Note: For Easter Week, based on the canonical gospel accounts and, particularly John 20, my imagined journal entries in an equally imaginary recently discovered mid-first century manuscript, translated from the original Aramaic, of a previously unknown and yet unnamed follower of Jesus of Nazareth.
I cannot…I will not believe it! All of the good Jesus said. And did. Still, they killed him!
If only they beheld and believed the beauty of his nobility. And his humility. How he took time with people. Always. Blessing children. Always. Honoring women. Always. Greeting strangers. Always. Welcoming sinners. Always. Healing the sick. Always. Seeking the least, the last, the lost. Always.
And more! When we followed him to Bethany, there, he raised Lazarus from the grave! Until, then, I thought I had seen everything!
And, oh, what a teacher! Jesus taught not with the rote repetition of the scribes, but with internal, heavenly-conferred authority. And his parables! Camels and needles, sheep and goats, fig trees and vineyards, wheat and weeds, Pharisees and Publicans, prodigal sons and good Samaritans… All well-known images and ideas. Yet, from his mind and heart to his lips, elevated to the height of holy revelation! Incredibly, I remember each story. Each detail. Each point!
And never had I heard anyone preach like Jesus! As with his teaching, he spoke with authority. Like a prophet. From God’s mouth into Jesus’ ear and out of his mouth. Nay! Jesus spoke not only with authority, but with spontaneity. As if God’s word was coming straight up from the depths of his heart…his viscera. When he spoke, he turned God’s Law upside down. Nay! Inside out. Opening the Commandments to newer, truer interpretation. And opening us to deeper comprehension.
I remember when Jesus stood on the mount. A great crowd surrounding him. He amazed us all! “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” he said, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I did not and do not understand it completely. Though one thing I believe I know. Truest happiness is not about possessing all things, but only one thing. A heart for God.
This is the same lesson Jesus sought to teach that rich man who came to him inquiring about eternal life. “Go, sell everything,” Jesus told him, “give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” That man went away sad. It seemed to me earthly and perishable wealth meant more to him than heavenly everlasting treasure. In this one sense, I am blessed to be poor. For I need not…I need never worry about having to choose between the two!
I remember when the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus, asking whether it was lawful for a Jew to pay taxes to the emperor. Jesus, as always, answered a question with a question. Then took the dialogue to a higher – from a worldly to a spiritual – plane. Arguing not about earthly legalities, but affirming eternal loyalties. Jesus took a Roman coin – which he did not possess, rather asking and receiving the denarius from the pockets and hands of the Pharisees, thus, without a word, fingering them as participants in the greedy economics of the Empire! – and said, “Give to the emperor what belongs to the emperor and give to God what belongs to God.”
The Pharisees did not welcome Jesus’ teaching, hating him all the more.
© 2021 PRA