Sitting around a courtyard fire with Peter

April 4, 2012

On some other late night, the courtyard fire at the High Priest’s house might have been comforting. Not that our kind had ever been welcomed by the temple rulers, but there is a certain healing quality to an evening breeze and an outdoor blaze. Not tonight. Suddenly, everything is upside down. Just a few hours ago, Jesus seemed to be on top of the world and ready to lead the revolt against those gloating, conceited Romans. He would have put those Sadducees and Pharisees in their places too.

But it is not so simple as that. There had been little signs, but none of us paid much attention. He was talking crazy talk. Going to the Father? Sending some sort of Helper? Now we are his friends, but wasn’t that always so? The crowds are wildly in love with Jesus, although that business of riding in on a donkey did seem rather odd. Jesus could be that way. He was different but he taught like nobody else. People just love him. Everybody is for Jesus.

No, I’m not from Galilee. Never met him in my life. You’re mistaken, I’m afraid.

There is quite a chill in the air. Without the warmth of this fire, my fingers would feel like they are frozen. Just a few hours ago, it seemed a lot warmer. I could not keep my eyes open and Jesus had worked himself up into some kind of state. He went off to pray by himself, which was certainly not unusual, but he came back looking like a man who had just seen his own dead body.

Come to think of it, Jesus has not quite been himself lately. You would never believe  dinner tonight. The Teacher washed our stinky feet. Right there in the upstairs dining room. I did not like it then and I do not like it less now, but he got really threatening. He can be so intense. The meal was strange. I mean, who can understand the weird outlandish things said by the Rabbi. Why would he say that this loaf of bread was his body and a cup of wine was his blood. That’s almost enough to make a man sick. I mean, no unclean thing has ever gone past these lips.

And there is Judas. Just a few days ago he was howling over the cost of this jar of perfume that a lady broke open for the Lord, as if Mr. Judas Iscariot gave a rip about the poor. He liked the finer things. I always had a bad feeling about that guy, and why Jesus keeps him around is a complete mystery. Then again, I never could figure out why he put up with any of us. He is so smart and nobody did the wonderful works performed by Jesus. I always figured that, sooner or later, he would find a better class of follower and we would all get bounced. We are a sorry lot, but what ever got into Judas to lead the temple cops out to arrest Jesus? It was gutless. That’s what it was! Cowardly. They came to take a man for no good reason in this world in the black of night. They would not dare do it in daylight when his followers were all together in the temple.

Listen, I already told you, I do not know that man at all. Why would I know him? What would make you think that? Lots of people talk like they are from Galilee and you high-tone city people think everybody from somewhere else is nothing but a bumpkin.

Who knows what happens next? The high priest will have him beaten senseless and that’s it for Jesus, if he is as smart as I think he is. I do not honestly think the rest of us will be hanging around here. Maybe it would have been better not to have pissed off the people who call the shots. Jesus just can not control himself. They were furious about the healings. You bet they were! They would lose control if somebody could really open the eyes of the blind and make the lame people walk. I saw him do it hundreds of times. There was never anything like it before. He should have made peace with big shots.

Somebody is talking about blasphemy. That’s ridiculous. It is also a death penalty offense, but the Romans would never go along with that. Pilate has been walking on egg shells for years now and the boys back in Rome have an eye on him. At least, that is what everybody else says.

Look at all the hushed conversations back in the shadows and up the stairwells. What on earth is all the whispering and grim faces? Things will be alright for Jesus. Just a whipping and then it is back to Capernaum and he will never be heard from again. It is a shame because Jesus had a lot of good ideas. He really stood up for the poor people and the women followed him everywhere. That bothered me at first, but after a while you can get used to anything.

No, for the last time, I do not know Jesus. I am not one of his friends. Is it some kind of crime for a working man to come into the High Priest’s courtyard for a little heat on a chilly night? That fellow is of no concern to me at all.

Yes, it is a little early for the rooster to crow, but everything seems out-of-place tonight. I better be leaving soon. Besides, John is here. He is almost as brash as Jesus. He is hard to figure too, and that Judas guy better never show his face again. Naturally, Jesus would forgive that piece of human garbage if he did come crawling back. After all the trouble he has caused, I do not doubt that Jesus would give him a hug and tell him to clean up his act. If you ask my opinion, but nobody cares about my opinion, I’d tell you what to do with Judas. I’d kick his sorry ass, and I am not so old that I can’t get the job done.

We all had such high hopes for Jesus, but none of us really measured up. Certainly I was not worthy to be one of his friends. He was always thinking about the meek, the poor in spirit, peacemakers, folks who hunger and thirst for justice, the pure in heart, the merciful, people who mourn, and the ones who are persecuted because of righteousness. I tried and tried. You know what I got? Failure. I failed and I failed.  I once asked Jesus about forgiveness. You know what he said? Not seven times, but seven times seventy. That is Jesus.

He’s right behind those doors across this courtyard. I saw the temple cops lead him in. Sure hope it is nothing worse than a beating. I am not liking the feel of things around here. He is so much better, so much stronger. I am totally covered with shame. I guess I should do something, but that just puts me in danger. I am just about ready to run as far as I can go. He understands. He forgives, and how he keeps on doing that is such a mystery.

Let me go now, before I fall apart.

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