- Yes and no. I heard him speak a few times. You could understand him so, or
How so or so?
Well, we understood him to be on the side of the landless and poor and
against the rich and the whole fine society that can do what it wants, and
extort taxes and take away land, and lock up the people who can't pay in
debtors prison. The way he talked made us think that he wanted the uprising.
But then: No, not that way, no violence. How then? Neither fish nor fowl. I
prefer Yehuda any time.
Yes, you always know where you stand with him, he is clearly on the people's
Then you don't know?
He killed himself - by hanging.
What! But Why?
Because he thought as you do.
What do you mean?
He thought you can obtain peace, freedom and justice by fighting with
That's so. It's the only way.
The Rabbi Yeshua said that it's not the way. Violence only begets more
violence. And because the rabbi was against violence Yehuda wanted him
killed. Briefly said. Do you understand?
I understand. And now they're both dead. So what happens now? Can anything
more happen? Anyway, I'm fed up with it all. I belonged to the rebels for
years. But now I want to rest. I don't want to be crucified. What do you
care about all that? It's not a woman's thing.
Later a group of pilgrims arrived. I recognized them from their accent as
Galileans from the Kineret Sea. They sat aside and made a small fire in the
courtyard. I greeted them. But they were taciturn.
We don't know anything.
One said: It's all over.
The feast, what else?
I understood. Should I have said: Nothing is over, our rabbi lives?
My heart burned, the words strove on my tongue to come out. But how could
they have believed me. They'd have had to take me for a madwoman.
We left early in the morning. Such a beautiful morning, and spring, and
Yeshua's words in my ear: Go to Galilee, I will be there.
But of course always the doubt: it can't be true that someone returns from
the kingdom of the dead, it can't be true that you can see and touch him,
that doesn't happen, we have fooled ourselves, over-stimulated as we were we
imagined something for consolation.
But why then my happiness? Where does the feeling come from that HE is near
It was near Sebaste that we met a troupe of riders. It was a whole cohort.
Romans. They rode to south. They rode in a great hurry. Was something
happening in Yerushalayim to cause them to be ordered there. Had unrest
broken out? Had Bar Abba been able to bring about the uprising? If now the
great uprising too place? If Yeshua's death had been the signal? If the
uprising in Yerushalayim meant an uprising in all Yisrael?
Yochanan, do you remember Yeshua's words: I throw fire on the earth and wish
nothing more ardently than that it burn.
But not that way. Not as an uprising, not as violence, not as a battle
Yes, but you told me the story about that Prometheus who stole fire from the
gods in order to give it to men, and that he was cruelly punished for it.
Do you think that? How difficult it is for you and for us all to escape from
the old images: Zeus, Jupiter, Adonai: violent rulers, strict judges, hard
fathers. Miryam, Yeshua didn't need to steal the fire from a jealous god: he
stole it from himself, HE is the fire, and that fire is spirit, and whoever
lets it burn in him is godlike.
That evening we were already near the border of Galilee. We looked for an
inn there. Then we met Shimon and Andrew. They acted half crazed. Are you
drunk? What are you saying? We don't understand a word. Shimon, you tell us.
We saw the rabbi! And he ate supper with us, here, an hour ago! There's the
cup he drank out of, it's still half full, and there, that half a piece of
bread! We met him underway.
From the beginning. Underway. Where, how?
We were going along and suddenly, we didn't hear any footsteps, someone was
alongside us who asks: You are sad, friends, why? We say: Yes, why: because
something happened in Yerushalayim that affects us. What? He says. The Rabbi
Yeshua, who they hanged. So? He asks. And what else? What else: he's dead,
do you understand? He looks at us so curiously: Is he really dead? I say:
Yes and no. He says: What's that supposed to mean, is he dead or not? Yes, I
say, that's just what we can't handle. He says: You'll never be able to
handle it, friend. I say: He died, that's for sure, but then the tomb was
empty and some women claim to have seen him, alive! But that's women's talk
due to grief.
Shimon! I said.
He felt ashamed.
I don't want to tell the stranger everything at once.
All right. Go on.
Yes, well, meanwhile it was evening and I say: We're going to the inn there.
Come along, friend. It was very strange. I didn't want to let that stranger
go away for anything in the world. He stayed, and we ordered food and drink.
He says: Do you have money, I have none. Yes, yes, we do. Then he smiles and
the smile seems familiar to us, but we still don't think anything more. And
then he asks: Who was the man they crucified, and why? Why, that's a long
story, and who he really was, we don't know that. Don't be angry, but we don
't want to talk about it, it pains us. He smiles again and I kick Andrew and
indicate the face of the guy to him, and we stare at it, and the man keeps
smiling and we're warm, but do you think our eyes were opened? No. The food
is brought. Sea fish and bread, and wine, and the stranger eats and drinks,
why not, why shouldn't a man eat and drink. But then, now it's coming: then
he takes the bread and breaks it in three pieces, and dips a piece in the
wine and hands it to me, and then one to Andrew. Then it dawns on us, it
dawns on us like a bolt of lightning, and at the same moment he disappears.
Simply gone. The serving girl said: Where's the third one gone, I didn't see
him leave and I was always here. Yes, look, there's his cup, half full, and
his piece of bread, let's share it! Let's do as he did.
It was Shimon who first celebrated the supper with us, and we were all in
The next day we went on together, and I kept looking back to see if someone
was following. Wasn't his promise to be seen again also for me? Or couldn't
I expect it after the encounter at the tomb?
Frank Thomas Smith