Monday Rewrite: Bethany

James is lurking in the doorway, his huge body bent a little and sagging with regret. He’s making the others nervous. Even this far from the city there is danger. Judas himself could be trudging through the night, bringing soldiers to pummel and arrest them all. But still James stands there, his dark outline framed against the speckled light of the stars. Muttering to himself about the mess they’ve all made of things. ‘Come in,’ Martha says, her eyes wide with urging, her demeanour busy with doing something, anything, to keep the anxiety at bay. ‘There’s food,’ she says, plate in hand, ‘it’s fresh.’ But he’s not hungry. Her sister Mary appears by his side, strength in her poise. She says nothing but she places an arm through his.

Their home in Bethany seemed the obvious place to run, but maybe they have brought trouble on these sisters now. He rubs his chins, swallows. Surely the worst has not happened. Not to Jesus. Not to the man who can walk on water and calm a storm. There isn’t a thug on earth that could knock him down surely. Peter maybe, he could be rotting in some black hole for shooting his mouth off, there’s no sign of him. And where’s John, his little brother? Why isn’t he here? Why hasn’t he escaped the city too? He thought of their old man Zebedee, would he ever understand what’s become of them?

Little does James know that tomorrow his younger brother will play the role of a lifetime, carry the distraught and ruined mother of Jesus back to a safe place, an adoptive son given charge of this faithful woman. Mary determined to stay near her son till the end, until she all but passed out from the terror and the trauma. There were many times when she had carried her vibrant boy, in his young and curious days, after he had tripped and slipped and bashed himself once more. And now he would carry her, if only he were able to do that. But he is not, his arms are all but broken and his breath is stolen away, and so John is given that critical, caring role. And meanwhile James hovers in Bethany, berating himself and the others for running scared after proclaiming themselves heroes. One day they won’t run and hide, one day they will give everything for this man from Nazareth. But for now they watch and wait.

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