Four Stories by James Clarke

Mary’s mother tells the Rabbi the most amazing tale: (for The Annunciation)

“Rabbi, it had been a lovely spring day, good to be able to work outside with the other women grinding corn to make bread and having a good chat as well!  I am glad to share the work with them, but we all need to get home at dusk in time to prepare the evening meal.

Dark was falling quickly when I got back to the house, then I saw something was different.   I knew at once something must have happened, the dusk did not seem to have penetrated the house at all, no lamps were lit, and yet everything was shining, as if polished for you to visit, Rabbi!

Then I saw Mary, and realised the light in the house was coming from her!  There was a glow, a radiance, my heart was hammering in my chest……

“Child!  What has happened to you?  You look different? Are you alright? Sit down, that’s better! Wait don’t speak!  Don’t tell me yet, let me get your father out of the tool shed…”

“Mary’s father joined us, I warned him not to speak, ‘We must let Mary speak’. This is the unforgettable story she told:

‘I don’t know if I was asleep or awake, but the room was filled with such a bright light, then I knew I was seeing  an Angel in the doorway to the room.  At first I was terrified, but he calmed me down with his words and smile, and Oh Mother, I am to have a baby, but dear, dear Joseph is not the father! The Father is God’s Spirit himself….  but listen, the child will grow up to be the One sent to save us – the Blessed Messiah! Joseph and I are to bring him up, how, I do not know – but I know God will give us strength to do it! We are to call him Jesus –‘God Saves’.  Me -why was I, your daughter chosen for this?  ’I must go now to see my lovely Joseph as soon as I can!’”

“Oh. Rabbi!  Our daughter is to be mother to the Saviour of God’s People. We all stood there and prayed for strength and guidance, a prayer of mixed thanksgiving and wonder, and not a little fear, despite the Angel’s words.  What will it all mean?  What do we tell people? Will they believe us anyway?

– – – – –


Oh! Judas!!!

“This is  more like it!”  Judas yells to the others!  “ Philip, Jude, Simon, come on, look at this crowd, we can  get him to the Temple and proclaim him ‘Messiah’, and then to the Praetorium to make him king!”Look at the crowds! He is still on the hill, but they are calling for him, waving  their palm branches, flags, covering the road with cloaks…wonderful, why didn’t he do it before..? Come on, now is the moment!  We can get this moving at last!

Judas continues shouting,



Phillip looked at him and spoke calmly  “Don’t  be stupid, that isn’t the way, for a start it wouldn’t  work, do you think the Temple Guards  would kneel in front of him?  The Roman soldiers at the Praetorium would bring their spears and swords down on him….and you’d both be dead ..long before a word was spoken… And this wonderful crowd would be jeering because they had been fooled again.”

Simon joined in… ”Judas, don’t you listen to what Jesus says?

‘My kingdom is not of this world; blessed are the peacemakers….The Kingdom is like a mustard seed.. a Pearl of huge value, not a battlefield.

“You don’t get it do you? He is the kingdom, we are the kingdom, the women back in the city getting ready for Thursday, they are the kingdom, these thousands here…  some of them will be part of the kingdom….

“Remember Isaiah…in the Kingdom the Lion will lie with the lamb….”

“Come on! you too Judas who knows how this will end?  Let’s give him the glory that surely is his due


“Here – some branches,  some flags, you can’t see Lad?  What’s your name? Jacob?  That’s a good name, come on! UP on my shoulder then. look he’s on a donkey – remember this, you will never see it again..  Wave it! Don’t poke my eye out!



(quietly) Son of God, you are our Messiah, why do you want me?”

– – – – –

The women provide the Last Supper

“Everyone alright?  Shout if not! We want this to be the best we can do, they are pretty tense and unsure what is going to happen next, so let’s make it as a special night for Jesus and the men with him.

“Salome, how are those herbs? They need to be right, crisp and fresh.  What about the lamb, it should be ready now, can you just have a look at it for me?  Thanks.

“Mary from Magdala, why have you set the room like this?  I thought it would be a semi circle round the room?”

“Mmm.  Yes, I chose the long table set on both sides, because I know they all want to be as close to Jesus as possible!”

“OK – you are right, I can see what you mean, thanks.. can you check the wine goblets are all polished, Joanna will follow you to pour the first glasses in a few minutes…Susanna, is the bread warming ok?  They will want that almost at once, they are always starving when they get to the end of the day!

“Here they are! I thought I heard them on the stairs, John Mark you are supposed to be at the door to wash their feet. Take the bowl and towel and get a move on!  You should be there now!

“What do you mean? Jesus himself is washing their feet?”

“Yes Mum, he just said thank you, and asked for the bowl and towel, and started!  I watched and made sure he had enough water, and a fresh towel, and took them back when he had finished, then I heard him say to them, that they should do the same – what do you think he meant?”

“I don’t know but well done!  Well done everyone, just be ready to serve, or take anything to them that they want, look at it, it could not look more special…they have said the prayers of thanks and memory of the Passover, but what is he doing?  He is tearing the bread, and passing pieces to everyone:   ‘This is my body,  eat it and do it to remember me.’  What can it mean?

“The meal is going well, but Mary of Magdala, you know them well, can you feel the tension in the air?  Have they got everything the need?  Ah Judas is leaving, that might calm them down, he has been stirring things up a bit too much lately for my liking, do you agree?”

“No one knows what is going to happen next.  That ride into the City on Sunday made the Pharisees and Priests take notice, and most of them don’t like it.  They want the focus to be on them,!”

“Well done, again, thank you all.  I have never known this room look so good, and have such a wonderful group of people in it, thank you each and everyone for your hard work, they will soon be done.. Hello. They are quiet again, looking at him, ‘Drink this everyone, it’s my blood, shed for you for forgiveness. Do it to remember me.”.

“They are preparing to go, I love to hear them sing, the words take on real meaning when they sing with such passion!

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;

His love endures for ever.

Let Israel say

His love endures for ever.

Let the house of Aaron say,

His love endures for ever.

Let those who fear the Lord say,

His love endures for ever.!

His love endures for ever.!”

“Yes, yes, John Mark, you can go too,  but keep out of the way. Get home if there is any trouble, wrap yourself in this cloak, it’ll be bitter tonight., and no one knows what will happen.”

– – – – –

Peter’s worst day

I am standing here, as near as I dare, Furious with myself, raging inside that I had let my Lord down, shaking and sobbing, weeping I just cannot stop.  John had used his contacts to get me this close, but he is fully occupied with Jesus’ mother. Bless him!  Some of the others have sneaked up to me, telling me I have been a great leader Huh!  Some leader me.  I can’t even lift up my head to look at him.  I see his feet, barbarians!  Those feet have walked this land, bringing help, healing and Good News to everyone.  Why?  Why? Is he up there in agony?

I am so sorry Lord…

The women have formed a crowd round me, they say it will be safer, though I don’t think the Romans care much.  they’re just keeping the crowd back .. the noise is terrible, the other two on crosses are crying out and yelling stuff ..some of the crowd are throwing fruit and  I don’t know what at the crosses..

Mary Magdalene has left me to go over to John, and to stand as close as possible to Jesus’ cross. I dare not, the Jews would want my head….I can’t look at him, I keep trying but my head won’t lift no matter how hard I try.

Now the crowd is yelling foul things at Jesus, I want to get at them to shut them up but the women are hanging on to me.. yes, yes, let them shout, we know the truth, he only ever did good, he only ever healed, helped, and taught, how he taught, some of these must have heard him.  How could they turn on him now, it is not justice him or that thug Barabbas? What a choice, how could they??

I am trying to look at him. His voice is in my head, the women can’t hear anything, but I hear it as clear as if he were standing by me.  “Simon Peter. Look at me. Lift your head.”

I am able, I see his feet, his bruised and ripped body, oh! I can’t bear it! I am the one who should be whipped.

“Lord, sorry,….”

He does not speak, but his eyes are on me, a painful move of his head, and the eyes are enfolding me. Including me, my eyes are dry at last… he wants me to stay! He wants me to look after the others, to encourage them, keep them together. The women too, I must make sure they can get his body dressed and anointed when the time comes. As if I could stop them!

What a man!

Son of God!

O Lord, how can I make it up to you?

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