What happened? What the hell happened? A week ago we were entering the city in triumph. People were shouting “hail to the king,” throwing their cloaks on the road in front of him and waving palm branches.
And now we are huddled in this dark little room with the doors locked, and he is dead. The revolution has failed. It’s over.
I sit on the floor with my back to the wall, knees pulled up to my chest, hiding with the rest of them. I disappear under my cloak – whew this thing is smelly; I need to find a stream soon. Most of them are still asleep on the floor. What now? What are we going to do now? Go back home, I guess, ignore the jeers and cruel jokes from the people of my village who told me I was crazy to follow him when I left three years ago.
But I couldn’t not go with him. There was something about him, a connection with something far beyond myself, a sense that he was inviting me into a life I had never before known.
At first I stayed with the group because I didn’t know what else to do. The man, his name was Jesus I found out, talked in ways I didn’t understand, did things that to me that seemed impossible. He would lay his hands on the eyes of a blind person and suddenly that person could see. Once when we were in a huge crowd a woman who had some blood thing going on touched just the hem of his robe and was healed. Kinda scary, really.
He stood up to the authorities, I’ll give him that. They wanted him silenced because he challenged what they taught, them and their 900 rules about pleasing God. Pleasing themselves, that’s what they were doing.
But sometimes I couldn’t figure him out. Once a guy, a leader in the synagogue, came to Jesus at night. You could tell the guy was intrigued, wanted to know more about Jesus. And he had money – we coulda used that. And what does Jesus do? Tells the guy to give away everything – everything – to the poor. Wait, Jesus, we are the poor, I thought. But the guy couldn’t do it, so he went away. And the look in Jesus’ eyes was, well, he looked at the guy with love.
These past few days have been hard on all of us. We were sharing the Passover meal the other night and Jesus did something really strange – he washed our feet. All of us, even mine. I’ve never been part of the big three – Peter, James, and John. But he washed my feet, too. I didn’t know what to make of it. And he started saying strange things about him having to go away but that he would give us a “helper,” and he gave us this long speech about loving each other.
Then all this commotion began in the garden and guards came and arrested Jesus. Apparently our friend Judas was leading them. I knew what Judas was doing – he was forcing the hand of Jesus; tired of waiting for the revolution to begin I guess.
Then the Romans got involved and there was this trial and a big crowd gathered and started shouting, “Crucify him.” The same crowd who had hailed him as king a few days ago. Go figure.
We didn’t really think they would do it, and then it became apparent that they actually were going to crucify him, and that’s when we all scattered. Jesus’ mother and some of the other women and John stayed by the cross. They said later it was awful. It was unimaginable that this good man would be killed. We had had such hopes that we could change the world, that the kingdom Jesus taught us about could really happen. That people would think about others before themselves, that widows and orphans would be taken care of, that instead of loving God’s laws people would actually love god.
Some of us think it can still happen. Matthew and John were saying around the fire last night that we have to write it all down, we have to keep telling the story, we have to teach others what Jesus taught us. That may be fine for them, but my friends back home don’t read. I don’t have any influence in high places like they do. No one would listen to me.
But wait, what’s going on over there? The women had gone to anoint the body and now they have come back and are saying they saw Jesus alive, they talked to him, that he has been resurrected just like he said he would. Everyone is jumping up and hugging each other and laughing and carrying on.
And here now, look, Jesus is standing among them; I don’t know how but he is here in the flesh. And now he is coming over to me and kneels down and looks me straight in the eyes and says, “You can do this. You can tell others about me, about the fire that stills burns inside of you even when you want to deny it and even when people don’t want to hear about it. It won’t always be easy, but you will find others like you along the way. And it will be the greatest joy you have ever known.”
And then he breathes on me, and I am transformed.
Marjorie George is editor of ReflectionsOnline and Reflections magazine. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org