Once Upon a Tree

Ernest Hemingway wrote a book of short stories called Men Without Women. One of the stories included in that book is call "Today Is Friday." It is written in the form of a trilogy and deals with three Roman soldiers who had just crucified a Nazarene Carpenter. After they had crucified this Carpenter who had claimed to be the Son of God, they stopped by a tavern in ancient Jerusalem on the way back to the barracks.

One of the soldiers has been unaffected by the whole incident and drinks his ale as lustily as ever. Another of the soldiers just cannot forget this Carpenter - He seemed like such a good fellow - but he orders himself a cup of ale and begins to drink it. The third soldier is slapped on the back and told to order his ale and drink it. But he cannot. His heart and mind are still back there at the scene of the cross, and on the Man who was dying there.

While his raucous buddies "chug-a-lug" their ale, he keeps staring with that faraway look in his eyes and he says, "He sure looked good in there today." Then there is more laughter and more table talk in the tavern. But even in the midst of the ale and the gaiety, the thunderstruck soldier says again, "He sure looked good in there today."

Hemingway's story is not historical, but the reactions of these soldiers are the typical responses of all who ponder the cross.The great mass of people go through life untouched by its importance. Only a few have the sense and sobriety of that soldier who said, "He sure looked good in there today."

- Calvin Miller, "Once Upon a Tree"


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