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Guarding Jesus

by davesandel on March 20th, 2021

Saturday, March 20, 2021                   (today’s lectionary)

Guarding Jesus

The priests asked us, “Why did you not bring him in?” And we answered, “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.”

Barbara told me we’d get in trouble. We’re paid by the priests to be loyal and do what they tell us. We don’t have voices when it comes to argument, and we don’t have the right to disobey. “You must do right by them, Salmon.”

But I didn’t care. Then Obed told me … just go get Jesus, grab him by the arms and we will bring him in. I looked at Obed, and looked at Jesus, and kept looking at Jesus. I was doing nothing of the kind.

“Salmon! Wake up. You look like you’re in a trance.” None of us knew then what hypnotism was, but I felt hypnotized by Jesus’ words, by the rhythms, by the cadence, by the meaning behind his singsong voice. Jesus told us we must be born again. Jesus told us we could be saved, and enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And nearly everyone who heard, believed.

My Jesus was a trusting lamb led to slaughter. But does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?

Nicodemus knew something the others didn’t. If only they would listen to Jesus, to his words, his voice. Would they just look into his eyes? If so, if only they took a little time, the priests and Pharisees would believe him.

Nicodemus believed. Meeting in secret and in fear, for only a few minutes in the dark of night, Nicodemus saw the goodness, truth and beauty of God in the face of Jesus. He smelled the good sweat of the highway, and tasted heaven. When Jesus touched him, Nicodemus knew Jesus brought the truth. He couldn’t be a liar or lunatic anymore than he could be a bandit or a teapot. Jesus was Lord.

Do me justice, O God. Let the malice of the wicked come to an end, to an end! Sustain the just, O searcher of heart and soul. You are a just God. You are a shield before me. In you, O Lord, I take refuge.

We stood there, transfixed and silent, our swords sheathed by our sides. I could have stayed forever. My soul felt peace for the first time since I was a kid. There were children jumping and dancing on the edges of the crowd. Couldn’t we join them? I wish we’d all stay children. Jesus whispered, “Let the little children come to me,” and they did. Leaping and laughing and praising God.

I knew their plot because the Lord informed me. You, O Lord, showed me their doings. “Let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will be spoken of no more.”

When for a moment Jesus looked into my eyes, I almost sobbed. His face, smiling toward the children, showed no confusion or fear, and in his eyes, only sadness. Dark eyes probing mine, while neither of us looked away. I saw no defiance, only peace. Then he turned away, his arms swept up the quickest children, and I found I could move again. The children loved this man, and I love him too.

(Jeremiah 11, Psalm 7, Luke 8, John 7)

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