I don’t know how to start.
I don’t know how it all started.
One moment I was moving silently, stealthily through the market, the next moment found me on the floor, bruised, beaten, battered.
A rubber tyre hung around my neck like the jewels I took pleasure in dispossessing the unsuspecting wearers of.
I roused in alarm. Apparently I had fainted. Apparently I was now in deep, deep trouble. A crowd had gathered around me, chattering excitedly. “Thief!” “We finally caught you today!” “Burn him!”
I opened my mouth to protest, but the taste of kerosene being poured on me dried my tongue. My God! Is this the end for me? Is this it? Jungle justice! It wasn’t my fault that I had kleptomania in my genes. I was born this way! Believe me, I tried. I did. But I just couldn’t stop.
A menacing figure stood above me, the messenger of death, with a lighter in hand. I said my last prayer, hoping God would hear me.
That was when I saw him.
Apparently everyone else saw him too.
He was dressed in all white. He exuded an aura of authority. All eyes were on him as he said “Release him. Take me instead.”
They beat him, tore off his clothes. He took it all in stride, not once uttering even a sigh of complaint.
He took the very treatment I deserved.
And…I watched as they burnt him to ashes.
The tears couldn’t stop flowing. Normally I’m not one given to emotions, but today, they flowed freely. I cried like it was the last time I would have the opportunity to.
An hour passed.
Curious onlookers gathered as the ashes began to stir. Slowly, a figure rose from the ashes, shining brilliantly.
It was him!
While i was trying to decipher this mysterious happenstance, the head of the mob, the one who held the lighter, the dreadful masquerade and messenger of death reappeared.
“Hold it! What manner of tomfoolery is this? Oh!!! So, because you…” he was pointing at me, “…you knew he could never die, so you allowed him to take your place! Never!! You must die!”
“No!”, roared my Saviour. “He is dead already. A man can only die once, after that, what remains is the judgement. And I was judged in his place. Whoever I set free is free indeed.”