What you are about to read is part one of a fictionalized account of how this powerful weekend might have looked like through the eyes of someone on the fringes of Christ’s ministry.
I likely will have some historical context and facts wrong. Just bear with me. 😊
It’s Friday evening.
I watched him die.
What messiah would die a criminal’s death? We Jews don’t need someone to die – we need a conqueror. This Jesus brought a different message than the other so-called messiahs, and it really had me. He … just seemed different, but I’m not sure how to frame it exactly.
He was brilliant, first off. Wow. My brothers didn’t believe me, but I heard this Jesus teach even our religious leaders. Furious, they would debate him in public and lose. They had no answer for so much of what he said. His knowledge of God’s law was unlike anything I’d ever heard, even as he seemingly added to it. I know that bothered some people. I was willing to listen anyway, because after all, God promised us a messiah.
I knew some of my brothers had given up on that idea, even if they never said. I still believed.
He was surprisingly gentle for a man of such knowledge, too. I’m not an expert on God’s law, you see. I’ve studied and memorized, but I tend to just defer to the rabbis. Rarely are they as gentle as this man was. I watched people humbly approach him and ask questions – he’d answer with grace. They’d expect to be chastised for daring to venture that close, but he only ever acted with love. It was really something.
This Jesus seemed driven to help people, too. Talking to and even healing the sick! (I never personally saw him heal anyone, but the stories were everywhere).
He certainly cared little of public status, too. Eating with tax collectors! No member of the Sanhedrin would ever consider it! But I liked that. Jesus just acted differently.
I don’t know why he needed to be crucified. I was there as Jesus carried his cross, taunted all the way by Jews and Roman soldiers. He bled and bled. He was in such pain.
We’ve all seen people crucified, but usually it’s criminals. What did he do? Something about it bothered me.
I heard them accost him and place that wretched crown on his head. Was any of this necessary? Sure, now we know he isn’t the messiah. Sure, he made some of our leaders look foolish. But why all of this? It was horrible. Plenty of people were cheering, but some were like me. Silent, horrified, heart broken.
He hung on that cross for quite some time. I wasn’t close enough to hear him talk – I couldn’t bear being that close. But word got to us in the back of the crowd that his last words were “it is finished.” None of us knew what that meant.
I watched the sky turn dark. I saw the earth shake. I saw a woman – his mother? – cry. I noticed hardly any of his devout followers remained by his side. I guess they felt the same as me.
I realized, as the time passed, that I was disappointed. I wanted this one to be different. But, alas.
What does it matter now? Jesus of Nazareth is dead.