dorothystewartblog

about writing and life and God

King of the Jews

on March 30, 2013

 

I came to see a man killed today. Yes, I knew crucifixion was an ugly way to die but I wanted to see him die. To see him dead. Maybe then we could be at peace.

I had gone with the crowds to watch him carry his cross up the hill. I was prepared for the wait, however long it took, however horrible. I wanted to see him dead. Gone. Finished. Maybe then I could find peace.

I laughed when I saw the crown they had given him, this King of the Jews – a crown of thorns! We’ve been a thorn in the flesh of many who have tried to rule us. None have succeeded. And he hadn’t even tried. Fine king he was.

I scuffed the road at my feet in disgust. We had needed a king, needed a leader to get us out from under the Romans – Gentiles, polluting our land.

It had seemed possible. When word went round of the man from Galilee, when we heard what he did… My brother and his friends got very excited.

“Don’t you see! It’s all coming true, the old prophecies about the Messiah!”

My father tried to quieten him. “Many have come that we thought – we hoped – would be the Messiah.”

“But no one has done the miracles this man has done: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life! This man is the Messiah, my father, and we must rise up against the Romans and bring in his kingdom!”

My mother’s eyes were fearful as she listened to their wild talk. But that was nothing to the chill in our hearts when we learnt they had been arrested, caught in a wild unplanned attack on the Roman barracks on the outskirts of our town. Arrested and crucified.

I had seen my brother die and now I wanted to see this man die, this man my brother had said was the Messiah. This man who had turned out to be just one more false prophet.

I kicked the stones at my feet savagely. I’d had enough of Messiahs. Enough of false prophets, any prophet, even Moses himself. It was all false, all futile, mad ideas that drove boys to wildness and death.

I hated this false Messiah who had caused my brother’s death. And now it was his turn. Now he too would die. And that would be the end of it.

He stumbled up the hill, the massive crossbar crushing his shoulder, beads of blood like berries among the thorns of his crown. Sweat poured from him, sweat mingling with blood and dust. He staggered and I almost, almost, felt sorry for him. Just another man on his way to a terrible death. But I hardened my heart. Remembered that I hated him, hated what he had done to my family. We would never be the same again.

The crowd lined the way. Some shook their fists at him. Many jeered and shouted abuse. Some spat.

As he drew nearer, he stumbled and fell upon his knees under the weight of that terrible cross. His arm came up to brush the sweat and sweat from his eyes.

I looked upon him, this Messiah, this King of the Jews who never was. He turned his head and looked upon me. His eyes seemed to plead with me. For a long, frozen moment, I stood rooted to the ground, our eyes locked.

A movement at my side woke me. Pushing past me, a young girl, about my own age, slender, blushing with embarrassment but determined. She stepped out of the crowd into the road, her veil outstretched in her hand.

The man took it from her and mopped his face. He handed it back to her, his eyes gentle and warm. She smiled a brief moment, then tears filled her eyes and she turned and fled back into the crowd.

His eyes followed her, then turned back to me. I could not hold his gaze and dropped my eyes. I could not bear him to look upon me with those eyes of gentleness.

The Roman soldiers shouted, cracked their whips. With an effort, he rose from the ground and shouldering his cross once more, began the ascent again to Calvary.

I did not follow. The crowd flowed around me but I stayed where I was. I could not move. Those eyes had touched my very depths.

I knew this man was not the Messiah my brother and his friends had looked for. He was not one who would overcome the Romans with sword and spear and wild boys looking for a fight.

No, he was not that kind of King of the Jews.

But in his eyes I saw his kingliness. I saw a glimpse of his kingdom, and that was higher, wider, greater far than the little kingdom my brother and his friends had been willing to die for.

Yet I had not even been willing to offer him my veil to wipe the blood and sweat from his face. The moment had come,and passed. And I knew, with a terrible certainty, that this man was indeed the Messiah. The Promised One of God. This man was indeed the King of the Jews. And up on that hill, they were crucifying him.

I had looked for an end. For peace. But there would not be an end. And there would be no peace – not for those like me who turned away from him.

 

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2 responses to “King of the Jews

  1. 20angel13 says:

    Thank you Dorothy. This really made me feel as though I was there.

  2. Helen Murray says:

    Ahh… to see Jesus, to look into his eyes and turn away… the awfulness of that is worth thinking about. This is a powerful piece, Dorothy. Thank you.

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