Holy Week 2012

Good Friday Afternoon

It was preposterous. But these people were. It was just so uncivilised to take religion seriously. If you made Tiberias a god you were saying farewell to religion and a good thing too. Rome was built on solid, engineering principles but out here it was all fanatical  Jews and slippery Greeks.

It was preposterous that he had to  step outside his residence to talk to them because they had the arrogance to declare that his house was unfit for them, "polluted", they said. But they had followed the form and sent him a formal petition about this Jesus  of Galilee and if he didn't act immediately the whole affair would have to be held over until after their ridiculous lamb slaughtering and there was something about this Festival of theirs that made them mad. He knew the Moses story; but he also knew that the Romans wouldn't be as soft as the Egyptians.

There they were, with their peculiar way of shouting quietly. They wanted him to sign the death warrant and he knew, in the end, that he would; but they needed to know it was his decision. And then there was his wife telling him to be careful. It was a pity she didn't have better things to worry about but the social life here was so dull. He would have to see the prisoner.

He thought at first that the man was a simpleton but he realised that that was just his prejudice. He was going on appearances and that was never safe. The Jews had made quite a mess  of him; strange how religious people could become so violent. The crown was a good touch, though; that must have been his own little Praetorian Guard. But anybody who could bear themselves as he did after so much ill-usage must be a bit special; it wasn't a simpleton's face; it was an old man's expression on a young man's face, a face of what the Greeks called wisdom!

He found himself shuttling in and out of the hall-way, defending the accused to the Jews. He was being sucked in. He was making a fool of himself. If he wasn't careful he would be ridiculed as well as hated and that was much worse. Anyway, this Jeshua said that his kingdom was not of this world and, given his reception when he was led out, it was as well that his hopes of kingship lay elsewhere.

He drew himself up and, trying to look as tool and decisive as possible, he passed the formal sentence. They weren't grateful. They observed the minimum courtesy to avoid being prosecuted for insulting the Emperor. He could see why the Priests wanted this man killed but why would the mob applaud the execution of one of their own by the hated Romans. It was a nasty, though trivial, business and he just wanted to get back inside away from the noise and smell. He didn't want to catch the prisoner's eye but he was drawn in; and the man said: "I forgive you." Not at all Roman; but charming in its way.