Walking Home on a Friday Evening
Well, that’s it I guess. It’s over. The whole giddy dream is over. I really did think he was The One – I even said it to his face. “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God”, I said. Guess I was wrong.
This isn’t like the other times. Those times when they were going to stone him or chuck him off a cliff and he just walked through them. My heart’s been in my mouth a few times, I can tell you, but … but those times weren’t like this. This time they won.
But why? He’s dealt with yelling crowds before, even the threats of the authorities, why not this time? Why didn’t he do something to stop it? He even told us, “Don’t you think I could call on my Father and he will send twelve legions of angels?” Yes, we know you could. So why didn’t you then?
“It is finished”, he said. I heard him say it. You can’t have it plainer than that. The daydream is over. There’s no new kingdom, no springs of living water, no eternal life. Those who are first will stay first and we who are last will stay last. Same as it always was.
He’s dead. I watched him die. And that’s that.
I know he said he was going to die, but I never believed it would happen. Not really. I thought it was, you know, one of his word-pictures, like the farmer and the seeds, or the shepherd and the sheep. I never thought he actually meant it. Not like this. Surely this can’t have been part of the plan. If he was God’s promised king, how come he got beat up by the Roman Empire? Maybe he wasn’t The One, just another wannabe who overstepped the mark. Was that all he was?
But all the stuff he said, the stuff he did. If not him, then who? Who could have cured the blind like he did? Who could have commanded the storm like he did? Man, that was rough. I was worried for the boats with those waves, and worried for my life. I don’t mind admitting it. I’ve never been much of a swimmer, so when he told me to get out of the boat and come to him … He has to be The One. And there was my wife’s mother – that was real. I know it.
But then, why this? How does getting yourself killed start a new kingdom? It doesn’t make any sense! Mind you, what does? I suppose this is what he was talking about at that meal, the body and blood and wotnot. It’s still weird and I still don’t get what he was on about. Did anyone? “Poured out for the forgiveness of sins.” What does that mean? Sounds more like a temple sacrifice than a man.
But I saw his blood pour today. That scene is going to haunt my dreams. It’s all so … so final. All our plans and hopes in pieces on the floor like a smashed plate. Some things can never be mended.
Mind you, I thought that with Lazarus. Three days in the tomb looked pretty final. Mary and Martha thought so too. I never understood why he waited. He could have gone to help as soon as he heard that Lazarus was ill. He could have stopped him dying. But instead he waited for three days and then – pow – mind officially blown! Man, what a party we had that night!
But that can’t happen here. There will be no celebration, no new life, no second chance. The grave is the end, and that’s that. Because there’s no-one to raise Jesus on the third day, is there?
Ecce Homo, ‘Behold the Man’, by Luis de Morales @ Ashmolean Museum, Oxford