Horvath Spiritual Consulting
Readings by Hawk
|Posted on April 17, 2014 at 8:15 PM|
NAMELESS, FACELESS AND SILENT
Dr. Nancy J. Horvath
OH MY GOD…OH MY GOD…. I’M SO SORRY….I’M SO……
It’s another middle of the night when I’ve awakened, once again, with night terrors and heavy sweating and cries of anguish calling out from the depths of my being…Another night where my wife gently says, “Oh my dear husband, I so wish you could talk about it.”
I can’t. I just can’t.
It’s all a blur to me now. I’ve found that I prefer to be nameless…faceless.
All truth be told I wish I no longer existed… but I am a man and I will not take the coward’s way out as Judas Iscariot, that dirty traitor, did.
I remember the day we were approaching Jerusalem—Jesus and the other disciples besides myself. We got to the town of Bethphage, on the Mount of Olives, when Jesus gave me and another disciple a job. He told us to go into Bethphage where we would see the colt of a donkey. We were to untie it and bring it to him.
“You want us to steal it, Lord?”
“If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord had need of it.”
The other disciple said to me, “I think this a part of the written prophecy. Remember where it says, “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey—even on a donkey’s colt.”
“So do you think he’s a king?” I asked.
“Beats me”, he replied. “Let’s just do as he says and hope we don’t run into problems.”
We did it. Of course we did it. We always did as he asked. We believed him to be a very great man; different from the fake prophets, he actually performed miracles. But a king? This was risky business.
We found the colt and brought the animal to him, throwing our garments over it. He climbed on and we began the walk to Jerusalem.
It was the strangest procession I had ever encountered. People lined up, spreading their cloaks on the road ahead. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Jesus was the main attraction and all the crowds were cheering and shouting:
“PRAISE GOD FOR THE SON OF DAVID! BLESS THE ONE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD! PRAISE GOD IN THE HIGHEST HEAVEN! HOSANNA! HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST!”
The entire city of Jerusalem seemed to take notice. People were already streaming into town to commemorate the Passover, so the crowd swelled larger than usual.
“Who is this?” I heard someone ask.
“It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee,” another replied.
I remained silent.
While I believed in him, I wasn’t sure I wanted my name brought into it all. I had an eerie feeling I couldn’t quite explain, that feeling that makes you want to keep looking over your shoulder.
The procession went right to the Temple where Jesus got off the colt and walked to the outer courts. It wasn’t the first time he was angry at the cheating money changers and those selling animals for sacrifice at ridiculous prices. He drove them out, again, this time knocking over the tables and stalls as if he didn’t have a thing to lose. He shouted that the Temple should be a place of prayer and not a den of thieves!
I tried to blend into the background, not really wanting to be associated with this kind of behavior. I had a lot to lose.
Suddenly we realized that in the middle of his tirade there were people lining up—the blind and the lame wanting him to heal them. Oh my God, he did it right there in the Temple! He did it in full view of the leading priests and teachers of religious law. Even the children there in the Temple were shouting, “Praise God for the Son of David.”
Oh, this was risky business indeed. I took more than a few steps back, wishing to remain faceless and nameless.
Because of the unrest he’d stirred, he decided we should go to Bethany for the night. A wave of relief washed over me; it was definitely safer there. I joined in some of the conversation about the day, but mostly sat silently, picking at the food Martha had prepared and Mary had placed before me.
“You OK?” asked another disciple.
“Oh yeah. Just fine.” I choked on the words as surely as I’d choke on the food were I to try to eat.
The next morning we headed back to Jerusalem before Mary and Martha were even awake. It was one thing to do miracles out in the hills around Galilee but quite another to put it in the faces of the crowds and religious leaders. It wasn’t the first time I considered blending into a crowd and disappearing.
On our way back to Jerusalem he said he was hungry. No surprise there, we’d left without breakfast. We passed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs on it but saw only leaves. He said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up. WHAT IN THE WORLD?
Had I produced enough fruit in my life? It was a withering thought.
Much to my dismay we headed over to the temple again where he began teaching. There was immediate confrontation by religious leaders and priests.
“By whose authority did you drive out the merchants from the temple?
And the debate began. Jesus began telling his stories—the two sons, the evil farmers, the king and the great wedding feast…. On and on it went. It wasn’t pretty and I was shocked when they tried to blindside him with a question about paying taxes. They didn’t understand half of what he talked about in religious terms, so they decided to attack him politically.
Jesus knew their motives immediately, he was no fool! I did, however, slink further into the background when he yelled, “You hypocrites! Who are you trying to fool with your trick questions?”
Oh my God, what was he thinking?
Later in the day some Sadducees approached him and started in again with questions. Jesus again insulted them by saying, “Your problem is that you don’t know the scriptures and you don’t know the power of God.”
He further told the people to listen to the religious leaders but not follow their example because, “They do not practice what they preach.”
Could it get any worse?
By now all I wanted was to be nameless and faceless….and GONE. He was in over his head and I was afraid he was going to get us all killed.
Then came the Passover meal. I was one of the ones he sent to find a place. I liked that I could do this anonymously; no one needed to know my name.
We had a normal Passover meal, but then when we were done and our spirits and bellies were full he did something quite odd, even by his standards.
He took the unleavened bread still sitting there on the table and he blessed it and broke it and gave it to those of us reclining there on the floor, saying, “Take and eat. This is my body given for you.”
Then he took the cup of wine, and while I still don’t remember his exact words, he said something like, “Take and drink. This is my life blood poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
We each took a bite of bread and ate it in silent wonder. What did this mean? We each took a sip from the cup. His body and his blood? This was very strange, but in the solemnness of the moment none of us dared to ask.
I, the faceless and nameless disciple, had no burning desire to ask. I just followed orders.
Then Jesus said quietly, “Whenever you eat of this bread and drink of this cup, remember me.” It seemed a strange request.
We sang an old hymn and headed to the garden of Gethsemane where he wanted to pray alone. He asked us to wait for him and pray for him; an odd appeal, but nothing surprised us anymore.
With our full bellies, we quickly fell asleep. Hey, we’re only human! He came back and asked if we couldn’t stay awake with him for just an hour. It seemed like much of the night had passed.
Judas came walking through the trees. I hadn’t noticed when he’d disappeared from the Upper Room. He must have slipped out quietly. He came up to Jesus and kissed his cheek. Suddenly soldiers appeared from the trees and quickly apprehended Jesus! Swords were drawn! Mark started to run and when a soldier grabbed him, he left his clothes behind in the soldier’s hands, running naked down the street. Others began running too. Peter grabbed a sword and attacked a soldier, but Jesus stopped him.
I didn’t see what happened next. I don’t even remember creeping slowly and quietly back into the trees. Shhh! Slowly and quietly I backed away, nameless and faceless, just the way I wanted it. I hid in the bushes for hours, my legs cramping and the heavy night dew making me shiver.
I felt so much GUILT, but the truth be told I also felt RELIEF. I was finally free from it all. He was never getting out of prison and the other disciples had fled in all directions.
It was over. I could go home to my wife and kids and forget any of this had happened.
I found myself thinking about Judas, the dirty traitor! It was obvious he had betrayed us all, especially the Lord. What on earth had gotten into him?
I heard there was a trial. Pilate sent Jesus to Herod who sent him back to Pilate. Pilate gave him 39 lashes. Dear God in heaven, few survived it. Jesus did.
I crept quietly into the crowd the day he carried his crossbeam to Golgotha—that horrible hill of death nicknamed Skull Hill. People were spitting on him and screaming CRUCIFY HIM!
You know what was crazy? I recognized the same people who were yelling, “HOSANNA” less than a week ago. How had the tide turned so quickly?
He looked horrible. If I hadn’t known him for 3 years I would never have recognized him; bloody and beaten, a crown of thorns shoved into his head, open wounds on his back from the cat of nine tails lashing. He could barely walk with that beam on his shoulders, digging into his wounds.
I looked away. I just couldn’t take it.
Just then the crowd gasped and I looked back, involuntarily, to see him drop to his knees in weakness. The crowd behind me had pushed forward, pushing me forward with them. Oh, this was too close! I didn’t want to be so close!
As a soldier grabbed the man next to me, and ordered him to carry Jesus’ cross, I saw his head raise, and for just a moment, he looked straight into my eyes. For that moment I remained nameless and faceless to him; another face in the crowd he couldn’t really focus on in his weakened state. And then as Simon of Cyrene took up the cross for him, he looked at me a second time. This time his eyes revealed recognition.
Would he call to me? Would he OUT ME as a follower of his? Would my life be in grave danger yet again? I tried to take a step back, but the crowds continued to push me forward.
Struggling, he got to his feet and without a word looked straight ahead and took the next step toward Golgotha.
Not a word to incriminate me. He protected me with his silence.
Interesting, because I sold him out with mine. Really, when you think about it, was my decision to remain nameless and faceless and silent any worse than Peter denying him, Judas betraying him, or Thomas doubting him?
Truly these are the things that wake me in the middle of the night, with night terrors and heavy sweating and cries of anguish calling out from the depths of my being, where my wife gently says, “Oh my dear husband, I so wish you could talk about it.”