Holy Saturday: from Daybreak

Jonathan and the Roman Centurion had witnessed the crucifixion and burial on Friday. They returned to Jonathan’s abode in Bethany early Saturday and after sleeping a while sat on his patio facing the Mount of Olives.

Columba and I comforted one another, conversing on the patio in the sunshine, partaking of wine and food. Our conversation was dominated by the events of the preceding day. We could think of nothing else. The image of Yeshua on the cross remained before me every moment. If not for Columba, the gloom I felt on this Sabbath, might have led to despair.

“I keep thinking of what the soldier said when we were in hiding behind the boulder. Do you think He will rise from the dead, Jon?” my friend asked.
“When He was on the cross, I hoped God would rescue Him. I am afraid to hope for His resurrection from the dead.”
“There is always hope my friend. He cured the beloved servant of Cletis. He raised Lazarus from the dead. I believe Him to be the Messiah. I am not a Jew, yet my hope rests in Him.”

Good Friday: from Daybreak

 

The executioners raised His body attached to the crossbeam by nails through His hands and wrists. They lifted the beam with Yeshua, securing it to the vertical piece. With His feet placed to one side, they nailed them together onto the upright beam. One of the soldiers used a ladder to nail the sign near the top of the cross which read The King of the Jews, written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. Josephus, Columba, and I were staring up at Him. We could not look away.

Would Yeshua’s Father intervene? Something was happening. The sky grew even darker than it had been indicating an approaching storm. The soldiers were laughing and casting lots. One of them took Yeshua’s garment. He must have won it. Yeshua hung between the two thieves. Slowly we made our way closer.

The criminals on each side were taunting Him. The Pharisees challenged Him to come down from the cross if He was the Son of God. The ones who performed the crucifixion blasphemed Him obnoxiously. This had been going on for some time.

After a short-lived silence as the three suffered the pains of the inhumane execution, the Messiah said of those responsible for His suffering, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.

Holy Thursday: from Daybreak

Jonathan celebrated the Passover with his dearest friends. Then walked back through the streets of Bethesda to his abode as he felt his wife’s presence though she had died some years earlier. His patio faces the Mount of Olives where unknown to him Yeshua would be seized in the Garden of Gethsemane that night.

After the fourth cup of ritual wine was poured and blessed, Josephus read from Exodus:Then I will take you as my people, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the burdens of the Egyptians.” 

I joined my friends in singing the second half of the Hallal. I felt my wife’s presence, and it gave me a light heart. It was as if Sarai joined us and together with my friends, we were surrounded by the Divine Love of our God. I did not want the evening to end but finally departed from my friends leaving a night overflowing with prayer and comfort in celebration of the Seder.

The presence of my wife remained with me as I walked to my dwelling. Dark clouds had obscured any illumination from the moon and stars. The blackness of the night contrasted starkly with the warm light at the Passover supper. Thankfully, I had brought my lantern that shone just enough light for me to follow the streets to my dwelling. During the short walk, Sarai seemed present. Several times I reached out to hold her hand, but in vain.

When I came to the arbor of my outdoor area, something inside me refused to open the door. Once inside, I felt Sarai would leave and loneliness would overcome me. I sat down on a crate and placed the lantern on the stone table. Despite the wine and food I’d consumed, my mind seemed clear and alert.

I recounted times spent with her, from the first moment we were alone in my home when she dropped the pottery in the kitchen, and her attraction to me was revealed. Finally after some hours, I grew weary and rose to enter my dwelling.

Distant voices echoed through the Kidron Valley. Was it my imagination? I strained to hear them, but thought it might just be the wind. Entering the dwelling, I stumbled to my cot as the lantern ran out of oil. I fell into a deep sleep and awoke near dawn, but rolled over and fell asleep once more.

Wed. of holy Week: from Daybreak

“Sorry, we must leave,”Abraham said. “Marianne is returning to Bethany. She has been invited to the home of Simon the Leper for dinner tonight.”

“Yes, and I am anxious to attend because I believe Yeshua and some of His disciples will be among the guests,” she said. “Simon is no longer plagued with leprosy because Yeshua healed him some time ago.”

“Will you return for the Passover tomorrow evening, Marianne?” I asked.

“Abraham and his father will accompany me back to Jerusalem. We’ll observe the feast together with Adina, Ezra, and Josephus, and you also, Jonathan.”

“It is a blessed gift from God that I should be with all of you, my dearest friends, for this Holy Feast,” I said.

“We will bring news concerning the day the Messiah spent silent and absent from the Temple,” Abraham added.

In the evening I returned to my dwelling alone. Usually, my solitary life in this place had been a welcome respite from the life of a merchant, whose living wares were sold for their immolation. Tonight I felt lonely. I thought about the lambs that would be slaughtered tomorrow evening and about Yeshua and His death. How would He die? I knew I could not sleep yet and thought the night air might calm me.

Opening the door, I saw the clear sky and multitude of stars. A streak of light passed from above falling out of the heavens. In the stillness of the night I stood there looking up at a world I could not comprehend. Yeshua had come from such a world. He said He was the Son of God, yet He would soon die.

Tuesday of Holy Week: from Daybreak

My friends and I thought Yeshua had left the Temple after we saw him in the Court. The next day we heard all sorts of gossip about him. One of the pilgrims, who passed by as he left the Temple, had seen Yeshua in the Portico of Solomon. The man told me Yeshua was confronted by a number of scribes and pharisees who tried to trick him by asking all sorts of questions, but Yeshua handled them skillfully. 
Later Adina and Ezra told me they were in the Portico when Yeshua spoke to the crowds. Ezra said, “He called the scribes and pharisees a brood of vipers. They expected the people to follow all the laws contrived by them, but did not do so themselves. Yeshua condemned the religious leaders for wanting their works to be seen. He said ‘they loved widening their phylacteries and lengthening their tassels’.”

“We could not hear everything as people pressed ahead of us to be near Him. We managed to go around the outside of the crowd and come up beside Him,” Adina said. “We were in time to hear one statement which touched our hearts to the core,” Ezra added. 
“What did Yeshua say?” I asked. 
“He said, ’Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling‘!” 
“He is sad for Jerusalem, this city and people chosen by the Lord God for His own,” I said. “Yeshua expressed His love by way of a mother hen. Perhaps some of our pharisees will believe He is the Messiah.”
“We know of two who believe in Him, Jonathan,” Ezra answered.  
“Nicodemus is one. And the other?” I asked. 
“Joseph of Arimathea. But do not speak of this. They are already under suspicion and in danger. They cannot acknowledge their belief openly,” he said.

Monday of Holy Week: from Daybreak

 

A commotion at the entrance of the Court drew our attention in that direction. A man came through the throngs of pilgrims and sellers and turned over the money changers’ tables.
“Look at that. He’s doing it again,” Abraham said.
Yeshua headed toward the dove sellers turning over their seats. They proceeded to gather the carts of doves and head out of the Court, just as I had done the first time he came to condemn the merchants in the Court.
“They do what he says,” Abraham said. “He did not bother to release the birds or disturb the creatures. The sellers must fear that he would. No one is preventing Him from causing such a disruption. Where are the temple guards? It is as if He is totally in charge.”

“Oh but He is! This is the house of His Father. Yeshua is the Messiah,” Simon said.
“He said it himself in the Portico of Solomon. He is the Son of God and they are one,” I said in agreement.
Yeshua came closer. He paused in front of us and shouted:
Is it not written: ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. But you have made it a den of thieves’.”

 

 

 

Palm Sunday: Excerpt from Daybreak

My view to the east faced across the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives. I leaned back as far as possible to see the summit but could not view the highest point. Walking out past the cover of the arbor, the crest of the lush mountain came into view. It was actually a range of peaks ascending and descending with the final drop being deep into the Kidron Valley before me. I heard far off commotion and saw what at first I thought I imagined, a mass of heads appearing as people approached the summit. Soon I could see a great number in a procession as they came to the crest of the hill.

The river of people streamed down the mount strewing something like branches. As they progressed further, a wide path of greens appeared covering the brown dirt road. It mystified me. What was all this? The sound of singing and laughter like a celebration, perhaps a royal wedding.

The mass of people continued and I strained to see a man seated on an animal, a donkey. How very strange. After perhaps an hour, some in the procession were already coming through the valley and back up toward the Sheep Gate, the place where the lambs to be slaughtered for Passover would soon go through. The flow of people began to pass by on the road to the Temple, which lay to my left.

I heard the words they kept singing.

Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.