In memory of my beloved wife with whom I shared many joyous Easters...
I wish I had been there. In Jerusalem. With Jesus.
I wish I could have witnessed the events of a week that changed the world forever.
I wish I could have accompanied Jesus into the city as he rode astride a donkey and watched the crowds throw their cloaks before him, cheering the man they thought had come to lift the yoke of Roman oppression from their necks. I wonder if I would have gotten caught up in all the excitement and hoped that when he took over, Jesus would give me a high-level job in his administration.
I wish I could have asked him why he was riding a donkey. It was a well-known fact that conquering kings ride stallions, not donkeys. I suspect Jesus would have smiled at me and said he was not the Prince of War. He was the Prince of Peace.
I wish I could have been there when Jesus overturned the tables in the temple and ran off the money-changers selling their livestock and doves at inflated prices. He called the place a “den of thieves.” It wasn’t the first time a religious institution had lost sight of its real purpose and, sadly, it won’t be the last.
I wish I could have told Jesus that his rare display of temper had played right into the hands of the local power structure that felt threatened by his popularity. I would have reminded him that they wanted to get rid of him and were just looking for an excuse and that he had given them a big one. I suspect he already knew that.
I wish I could have seen the look on the faces of the religious leaders when they tried to engage him in debate and got their theological heads handed to them. I would have laughed and clapped and hooted at them until I saw the look on the face of Christ. This wasn’t a game to him.
I wish I had been there to keep an eye on Judas Iscariot. He probably thought that the way Jesus was acting, we were all going to get in trouble and he wanted no part of it. I would have told Judas to get with the program and quit whining. It likely would have done no good. The man was pure evil.
I wish I could have been with Jesus during the Passover meal. The Last Supper. When he washed the feet of his followers and served them bread and wine and told them that if they wanted to be great, they must become servants as he had been. He already knew that Judas would betray him and Peter would deny him and that dark hours lay ahead. Still he maintained his serenity because he had accomplished what he had set out to do just three short years ago.
I wish I could have been some comfort to him in garden at Gethsemane, although I am not sure what I could have said or done that would have made any difference. Knowing me, I would have gotten into a confrontation with the mob that came for him and would probably have tried to get a piece of Judas. I think that would have greatly disappointed Jesus who would have wondered if I had remembered anything he had said over the past three years.
I wish I knew what I would have done during the mockery of a trial, the humiliations he suffered and the Crucifixion. Would I have thrown up my hands in despair and left him to die? Would I have worried that I might be next? Would I have denied knowing him? These are easy questions to answer in hindsight, but I suspect I would have been scared then. Very scared.
I wish I had been with his followers on that extraordinary morning three days later when they looked in the tomb. What had been total despair was now unspeakable joy. The tomb was empty. Hallelujah!
Yes, I wish I had been in Jerusalem that extraordinary week and I wish you could have been with me. After what we saw, maybe we could remember that Easter isn’t about dyed eggs, bunnies and bonnets — as pleasant as those things may be. Easter is about celebrating the One who gives us hope that something better awaits us when this life is done. A miraculous day. A joyous day. That is what Easter is really about. I wish we would all remember that.
[Editor’s Note: This column was first published in March 2021.]
Dick Yarbrough is an award-winning columnist. Reach him at email@example.com; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139 or on Facebook.