He had a dream last night. The usual one. He’s standing at the foot of three crosses and the middle one is empty. Who was supposed to be on it? In his dream he’s terrified because he fears he’s let the prisoner escape. And then he sees the face of a superior officer he once knew. A good man who once had a very sick son. Yet he isn’t sick any more. A travelling rabbi healed him. The story still circulates. Even though that was 12 years ago. Always the same dream, the empty cross and the officer with the son. The worst of it is he shouldn’t have dreamt at all last night. He shouldn’t have been asleep. And now look. Chained up in the prison he was supposed to be guarding. He always prided himself in being a good soldier, the best of the best. He sighs. What will it be then? Punishment? Ejected from the army he loves? Or something worse? He looks again at his wrists. How could it happen? He had the prisoner shackled right there, barely six inches between them. Irons forging them together like a military umbilical cord. How could the guy escape? How? Apparently the stories already spreading out there, gushing through the streets like a babbling revolutionary brook. Ex-fisherman bust his way out of a Roman jail and six guards saw nothing. The might of the Roman empire belittled by a religious fanatic.
Why did he dream that dream again? It disturbs him, bangs at his brain like a chisel on stone. Almost as if the two were connected. The empty cross and the empty prison. He shakes his head and as he does it’s like a light flickers in his mind. The rabbi, he was supposed to be on that cross. He was on that cross. He recalls it now. He was standing at a distance on a day when three radicals used up nine nails. And three days later people said the middle man was alive and well again. Off the cross and still healing sick sons and daughters. That was what they said. And now it feels as if there’s a connection with this jail break. If he lives, if he survives the punishment for the misdemeanour, then he’ll get to the bottom of this. Find out if there’s living water at the source of this strange well. He sighs again, presses his head against the prison wall and shuts his eyes. As he begins to doze off he catches a glimpse of that empty cross again, and hears the distant echo of eight words in his head… ‘Today you will be with me in paradise…’
Acts 12 vv 6-19, Luke 23 vv 39-43