Dear Friends, when we think of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, after which Easter was intended to emphasize, we should contemplate our citizenship in heaven versus our citizenship here on earth. Jesus was resurrected—which should give us great hope for our own resurrection—and to celebrate this truth, I’ve written a historical fiction Easter short story based on a couple of Bible stories. This also serves as a prelude to a full novel I’ll be finalizing in a year or two. Have a joyful Resurrection Sunday! He is risen!
by D.I. Telbat
The boy was dead, Balas was sure of it. One second, the boy had been sleeping on the windowsill next to him, then he’d fallen out. Since Balas had been nearest the boy, he’d naturally lunged to catch at the boy’s clothing, or his foot, to save him. Now, he could be blamed for the boy’s death!
“Eutychus!” the boy’s father cried to his son from the third story window.
The father elbowed Balas aside to lean out the window and Balas gladly distanced himself from the gathering commotion. Even the speaker, Paul, had stopped talking about Jesus the Galilean who had died and come back to life.
Balas glanced at the stairs. He didn’t need this kind of attention. Many years had passed since he’d fled the Roman army, but he could still be punished if someone investigated and his identity were revealed.
Arriving on the street, Balas was tempted to flee to the ruins of Troy where he was camping. It was nearly midnight. If he left now, he could be at the ancient city by dawn.
The crowd gathered around the deceased boy, Eutychus, and Balas edged closer as well. These Christians spoke highly of joy and hope in their Savior’s resurrection, but what would they say now that one of their innocent children had perished?
Paul and his traveling companions held the crowd back. Balas was taller than most and peered over a woman’s shoulder to see Paul bow over the boy’s body and embrace him. It seemed an odd gesture for the religious man who’d been in Troas only a few days. Who was Paul to mourn for Eutychus when the boy’s father was right there?
“Do not be troubled,” Paul said suddenly, “for his life is in him.”
As Paul climbed to his feet, he drew Eutychus upright as well. Blood on the boy’s brow from the fall seemed to smear away without injury as his father kissed and held him. Paul, a much smaller man than Balas, announced they would continue their meeting upstairs.
“We have more to talk about,” Paul said. “Our citizenship in heaven will be our next subject. Not even death can hold God back.”
Balas grasped Paul’s arm before the speaker could return upstairs. Others moved around them in anticipation of the all-night lecture.
“What is this citizenship you speak of?” Though Balas was older now, his iron grip was reminiscent of his soldiering days. “I meant to gain my Roman citizenship years ago, but I failed in my duty. There is truly another citizenship to be acquired?”
“You are Balas the Merchant from Crete, are you not?”
Balas released Paul’s arm. He had remained in the shadows all night, listening to Paul’s words, hoping to draw no attention.
“You remembered.” Balas looked around, but saw only Paul’s travel companion—Luke, a Greek physician—within hearing range. “You bought tent-making supplies from me a few years ago in Corinth. I did not listen to you then, but perhaps your God has caused us to cross paths again here in Asia for me to hear your words now.”
“You were once a soldier?”
“Stationed out of Syria, I was on duty in Jerusalem with the Praetorian Guard as an auxiliary soldier. After sixteen years, I was due to discharge and receive the privilege of Roman citizenship.”
“Why did you not receive it?”
“I left my station.” Balas’ eyes strayed to the stone street where the boy had died and been raised to life again. “This Jesus you speak of—I once guarded His tomb. It was a pitiful job to be assigned to through that night, but I was expected to remain vigilant. The Jews—no offense—were known as instigators.”
“What happened at the tomb?” Paul moved nearer, his eyes wide with interest in the night lamps.
“There was a bright light. I remember that.” Balas shook his head. “I placed my hand on my sword, then the stone at my shoulder rolled away. There was no one there, I swear it! I awoke not long after that to see the body inside the tomb had been removed, so I fled for my life. My partner had already left. A month later, he died during his punishment at the garrison. I have been running ever since. All the years I served, and my citizenship was lost.”
“The citizenship you lost that third morning after the Christ’s death,” Paul said, “can be replaced by a citizenship in heaven—because the Christ lives!”
“I have heard rumors.”
“The light you saw that morning was God’s glory. He rose from the dead because He cannot stay dead. He is God in the flesh. He is my God and your God. I am not leaving until dawn. Come up and hear more. The others are waiting. Will you come?”
“I would rather not.” Balas pulled his travel cloak tighter around his shoulders. “I have brought enough attention to myself for one night.”
“Can we speak privately then?” Paul asked. “Will you wait until dawn for me? We can leave Troas together and talk on the way, wherever you are going next.”
“Very well.” Balas felt relief, knowing he would hear more about this heavenly citizenship. “At dawn, I am walking to Troy.”
“Then we will go together, and I will sail from Assos to rejoin my friends. See you soon, Balas.”
Balas backed into the shadows and stood against the wall of a residence. After so many years, that strange morning at the tomb was beginning to make sense. This man Paul seemed to hold the key to it all—including a citizenship Balas could still claim!
Authors note: Read Acts 20:7-13 for the real story!
COMING UP: Next time, David shares an author reflection with us titled, “One on One Special Operations.”