Unreported Moments From First Century Jerusalem (1)
First Day of The Week: Palm Sunday
It was the strangest of First Days
I had ever known.
In the Temple, on the Sabbath,
the day before,
there had been whispers,
lots of rumours
that the long awaited Messiah
The strongest and strangest rumour
was that it was Jesus,
carpenter-turned-Rabbi from Nazareth.
That felt improbable on both counts –
a carpenter – from Nazareth?
But it was being said he had healed people
and given food to huge crowds up in Galilee.
He was, they said,
coming with a band of followers,
both men and women.
Coming from Bethany, they said.
So there I was,
waiting by the City gate
in the midst of an expectant, excited crowd.
If this was the moment
The accursed Romans were to be swept away
I wanted to be part of it.
I had paused at the door before leaving
wondering about taking a dagger.
But if it all went wrong
and I was found by a soldier with a dagger;
that would mean prison at best
or more likely, crucifixion.
So I contented myself with the stout stick
I use when walking distances.
Heavy enough to break a sword arm
or do serious damage to a Roman skull,
and easy to toss away if pursued.
When I arrived, I noticed
There were a lot of similar ‘walking sticks’ around;
the soldiers eyed them
and put hands meaningfully
on vicious swords.
People were growing restless,
then from the hill below came a
bubbling excited sound
with the word ‘Hosanna’ being often repeated.
It grew louder,
and I stood on a boulder
to see what was happening.
That was a noisy, noisy group,
surrounding a man
who was obviously their Leader –
head high above the rest.
It was difficult to see
how he was that height –
not high enough to be on a horse
which would have been logical
if he was going to lead a coup.
So perhaps on a portable platform,
maybe incorporating a throne:
that would make sense.
When they got closer,
I could hear more of the chanting
‘Blessed is he who is coming
in the name of the Lord;
The crowd around the gate
were getting more and more excited
and taking up the cry
and I admit I found myself shouting too -
even despite the presence
of those accursed Roman soldiers.
It became more difficult to see,
People jumping up to get a view
and barging in front of me.
The shouting got louder and louder
and the soldiers grew more and more tense
as did the occasional Temple priest I saw
trying to look inconspicuous for once.
But me. I was adding my voice
To those of the hundreds –
or was it thousands of restless,
jubilant people who clearly thought
they had found the Messiah.
Then the procession had to narrow
To get through the gate
so I could gradually see
some throwing coats down for him
with others tearing down palm branches
like a carpet.
Then suddenly I could see the Leader,
who was going to make Israel great again.
I could hardly believe my eyes.
This man, this great Leader,
A donkey, I ask you
What was that all about?
It stopped my ‘Hosannas’ dead in their tracks.
This is NOT someone
who is about to send the Romans packing!
Oh! The disappointment of it!
Oh! The anti climax – the let-down.
How could I have been so beguiled?
I’m so angry with myself,
With the crowd-
But most of all with HIM.
HIM on a donkey – a donkey – a donkey
That’s what he has made of me.
I hate him
Even if others are going along with him:
I can’t imagine why.
I got away just as soon as I could.