Sunday, April 08, 2012

Thoughts of a Childhood Friend

Three days ago, they murdered my good buddy Yeshua. They accused him of a political crime but they killed him along with two thieves. I still can't believe it! Yeshua was the kindest friend I had.

I remember the time when our house burned and we lost everything except the clothes on our back. Yeshua, who was the same size as I was, gave me some clothes. Not the ones that need mending or close to being thrown out but he gave me his favorite robes!

I also remember the time when I got sick during a camping trip. He stayed up all night looking after me-making sure that I was comfortable.

One time, I got trouble at school and my folks grounded me. I was sort of a 'prisoner' but Yeshua dropped by and hung out with me when he could have been with other kids on a trip to the lake.

One thing that stood out is that Yeshua can tell really good stories. Whenever we were resting in between games, he would entertain us with stories. There was a story about a dad and his two sons. Another about the farmer and the seeds. There were many other stories too, but these are the two that stood out for me.

Many times, we played a game called Messiah. It is about a king who would come and lead our people against oppressors. We take turns wearing the crown while the rest swing their wooden swords against imaginary enemies-soldiers of the occupation forces. I can still hear the laughter as if it was only yesterday. Everything is sword swinging until Yeshua takes his turn for the crown. He would ask us to lay down our swords and listen to his stories. (Actually, we would rather stop swinging the swords and instead ask him to tell his stories, to which, we are sure he would readily do.)

A few years later, my family moved to Jerusalem and I totally lost contact with him.

Until about a few years ago when stories were circulating about a Yeshua who was a rabbi, a miracle worker and most likely the Messiah. It couldn't be the Yeshua of my childhood, I remember thinking. After all, Yeshua was a very common name.

When I begin to hear people retelling stories about a dad and his two sons and about a farmer and the seeds, then I begin to suspect that this could be my friend Yeshua after all. I wanted to see him right away but I could always come up with an excuse not to, believing that one of his travels could bring him to our city and maybe then I can come up to him and re-introduce myself.

That day came about a week ago. Yeshua arrived at the gates of the city and was met by many people. They were carrying palm leaves, which they laid at the path where Yeshua's donkey would walk on. What a lovely welcome for a Rabbi! If only the donkey were a chariot and the palm leaves fine silk or red carpet, it would have been a welcome fit for a king! Yet the donkey reminded of the old days when Yeshua would play the Messiah of peace  and not of war as the rest of us did.

I would have wanted to shake his hand but the crowd has surrounded him, calling out Rabbi, rabbi! 

Nothing has changed about him, except that he is older. His eyes were still the kindest I've ever seen. He has the same warm smile and kind attitude towards everyone, especially the children. But then, there is something about him I could not describe. Along with the gentleness, there is an intensity about him, a burning passion for something I could not explain. It was as if he has received power from the heavens!

As much as I would have wanted to follow him around, I had chores to do. After all, Passover is coming and there is much to do.

Then a few nights ago, news of his arrest spread in the city. Yeshua was tried, found guilty and was sentenced to crucifixion.I knew that there is only little time left for Yeshua. The authorities fear that his followers might cause a scene and so they would need to carry out the crucifixion as soon as they can, which is the next day, the day before Sabbath.

The day of crucifixion was the most horrible day of my life. I would want it forever blotted out of my memory if not for that one quick glance from Yeshua as he passed by where I stood. A quick glance of recognition, a glance that was full of love amidst the hatred shown to him. A glance that would forever change me.

Now it had been three days since he glanced at me and that was my last memory of him. But deep inside me, there is that feeling, a conviction that I have not lost him.

Yeshua is alive but how can I tell anyone when thousands saw him die on the middle cross. Yet, I can't believe he's dead... He can't be....