Jesus is risen!Monday, April 05, 2021
One week ago I wrote that while we will need Easter this year like never before, sadly it won't be the same.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has cut our joy string. Quite correctly there can be no partying, no J'Ouvert, no sporting, no dancehalls, and no wild, wet weekends. These events give us no room for social distancing, and if we know what's good for us we had better comply.
There is another side to it, of course, as there will be no church attendance. But happily, church will continue to rule this weekend with services online attracting large followings of the faithful.
Pause for a moment before you cut the bun and cheese and think of the events that unfolded from Palm Sunday to the Last Supper, and from the surreal trials in the Praetorium to the crucifixion at Calvary. It's a week of human drama of epic proportions with all its implications. When you study it, there can be no other week like it.
This is my take on it:
It all started with a man named Jesus, son of a humble carpenter, who, together with a bunch of nondescript fishermen and small farmers, had excited the province of Galilee with a three-year ministry that was turning the world upside down. At the beginning of his ministry he had proclaimed himself to be the Messiah long-promised to the Jews. There had been other claimants to that title, but they were all what you call 'flash in the pans'. This commoner was different from the rest. Without any promises of political insurrection to overthrow governments, his movement grew and grew.
Most of his followers were simple people, the poor and dispossessed. They were from the very strata of the society where heresy would thrive, and from where the temple leaders realised that he could raise up a following. But he taught with such self-confidence and authority that men would ask who did he think he was.
To those who opposed him, like the Sadducees and the Pharisees, he was sacrilegious, a “black heart man”, and a distinct threat to the stability of the State and the established church. His opponents tried to trap him with leading questions and with provocative debate, but his knowledge of the law was overwhelming.
Then one day came that outrageous pronouncement of his in the precincts of the temple: “Before Abraham was, I am.” Wow! What blasphemy! The high priest, Caiaphas, had been kept up with the Jesus's doings, and when he heard of this latest claim he became convinced that the man was not only deranged, but needed to be brought down.
Well, that didn't bother Jesus. He was certain of his impending death.
And then there came that fateful day when he left Galilee for Jerusalem, never to return — at least not in mortal form. This scared the living daylights out of the disciples. They tried their best to dissuade him from travelling. Their fear was not without justification. It was Passover time, a mere two years since the bloody suppression of protesters in Jerusalem by the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate. And during the Passover feasts Roman forces were known to be on even higher alert than usual. No doubt security in Jerusalem would be tight that week.
The stage was now set for the media to move in. What was to follow would have kept television, radio and newspapers fully focused as event after event catapulted towards an inevitable earth-shattering ending.
Jesus and his disciples joined the throngs of worshippers who were streaming towards the Holy City to celebrate the Passover. Cameras started rolling as the crowd converged on the man who was seated on a donkey riding up to Jerusalem's walls. The people waved palm branches and spread their coats on the ground, shouting: “Hosanna!”
'Triumphant Entry', blazed the headlines. “It's highly possible that we are about to witness a pivotal turning point in history,” said the major station's leading news analyst that night, “because if the crowd fervour is anything to go by, this man, as simple as he looks, could hold the future of the Jewish nation in his hands. And, as for Caiaphas and others of his ilk”, he warned, “there are many nervous nights ahead for the high priest who, by the end of this week, may not be riding so high after all.”
About 40,000 people lived in Jerusalem, but that number swelled to more than 180,000 during the Passover. Jesus was now a marked man.
The city is buzzing. Reporters are rushing from one scene to another as Jesus keeps them busy. He is hot news. Even the donkey that brought him into Jerusalem is interviewed.
Then comes the breaking news all over the networks: 'Jesus has been arrested'. The press tries to follow the trial, but are denied entry to the hall. 'From Pilate to Herod and back', screams the headline. 'Pilate washes his hands'. 'Crucify Him', roars the midday news.
And then, at 3:00 pm, more breaking news: 'Jesus is dead!'
Mourning now, and the streets are quiet; passions are subdued. Groups huddle on street corners, but most people remain indoors. The disciples are in retreat. The dream is over. Their candles are all out. 'The skies over Jerusalem have been darkened', reports a famous broadcaster.
The entire affair was over and done with.
But something was in the air. It was rumoured that at the time of Jesus's death the veil of the temple had split into two. Then there was that curious darkening of the land, and the violent earthquake that shook Jerusalem.
But not to worry, the High Priest said: “We have got rid of him, and the media has already put the story to bed.” Or had they?
Seventy-two hours later the wire services started clicking again. It was early in the morning, but the town was stirring.
A fake news call with a distinctive Jamaican accent is made to a talk show that the man's chief disciple, Peter, was seen running through the streets like a mad man, “And what is more, boss, mi see Mary and Martha a run back a him!”
Shortly after that the headlines blaze around the world: 'He is risen!'
Lance Neita is a public relations writer, historian, and wannabe talk show caller. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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