A Story of the Passion
Maundy Thursday, 2001
A story written by and presented during the Traditional Maundy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper at St Matthew's Anglican Church, Westminster, London by Lay Canon James M Rosenthal
Hello, my name is Nico.
What a night! It is hard to believe I always get the most difficult jobs. Little did I know that serving table in the upper room tonight would lead to so much chaos and such sadness.
It all seemed to be so routine, it all seemed to be so normal. A friend and his guests having a meal, couches were all in place, the man Jesus was sitting in the middle of the table with his young friend John close beside him. Jesus greeted me warmly when he entered.
All the others were there, they really seemed to be in a quiet mood. Then the setting began to become a little strange, to say the very least. Jesus began to talk about all sorts of things, as if he was giving a lesson or teaching a class.
He was talking about those wanting to be first should be last, which seemed very confusing to me at least, as a servant.
They ate quite a bit, it was really quite amazing that they went through so much food and drink. Of course, they are a peripatetic group, I have seen them before and they really do get around the cities and the countryside. Actually a lot of people are talking about them. Many are still amazed at the almost parade-like entrance that was evident last Sunday at the city wall.
Their evening went on and it even got more mystical as at one point Jesus - I couldn't hear it completely - he was talking about the bread being his body and the wine being his blood and he asked them to do this to remember him. They all looked kind of startled to be honest, I am not sure they knew what he was talking about. But I just kept serving. Then all of a sudden the whole place came to a standstill, almost complete silence. I really got nervous. I stood in the corner and tried not to listen but it was a scene of people really shattered, some were crying. Jesus then said to all of them, "Someone here is going to betray me, someone is going to hand me over to the authorities." Well you should have heard the response - all of them - not me, they said - I would never dream of such a thing - Jesus seemed quite distraught himself and I thought - my goodness, I think there is going to be some trouble here, they all seemed so agitated. All except one.
Then the most remarkable thing happened that I had ever seen, something that I thought I would never, ever witness. I was asked for a bowl, water and a towel. The next thing I know Jesus, the leader of these men is now on his knees washing the feet of his friends. Well this was incredible, I never thought I would see a thing like this. It simply is not done. He could have asked me to do it or one of the other servants in the kitchen but this was incredible. He kept saying a thing about a servant being not greater than his master.
He words then turned to talk about God and said, if one received him they would also receive the one who sent him. Even after all this unbelievable gesture of the foot washing they were still arguing about who was going to be the first in this Kingdom they always talked about. Jesus told them the highest among you must bear himself like the youngest, the chief of you must be like a servant. I felt kind of good because He said " For who is greater the one who sits at table of the servant who waits on him?"
Then I didn't feel so good, because He said " Well surely the one who sits at table" yet then He said " Here I am among you like a servant." So I felt good again. Then there was a really tense moment as Jesus pointedly told Simon Peter, an abrupt kind of guy that I had dealt with before, Jesus basically told him, Simon you are going to have a rough night because things are going to happen and you are going to deny me. I forgot to say earlier that Simon was not keen on Jesus washing his feet. Jesus had to be firm with him the and now this as well . Jesus was talking about how it was not going to be easy when they face the night ahead.
A calm fell over the room - Jesus shared more food with them. All of a sudden one of them, the one who kept the money and had paid for the supper, burst into tears, he seemed angry and quite upset at Jesus. He stood up he ran out. The others didn't seem to notice, but Jesus did. Jesus watched the man leave.
Jesus hung his head and held on to John.
They started to sing a hymn, which is the custom at Passover and Jesus asked them to go to a nearby garden with him. They dutifully followed him.
My curiosity was so great that I followed at a distance behind them. I really can't say why I followed them out, I was becoming more and more aware of the uniqueness of Jesus. Jesus seemingly did not know I was here. I was compelled to stay close to Him. I could not figure out why it was especially since I could not hear anything He was saying or didn't quite understand when I did. There was something about Him I was drawn to. I remembered seeing Jesus before - yet I think when I saw Him wash their feet, then I knew wanted to know Him too, like the others.
They arrived at the place called Gethsemane. It was a gorgeous garden with massive olive trees. Jesus seemed to be off by Himself and no wonder the others fell asleep, they really had had a lot of wine to drink.
Yet Jesus seemed to be talking to them as if they could hear Him. I could not help but watch Him, In the midst of the night, with the stars shining, there was a certain radiance in His face. He seemed so sad. I heard Him say, as he knelt in front of one of them "Could you not watch with me for one hour?" He then seemed even more disturbed, he was crying.
Meanwhile I was getting cold because I only had a linen wrap around me. I waited and tried to pray, too. All I could remember was "The Lord is my shepherd..".
Then all of a sudden all hell broke loose. Soldiers came with torches and swords and the one that ran away from the table was leading them. One of them yelled out "Judas". And the next thing I know the one called Judas kissed Jesus.
The disciples were ready to fight, but Jesus said "No, no" They bound Jesus hands and led him away. The 11 ran in the opposite direction. One of the soldiers spotted me. I got scared because of what was happening so I, too, ran away. I just hope Jesus didn't see me run away.
I felt sick. I panicked. I really did not understand what was going on but as I ran my cloth caught on a tree and I had to run home naked.
When I got home I sat by the fire and I was wondering what was going to happen to that poor Jesus. He seemed to really care for these 12 men, He seemed to be so different from the people I have served table for over time. Well actually I knew He was special and the impact he had on people. As I said, this was not the first time I had seen Jesus. How could I ever forget the first time.
It was that strange day. I had been working in another city and I was coming through the country. I had been serving tables and the master of the house gave me food that was left over for my family. It was 5 loaves and 2 fishes. I still have trouble trying to tell that story to people. Not many believed me.
What is he all about? The foot-washing, the bread and the wine, his body and blood, all that servant talk.
Why did they arrest him? I don't understand.
Well the fire is nearly out and I must work in the Marketplace Friday morning. What a day this has been!
I wonder if people will believe this story as well.
What worries me most is that I can't help but wonder what tomorrow will bring for JESUS, and for me, and indeed for any of us.
Received from Anglican Communion News Service, [acns].
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