It was the evening of Passover. Yeshua had sent Shimon and Yochanan to prepare the meal. We had escaped the crowds that had followed us from Bethany after the miracle at Eleazar’s tomb, and had lined the streets as Yeshua rode into the city on a borrowed donkey. He had sent most of his followers away, and said it with such heaviness that they listened. He seemed drawn, distant, as though he was afraid of something we couldn’t see. Andreas, Shimon’s brother, had joined us not long before, bringing the news that his previous teacher, Yochanan bar-Zechariah the Baptizer, was dead. Yudah too was still with us. The rest of us were growing weary of his anti-Roman diatribes, except for Yeshua, who now seemed not to hear them.
Yeshua led us to a two-storey house not far from the Temple, into the upstairs room where the table had been prepared for us. Yeshua took his seat between his mother and me.
“Yeshua,” I said, “what’s wrong?”
He didn’t answer for a long time. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “I will not eat the Passover or drink the fruit of the vine until all these things are fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”
“Yeshua, I don’t understand. What is going to happen?”
Yeshua picked up the unleavened bread from the middle of the table and said a prayer of thanksgiving. “This is my body,” he said. “It is given for you.”
I began to understand, then.
I went through the rest of the meal in a daze, not wanting to think about what Yeshua had said. Some of the disciples talked amongst themselves, but we were mostly silent except for the required prayers.
At the end of the meal, Yeshua refilled his cup and gave thanks once more. “This is my blood of the New Covenant,” he said. “It is poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sin.”
Each of us drank in turn from his cup. I hoped that he was mistaken. After all I had been through, I couldn’t lose him like I had lost Yitzhaq.
We went with him to the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives.
“Wait here,” he said. “Pray that you do not come to the time of trial.”
I prayed, harder than I had my entire life. Yeshua walked into the darkness. I saw his figure kneeling not far away, but I couldn’t hear what he said. I turned back to find Yudah gone, and the rest of the disciples asleep.
Yeshua returned, apparently strengthened. When he saw the sleeping figures his brow knitted.
“Wake up!” he said. “Can you not watch with me one hour? Get up and pray!”
As he was speaking there was a commotion behind us. I turned and saw a group of armed men, with torches and cudgels. With them was Yoseph bar-Kepha the high priest, and beside him Yudah bar-Shimon.
I was shocked. I knew Yudah was frustrated that Yeshua wasn’t listening to his revolutionary ideas, but he had made his opinion of the Judæan government very clear. Surely he wouldn’t have sold Yeshua into the hands of people he considered traitors and collaborators?
Yudah said something to bar-Kepha, then walked towards Yeshua, who made no attempt to keep him away.
“Yudah,” he said, “is it with a kiss that you betray the Son of Man?”
Yudah didn’t answer. He walked up to Yeshua and kissed him on the lips. Bar-Kepha’s guards seized him. Something moved quickly through the air and one of the guards screamed, his head gushing with blood.
“No more of this!” said Yeshua, breaking free of the injured guard. He picked something up from the ground: it was a severed human ear. I felt sick.
The guard flinched as Yeshua reached out with the ear. In a moment he was healed and he renewed his grip on Yeshua.
“Have you come out with weapons, to arrest me like a bandit?” asked Yeshua. “Why not arrest me in the Temple or the synagogue? You had ample opportunity. But no, this is how you work. Quietly, under cover of darkness. So, do what you have come here to do.”
Yeshua was led away, and I sat in the garden until daybreak, weeping to myself.