Was That Really Me?

In my last post, I shared an imaginative piece about Simon Peter looking back at some of his choices concerning Jesus, especially in the final hours before Jesus’ death. Originally written as one of four dramatic monologues for Lent, it was a fitting stand-alone piece just before Easter.

Now on the other side of Easter, I share another monologue that looks back at the Easter story, this time from the perspective of a woman in the crowd. Like Peter she was faced with a choice, and like him she had some regrets—or at least so it seems in this imaginative retelling.

Whatever choices you face today, whatever choices you’ve made in the past, I hope these reflections will encourage you in moving forward wisely and well.

Was That Really Me?

I didn’t see Jesus enter Jerusalem myself, but my son came home that day full of the story. He said Jesus entered the city riding on a donkey, with a crowd of people around him waving palm branches and shouting praises. He said they called Jesus the king of Israel.

Another would-be saviour of the people, I said to myself. A dreamer. Another one who will claim the hearts of the people, who will promise us freedom from the Romans, and only end up getting himself killed—while we ourselves suffer great oppression because of him. There had been others before him. There would be others after.

So it was no surprise when my son came home one day with the news that Jesus had been arrested. He said that Jesus had nearly caused a riot in the temple court. He said that Jesus refused to pay tax to Caesar. Yet because of the feast, it looked as if Pilate might actually release him.

I joined the crowd outside the praetorium to see what Pilate would do. Over the shoulders of the crowd I caught a glimpse of Jesus standing on the platform. So this was the man who claimed to be a king. Where was his kingdom? We were still under Roman rule. Our land was still overrun by Roman soldiers. And he himself now stood a prisoner of Pontius Pilate. Like all the other self-appointed Messiahs, he had raised the people’s hopes only to let them fall away through his fingers.

Someone in the crowd began shouting, “Crucify him, crucify him!”

And then like a wave the shout moved through the crowd as other voices joined in: “Crucify him, crucify him!” The sound rose around me, and soon I was shouting too, shouting out all the pain of the occupation, all the stress of the broken promises, all my anger at God for leaving us and our land at the mercy of the Romans. We have no more room in Jerusalem for dreamers, no more strength for false hopes, no more patience with empty promises. All the years of pain and anger were let loose at that moment in our cries for Jesus’ death.

And then they took him away to be crucified.

Some days I look in the mirror now, and I wonder: Was that really me, shouting in the crowd for Jesus’ death? Is his blood on my hands even today?

I was only part of the crowd, you know. Our leaders had spoken. The people had spoken. What was my voice among so many? Could I have swayed the crowd? Could I have challenged the judgement of the chief priests and the scribes? I had no choice but to accept the crowd’s verdict. I had no choice, you see. I had no choice.

Writing/Reflection Prompt: Are you convinced that this woman really had no choice? Why or why not? What new choice could she make today?

This is the third of four monologues that look back at Jesus’ passion and the choices made by some of the people around him. For the concluding monologue, please see New Day, New Choices.

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