Crowds clamoured to see Jesus and hear him speak. One day there were so many of us that he had to climb into a boat while we listened to him from the shore. We all knew there was something extraordinary about him. Many were mesmerised by the authority with which he spoke and, unlike the rabbis at the synagogue who recited scripture from the scrolls, Jesus didn’t need to follow a text … yet he knew the scripture as if he’d written it himself. There was an air of expectancy every time he spoke – a kind of a buzz in the air that we could all feel. We dared to hope that he was the promised one, the Messiah who would set us free from slavery and injustice. We followed him everywhere. We would follow him to the end.
I could hardly believe what had happened over the past couple of days. We had danced, sang and cheered as he entered Jerusalem, shouting “Hosanna, Hosanna to our King!” Now, everyone was gone. I watched as Joseph, along with a few faithful women, struggled to remove his lifeless body from the cross. They tried to do it with as much care and dignity as possible, to pry his hands and feet from where they had been impaled on to the wood by heavy iron nails.
As I looked on from a respectful distance, it felt like I was in a nightmare that I would never wake up from. Such an eerie silence. There were no echoing voices off the rocks there at Golgotha, no birds singing from the cliff tops. I couldn’t even hear the usual hissing of the vultures that scavenged over carcasses at nearby Gehenna. Nothing stirred. The only sound that could be heard was Mary, the mother of Jesus, sobbing as she was supported on either side by Mary, the mother of James, and Mary Magdalene.
An unnatural darkness, that belonged to neither day nor night, had descended at three o’clock, the time of his death. The light of the sun and the moon were absent and, in the gloom, I saw Joseph, the strong Arimathean, tenderly lift the body of Jesus and carry him off, followed by the others. An icy coldness spread from the pit of my stomach and my heart felt heavy as I watched the spectral group disappear from sight. He was gone. I buried my head in my hands and wept bitterly.