I was so excited that he had chosen to hold his sedar at our inn. I had spent the last few weeks ordering and planning for this meal. I wanted to make sure that Jesus, who had once made me feel so loved when I had felt so rejected, was served as well as he possibly could be.
On the day of the sedar I spent all day preparing the meal. I set the table with the best quality plates and cutlery we had and added a few sprigs of ruscus and blackspot hornpoppies to ensure the room felt inviting.
His party started to arrive. They were a mixed bunch of unlikely companions; both men and women. Some were very well dressed and seemed to come from very privileged backgrounds. What others wore was more simple. Despite the differences in background almost all of them seemed very relaxed and comfortable within the group. There was an openness – no pretention.
As the group mingled and chatted among one another I began to wonder at how each of them had come to know Jesus. I thought back on my first meeting with him…
The streets were abuzz with activity. Carts waited on the dirt lanes outside of the inns while men and women scurried back and forth moving their belongings out from the inns and onto the carts ready for their journies home. Children played in the dusty streets and animals bleeted as their owners saddled them up for the work they were about to do.
I had loved the passover festival – all the food, dancing, laughter, singing and meeting new friends to play with and much excitement. But that year had been different. The children had not made me feel welcome. I felt alone. Rejected. Sad. That year my mother and I and younger brothers had moved to Jerusalem, away from my father and in with my uncle to run an inn there. The children with whom I usually would have played called me bat-zonna, which meant daughter of a whore.
I asked to join in their games but was told that I was not welcome. So I spent the festival working within the inn, cleaning and helping my mother prepare meals for the guests. I tried to not let my mother see my sadness as I knew her heart already had its own deep sadness. I tried to stay strong for her. But it was on the last day, when I was running an errand that I could not contain my emotions within me anymore and they forced themselves to be released.
My eyes were flooded with water and I ran away from their jaunts to a little alleyway. I sought peace from my tormentors. My body convulsed and I collapsed onto my knees and bent down towards the dirt.
I wept and wept and then a few minutes later I felt a young male presence and heard a tentative soft crunch on the dirt from his footsteps behind me. The presence was warm; loving. I did not move to turn around as I was still too overwhelmed by my tears but I did not indicate to the presence that he was unwelcome. He continued toward me and when he arrived beside me he knelt down. He then gently and silently put his arm around my back. He did not say anything and he did not leave me. It must have been for over and hour that we sat like that.
When I finally stopped crying the noise of activity has subsided. Jesus walked back with me to the inn and I asked him where his family was. He and I both looked around. The streets were bare. We realised his family must have left without realising that he was not with them. I invited him in and my mother decided he must stay with us until we could locate his parents.
Jesus ended up staying with us for three days until his parents returned. Each day he would go to the temple. He liked listening to the rabbis preach and he thought it would be easier for his family to find him there. He was an easy guest and so pleasant to be around. Being around Jesus I felt more myself than I ever had around anyone. If I seemed a bit downcast he knew how to tell a joke or funny story to lighten the mood. He helped out with household chores in the inn whereever he could.
Finally, after three days his parents did return. They found him listening to the teachers in the temple. Jesus brought his parents back to the inn to thank my mother and I for looking after him. They were both warm and friendly people. They both seemed so relieved to have found him and a little ashamed that they had left him behind. They stayed for a meal and one night at our inn before they set out again on their journey home to Nazareth.
Jesus and I after that stayed in touch. Each year at the passover festival Jesus would come to see me and he would bring me a wood carving. It was always of a different character he had encountered. The detail was impressive. He always was able to bring the essence of the ones he was trying to capture to life. Some of the characters had likeable demeanours, others looked like those whom it would be more difficult to like.
During these visits Jesus would tell me stories about the people he had encountered working in his Father’s business and I would tell him about the interesting guests who had stayed at our family’s inn. As Jesus and I grew older our friendship grew with us. He took over his family business and I was married. But we still saw each other at least once a year and chatted about what was going on in our lives.
Then, once he left carpentry and started on his new mission I followed this news. I heard about the stories he told so that were so illustrative, vivid and of course about the healings. When he was in Jerusalem he would still visit me and sometimes he would stay in my inn with his disciples.
This evening was a little different. When Jesus arrived he did not have a wooden carving for me. This was the first time he had not had one in twenty years. He greeted me with the same love and tenderness that he usually would, but his eyes were heavy and I could feel that he was deeply troubled. All the love that he had ever shown me and poured into his artworks that he had presented me as gifts I willed to echo back to him as I looked into his eyes and embraced him.
I knew he was in trouble with the authorities. There had been chatter about his entrance into Jerusalem a few days earlier and his anger expressed at merchants in the temple. For every follower Jesus had just as many enemies among the Jewish authorities and also the Romans. But, I had never seen him this rattled.
I like to think my embrace had some effect on his nerves. If I could provide him with just a little of what he had given to me over the years I would be glad. He seemed to steady himself and he began this meal with his companions. They all began to settle in and enjoy the food I had prepared for the occasion.
But then Jesus did something that made me realise something very grave was about to happen to him.
He took some bread, broke it and said, “This is my body which will be given up for you.”
Then, in the same way, after the meal, he took a cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you”.
I did not comprehend what he meant by these acts, but I knew his life was in danger. I felt anxious after he left with some of his disciples. Some of them remained behind. Many of them were staying at the inn during the festival. I was the person who answered the door early the next morning when one of his disciples brought the news that Jesus had been arrested. My heart felt like it had been ripped out from within me.