A Page from a Journal
It started as one of many weeks. We were on another walk. On this one my Master made arrangements to have a donkey brought and he rode on it into Jerusalem itself. Half of us crowded around him staving off some of the throng that joined along the way. Peter and Andrew were before us asking others to join in. and they did. I'm certain that almost two hundred came with us into the city, treating Him as the King of us all, the King of the Jews.
Next came the incidents in the Temple and our short return to Bethany. I could feel the air around me crackling and the sand and dirt below groaning but nothing -- not even everything our beloved Master had plainly told us -- could have prepared me for all that has followed.
We spent the Passover meal in the same room we now occupy. The servants of the hall and our sisters had things prepared in advance of our arrival. We changed into our best clothes and were about to eat when Jesus insisted on washing our feet. Most of us were humbled by his actions, even after Peter's normal overreaction. He gently washed and dried my feet tenderly and looked up at me for a short moment with a tear in His eye.
He started our meal with the required stories and prayers - and then added to them. "This IS my body, given for each of you. When you break bread in this way, remember ME". He looked at the bread, yet through it; He looked at each of us, yet through us to the very core. "This IS the cup of my own blood shed for each of you. When you drink in this way, remember ME". The same piercing stare was on his face, an uncommon combination of pain and peace. We all took part in the ceremony. Judas left in the middle of the recitations. The Master asked Peter, James and I to go with Him to pray. We had prayed for hours, but there was so much quiet pain in His voice I suggested to the others that we should go with Him.
I fell asleep, tired from the week and full of food and wine. I woke when someone bumped into my outstretched leg. Judas had returned with mercenaries of Rome. They arrested Him and He explicitly told us not to become involved. They took Him away.
James and I went back to the room, Peter went his own way. I broke the news to His mother who crumbled to the floor, rocking back and forth moaning "…it has come to this. His time has come and my labor begins again; it has come to this". Her voice was gone and her body shook with grief, yet she made no sound. I believed her heart must be breaking.
It took hours to summon the courage to accompany Mary and His mother to the Roman quarter. Pilate stood on the balcony trying to reason with a mob. Our Master stood, covered in a tunic shirt stained through with old and fresh blood. Mary was nearly uncontrollable while His mother stood, eyes glazed over with tears and disbelief.
We walked along as he made his way to Golgotha, old blood stained posts in place from prior crucifixions. He was stripped of the tunic and nailed down, naked to the crude T form. There were others being slaughtered at the same time and my beloved Rabbi and friend was secured between two robbers I was told. My sisters prayed with me to spare him from a lengthy death. I had heard that many are slow to die.
He called to me and His mother and with few words put her life into my care. Of course I will make certain she wants for nothing. After praying to His Father and whispering He had finished His work His pain distorted face became relaxed. He took a wheezing breath, exhaled and died, his eyes half open.
We all felt a rumble beneath us as if the earth groaned for Him and in a moment it was over. None of my brothers were with me; no Peter, no Judas. A minister of the temple had secretly made arrangements to take His body for burial. Joseph, a legionnaire and I pried him off the wood and lowered his body, covering his shame, into the arms of His mother and mine. She took a cloth, spit on it and wiped the blood, sweat and tears from His face. We took him to the burial place quickly as the Sabbath was closing in. The tomb was closed and I thought I saw a soldier approach.
We four, Joseph included, went back to the rented hall. It took some coaxing to get inside the door, but Matthew finally let us in. Peter was not there, nor Judas. My mother and Mary went to one side of the room to speak and console one another while I told my brothers what I had seen. Peter didn't return until early morning, nearly incoherent repeating over and over about the cock crow and saying "I lied, I failed Him". The Sabbath day was dark and dismal. Although Andrew tried to encourage us to pray, our pain prevailed.
On Sunday the women, keeping with our traditions went to perfume the Lord's body, only to find it gone. Angels dwelt where He had been and said "He is Risen, as He said He would". They thought they saw him among the brush near the tombs and, on the Master's instructions told us He would meet with us soon.
Is it too good to be true? While my mind remains fixed on all I had seen, my heart knew He would be with us again. Peter and I ran to the tomb, only to find it as the women had said. We came back chattering like madmen. Belief is more than simply seeing and I believe we will see Him -- as never before -- soon. John, the servant of Jesus, the Messiah.