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A disciple in the waiting

Geraldine Vytilingam  |  16 February 2021

One of our young writers imagines what it might have been like for the followers of Jesus on Holy Saturday.

As I sit in this room, I see the sun’s rays upon the walls. I crouch down even further in fear as I hear the pounding footsteps of the soldiers walking by.

Peering through the slight gap of the locked door, I see their glistening armour. The guards are on patrol – they always are – but this time it feels different. My heart is beating faster and faster, hoping that they do not take me and my friends away.

Only yesterday, one of these soldiers thrust a spear into Jesus’ side. Many believe Jesus was the Messiah. I called him teacher. He was a friend to the outcasts, who welcomed sinners to the table, spoke to the Pharisees and Sadducees, and confronted Pilate face to face.

Along with many other women I had followed him from Galilee. His wisdom captivated us. We were as close as we could be to him, despite the crowds. He had known our names and answered our questions.

He listened to us. We saw truth in what he taught, and we saw his love extend through miracles all over the countryside.

So what wrong had he done to deserve such punishment? The worst punishment of all.

Hiding here, in the corner of this room, the image of Golgotha is still imprinted in my mind. His body covered in lashes from the whips of his opponents, made to carry his own cross to the place of the skull. I remember the blood as the soldiers hammered nails inch by inch, anchoring his body to the heavy, splintered wood. Yet he showed no anger or remorse, even while the guards abused his flesh, mocked him, and spat on him.

On the cross, he was suspended between the two others, arms wide open, on strong wooden beams. His face bowed down. He looked into my eyes, and I looked into his. Those near the foot of the cross were all afraid, and I wondered if he was too.

At his final breath, the ground trembled, and its vibrations shook every muscle in my body. Since that moment everything I have known has become unstable. What am I to do without him? The wails of his mother and the disciples still ring in my ears.

The sorrow in Mary’s face, seeing her beloved son taken and treated like a criminal – it’s hard to forget. I know Jesus said ‘daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me but for yourselves and for your children’, but I can’t help but weep.

They are now on the lookout for us, his followers, people like Peter and Mary of Magdala. We try and care for each other. But how much longer can I sit here? I’ve been waiting for answers all day, will he come back to us like he said he would? If he was not the Messiah, who was he – a prophet like Elijah?

We saw the tomb that Joseph laid Jesus’ limp body in. Joseph felt the coldness of the corpse’s flesh, and saw how Jesus’ wounds were still open as they wrapped his body in white linen. All of this was done in haste, the burial of our wounded Messiah.

He is not with us now. His body is separated from us by the stone blocking the entrance of his tomb.

What is there left to do? We could be the next ones to lose our lives for believing him, and believing in him. We called him Rabbi, they labelled him as ‘The King of the Jews’. If he was the Messiah, did we just lose the one who was to save us?

Everything in me desires to just freely sit at his feet and listen again, to just be next to the body of my Lord.

But in this waiting, and in this fear, I and the women I love will shelter with each other. I will search for God in all this misery, just like Jesus taught us. In every memory of this man, of this teacher, of this mystery… I will wait, and will hope and see if there is more to be unravelled.

Here, in the waiting.

> Geraldine Vytilingam is a member of our young writers community.


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