s face? Was it his compassionate eyes? He didn’t know. What he did know was that he was miserable. He just didn’t know why.

He noticed people following in the distance. He approached them and asked,” Who is that man?”

“He’s the Messiah.”

“The Messiah?”

“Yes, his name is Jesus.”

“What crime did he commit?”


“Then why are they crucifying him?”

“They are afraid of him.”

“Afraid? I don’t understand.”

“I don’t know. But you know the Romans. Anything they don’t understand or can’t control they destroy or eliminate.”

Benaiah shook his head and joined them. The procession slowly wound up Golgotha Hill where he watched as they nailed Jesus to the cross, and then, with a sickening thud, dropped it into a hole.

Benaiah had never witnessed a crucifixion before. He knew it was going to be horrible. He wasn’t prepared for how horrible it was going to be. He began to uncontrollably weep. He couldn’t help it. He was beside himself.

Someone noticed him, they approached and spoke.

“Are you all right?”

He stared at them and through his tears, he spoke, “What have I done?”

“What do you mean?” they asked.

“It is my fault!”

“I do not understand.”

“I built that cross!” he cried out as he raced back down Golgotha Hill,” If I had not built it he would not be on it!”

“Does he not know that what happened is not his fault?”

“No, all he feels is guilt right now.”

They all nodded and turned their attention back to Jesus.

Benaiah ran to his shop, bolted the door behind him, and then threw himself onto the ground.

“What have I done? God, I ask that you forgive me. Please! I can’t take this pain and guilt!”

He never built another cross. His conscience would not allow it.

July 28, 2022