As Easter began to approach, I started thinking about how we view the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, I decided I would try to paint a little bit of a different picture, maybe to help you see it differently.
He rode in on a burro. His beard was matted, his hat, checkered shirt and jeans dusty from the ride. The crowd that had gathered cheered wildly, pulling the handkerchiefs from their necks and waving them in the air. “Glory be!” one of them, the banker of the town, whooped. “Never though I’d live to see the day. Imagine that. Seeing the Marshal come in our day and age.”
The Marshal. Every boy and girl in the country knew the legend, that the Marshal would come, and free them from bondage and captivity. So when Dustin McCabe had first started preaching and doing wonders, everyone wondered if it was him. And when he rode into Peacebrook, capital of the country, everyone knew that this was the one who would lead them into the shining new age.
It was, everyone thought, very odd that he was on a burro. That animal was nothing more than a packhorse. Perhaps, they thought, he had borrowed it from one of the gold miners in the mountains. But the thought was soon lost in the confusion of the celebration.
Several men stood to the side, watching. They were the lawmen of the city, sheriff and deputies. No one claimed the title of Marshal, though. That was reserved. One of them, a man named Gabriel Rodgers stopped Dustin in the street, angry. “Tell this mob to making such a racket,” he demanded. “You’ll bring a riot on our heads.”
“I’m afraid that I can’t do that,” Dustin said. “Because if they’re quiet, then let me tell you, the rocks are going to start singing.”
Gabriel stood back, discontent. Dustin turned back. His face was not that of one who loved the exultation, but rather that of a man who knew he deserved it. There was no vanity, though, nor any trace of superiority. Behind him walked those who, before, had only a name, but now had a face to go with the stories. Lukas Rodale, the homesteader who had left his claim, Charles Merrill, the tax collector, Martin Long, a wealthy trader, and seven others. All of them had left everything they had ever known, just to follow Dustin McCabe.
Dustin led his friends through the city, until they reached the First Peacebrook Church. The group walked in, and Dustin stopped. Instead of a place where worship to God happened freely, they found a quagmire of people, bartering and bickering over the price of incense candles, prayer necklaces and the like. People from out of town were trying to exchange their money for the local currency, and Charles noticed the weights on the scales, tipping them in the moneylender’s favor. Dustin’s face twisted, but he led the group back out the church. They left the town, returning once again to Gainesville, their usual sanctuary from the chaos of the city.
“What’s wrong, Dustin?” Lukas asked, others echoing his sentiment. All of them had expected him to take charge of the city, have himself instated as Marshal and lead a glorious revolution to freedom.
“My Father’s house is not to be treated like that,” Dustin said quietly, and no one pressed him any further.
Early the next morning, Dustin led the way back into Peacebrook. There was no celebration this time. Most people noticed him, but went on with their business. All were disappointed that he had not let them make him Marshal the day before.
When Dustin threw open the doors of the church, the boom shocked everyone inside. It fell quiet, far quieter than it had been the previous day. Dustin walked into the sanctuary, his eyes burning. One vendor leaned across the table. “Can I sell you an incense candle?” he asked, hoping to win business. Dustin strode over and stood before the man. Then, with a quick motion, he lifted one half of the table and overturned it. Money and incense candles went sprawling. Breathing heavily, not from exertion, but from anger, Dustin broke the silence that followed. “If you do not want what happened here happen to you, leave now. For it is written in the ancient books of our law and our religion that ‘My house will be a house of prayer,’ and yet here you are, filling it with your kind, you thieves and robbers!” Dustin’s voice rose in volume until he was shouting. “So get out!”
Everyone left, and Dustin collect everything, dragging it outside and throwing it into a huge pile. Then he lit fire to the pile and walked away. All of the men who had set up shop in the First Peacebrook Church watched as all their profits went up in smoke, then turned their angry eyes to the one who started the conflagration.
The sheriffs and deputies also watched with angry eyes. Gabriel voiced what they all were thinking. “We must kill him,” he said. He did not say this because he feared that the fire would burn down the town, he said it because he was afraid that Dustin was the Marshal. For if the Marshal came, Gabriel, and all the others, would likely lose their power.
As evening approached, Dustin led the others to the Bluebird Inn. Before the group had arrived, Dustin had sent Jonathan and Nigel Carter, two brothers who left a thriving blacksmith business, to reserve several rooms for the group. They were well known there, having passed through several times before.
The group made their way to their rooms, the crowd outside still cheering. After several hours, it died away, and Dustin called everyone into his room. They perched on whatever surface they could find, all ten of them. Lukas, Charles, Martin, Jonathan, Nigel, Edmund and Charlie Halladay, Michael Morris, Aaron Hendrickson and Homer Lewis. Dustin stood in the middle of the room. He smiled, sadly. “I have told you before, and now tell you again. I will be handed over to the sheriffs and the deputies, and they will kill me. But on the third day, I will rise again.”
“I’ll never let them take you,” Lukas said for the group, patting the holster at his side. Although he was a homesteader, Lukas wasn’t used to the gun yet.
“No, Lukas. That is not the way,” Dustin gently chided. There was a knock at the door, and a maid stepped in with a loaf of bread and a jar of wine. The group had already eaten before, so everyone was surprised. Dustin accepted the food, then handed the maid a silver dollar as a tip. Then, crossing his legs, he sat down on the ground. Pulling out the knife from his belt, he cut the bread into thirteen pieces. He handed each one out, saying, “This is my body, broken for you.” Although confused, the men ate as they were told.
Dustin then uncorked the wine. He took a sip, then passed it on. “And this is my blood, poured out for you.” Even more confused, the men passed around the bottle. When it was handed back to Dustin, he smiled sadly. “Now,” he said, “I am going to cut your hair.”
“Sir,” Homer said, “We ain’t shaved in a couple a years. Our hair is barely even combed. I ain’t sure you want to try cutting that.”
Dustin shook his head, then took a pair of scissors off of the bureau. He started with Edmund, then worked his way down the room. Each man was actually quite glad to have it done. While they all still had beards, they were much smaller, and much more manageable. But when Dustin came to Lukas, the thin man shook his head. “No, sir. You’re not cutting my hair. I should cut yours. This is a servant’s job, not that of a Marshal.”
“If I do not clean you up, then you don’t belong with me,” Dustin said.
“Then, sir, don’t just trim my hair, shave it all off!” Lukas said, sticking out his chin.
“Anyone who takes care of their hair doesn’t need to lose it all,” Dustin laughed. He finished trimming, then returned to the middle of the room. “I’m going to tell you something. Someone here is going to betray me.”
“Not me!” Lukas declared. Others agreed, telling Dustin that they would never leave him.
“It couldn’t be me, could it?” Michael asked. He was a former banker, and as such, was in charge of the money.
“Yes.” Dustin said. “It is you. Now, go ahead and do what you must, and quickly.” A tear leaked out of his eye and ran into his tangled mustache. Michael ran out of the room.
“Is he going to buy food?” Aaron asked, as that was one of Michael’s usual jobs. Dustin merely shook his head. No one could believe that Michael would betray Dustin. He was one of their best friends, they had lived with him for several years now.
“I am going to leave you soon,” Dustin said. “But you can’t come to where I am going.”
“No matter where you go, I will go, too. I would die for you!” Lukas said, sticking out his chest.
“Would you really?” Dustin asked, shaking his head. “Believe me, before the bells ring for morning prayers, you will have denied me three times.” Before he could protest, Dustin motioned for everyone to stand up. “Come. Let us go out to the mountain. It will be quiet out there.”
Hopefully, you see it in a different light now. To see what happens on the Good Friday segment, check here.