In The Atlantic Community
Seeing the Story Unfold
Welcome to Holy Week. To prepare my heart for Easter, I plan on reading all four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ last days and listening to my audio Bible, “The Bible Experience.” Hearing this dramatization helps me visualize the events of Holy Week.
When I listen to Matthew 21 I see palms fanning out in front of Jesus as he rides into Jerusalem on a donkey and her colt. Smiling people shout, “Hosanna!”
When I hear John 13, I see a confused John following Judas with his eyes as the betrayer rises from the Passover meal and walks outside.
I imagine Peter, James, and John under a blue-black sky, fast asleep. Jesus wakens them and tells them to pray. Jesus’ anguished voice drifts over to the disciples while he pleads with God to take away the cup of suffering he is about to drink.
Then I envision Peter swinging his sword at Malchus and cutting off his ear. Jesus turns to Malchus and heals him, his eyes full of compassion. Malchus stares at Jesus and holds his bloody, but healed, ear.
I enter the story, running pell-mell with the disciples away from the garden, away from the crowd, away from the incomprehensible truth that Jesus surrendered himself to the chief priests.
Later John and I listen to the Sanhedrin accuse Jesus. We hear one of Caiaphas' officers slap him. My heart aches with sorrow and fear.
While the priests lead him to Pilate, I run away again, as far away from the governor’s palace as I can get. I don’t want to know what Pilate will do to Jesus.
Hours later I stand on a road, watching a bloody, almost skinless man carrying the beam of his cross, stumbling, falling, totally incapable of carrying the weight. A Roman soldier yanks a random man’s arm and barks at him, “Carry his cross!”
I follow the soldiers, the cross-bearer, and a blood-covered man who I pray isn’t my Lord.
Then I stop. He’d been carrying a cross beam. A chill courses through me. They’re going to crucify Jesus. I crouch along a wall, squeeze my eyes shut and hold my hands over my ears. “This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening,” I tell myself.
Then I hear it – that awful sound of a hammer on a nail. I dig my fingernails into my head and pray for Jesus. After I’m sure it’s over, I climb the hill to Golgotha. Oh, no. No! I see Jesus hanging on a cross. John stands near the cross with some women.
I can’t move. My shoulders shake as tear after tear falls down my cheeks. I just barely hear Jesus ask his father to forgive those who crucified and now mock him. Then I hear a weak voice tell John to take care of his mother and for Mary to consider John her son. The tears fall faster now. Jesus thought of his mother, even as he died.
Then, what does he say? I can’t hear him. His chest heaves one last breath, then falls. I hold my breath and stare for what seems like hours. I realize it’s over. He’s gone. I finally have the courage to walk down to John, Mary, and the other women. “What did he say? What was the last thing he said?”
John turns to me with swollen, red eyes and says, lips trembling, “’It is finished.’”
Suddenly I realize I’m in my bedroom. I remember that Jesus is in heaven now. Everything really is finished. Jesus isn’t hanging on a cross. He’s not in a tomb. He shines brighter than the sun and sits at God’s right hand. I drop my head and I thank God.
Fallowfield United Methodist Church will have a Good Friday service at 7 p.m. on March 25. Easter Sunrise Service is at 7 a.m., and our regular worship service will be at 9 a.m. Please join us, and introduce yourself to me. I’ll be playing my trumpet – you’ll see me.
Have a blessed Holy Week.