Saturday, April 23, 2011



Abandoned by your Master. Abandoned by your God.

Even in the face of betrayal by Yahweh himself, Jesus still finds a way to entrust the care of his soul to him. Still calls him Father. Still believes. And then he’s gone. His body utterly broken and humiliated. Murdered. Executed.


They did it. They won. The bad guys won. How can this be? You can’t make any sense of it. He was supposed to save us. Jesus somehow was able to keep trusting in the Father even unto death, but you can’t. You’re confused. You don’t know which way is up. A rage inside you begins to boil up and you’re just about to start bitterly cursing God when a realization dawns on you, and grips you with fear.

You could be next.

As his mother and a few of the other women receive his body and begin wrapping it in sheets to prepare for burial, you turn around and run. 

You could be next.

You’re so ashamed. You want to be there for them.

But you could be next.

You run blindly, unsure where to go. You have no home. Your friends are scattered. You saw a few of them by the cross, heck John was even at the foot of it (foolish!) with Jesus’ mother, but you have no idea where they are now. If you’re seen by someone who recognizes you…well, you don’t want to think about what might happen. In your fear you run to the only place in the city you’re familiar with. The room where you’d celebrated Passover Seder last night before it all went literally to hell.

As the night deepens some of the rest of them trickle in. Over the next day word gets out to most of the disciples that everyone is holed up in the upper room. You all sit there, shell-shocked and confused. Trying, and failing, to make sense of it all. You would have bet your life, hell you did bet your life, that this man was the coming Messiah. Following him had been the most profound experience of your lifetime. Jesus alone held the words of Life, as Peter had said. Where else could you go? What else could you do now? How had it all gone so wrong so fast? It just doesn’t make any sense. 

Nothing makes sense.

You mostly sit in dejected silence, afraid and deeply sad. Food has no taste, but the women force you to eat something, even just a bite. Everyone takes a shift as lookout, watching to see if the authorities will show up to arrest you too. You don’t even care anymore. Let them come. Life has lost its meaning.

Occasionally someone breaks the silence with a half-hearted “Remember that time when he…” but you don’t want to listen. It hurts too much. You just want to sit here and grieve, communally and quietly, with your brothers and sisters, the people who had become closer than family these last years.

As another day turns to night, everyone is exhausted. There has been hardly any eating and even less sleeping. You’ve tried to pray to ask God just what He was thinking, to try and get some answers, but you can’t muster up the willpower it will take to confront these questions. You’re not even sure if you believe in God anymore. And if He is there, He certainly doesn’t care about you. It had all been a lie. A horrible, futile lie.

As dawn prepares to break, the women begin to stir; they look like they’re getting ready to leave. “We have to finish the burial rituals,” Mary says blankly, “Sabbath started before we were done on Friday.”

“What’s the point,” you say. “He’s gone. To hell with God and his rituals.”

“Shame on you!” Martha cries. “We owe him at least that much. We owe his mother that much. At least a proper burial.” And they leave, off to Joseph’s tomb.

The women are right, of course. No matter how wrong his beliefs obviously were, the Master’s body deserves the dignity in death that it was cruelly denied at the end of its life. Your mind begins spiraling downward to depression and all the ‘what-ifs’ again. You get lost in your thoughts, not even aware of the night passing and the morning glow faintly rising…

Suddenly, a frantic pounding at the door startles you out of your misery--

“Peter! John! Open the door! Open the door!!!” 

It’s the women. Back already?

“Let us in, let us in! SOMETHING’S HAPPENED!”

<--Part Eleven                  Home                Part Thirteen: Sunrise-->

Truth poorly defended loses not its truthfulness;
likewise Falsehood aptly defended loses not its falsity.


  1. I dunno. As I said in another comment, elsewhere, the whole story sounds really fishy to me.

    Try it another way: you spent 3 years following this amazing man. He walks on water, heals the sick, makes the blind see. He raises people from the dead. He casts out demons. He gives you power and authority and YOU YOURSELF CAST OUT DEMONS.

    He plainly tells you that he is going to Jerusalem and he will be killed. And then in 3 days he will rise again. He tells you this with no riddle or metaphor, looking you straight in the eye.

    Yet when he is killed, you suddenly totally forget all the miracles you witnessed. You totally forget his words to you about being killed and rising up again. 100% COMPLETE AMNESIA, not one spark of hope in all of your grieving.

    Yet..yet..the priests who did NOT believe in him and to whom he NEVER directly said he'd rise again-somehow they DO remember his promise and go to ask the Romans to post a guard. And the Romans of course are ever so eager to spare their scarce resources to get involved in one of your internal squabbles. Right.

    Really now. This seems incredibly unlikely to me. No matter how you slice it, at least ONE of the disciples ought to have had a sliver of hope.

    Put yourself in their shoes. Wouldn't you have at least REMEMBERED the promise and brought it up?

    The Gospel story just doesn't wash. It's great for drama-when all hope is lost then the hero miraculously disappears. But as an accurate depiction of what happened. C'mon. Apply the same skeptical and clear thinking you would apply to say, the Book of Mormon, but to the Gospels.


  2. I understand what you're saying, and I get where you're coming from, but let's not forget that the disciples made it a daily habit of misunderstanding Jesus the entire time they traveled with him. Take a quick read through any of the gospels and this becomes abundantly clear.

    Yes they've seen Jesus perform miracles...ON OTHER PEOPLE. Never on himself. Remember PR, a man raising himself from the dead has only happened ONE time in all of human history, and at the time Jesus was killed it had never happened before. Ever. If you followed someone and he was cruelly murdered, and your master seemed powerless to prevent it, what would you think?

    Throw in the fact that the disciples were just as caught up in the hype as the Jews were when they entered Jerusalem. They were thinking that this was the time when Jesus would fulfill the promise of the Messiah, coming in power to throw off the Roman yoke and restore the Jewish people. They went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows literally overnight.

    As I said in my previous comment to you, I don't find their dejection hard to believe in any way, shape or form.

    As for the Romans, "scarce resources"?!?!? They were the largest, most successful empire on earth at that time. And they had a very keen interest in keeping the Jews' "internal squabbles" quieted. Even just a little knowledge of that time period will tell you that, amongst the Roman subjects, the Jews were BY FAR the most volatile and hard to pacify. The Romans went so far as to make special exceptions for the Jews' worship practices, that they made for no one else, in order to keep the peace. Even so, the Jews did eventually revolt so convincingly that the Romans marched in, just a few short decades after the time of Jesus, and completely level the city of Jerusalem, utterly crushing them. The temple was literally wiped off the map--that is the very reason there is no Jewish temple on the Temple Mount today. It was destroyed in 70 AD and has not been rebuilt since.

  3. You wrote:

    "Yes they've seen Jesus perform miracles...ON OTHER PEOPLE. Never on himself. Remember PR, a man raising himself from the dead has only happened ONE time in all of human history, and at the time Jesus was killed it had never happened before. Ever. If you followed someone and he was cruelly murdered, and your master seemed powerless to prevent it, what would you think?"

    If I saw a man raise people from the dead, walk on water, calm storms, cast out demons, I would have at least an inkling of hope that what he told me about being killed and then resurrected was true.

    Hey-he plainly told them that he was going down to Jerusalem to be killed. They could see he got that part of the prediction right. So why not have at least an smidge of hope that he got the other part right?

    Weren't these the guys who saw him glorified with Moses and Elijah? And you think THAT wasn't enough to convince them that this guy was who you say he claimed to be?

    I think the Gospels, as a dramatic narrative, designed to convince, aren't bad. But as a historical narrative of actual events, we can and should call them into question.

    And finally: where in any of the Gospels did Jesus directly tell the priests he would rise again? Please cite it: I may be wrong but I think he only gave them a metaphor about destroying and raising the temple again, which the gospels seem to indicate the priests did NOT understand.

    I could be wrong on this...

  4. What I am afraid you are misunderstanding, Anonymous, is the very nature of faith itself. Faith is not something that is simply attained through demonstrations and witnessing enough miracles. Faith is not seeing, but perceiving; it is not hearing, but understanding. Remember the words of Jesus: “seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” Then he quotes Isaiah: “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” (Mt. 13:13-14; cf. Is. 6:9).

    Furthermore, remember the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus asks Abraham to send someone from the dead to warn his brothers of the impending danger of damnation. Abraham replies, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Lk. 16:19-31).

    Thus, we cannot point to all the miracles and signs and wonders that Jesus did, and say ‘the disciples must have believed.’ They certainly saw, but did they perceive? I think they dimly perceived, but only dimly. And therefore, it isn’t shocking that the brutality and ferociousness of the crucifixion crushed all hope. Their faith was always dim and weak…the Gospels make this abundantly clear. Even if they perceived that Jesus must suffer death, they surely did not think that He would suffer such a gruesome and despised death as crucifixion through an act of betrayal from one of their own! Who could have imagined such a cruel and bitter death for the Messiah?

    And as a point of fact, Jesus did tell the scribes and Pharisees that he was going to die and rise again after three days (Mt. 12:38-42).

  5. No, he spoke a parable about Jonah. He didn't plainly say, "I'm going to Jerusalem to die, at the hands of the authorities, and after 3 days, I will rise again. "

  6. Anonymous #2, you make some terrific points about the horror of the crucifixion, the way it came to be, and the effect it had on his followers.

    In addition to Mt. 12:38-42, we also have the report of Mt. 27:62-66. Whether he plainly said it or not, though, doesn't really matter. The Pharisees certainly did not believe he really would rise again. They thought the disciples would try to perpetrate some kind of hoax and claim that this is what happened. Their concern over his body was purely political.

  7. Very perceptive...if Jesus were the Messiah, how could he be killed? I can truly see now why the disciples lost faith. The disciples don't forget, were also brought up with the Torah, the Prophets, the Psalms, King David's miraculous killing of Goliath, etc. So seeing miracles just confirmed their Jewish faith in Yahweh. Remember too, that scripture said the Messiah would heal lepers, restore sight to the blind, make the lame walk and return hearing to the deaf. Jesus fulfilled all of this, and so can you just imagine their complete shock when Jesus was crucified? They must have been in mental confusion to the nth degree!