[My imagining of a boy dragooned into accompanying Jesus' entry into Jerusalem]
I’m an old man now, but I was only a boy then . . . living with and working for my uncle and his family . . .
I’ve often wondered how Jesus knew about that colt – none of his followers were from my village – had never been there, as far as I knew . . .
“The Lord needs it,” they said of the colt . . . actually what they said was that The Messiah needs it – do you have any idea how many Messiahs were running around my country in those days? Everyone was looking for rescue from the Romans . . .
They were fishermen and they didn’t know anything about donkey colts – it was pretty comical really – they kept trying to get near her and she kept dancing around so they couldn’t get close to the reins, so one of them came over and grabbed me by the arm and said ‘You - farm boy! Untie this son of a donkey and bring it - you’re coming with us!
Looking back, they didn’t mean me any harm . . . but they just weren’t used to asking children for anything . . . that’s something their master tried to cure them of that I don’t think he ever succeeded at . . .
Anyway, I don’t know what I was expecting, but their Jesus wasn’t anything special to look at, that’s for sure . . . usually the Messiahs we see coming through the village are big, strong, handsome fellows - you know the kind - the ones any fool will follow – but this guy was different – not memorable at all – I can hardly even call his face to mind, even now . . . and he was quiet . . . sort of soft in his voice . . .
Slowly, we started walking toward Jerusalem . . .what a sight! People were shouting ‘Hosanna!’ . . . save now!
As we walked, more and more people fell in behind us, shouting their hosannas and waving their branches . . . not everybody followed - some just watched in silence as we passed by . . . some laughed and pointed – including some centurions . . . they thought we were great entertainment – poor villagers from the far corner of their ‘Empire’ processing into town like it was a parade . . . like we didn’t know our lot, our fate . . . like we didn’t know they were watching . . . but we knew . . . He knew, I can tell you that much . . . whenever he saw them, though, he just seemed sad . . . like he pitied them . . . lucky they couldn’t see his face . . . I don’t like to think what they would have done to him . . . of course, they did, didn’t they? Only not then . . .
Hosanna, they kept shouting . . . and I started shouting it too . . .
Finally, we entered Jerusalem . . . somehow, we made our way with the crowd right up to the temple . . .
As we got closer and closer, it got quieter and quieter . . . even the hosannas seemed to be whispered . . .
The air seemed to be alive around us . . . and then the wind came . . . sand storm . . . the closer we got, the more the wind blew until you couldn’t see or hear anything . . . most of the people disappeared inside to ride out the storm, but we few continued on . . . I put my hands over the colts eyes to protect them from the grit of the sand and we crept forward, one slow step at a time . . . he didn’t seem to mind – when we came to the temple . . . he just walked up and in . . . disappearing from my sight with his first step . . .
I stayed with the colt . . . I didn’t know what else to do, where else to go . . . I’ll never forget the sound of the wind while I stood outside the temple holding onto the colt . . . it was like she and I were the only two creatures left on the whole earth . . . the few other people around were just shadows huddled against the howling . . .
When the insiders tell the story, they don’t mention the dust storm, do they . . . well, I guess it’s not their job to give a weather report . . . and they don’t mention me . . . why would they? I was only a boy . . .
They tell the important bits – about the parade and the hosannas and the colt and the temple – and I get it . . . those are the things everybody looks for – the signs – that make a messiah – it’s kind of a prophet’s check list with my people – and if this guy was the messiah, his followers needed all the check-list proof they could muster – cos he sure didn’t look or act like who or what we were waiting for – he came from the wrong people, wrong birthplace, wrong status, wrong looks, wrong horse, wrong message . . . wrong, wrong, wrong!
How could we have been so wrong? My excuse? I was only a boy!
I wonder how it would have been if I’d stayed with them, with him? Of course I know what happened to him . . . and I know the stories . . . but I didn’t stay . . . I went back to my uncle, back to my life, back to everything the same . . . I went back . . . but I was only a boy!!!!!