Nine Witness Stories for the days of Holy Week, 2021
By James Clarke
These stories were commissioned by Hereford Diocese for their Holy Week Internet project.
Shared with permission.
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Palm Sunday: A Mother’s Story – A Family Outing.
We had come up to the city from Jericho for the Passover Festival. There’s always
plenty to do and see, and my husband and I thought our two are old enough now to
cope with the crowds and the waiting about. We’ve one of each, Sarai and Jacob. And
this is the first time we took them to Jerusalem.
I don’t honestly know what happened -we wanted to see the parade, well my husband
did really, . The Governor Pilate riding in full pomp with his honour guard, to make sure
everyone knows who is in charge., I’m no fan of the Romans, but they do put on a great
parade, and it would have been a great sight for the children to see! The crowds were
so great that we couldn’t get across the city to see it happen, instead we were stuck on
our side, , near a little Olive Grove called Gethsemane, and found ourselves in another
crowd that seemed to be gathering as we heard singing and cheering coming down the
road from Bethany.
“Jesus!”, “Saviour!” “Jesus!” getting louder as they came nearer and nearer
I had heard about Jesus. He’d been down to Jericho, and taught there for a while.
Seemed honest and straight forward, and unlike most of our religious leaders, you could
understand him.. loving and serving seemed to be more important than the rules we
are supposed to follow… and there were several women in his party, which I liked to
It was a bit of a shock even so, when he invited himself to dinner with Zacchaeus, a
Rabbi eating with Roman Agent, who admitted fiddling our taxes!
So we went along with the Sunday crowd to see what this “Prophet” was up to now!
As the procession came round the corner from the steep road down, we were suddenly
stuck in crowds and crowds of people.., at the heart of it all was Jesus. But unlike
Governor Pilate on his great charger, Jesus was sitting on a very young- – donkey! The
crowd still cheered him, the only laugh was a warm and friendly rumble of noise as
people saw man and beast together! All round him was that same group of men and
women. They were leading the cheering – carrying and waving huge branches of palm
as they surrounded him. I recognized most of them from Jesus’ visit to Jericho.
Then in front of us the donkey slowed right down – he had no choice – and then crowd
parted to let him through and then started to close behind him again. But before we
lost Jesus and the donkey in the crowd, he saw our two children, looked them in the eye
and called their names, lifted them up on to his donkey and carried them with him for a
few yards till the crowd started to close up…..and he returned them safely to us with a
brief word of blessing.
How did he know their names?
People were everywhere, and masses just cheered and waved clothes, scarves
anything they could, some were putting cloaks on the road…Palms – Branches of
trees, everything was waved, even children it seemed.. and the cries:
“Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Help me! Jesus here!
“Hallelujah! “Hosanah, David’s son!!
“Hail the New King!”
I couldn’t help but join in!
“Hallelujah! Hosanna in Highest Heaven!”
Of course we followed. The children would never forgive me if we didn’t, so we went
deep into the city after all, but I almost wished we hadn’t, because in the city, especially
near the Temple, the mood changed. Passover just a week away, less – only 5 days,
the tension was in the air everywhere you went.
We had heard that Jesus had been in tears over the Holy City, which the Scriptures tell
us had failed God (and His people) time and time again…. the people expected a new
leader, someone to rescue them from the grip of that foreign army, and make Jerusalem
truly the centre of the world….But here they were. Cheering and praising a gentle Rabbi
riding on the back of a rough farm animal .
The religious leaders were the first to react; “Teacher, tell your fans to be quiet!”
“If I tell them to be quiet, these old stones would shout instead!”
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Monday: The Market Traders story.
(Youngish man, a bit spiv like – “know what I mean eh?”)
As one of the money traders in the Temple, I have to be here early – usually before first
light, and it is often cold – feet and fingers nipped even in these mighty courts! We get
on well together us traders, help each other with the stalls and share a drink or a bite
from time to time.
Our places are fixed, no scramble to get to the front, we go where we are told, I’m
towards the back in the middle. Of course the front ones get the best trade, but it takes
years to get one of those tables! I don’t mind, I just have to make sure I have good
offer, more Temple Money for the visitors – in the end they have to buy – no one can go
in to the Temple proper without the right money, and I can move the rates up and
down….or up and up… know what I mean? to suit the customer…they come from all
over.. Egypt, Antioch, Cyprus, Rome even Greece.., they’ve no idea how much these
things – these Temple Coins – are really worth! Good for me that…..
Second day of the week, mostly the quietest, the Sabbath rush is over, and the crowds
for this week’s Passover are still only a trickle, it’ll be different in just a couple of days! I
see Jesus the Prophet from the North is here already, with his band of followers- the
ordinary folk love his teaching.
Well, even I can understand it, I wish I could have heard him on the green grass of
Galilee.. no chance of that for me….
Already there’s a crowd round him, hanging on to every word, some of them even say
he might be the One, the Messiah everyone wants to get rid of the Romans…. I don’t
see Jesus doing that with his motley crew around him!
I gather there was a bit of a show for him yesterday…coming in to the city with crowds
cheering him on… wish I’d seen that!
The “Nobs” as I call them, Pharisees and the like, they don’t like him. When he praised
the widow who dropped a couple of tiny coins in the box, that shut up the ones who like
to be seen giving lots of cash they can well afford …
Hey! What’s happening?
Is that Jesus? It is! Has he gone mad?
He’s got a belt or a whip of some kind and he is tipping tables over down at the front…
there’s cash every where – I better get mine off and in the bag….too late..
Oh! He’s emptying the bags – the money’s going everywhere- traders are scrabbling to
stop the punters grabbing it.. there’s feathers and pigeons everywhere.. and the lambs
are in a total panic… it’s complete chaos
I have never seen him angry before, usually patient and kind – but he is really furious
“Jesus! Why’re you doing this? What’ve we done to you? We are only trying to make
a living and do what the Temple tells us to do….
“It’s my Father’s House.
It should be a House of Prayer..
It has become a rat’s nest of thieves and vagabonds!”
Oh Well! I guess that’s it for the day, better see what I can rescue for tomorrow.,
Tell you what the rates’ll have to go up to make up for this!
Know what I mean?
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Tuesday: Simon Peter’s Story.
(reflective – anxious)
Jesus has brought us away from the city. He asked me, Peter, to round up everyone
last evening and come up here by first light. It has been a pretty powerful day or two..
we did as he asked, got a donkey (the farmer seemed to expect us) and we entered
Jerusalem with crowds and crowds of people cheering us in. He warned it wouldn’t be
like that often! Sure enough Monday we were lucky to get out of the Temple without
being arrested…Jesus seemed to be both upset and very angry about the way the
Temple is being used, and set about cleaning it up, so to speak.
We often come up here, near Bethany, where Lazarus and the sisters live, Jesus has
been praying since before dawn, I try to pray, but my thoughts just go back over things
that are going on, and wondering where it will all end.
What is he trying to do?
He said he would be taken and killed, I said we’d stand by him and stop it, that got me a
firm telling off I can tell you. But even when he tells me off, I can feel the love he shares
with all of us, well, with everyone he meets I think… I feel that he may be sensing that
whatever is coming has to be faced and now is the time. The tension can be almost
unbearable, especially when the Pharisees challenge everything he does, even when it
is obviously good..
Why, oh why, can’t they see that?
It’s Passover week, there are thousands pouring into the city, maybe he wants the
world to know about him?
I look back over recent weeks, and see that moment on the mountain top. He is
different. He is God amongst us, I must hold on to that. Seeing him as God – I can’t
share it with the others yet, but it gives me strength having seen him as he really is!
I do want to do what he wants, but I want to protect him, but when I see him as he was
on the mountain.. does he need my protection? I know I need his.
I look back on the days in Galilee, the thousands listening to him. The synagogue
sermons and lessons to the people, the sick people he cured, the calm he gave to the
troubled. No one was ever turned away, some walked away themselves, but that was
them not him. And the Lake, how I would love to be out there now, the sail tugging in
the wind, my cheeks glowing with the air, teaching my boy to look for signs of fish
below, and how to sail safely even in a gale… will I ever do that again? I wonder?
Jesus sitting at the back of the boat, often dozing off, as if this was his peaceful time
out.. but there was one storm…. Oh boy that was a night!
Wow! Where have I been, the sun is dropping already, and Jesus is calling us together,
he says to rest tonight, we are going back to the city tomorrow. Keep praying he says,
remember the words of the psalm:
“God is a mighty fortress
Always ready to help
In times of trouble.” (Ps 46 v1)
What’s next for all of us, especially him?
Where is it going to end – will we see his Kingdom soon?
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Wednesday: Nicodemus’ Story.
(A wise Pharisee elderly, reflective, not happy with what he sees.)
My fellow Pharisees have beckoned me over, I hoped they wouldn’t notice me:
“Nicodemus! Come on – we want to see what this ‘prophet’ is made of!”
I wasn’t keen, I suspect they just want to try and trip Jesus up, they know I have met
him, and that makes me suspect in their eyes.. even so I think I will get close enough to
hear what’s going on at least..
It has been quite a week!
Everyone’s talking about the First Day. An entry like no other into our ancient city! The
crowds then had no doubt he was the One – the long expected Messiah, the donkey, the
palm branches, made no difference: he was their saviour, their Jesus.. so different
from us Pharisees we are definitely not theirs at all. Then the next morning as the
traders got going and the usual fiddles and cheating was in full swing, Jesus just took
control and everyone stood and watched as he turned the traders over and out….even
the Temple Guard didn’t approach him, they knew as well as I do what goes on round
Now Jesus and his group have come back into the Temple, nothing unusual in that, he
comes in every day when he is in Jerusalem, although I have seen how upset it makes
him at times, I wish I knew why?
I did meet him one night, he certainly challenged me, talking about being “born again”, I
left more confused than before, but gradually his teaching, his warmth, and his care and
love for everyone, no matter what, tell me we should be listening to him. Not trying to
shut him up all the time.
So I have drifted to the group of Pharisees, I’m wondering what they are going to say to
Jesus, one thing is sure, they’ll try to catch him out, I wish they wouldn’t.
Ah, yes, here it comes! “What right have you got to do the things you do?” to Jesus.
Jesus’s answer came straight away:
“John the Baptiser, where did he get his authority, from God or man?
What a great question! Authority? I have never heard any preacher more powerful and
authoritative than John. Jesus just turned it round, because they couldn’t say one or the
other without looking stupid. So. Jesus just didn’t need to justify himself to them either!
The Sadducees had a go. Some daft complicated tale about a woman widowed many
times over, which husband would be hers in Heaven? Daft because the Sads (as I call
them) spend their time telling us there is no risen life, no heaven. Another soft answer
from Jesus, but a complete answer, heaven will be different! In any case if you knew
your scripture, you would know God is the God of the living, Moses Abraham and so on,
I could have clapped!!
Then one of my friends, a lawyer, gently asks what Jesus thinks is the greatest
commandment? “Love God, with all you are, and love your neighbour as yourself”, a
serious answer to a serious question, this time I did clap!
An awkward day, in an awkward week. I see my colleagues are still grumbling and put
out. Why can’t they see good in front of their eyes? What have they lost in their black
and white world?
OH! Isn’t that Judas talking in the corner with a couple of the leaders? I wonder what
they are up to….? I don’t like it, I don’t like it at all.
I have had enough of today, of this week. I will just go into the quiet of the Temple, and
pray, I sense something is happening around me, and I can’t grasp it. I just can’t see
where it’s all going to end.
Maybe we’ll get through this Passover without trouble? Maybe…
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Thursday: John Mark’s Story.
(breathy 15 year old – urgent – pacey)
That’s my Mum calling me, “John Mark, John Mark! You can go out when we’ve
finished clearing up here, come on!”
Jesus and his friends have just gone out, they had their Passover Supper here in our
upstairs room. Mum and the other women who’d been travelling about with him had
got the food ready, and I served them. Mum’s often been out been with them since
Jesus started coming to Jerusalem.
It was a funny evening, it started with Jesus washing his friends’ feet! That’s a job I
was supposed to do and I had my bowl and clean towels all ready!
Later, all around the room everyone seemed tense, and at one point Jesus said
something, and everybody stopped, I saw them all start pointing fingers at each
other and asking “Do you mean me?” time and time again..
I kept myself hidden behind the big chest next to the door so I could watch what was
going on but also so Mum couldn’t see me and put me to washing pots. They seem
to settle down and there was a marvellous moment when Jesus picked up one of the
flatbreads, tore it in bits and passed it round.. telling them do the same – “It’s my
body, do this to remember me”. Just before they went out he did something similar
with a wine cup – “This is my Blood….” I missed the rest but everyone was very still..
thinking about it I guess….it seemed very special and important to all of them.
Judas slipped out soon after, and everyone was less tense after that. At the end
they all stood and sang, and headed out towards Bethany I think… I’m going out to
find them as soon as I have cleared up in here…..
(next para as if whispered)
Well, Mum let me go, so I have caught up with them all. Most of the men are asleep
under the olive trees, but Jesus is over there, and seems to be upset. He’s praying
like I’ve never seen before….you’d say he is desperate… uh, huh! He’s coming back
over here to where Peter and the others are. I think he is asking for them to pray
with him, but they are very sleepy, and he’s left them to it! He is very upset, I have
never seen him so upset.
(Nervous -jumpy speaking)
Hello, what’s that?
Marching feet? Soldiers?
What are they doing at this time of night?
Oh! It’s the Temple Guard and they seem to be heading this way….
Jesus is waking up his friends…urging them to their feet… he’s very calm, though,
his friends all round him, one or two have swords at the ready. The Guard comes
into the Garden –
Judas is with them!
He goes up to Jesus and embraces him. At once the Guards come and grab his
arms.. a few swords flash in the light of the torches, but Jesus calls out “Stop!”; the
guards let him go to one of the squad who seems to be hurt, Jesus was able to help
him, and is now quietly back between two huge guards.. all the followers have gone,
and I, I ,I better get out of here!!!!
(as if whispering again..)
I did run away, leaving most of my clothes behind…and found out the Guards took
Jesus to the High Priest’s House….I sneaked in to the back of the huge courtyard,
and saw a few of his friends had crept in too.. Peter is right down close to the house,
near a fire.. I wouldn’t want to be that close…
I can hear arguing and shouting from inside, the Council is Meeting I suppose to
decide what to do with Jesus.. it’s still very dark, but I have been out all night now.
Mum’ll be worried, but I had to follow, I had to. She’ll understand…..if anything bad
happens to Jesus I think she’ll be there.
Soon be dawn.. Peter’s having an argument with a girl down there, he seems to be
shaking his head and shouting!
Ah! Cockerel’s can make a noise, oh Peter? What’s wrong? He’s just run past me
tears streaming down his face, he’s always good to me, I must see if I can help… I
think the guards are taking Jesus somewhere.. to Pilate’s house the people round
me are saying…
(As If shouting…)
Peter! Peter! I’m coming!!
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Good Friday: Jesus’ Brother’s Story.
(Original idea Rev, Patricia Rogers)
(Young adult male 20s,at first angry)
How as it come to this?
Look at mother, his mother, standing watching her son die, a condemned man. I am
only glad that father isn’t around to see this. At least one of his friends is there with her,
they wouldn’t let me in, even though I am his brother.
I mean, I couldn’t say Jesus was strange, but he is different. All those hours spent with
the Rabbi back in Nazareth, and every day, everyday, his nose in the scrolls of
scripture, I think the Prophet Isaiah kept him occupied for weeks at a time… but this?
How did it come to this?
Different, but a good brother, and Abba said he was the best apprentice he had ever
had, a first class carpenter – what a pointless waste! I took over his work when he set
out on this foolish errand, “proclaiming the kingdom” ! three years of wandering about,
getting a very odd bunch of people around him, it would be unbelievable, if it wasn’t
happening in front of my eyes.
That time he preached in Nazareth, and said that Isaiah’s words applied to him, that
was too much for the town folk, they wanted to chuck him over the cliff, for blasphemy, I
guess. Maybe it would have been better if they had?
Jesus’ friend John has just taken mother into his arms, I think they are comforting each
other. I like John, one of the fisherfolk from Galilee, but quiet and thoughtful. Jesus is
speaking, I must get closer, “Let me through – he’s my brother! Please!”
I don’t understand. He is talking quite calmly, telling mother to treat John as her son,
and John to see her as his mother! But he is so calm, even the soldiers are a bit
surprised and they have seen everything, they’ve shared his clothes, they’re saying he
asked for them to be forgiven for hurting him…..
Now he’s reciting something.. one of the psalms, I think. But he ought to be shouting out
in pain and anger, I mean he hasn’t done anything to deserve this. How the Council got
this verdict I don’t know. He is certainly no threat to the emperor.. what’s that Pilate
had put up there? King of the Jews? Bet Herod doesn’t like that either. He did talk
about the kingdom all the time, but I never saw it as anything to do with Rome, or Herod
either, more a kingdom of the mind, a way of thinking and living. Oh. Jesus, what have
you done? Sooner or later your preaching was going to upset the Pharisees and their
You did talk about turning the other cheek, about giving away your shirt, about how the
poor will be blessed, the prisoners set free…the mourners comforted.,., see I do
remember some of your sermons that I heard as I grew up!
I wonder? I look at you now, and you look as if you know exactly what you are doing.
Yes you are in pain, and you will die slow and vicious death, there’s nothing I can do to
help you. But I can hear your words in my mind, those great days near the Lake, when
the thousands saw you and adored you. Now there are just a few, John’s there and the
women who’ve been with you for ages right by the cross, and some of your other friends
are here, I have seen Peter at the back of the crowd… they have been much closer to
you than I ever was. I’m wishing now that I had been, because your words fill my head,
the good things you did, the people you helped, the lives you have changed..
I can see you now, all that study, that faith that burns in you like a flame, all that you
Why are you looking at me like that?
Oh Jesus! Is it too late for me, can you change my life at this late stage?
It’s over! Thanks be to God, his suffering is ended. I must get to mother.
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Good Friday: The Centurion’s Story.
(this man has two voices, he is reflecting on what he has seen, and he is composing his
report to the Governor, a more formal language style)
“But, Excellency, an execution squad doesn’t need an officer of my experience to
manage it! Especially not with such a weak looking specimen as that!”
“Nevertheless, it’s you I want to do it. I have an uneasy feeling about this one. I
am relying on you to get it done efficiently. Don’t forget the wretched Pharisees
are already whining about their sacred festival this weekend!”
“As you command, Excellency. I will pick my squad with this in mind. Sir!!”
That’s how my day started, he had “an uneasy feeling”, indeed! It’s a horrible
commission, and as an experienced Centurion I reckoned I had done my share of them
already, so I set out wanting to get it over as soon as possible.
But from the beginning nothing about this day was as set out in “Orders of the Day”. The
baying mob had largely dispersed, the Jewish authorities had got their way, and were
focused on the “Passover” as they call it, thinking they had got the threat to their
precious status and power out of the way.
As I joined the squad, the men were having a go at the prisoner. A purple robe (where
did they get that from?) a “crown” of vicious spikes… some joshing and bullying and
betting on how long he’ll last… well it’s a horrible job and it ,ight make it a bit easier…
As soon as I got close to the prisoner I remembered a story from a fellow officer in
Capernaum. This same man, wretched and humiliated now, had willingly gone out of
his way to help one of the Officer’s servants….what had gone wrong for him I
By this time I had a report that the prisoner was too weak to carry his own crossbeam. I
had a couple of visitors hauled out of the crowd of supporters to carry it for him.
People kept pressing to speak to him and to be close to him, it took twice as long as it
should to get to the execution site, and when we finally started on the horrible business
of nailing the three of them on – the other two were a couple of common thieves- the
prisoner asked his god to forgive the soldiers. Forgive us? Never, never, had I heard
anything like that before.
Pilate had a notice over the prisoner’s head. “The King of the Jews”. Not much of a
king now , I thought. The charge sheet said the prisoner was to be executed for
sedition, a threat to the Emperor, but I knew it was really some kind of internal Jewish
religious squabble that had brought him to this.
At the noon hour check, all three prisoners were weakening, and it had become
unusually gloomy, darkness covered the city.
A few Jews were hanging around, mocking him, and calling out for him to show his
godly power and come down. More significantly, I had let a small group of his
supporters, mostly women from the north inside the cordon. I could hear some odd
northern voices in the crowd too, his followers, I guessed, not likely to be any trouble,
but we did watch them.
Suddenly, there was buzz in the crowd. I was alert, but it was just that the prisoner was
speaking, he was promising one of the thieves a place with him later that day. I was
puzzled, but let it pass, was he wandering? Then I saw and heard something that told
me he was still in full command of his faculties; he spoke directly to a woman who I
now know to be his mother, and a man with her, asking them to look after each other.
Never, never, Sir, have I seen a condemned prisoner do any such thing before. It was
one among many strange things this day.
It was as if he recognised the cruelty we were imposing, was nothing to do with us.
Just before the mid afternoon check, the darkness increased, and I saw someone trying
to get some liquid up to the prisoner’s mouth. The prisoner seemed to straighten, look
up, and call out, and died. No doubt, Sir, at that moment he chose to die. Could it be as
if he has achieved his goal?
I could not stop myself from speaking out . This prisoner, Jesus, was no ordinary felon,
no criminal at all. At that moment I knew he was much more. Everything I had
witnessed, every duty I had performed that day led to this moment for me:
“Surely, he was the Son of God!”
Then we got the call to break their legs, I stopped them from doing any more damage to
Jesus, but one of the men had stuck a spear in his side, it looked like blood and water
coming out, but he was gone anyway.
I don’t know about anyone else witnessing these events,
but it has certainly changed me.
+ + +
Saturday: Joseph’s Story.
(A wise elderly man reflecting thoughtfully and feeling guilty)
Yes, yes, I buried him. Me. Joseph from Arimathea, “respected” member of the
Council, the Council that condemned him in that travesty of justice. I put his broken
body in my own tomb. Pilate didn’t hesitate when I asked him, especially when I told
him it was my own tomb and it was ready, he seemed to think it would be a good thing
to have Jesus out of sight…. So I had him brought here and I buried him.
My own family think I have taken leave of my senses, we bought this plot and garden
years ago, and now I have given it to an executed “criminal”. Worse for them, we have
to get another one for me, and them!
But. But. What else could I do?
I had met this travelling Rabbi from the north a few times, listened to him and talked to
him, he would always give a helpful and thoughtful answer – challenging too quite often.
Gradually I came to see he really was something very special, maybe even the Messiah
As a member of Council I to be very careful, many knew I was sympathetic – at that
farce of a trial I could do nothing. I tried to speak, but the High Priest carefully never
looked my way… even when I pushed to the front…I needn’t have bothered, but I had to
try to stop the lies and nonsense. I am so ashamed, ashamed, I failed to do even that.
It was almost as if Jesus knew he had to bring it to an end, and decided to reveal His
True Self in simple words.
“Are you the Messiah, son of the Blessed One?”
“I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power.”
That was enough! “He claims to be God! What more do we need?” So they rushed him
off to Pilate with a cock and bull tale about Jesus being “a threat to the Emperor” -as if
they cared about the Emperor – what a joke! This north country Rabbi with a few men
and women followers, no army, no weapons, some threat he was!
But here we are. This is a fine rock rolled over the entrance, warm to the touch in the
evening sun, and Jesus is inside, we did what we could for him, wrapped him in a linen
shroud, covered his battered face. Shame those marvellous, faithful, women couldn’t
do what they wanted with the spices and so on. That will have to wait till First Day
morning and Sabbath is done, Passover put to bed for another year. The women will be
here first light, I’ll come along to do what I can, it is the least I can do…
Y’know, I am more and more convinced that he just might have been The One.
What have we done?
The signs were there often enough, and right up to the end, perhaps even more then,
his carriage and demeaner were not of a beaten man who had lost everything. Yes,
yes, his body was battered, floggings, mockery, that cruel crown, all that, and
crucifixion – God! what a terrible way to kill someone – his body couldn’t take any
more….but, but, hanging up there, caring for his mother and friend, forgiving the
soldiers, even encouraging the thief on the cross next to him, I think I heard him reciting
a psalm, and that shout -of triumph? – as he died… I don’t think he saw it as a defeat.
Yes, yes, I’m old and maybe rambling, but as I stand by this rock , in the warmth of the
evening sun, seeing my favourite view of the city….I am more and more sure this is not
going to be the last we hear of Jesus of Nazareth.
+ + +
Easter Day: The Women’s Story.
I can’t begin to describe today!
It started well before dawn, when we women met up near the city gate, to go up to the
Garden and Blessed Joseph’s tomb. We had been there on Friday evening, but we
couldn’t stay because of the Sabbath starting at dusk.
I know when we were young we talked about being broken hearted….but now I know
what it really feels like. It is a pain, a lead wait in my chest of sadness and rage at what
they did to my Lord. I came with them from Capernaum, hoping and praying that the
Kingdom would be established here in Jerusalem, but it all seemed to be lost. At one
point there was a quite a group of us in the early light, we must have been a sight,
walking up the hill to the garden, worrying about the guards, and how we could hardly
bear to touch His body, and there was that great stone too, maybe the guards would
Mary from Magdala was with us, Salome, Joanna, and Mary, James’ mum, I think I
saw John Mark’s mum too in the group behind.
It was nothing like we expected. We were surprised there was no guard on the gate,
instead it was swinging open, and as we walked up the path we saw swords, shields
helmets all over the place. This worried us, because we were afraid someone might
come and steal his body….but it got even more strange as we saw the tomb itself.
It was like a bright, bright burning light, a radiance we didn’t know where from, then we
knew. It was from the tomb entrance, not like a fire but a steady very bright radiance.
And then we saw them.
The light was two men – well they looked like men – but I knew they were God’s Angels
looking straight at me. I stepped back, Joanna caught me else I would have fallen over,
some of us did… and then they spoke.
In the gentlest way. They spoke.
“You are looking for Jesus.
He isn’t here
He is alive
Go and tell the disciples.”
He is alive? At that moment I just couldn’t take it in – most of us ran away, scared out
of their wits, naturally enough I suppose.. we met them later and they were shaken but
ok, we still wondered just what it did mean. Mary from Magdala stayed there weeping,
she couldn’t take it in either, and was utterly distraught and inconsolable
I set off to find Peter or John to tell them what I had seen, but couldn’t find them, the
ones I saw thought I was talking nonsense because I was so upset.
I met Mary from Magdala a few hours later, she told me what happened to her, no more
sadness, just absolute joy. She had seen and talked to Jesus, thinking he was the
gardener at first, I doubt she could see anything she was crying so much when I left her.
One thing was odd, she said he stopped her holding on to him, she said it was
something about “going to his Father”….
I told you I can hardly begin describe today, especially the turmoil we all felt.
Some of us who had set out so sadly early in the morning, joined the men back in the
Upper Room in the twilight. The room was buzzing, Peter had seen Jesus. He and John
had been into the tomb and seen how tidy the shroud and face napkin were, nothing like
the chaos outside the tomb!
We were locked and bolted in, we weren’t ready to face anyone else yet. Suddenly, He
was here, no door opened, no window. But He was here, everyone stopped rigid, I
swear I heard hearts beating in the silence.
“Peace be with you”
No words could have been more powerful.
“Peace be with you”.
Then he showed us his terrible wounds, but he was not injured now, he was whole, but
the body he stood in carried the damage of the cross, I can’t explain, I just can’t.
“Peace be with you – God the Father sent me, so I send you”
And he breathed on us, and I felt power and confidence enter my body. At that moment
I realised. Jesus had died, but now he was here, alive, different but alive, in that
moment he was gone.
The terror, the grief, the anger of the last days was gone. He is alive! I am so calm
now. We looked at each other in that room, and I think everyone said the same:
Will I ever see him again?