It’s Palm Sunday again already and time, maybe, for me to post something about my own take on the story of Jesus (or Yeshua). I find myself at times impatient in equal measure with uncritical believers who insist upon seeing history through the lens of theology, and with belief-debunkers who appear to have been schooled in their study of myth and legend in the Thomas Gradgrind school under the tutelage of Mr M’Choakumchild. So when I approach the biblical narratives I ask neither, “What is God (or the Church) telling me here?” nor, “What is one hundred percent logically provable in this?” I ask instead, “What real situations might inspire a story like this?” Or, “What might this story have been like when first it was told?”
That is the starting point for the approach to the Bible at the heart of my slim book How to Write a Gospel. And it is the approach which led me to write The Gospel of Eleazar (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BJL9XGH )which you will find there. And here, for Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter, is my take on the events leading up to the arrest and crucifixion of Rabbi Yeshua.
When Yeshua was thirty years old, long after Gabriel had returned to a far country, he chose from among his friends certain men who were devout. He chose Simon and Yakob and Yohanan and they set out upon a journey throughout Galilee teaching and breaking bread. Word about them spread all around the villages and people would come out to greet them and welcome them into their homes. Some people said that when Rabbi Yeshua touched them they were healed of sickness but when people asked him to give them a sign he would not.
One day Simon said to him, “Rabbi, why do you not tell the people who you are, that you are Messiah the Prince?” But Yeshua answered, “The time is not yet. You must speak no more of it.” And whenever anyone would say, “You are the Messiah,” or “Are you the one who is to come,” he would answer, “You must speak no more of it.”
Word spread among them that the secret was for them alone though Yeshua had never said, “I am Messiah the Prince,” but others had said it about him. So they believed that he would reveal himself when the hour came.
One day when Yeshua had been working at his trade with his brothers, he said to his friends, “Let us journey to Jerusalem for it is Passover time.” So they set out, and many of the people journeyed with them bringing donkeys laden with provisions for the way and goods for exchange. It was whispered amongst the crowd that he would now declare himself Messiah the Prince but still Yeshua would only say, “The time is not yet. Speak nothing of it.”
When they approached Jerusalem and they saw all the people journeying there, some of their number ran ahead so that they might try to find lodgings, for the city would not hold as many visitors as the crowds upon the road. And Yeshua looked up and saw the hill that he must climb and he was weary and his feet were sore so he rode upon one of the donkeys. Then some people began to shout, “Hail, Messiah the Prince!” More and more people joined in and it became a commotion. They continued their chanting until Yeshua had reached the city and, going in through the gates, slipped away from the crowd as his friends took him to their lodging.
When word of the commotion reached Pilate the Governor he made enquiries and on learning that the crowds had hailed Rabbi Yeshua as Messiah the Prince and would make him their king, he issued a warrant for his arrest. But the soldiers arrested Yeshua Barabbas.
Rabbi Yeshua said, “He is not the man they were seeking. I must go to him and see that he is released.” But Simon said, “No, Rabbi. This man may be a scoundrel. It may be that he deserves to die. We must withdraw from the city and return to Galilee.” They all agreed with Simon but Yeshua had made up his mind. He chose Judah and told him to go to the Priest and say to him that Yeshua was ready to hand himself over in exchange for Barabbas. If the Priest will speak for Barabbas and say that he is not a Messiah then maybe the Governor will listen. “And will he speak for you also, Rabbi? For none of their party will believe in a coming Messiah.”
Yeshua made no reply. He said only, “Go and do it.” So Judah left them.
Then Yeshua spoke. “When we arrived at the City and I rode upon the donkey, you thought I had given you a sign. It was the sign of the weary feet. And now I will give you another sign.” He went to the young man at the door and dismissed him. And kneeling at the young man’s bowl, he bade his friends approach. And one by one he washed their feet.
Then he took his friends and they went to Gethsemane and there they spent the time in prayer as they waited for Judah. He came at last with some men from the household of the Chief Priest and some soldiers. They went first to the home of the Priest and he asked, “Are you a disciple of Barabbas?” and Yeshua said, “I am not.”
And the Priest asked, “Is Barabbas Messiah?” and Yeshua said, “He is not.”
“Are you, then, Messiah?” he asked and Yeshua replied, “When Messiah the Prince is revealed you will see also the One like a Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven.”
The Priest tore his garment because he did not want to hand anyone over to the Governor but he knew that Barabbas must be released so he said, “Let it be so.” And Yeshua went with the Priest and his associates to the home of the Governor and Simon followed them.
Now Pilate the Governor was a cruel man and he would crucify two men for one man’s offence. But Yeshua said, “He is not the man whom you were seeking. I am he.” He ordered Barabbas to be brought to him. He said, “What am I to do with him?” And Yeshua replied, “Release him. He is not the man you were seeking.”
The Priest and his associates also called for him to be released. And the crowd were calling too but Pilate feared that if he set him free the people would seek to make him their king. He turned to Yeshua and he said, “And you? What am I to do with you?” Yeshua remained silent, so Pilate asked him, “Are you a king?”
“I have never said so. Others may say that I am but I say that my kingdom is not in this place.”
Pilate made Rabbi Yeshua and Yeshua Barabbas face the people and he said to them, “Who is your king?” They remained silent and he asked again, “Who is your king?” And this time they answered him. “Caesar is our king.”
Pilate pushed Barabbas down the steps and he fell at the feet of one of the guard. “Take him and flog him and set him free.” Then he said to the people, “I will make this one your king.” And he called for some thorns to be made into a wreath and he pulled it onto Yeshua’s head so that the blood poured down his face. “Here is your king,” he said and he ordered the guard to take him away and crucify him.
You can find How to Write a Gospel here https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07BJL9XGH