Many significant events were to take place before this Passover would pass into history.
One - Jesus came into the city by one of the gates. The disciples had whipped up a small crowd to greet him as he entered Jerusalem on my donkey.
I moved back into a room at the luxury gentile inn that I had stayed at before at tremendous expense. Rooms were hard to find with the influx of tourists and pilgrims for the high holy day. My room this time had no view of the Temple area.
I still had access to my townhouse but I preferred to stay away. Some of the committee tolerated me and I tolerated them. Other members of the committee, Rocky in particular, hated me. I do not hate but never, except for my evil brother in law, did I dislike someone so much as I disliked him. I know that he did not like women. I pitied his poor wife. I also pitied his ex-wives as well.
It would be the ultimate insult of my life if my testament here were to ever be merged in any way with the good news versions of that brute of a man. That would surely put me into the myth of hell forever.
Peter was one of the early Galilee crowd. He was an early patron with his boats and children and sons in law in the fishing business.
Rocky was so thick. He was waiting for Jesus to return to his roots in Galilee and establish a theocracy there.
Indeed, Jesus in giving him the title as leader when Judas was in fact the main manager of this show said something to me. Jesus’ active ministry started out touching the common man. Peter was indeed that common man. I think that Jesus kept Peter around out of guilt and possibly as a reminder of his past.
No doubt Jesus was looking ahead to the future. He had screwed up once before as an up and coming member of the Temple crowd in his youth. If he blew his opportunities again, there always was obscurity and a small synagogue with a bible study school in Galilee after this big visit to Jerusalem. In such a case, Peter would once again be his only patron.
Two – There was some great commotion at the Temple. I heard rumors of a riot. I also heard that bloodshed had occurred. In any event the Romans put Jerusalem on total lockdown mode. Soldiers were at every gate. Small patrols were constantly moving through all the small streets and alley ways looking for any signs of dissent.
There was little commotion but mostly fear in the streets as I traveled by foot. I did not like the feel of this situation.
Three – When I got to my townhouse, I took a headcount. All of the committee and Jesus were present and accounted for.
I stayed and helped in the kitchen until I remembered that it was almost sunset. I ascended the stairs to the second floor. The men were all huddled over a middle table in what used to be my bedroom. They paid me no mind. I exited out a rear doorway and on a tiny exterior nook I grabbed hold of and climbed a ladder to the roof. In hotter weather, living and sleeping would be done under awnings on the roof. It was not summer yet but the political atmosphere was keeping all activities indoors for more houses than my own.
I looked up to the fortress and wondered what the Romans had in mind. In spite of my own fears, there was calm at the end of the day. The myth states that the sun would take its sleep and ride a chariot through the dark underworlds. Right then, it was a peaceful moment.
The sunset helped me prepare and make good prayers at this fifth prayer session of the day. I may be a half-baked Jew to some but at least I am whole in the traditions of my adoptive father. Somehow I hoped that he was looking out for me from the realm beyond death.
My son was not out of danger, nor was I. Nor was Manny.
Below, on either side of the central table close to the floor were two other tables. All sat on cushions or the bare floor.
Women sat at one table with small children. My table was mostly with women and the older children.
Jesus officiated over the Passover meal. Some women were coming and going from the kitchen and serving the men at the main table.
The rabbi sat in view of myself. He performed the prayers and rituals associated with the Seder. There was the lamb and the bitter herbs and a blessing of the wine.
Manny first picked up the unleavened bread and then a cup of wine.
“When you meet again at the next Seder table. Remember me. Take. Eat.” He said and broke the bread and passed it in different directions.
He then handed his cup of wine to his disciples and spoke.
“Take. Drink. It looks as if I may well be the lamb to seal a new covenant with the Almighty for all peoples.”
Nobody seemed to understand what he meant. Then again, he was almost always quoting parables and riddles.
The meal finished. The women began to clean up. The men sat around the table. I heard Matthew say something like –
“They have betrayed us upon the hill. I knew that we could not trust them.”
Jesus spoke to Judas.
“Go and do as I have instructed you to do.”
With that Judas left the room and the house.
One of the disciples asked Jesus what he thought was the greatest commandment. Then Jesus replied.
“To love the Almighty with all your ability of mind, heart and soul. And just as importantly to love everyone else as you would be loved. To love your neighbor as yourself…”
The house was suddenly very close. Many of the group and some of the women exited the house. There was a curfew on with trouble in the city. The city was so crowded for the holy day that people were still everywhere in the streets.
Many had partaken of the Passover meal in other peoples’ houses and were on their way out of the city.
We walked toward a small gate in the city wall. Many people were filing out in a single line in view of Roman guards. No foot traffic or horse or camel traffic were being allowed into the city that night. I think that the Romans thought it a good idea to drain the city of any potential rioters or revolutionaries.
We passed through the gate and walked a small distance past pilgrims in tents and sleeping out in the open. We came at last to a grove of olive trees on a sloping side of a hill opposite the walls of the city.
Lit torches could be seen on the infamous Roman fort towering over the city.
Jesus talked to me as we walked.
“They are blaming us, me, for the riot that took place earlier in the day. Judas has gone to try and smooth things over.”
I did not understand. I waited to ask questions. I stayed silent and listened as Manny poured his heart and soul out to me.
I sounded as if Judas had greased come Temple palms with cash. Jesus was supposed to be allowed to briefly preach to a national crowd. This would have made his reputation. He could be somebody respected among the Temple crowd.
The Temple people told him to preach off in some obscure corner in a space filled with thousands of pilgrims.
Then suddenly, bad luck showered down on the master’s speech.
In such a crowded area some person bumped into a moneychanger’s table which unfortunately helped another moneychanger’s table to topple over and so forth and so on.
Human nature took over and people started grabbing for coins falling all over the place. Chaos. Confusion. The feel of a riot first brought in the Temple police and then the Romans.
The various areas on and about the Temple mount were designed to seal off any section at any time in order to contain any riot. Herod and later the Romans had planned for civil disobedience with in this architectural masterpiece.
Once the Romans came in swinging with swords, few of any true rioters or innocent victims were left standing. Those left alive were likely to be crucified no matter who they were. The Roman hammer dispenses justice swiftly.
When Jesus left me, he went amongst his male companions and from a distance I could see him begin to pray.
I made my way over to an impromptu woman’s section beyond some bushes and lie on the ground and fell asleep.
I dreamt of severed hands and limbs and heads and a cascade of blood pouring out of the Roman fortress. These things touched everything in the city. I saw the Temple burned in a great fire. Then I saw my Manny on a cross.
I awoke in a sweat. And more so than my own personal distress and confusion there was some disturbance nearby.
Temple police were taking Manny away.
Peter was ranting and raving. Matthew, James and John among some other disciples were in shock and anguish.
All the women were now awake.
Questions and confusion.
Amidst all the current chaos, I saw fear. All the men knew that they too could have been arrested along with Jesus.
Peter started to blame Judas.
“He left us. He knew where the master liked to come at night to pray. Only Judas could have led the Temple police here.”
I tried to talk but was drowned out in the hysteria of the moment.
In less than a small breath of time all had scattered with their women.
I was alone in Jesus’ favorite natural place.
I was alone in Jesus’ favorite natural place.
I walked back to the city and found all foot traffic back into the city had been banned.
I tried a bribe. The Romans stood pat.
I then walked back to the olive grove. I was hoping that J.D. would make his way to my townhouse and somebody still there would tell him about this place outside the walls.
I was too upset to sleep. I prayed until dawn.