The following is the fifth of a series of posts which offer an alternative view of Holy Week. A warning: this is just a wacky exercise of creative writing that asks the question, “What if it had all happened like this?”
Golda scurried around the kitchen, moving pots and sipping spoons. She had very little time left before the guests began to arrive.
She stopped to mop her brow with the edge of her apron, and reflected on the day’s crazy events.
Early in the morning, two men from the revolutionary guard had arrived and told her that they needed the use of the room on the second floor of the residence she shared with her children and grandchildren.
Wisely, she asked for a rental fee, and the guards accepted without even attempting to negotiate. She also asked if she could prepare a meal for the guests, and they readily agreed to this proposal.
Ever since, she’d been working hard on a meal for thirteen persons. But not just any meal, and not just a plain ol’ Passover meal. She was laying out all the works because she knew that Jesus himself would be present. She was preparing fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, loaves of fresh-baked bread, and apple pie.
But she had something else for Jesus. A request.
Her granddaughter was bright. Brighter than any of the other children in her class at school. Golda could prove it; she patted the report cards hidden in the pockets of her apron.
If she had just a moment alone with Jesus, she could ask him to help her get her granddaughter into the best school in Jerusalem, the Beth Yeshurun Academy. She was presently on a waiting list, but the chances of her moving up were hopeless, unless Jesus could perform some kind of miracle.
Golda checked her oven, then headed upstairs to set the table.
Peter was the first to arrive in the upper room. He wanted time to carefully consider his strategy, and to check the room’s entrances and exits.
He needed to do something to endear himself to Jesus right off the bat, and had decided that he would dismiss the servant, and wash everyone’s feet before the meal. This would impress Jesus as being a humble act, and set the stage for Peter’s dramatic announcement, just before dinner was served, that Judas was a traitor.
Slowly, the guests began to trickle in. Peter watched them straggle in with a wary eye. He noticed that Matthew had recently shaved his long white beard, and that Thomas seemed obsessively concerned with his cell phone. James and John were engaged in a heated argument about the first draft of the new Israeli constitution.
When Judas entered, Peter noticed that he slunk into the room, noiselessly. He looked nervous, furtively glancing from face to face.
Finally Jesus himself arrived and closed the door. His bodyguards stayed outside the door, within earshot.
He raised his arms and said, “Mazel tov!”
The room erupted in applause and cheers. The men slapped each other on the back, exchanged fist pumps, and whooped it up for a good five minutes.
When things had calmed down, Peter seized his opportunity.
“Jesus, sit down,” he said, as he removed his outer robe, and grabbed a towel that had been stretched across the back of his chair. “Here, let me have the honor of washing your feet. In fact, I’ll wash everyone’s feet!”
But Jesus didn’t respond the way Peter expected. He took a step backward, and frowned.
“Wash my feet?” he said. “Why?”
Peter stammered, “Because I want to do something nice for you. I want to be in service to you.”
Jesus snatched the towel from his arms and said, “No thanks, I’ll do it myself. Rule number one for a rebel leader — don’t put yourself in vulnerable situations, even amongst friends. You never know who might have a knife hidden in his underwear, or might be about to betray you with a kiss.”
He leaned over, unbuckled his own sandals, and began to pour water over his dusty feet.
When he noticed that nobody else in the room was talking, he said, “Sorry, but we all have to be careful. Especially me. I can’t afford to be vulnerable and transparent. There are so many people out to get me. But let’s be honest — if they take me out, then this revolution has zero chance of sticking. I’ve got to stay alive.”
When his feet were clean, he tossed the towel to Peter. “Peter, don’t take it personally. Security — that’s my new commandment.”
After everyone had washed their own feet, they sat around the table as Golda brought in heaping plates of fried chicken, potatoes, corn and bread, and poured copious amounts of iced tea and lemonade.
Jesus picked up one of the loaves of bread and stood up ceremoniously.
“Men, the new kingdom has begun,” he said. “We have fulfilled the will of God for this time and this place, but there is much work to do. We are like this one loaf of bread. We have been baked together in the crucible of struggle. We are held together by common bonds of brotherhood.”
But suddenly Jesus grasped the loaf with both hands, and ripped it into two.
“Woe be to the one who would tear this unity, who would rend our fellowship and betray the cause.”
Then just as suddenly, he tossed half of the loaf in the direction of Judas, who instinctively reached out and caught it.
Bartholomew blurted, “But who among us would betray you?”
Looking directly at Judas, Jesus said, “Someone already has.”
The room collectively gasped.
“How much do you plan to make for this transaction?” Jesus asked Judas. “What do you plan to do with the money? Mediterranean cruise? Couple of weekends in Vegas?”
Judas stood up and backed away. “I don’t know what you’re talking about …”
“Guards!” shouted Jesus.
The soldiers burst through the door, and grabbed Judas by the arms.
“If he’s such good friends with Herod, then go put him in the cell next to him,” Jesus said. “But don’t feed him. He’s siphoned enough off our accounts already.”
Peter watched as Judas was dragged off to the dungeon. He was crushed, of course; his plans to ingratiate himself with Jesus had fallen through.
But now he was truly in awe of Jesus — how had he known about Judas?
TO BE CONTINUED