You ask about the night they took Him?
It was terrible. Far beyond terrible,
Despair so utterly bleak
That it seemed the end of everything.
What was left but a pathetic scramble for survival?
And guilt of course. Overwhelming, suffocating guilt.
We’d all betrayed Him. Well, everyone
Except John and a little group of women.
For all the rest of us it was betrayal.
Let me list the whole sorry lot.
There was Pilate with his “washing of hands”;
Herod’s shallow pantomime, dressing Him in purple;
The High Priest’s cynical expediency;
The murderous hypocrisy of the Sanhedrin;
The Pharisees’ pious pretence;
The ungrateful mob’s “Crucify him!”;
Treacherous Judas’s love of money.
All this was betrayal and worse. It led to the murder
Of a man whose “crime” was that He was too good;
That His light exposed dark hearts;
A man who had helped, healed, taught, brought hope,
Who showed us what we could aspire to be;
Who only desired to set people free and heal the broken hearted.
They were the betrayers and murderers.
But what of us, His chosen companions?
We were not murderers, but we were betrayers.
Was our betrayal cowardice or disbelief?
Superficially, it was cowardice.
Peter denied Him three times, swearing and cursing,
His last “I don’t know Him!” just as they were bringing Him,
Exhausted, beaten and bruised, into the courtyard.
Of course He heard it and Peter fled, weeping bitterly.
The rest of us? It too, superficially, was cowardice.
We fled when He was taken. We hid behind locked doors.
We trembled and jumped at shadows,
Scared they’d soon be coming and we’d be next.
But our failure to believe was a deeper betrayal.
He’d spoken many times about His death and His resurrection.
We couldn’t accept it. Our minds were set on Kingdom.
We thought that He would soon establish it.
We thought that soon He’d be reigning in power.
We even squabbled about who would be greatest.
The idea that He would die was incomprehensible.
Equally incomprehensible was His resurrection.
It was completely beyond our understanding.
We, His closest companions, were the most unwilling of witnesses.
So I come to the events of the third day.
In the very early morning in rushed Mary Magdalene,
Declaring she’d seen, spoken, even touched Him.
Why didn’t we believe her? You have to remember
That Mary had once been very mentally unwell.
We thought that her grief had unbalanced her.
Later Peter declared that he’d seen Him.
Peter was a practical sort of man, so that excited us,
But we still couldn’t accept it. It just wasn’t possible.
Then that night we were gathered together, Peter included,
And two of our friends burst in, declaring “Peter is right”,
Said they’d walked, talked, even eaten with Him.
We didn’t know what to think. Could it be possible?
Then suddenly, He was there in the room.
The wounds were visible in His hands, feet and side.
He ate with us. Later, when He left,
The signs were there in the remains of the food.
Then Thomas came in and, just like us,
Refused to believe unless he thrust his fingers
Into the nail holes and fist into the spear wound.
Suddenly He was there.
“Reach your finger here”, He said, “And touch My hands.
Put your hand here into My side.
Do not be unbelieving, but be believing.”
Then we, betrayers all, believed.