The elderly man held the attention of the dimly lit room. His thick, guttural accent was as strong as when he was on the boats with his brother in Galilee.
They had been known as the ‘Sons of Thunder’ then, a name given to them by Jesus Himself.
Jesus… if only they had seen then what they knew about Him now…
The people in the room waited for him to retell the story. They had heard it every time he visited as he travelled around all the cities and gatherings of the followers of Jesus around Asia Minor. They waited, because they knew it was worth the wait…
It was the Fest of Tabernacles, and the week before Passover. Jerusalem was bursting with pilgrims, about ten times bigger than its usual population.
Jesus had denied the attention of the crowds for so long. But this one day He attracted the greatest attention of the city during the greatest event, the Feast of Tabernacles and the week before the Passover.
- The word had gotten out that Jesus was back, would enter Jerusalem in public defiance of the Jewish authorities.
- The crowds built up in anticipation, including those pilgrims from Galilee who had been part of the 5000 fed by Jesus in the wilderness, and those taught by Jesus on the Mount.
- Jesus instructed His disciples to bring the donkey back to Him to ride on… they laid their coats on it for Him to sit on…
- The crowds brought out the ceremonial palm branches prepared for the celebrations of the Festival, and then broke off the branches and leaves and laid them on the road before Him.
- “Hosanna”, the crowd had cried. “God saves, God save us!” was their cry.
- “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!”
- Somehow they had known, although Jesus never allowed them to call Him ‘King’ or ‘Messiah’.
It happened just as Zechariah had said, twenty generations beforehand… if only they had known.
As they drew near to the city, the people who marched with Jesus told the stories about Lazarus to those who came out of the city to welcome Jesus.
- “He raised the dead man, you know.”
- “What dead man?”
- “That man, right there. Lazarus. Go and ask him. He’ll tell you.”
- “Now what are we going to do?” they asked each other.
- “The whole world has gone after Him.”
- He washed their feet…
- The supper in the Upper Room…
- The bread broken… the wine offered… body… blood… the new covenant.
But now they did know, and he had been commanded by his King, Jesus the Christ, to tell the story, to tell the nations.
- To tell so all people would hear, and find in Jesus the freedom He promised of life to the fullest, of light in the gathering darkness in this world.
- To tell of the sacrifice of Jesus on that Roman cross just days after crowds had cried out “Hosanna! God saves, God save us!”
- To tell of the impossibility of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.
- To tell of the anticipation of Jesus’ return, just as certain as that day when He rode the donkey into the city.
- To share the Holy Spirit, the gift of God, to give them understanding and confidence in sharing the story. To help him remember… to know what he now knew, about Jesus, God the Son.
But he remembered Jesus as the friend, the carpenter who had laughed at him and with him out on the boat, on the road, in the fields, in the towns and cities, who called him and his brother James “the Sons of Thunder”. The Teacher with unrivalled authority, the miracle worker and the Master with power over demons and sickness.
He remembered the night Jesus was arrested, the day Jesus died, and running through the streets of Jerusalem early in the morning to find the tomb empty.
He was the disciple that Jesus loved, and his name was John.
He wanted to see His friend Jesus again, whichever way it would happen. But he knew Jesus would return to this world again, and it would not be on a donkey, but riding on the clouds, with trumpets and angels shouting “Hosanna! God saves, and God has saved us!”
John looked around the room at those who had gathered in secret, careful of spies and traitors who would see them arrested and even killed just for meeting with him.
He opened his mouth, and in his distinct Galilean accent, he said “Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.”