This series of paintings, stories and poems, was inspired by the work of Katerina Whitely, detailed in the book ‘Walking the Way of Sorrows’.

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In The Footsteps of Jesus

  • Footsteps of Jesus 01
    Footsteps of Jesus 01

    Jesus is Condemned to Death

    John 19:1-2

    As seen by the arresting soldier

    In a job like ours, Roman soldiers dealing with prisoners, you learn a trick or two. One trick was that you could do almost anything, as long as you didn’t look the prisoner in the eye. Most prisoners, their aggression towards us, well that helps us to stay focussed. But this one was different. He came willingly, or at least it seemed that way.

    Some had whispered that he was a King, a secret king of the Jews who would cause trouble for us Romans and who had been rejected by his own people. Certainly it was the leaders of his people who stood accusing him this day. I have seen people who wield power. They wear it to impress and to cause fear. But he exhibited none of this. If he was a king, he was certainly different to any I had met or served before. Why? 

    I stood looking around; Pilate in his chair of judgment, the accusers circling this man. Pilate had such power, life and death stood in the balance, yet he was calm and seemed at peace. His accusers were angry, eyes glistening with hatred and seeming victory. Yet, as I looked around the circle, it seemed to me that we were judged not he, and it wasn’t Pilate who was in the judgment seat at all, but some higher power present that day. Don’t get me wrong, I am no Jew to believe in their God, but it felt momentous, this prisoner was not just one of the many, and a shiver went down my spine as Pilate finally condemned him to death. He didn’t want to, I saw that. He spoke to the prisoner, took him away for a moment or two, came back declaring that he could find nothing to condemn him to death for. His accusers would have none of it, and their anger at the prisoner boiled over and erupted before Pilate. He was as frightened of their power over him, to cause riot and mayhem, as they were of his power over them.

    When the prisoners get angry, it makes things easy. As they push, we push back, all the harder. I figured he must be really furious to be treated so roughly. And that was my mistake. I turned, and he was looking full at me. His eyes stayed on me. It was as if he urged his love on me, and I couldn’t stand it! I pushed him roughly, wanting him to show some anger or bitterness, but, though he stumbled for a moment he didn’t fall, and he continued to look at me with that same look of love and compassion. 

    What is it about this prisoner? What? Suddenly I realized that neither Pilate, not us soldiers doing Pilate’s bidding, nor his accusers had any power over him. He didn’t fear what man could do to him. It was as if the scales of judgment had been tipped, and we were the ones found wanting. 

    I can’t bear to look any longer. I feel so ashamed.

  • Footsteps of Jesus 02
    Footsteps of Jesus 02

    Jesus Takes Up His Cross

    Luke 10:36-37

    As seen by a woman passing by

    The parade always passes my door, each year when they crucify the prisoners.

    I glanced out, not really wanting to take it all in, feeling compassion for whatever poor devil went by, whatever they had done. This time, my eyes went wide with shock and horror, my face ashen white. It was Jesus, cruel crown of thorns on his head causing blood to run down his face, his bruised and bloody body wracked with pain as he held that weight of the cross to his back. I clutched my baby to my breast and ran outside.

    “What has Jesus done to deserve this? The soldiers seemed unaware of who it was they were parading to his death. Did they know of his teaching that told us of God’s love? I wanted to scream at them, but I was frightened for my own life, and for the baby I carried in my arms, so I just walked alongside him for a while, hoping he understood that I just wanted to walk with him, just be with him so that he knew that he wasn’t alone in this crowd of bitterness, hatred and destruction. I couldn’t walk in his shoes, but I could walk alongside. 

    As I walked, I just couldn’t take it in. I hold life - this precious baby in my arms, but I shadow him and he holds death. I am close enough to hear his quiet whisper above the noise of the crowd -”Abba!” I remember his prayer to his father, the one he taught his followers. He called God in Heaven his “Abba”. Did his father, his ‘Abba’ God care what was happening to him this day?

    There were priests along the roadside, angry and bitter. As I passed one yelled. “You have no business here, next to a criminal!” I cringed, ready to slip away, and then something stiffened my resolve. “Doesn’t the Lord ask us to have compassion for the stranger?” 

    Jesus told a story about showing compassion. It was the stranger, the outsider who cared for the man robbed on his way to Jericho—the religious people who taught God’s law, they walked along on the other side of the road. I gave the priest a look that showed I was resolute, and he looked away and left me to walk. I thought of the story Jesus told, how the Samaritan stopped & cared for the man, even paying for his care. I wasn’t able to stop Jesus pain, or bind up his wounds, nor could I get him to a place where he could find healing. I knew that this road was leading to his death. But Jesus was neighbour to me. All I could do is walk with him along the path, and hope that it was enough.

  • Footsteps of Jesus 03
    Footsteps of Jesus 03

    Jesus Falls the First Time

    John 21:24-25

    As seen by John bar-Zebedee

    Words fail to describe the agony of the scene you ask me to describe.

    I look back on our three years with him. I was ambitious and wanted him to succeed so that I could succeed with him. James and I had so much to learn about what it was to truly be a leader. We failed so often, but he never gave up on us. That day is imprinted on my brain, especially that first fall to the ground.  Burdened with the cross, more than mere heavy beams of wood, and tired from the events of the night- goodbyes, betrayal, trials, mocking & beating– and now this cruel parade through the streets of Jerusalem, he fell heavily to the ground as if he carried the weight of the world, the weight of our lives on his shoulders, as he carried those heavy beams of wood.

    He fell, blood pouring down his head from the crown of thorns, and down his back and legs from the whipping with the ‘cat o’ nine tails the Romans used. I thought that he would die there on the road! He lay there, quiet, almost in prayer. I remembered Isaiah’s prophecy about God’s servant, how he grew up in the Lord’s presence, and I remembered the many times Jesus slipped away to commune with his ‘Abba Father’ to be back in God’s presence again.

    People were jeering at him as he fell. I looked at his precious face, he looked shocking, nothing to attract any to comfort him. He was indeed despised and rejected. It was such a pitiful sight, that those of us who knew him and loved him, even us, we turned our back on him. 

    Then I remembered that it was our weakness he carried, our sorrows that weighed him down. I determined that I would look again into his bloodied and battered face, lying there on the ground before me. I would remember this day. I would never forget this public display of what a true leader of God looks like. It was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and fill him with grief, and it was all for our sake, that people like James and I would truly know the meaning and cost of his success on our behalf.

    He never offered a sound, even though the pain must have been unbearable. With a look up into the heavens, and a sidelong glance at me along the pathway, he gritted his teeth and rose up again, ready to take on the double burden of cross and our lives upon his shoulders.

  • Footsteps of Jesus 04
    Footsteps of Jesus 04

    Jesus meets his afflicted Mother

    Luke 2:33-35

    As seen by Mary of Nazareth

    I wasn’t going to watch, but somehow love compelled me, and then I saw him fall, and I couldn’t stop myself from rushing to his side. Though soldiers tried to stop me, I whispered incoherently ‘My Son, My Son’ , as I pushed to his side, and they let me through. I went to him, and touched his bruised and bloodied face with my hand. Tears filled my eyes, for him or for myself, I still don’t know.

    My vision blurred, and I was once again in the Temple, and I saw again Old Simeon’s face of wonder, and heard Anna’s ecstatic joy as the words poured out from their aged throats –“I have seen the Saviour you have given to all people.” I remembered again my face, filled with such excruciating joy as I held you close and protected in my arms.

    But then Simeon blessed us, and concluded his prophecy with a word for me alone. “This child will be rejected by many in Israel, and it will be their undoing. But he will be the greatest joy to many others. Thus, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”

    I kept smiling at Simeon, but fear grabbed at my heart, fear that what I saw in my minds eye might come true.

    What I wanted to say was “Stop! This is my own darling child. Let me enjoy him. Stop filling me with foreboding.”

    My fears have come true, and indeed Simeon was right – a sword has pierced my very soul.

    As I came back to myself, the vision before me returned the my son, broken and bloodied before me, and a sob escapes my lips. Wanting to comfort me Jesus reminded me that this was God’s plan from the beginning. Simeon’s prophecy, everything was known from the beginning, for this journey was the one that would bring God’s Salvation, overcoming the corruption of this world.

    I remembered the angels at Jesus birth, and I knew that the peace that was promised by them could only come as a result of this lonely journey of rejection, betrayal, suffering, and finally – yes – death. I had known it all along, but didn’t want to face it. But now, as I looked with a mother’s love into his broken face, I understood, and for the first time in his life with me, I had peace, the peace that passes understanding.

  • Footsteps of Jesus 05
    Footsteps of Jesus 05

    The Cross is Laid on Simon of Cyrene

    Mark 15:21

    As Told By Simon  

    The noise was deafening, angry voices, sobbing voices, screaming ones. What had I struck? The followed the noise till I could see what was happening. I watched as the soldiers shoved the crowds back, saw the woman touch the face of the prisoner trying to rise, saw them push her back into the crowd. In the crowd there were mixed reactions, some angry and gleeful to see him suffer, but others who turned there faces away, as if to see him was to shame them.

    I was propelled forward, almost as if I was being pushed, though no human hand touched me. I realized that I had come to the front of the crowd, it was almost as if the crowd had opened up to let me in. The soldiers raised their hands to push me away, but then the looked at the prisoner, and back at me, and the two next to me grabbed me so that I wouldn’t get away. “You, you can carry his cross!” I was big, Cyrene produces big men, strong me, labouring men. I was big, black and strong—and they wanted me to carry his cross.

    I wanted to shout out ‘No, I won’t do it!’, but two things compelled me; the soldiers held me firm, but then I looked at the man on the ground. He looked at me with compassion and understanding. What had he done to deserve this, I wondered?

    I had heard him teach, I had seen him from time to time in discussion and argument, even once with compassion, as he stopped the stoning of a woman caught in adultery. He spoke of God’s love and acceptance.

    So, I bent and lifted the cross on my back, and he reached his bleeding hand and closed his fingers on my arm in gratitude. I remembered being in the crowd when Jesus spoke of the final judgment and he concluded –“I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” This was not a brother or sister in need, this was Christ Himself!

    My life was changed that day, and I knew that I was propelled to that place at that time by the hand of God. Whenever I give food or drink to those I see around me who are hungry or thirsty, whenever I invite a stranger home for a meal and a bed, whenever I give clothes to those in desperate need or visit those who are imprisoned, I remember the privilege I had to first of all show God’s love to Jesus on the road to Golgotha, and I thank God for his mercy & grace.

  • Footsteps of Jesus 06
    Footsteps of Jesus 06

    A Woman Wipes the Face of Jesus

    Isaiah 53:2b-3

    As told by the woman with the issue of blood 

    I loved the view from this window, the streetscape of busy travellers, and the city humming with activity. It was here that I saw him that fateful day, above the narrow climbing path. Imagine having to climb it with a tree on your back. From the distance, I saw the procession stop, and the Romans force another man to carry it. I looked at the prisoner, seeing beyond the blood and bruise that made him almost unrecognizable, but then I knew, and my heart skipped a beat. It was the same man who had brought the crowds together to hear him speak of God, and do all manner of miracles.

    I was in the crowd that day, the day when Jairus begged Jesus to heal his little girl. I was that woman who imagined I could get away with surreptitiously touching the hem of his garment. I was the one he compassionately healed, the one who was given back life after twelve years of misery and alienation!

    On this day, there were crowds, but not with praise and adoration on their lips. I heard the roar and ugly noise from afar. There was a crowd ahead and many more trailed behind, jeering and spitting upon him.

    I ran down the stairs as I was. I needed to be near him, to offer him what comfort I could. I emerged from the doorway and it was at that moment he was passing me by. I saw his face, torn, bleeding and sad beyond human understanding. Dust and sweat mingled on his brow, together with dried blood. I remembered the Scriptures from Isaiah about the servant of the Lord, and I knew that he was the one, and that his suffering was for our sake. He was indeed wounded and bruised, oppressed and afflicted, and he took it all so silently. I realized at that moment that it was for our transgressions, or iniquities.

    There was no moment to stop, to think before doing it. I reached up with the cloth I still held in my hand, forgotten in the rush down the stairs. I reached out, just like I did before, not to touch the hem of his garment, but to wipe the sweat and blood from his face, and to touch him with the gentle touch of love and compassion, born of gratitude for all he had done for me.

  • Footsteps of Jesus 07
    Footsteps of Jesus 07

    Jesus Falls the Second Time

    John 17:11b-12a

    As seen by James bar-Zebedee 

    When he fell that second time, I doubted that he would ever rise again. Where the crowds were originally a mixed bag of sympathizers, but when he fell again, it was as if evil entered into the hearts of all who gathered along the road. I saw neighbours and so-called friends in the front line, their feet raised up to stomp and kick him. They spoke unspeakable blasphemy as they spat and stomped. “You weakling, you don’t even have to carry your cross, and still you fall. You useless scrap of humanity, you promised so much and in the end, you have given us so little. The priests were right! We should never have put our hope in you!” And then they let their feet make contact with his head and face, along his back, especially kicking the places where the skin was already scourged and blood poured out. They wanted to hurt him! I couldn’t understand why.

    I understood the priests and the teachers of the law. He was giving a different view of God, and they didn’t like it. But these were people I knew. These were ordinary people, like you and me, and they did unspeakable things, spurred on by the jeering and yelling, spurred on to uncharacteristic violence and this to one who had never raised his hand or foot in violence or his voice in anger.

    I could not bear to watch the scene before me, it made me sick to my stomach, but just as I turned away , I looked around into the crowd, and I saw more of his disciples, more of us looking on, grieving and fearful.

    I remembered the prayer he prayed for us - was it only last night? He prayed, knowing that the hour had come for him to complete the work given for him to do. He knew it was time for him to be lifted up, so that people could be drawn up with him, and given the hope of eternity with God. He prayed for our safety. He had protected us for so long, and now he was not going to be with us, and he asked that we would be one, just as he was one with his ‘Abba Father’.

    As I looked around, I knew that we needed to come together, to be one, just as he had prayed. I knew that in God’s plans and timing all this was necessary. And so I began the task of bringing us together as one, ready to do his will.

  • Footsteps of Jesus 08
    Footsteps of Jesus 08

    Jesus Meets with the Women of Jerusalem

    Luke 23:28-29

    As seen by Joanna 

    A loud wail rose and reached everyone’s ears. How many of us were there? The crowd of women was huge, family, friends, women Jesus had ministered to along the way. Three years of loving compassion brought forward a multitude, all women and children, together for strength and comfort.

    The procession was moving out of the city, out to ‘skull rock’ where the crucifixion would take place. There was a space where the road turned, and even the big man who carried his cross needed to take a breath. In that moment we surged forward in such misery that even the Soldiers let us have a few last words with him. He turned to us and we saw the tears in his eyes, tears for us. He looked at the dirty trail of our tears down our faces and urged us not to weep for him, but for ourselves and our children, for there will be hardship ahead, and days coming when the suffering of this city will be so great that we will wish that we had never had the blessing of children, or known what it is like to nurse an infant at the breast.

    One of the woman cried out in horror, “Let the mountains fall on us to cover us!” ,for we were deemed blessed to have children.

    It seems to me by the crush I felt in my chest that they had already done so. As the big man took the weight of the cross again, the procession moved on. We looked at one another, and unspoken we all determined that we would follow him until the end. It seemed we walked as one, all agreed in this endeavour, we who had followed him during those exhilarating months of his doing good wherever he went. We would stay with him to the end, no matter what happened to us.

    And as we trudged along behind the sad procession, a strange calm come over me. I remembered his warning regarding being his followers “If you lose your life for my sake you will find it.” We did not know what the future held, except that Jesus had warned us of horrors unimaginable that awaited us in the future. None-the-less, we knew that all our hope lay in putting our trust in him, and our lives in his hands. And so we did not, indeed, we could not abandon him.

  • Footsteps of Jesus 09
    Footsteps of Jesus 09

    Jesus Falls the Third time

    John 13:26b-27

    As Seen By Judas Iscariot 

    What was it that drove me to this? Was it vainglory? Was it arrogant assumption that I knew it all, could control it all? I thought I was possessed by God who gave me insight! How could I have been so wrong?

    All I wanted for him was to succeed! Was that such a bad thing? He had all the makings of a great leader, and all of us believed he was the Messiah.

    But then he started talking about his kingdom being not of this world, and saving us, not as we wanted and needed, from the oppression of the Romans in our midst, but from our inner life of sin and alienation from God. What sort of Messiah was that I ask you?

    Indeed, I did believe that he was God’s chosen one, and I still believed that when I went to the priests and offered to betray him. I didn’t want the money, of course I didn’t! All I wanted was for him to rise up. He was wrong about his role, and I was right –that was all there was to it, and if I had to push his hand, well, that was what followers were for wasn’t it? I watch the procession, seeing the hated Romans push him uphill to his death, and I almost despair. But then he falls and I am standing close by, and a grasp at the chance to urge him on, this one last opportunity for him to see it my way.

    I fall down beside him, my face close enough to feel his warm breath on my cheeks. “Jesus,” I whisper, “it’s not too late. I know you are Messiah, and you can call down ten thousand angels to save you, and set you up as king. Do it!! Be our Saviour!! This world needs you to see it my way, to do it my way, to be the Messiah we all expected! Can’t you see? As he opens his eyes, I see the same grief and compassion he had when we shared the meal the night before. I quake as a whispered doubt comes in my mind. I know he is Messiah, and what if his way, was after all the way God planned? What if I am wrong?

    I cringe and hide, from the others or from myself, I do not know. I have a premonition of impending disaster. I know now - uncanny how I couldn’t see it before – that he was right and I was wrong. As I spent time thinking of war and dreaming of victory for us Jews, he spent time in ever deepening communion with his “Abba Father”.

    What was it that drove me to this? Not God, but unadulterated evil, I know that now.

    There is nothing left for me to live for. Nothing left for me to hope for. I have betrayed the chosen one of God, betrayed him with a kiss, and he goes to his death because of me, and I cannot live with the shame.

  • Footsteps of Jesus 10
    Footsteps of Jesus 10

    Jesus is stripped of His Garments
    John 19:23-24

    As told by the gambling soldier 

    Gambling was a way of life for all Roman soldiers. Our pay was mere subsistence, and we needed some way for the extras of life. Gambling for the clothes off the back of our condemned criminals was one of many ways we made up the extra we needed to live. Today, two of these poor sods are experienced criminals, and they give as well as they take. If looks could kill, we would be the ones being fitted for these crosses, not them. They have been cursing us from the hour we tied them up. They don’t have much, but we taunt them as we gamble for what they have – not much – but no longer theirs.

    This third one has me beat. Quiet, dignified, he has said not one mean word to us. Stripping him of his clothes was easy. We took it all, even his bloodied cloak. The robe was part of the mocking, but it was good quality, rich purple and it was made in one woven piece and we didn’t want to tear it. So we gambled for it.

    As I looked at him, I shivered. The sky had darkened, unnatural, like night, and with the sun gone, darkness and cold—great bedfellows. It was a omen, or what I was not sure.

    I looked again at his cloak, and then at his nakedness, as he awaited the next part of his humiliation. It was terrifying to realize that though I was fully dressed in Roman army uniform and he was naked –as he came into this life, so he was leaving it- I was the one who felt strangely humiliated and laid bare on that hill, while he had an innate dignity that had nothing to do with what he was wearing.

    I never wore that cloak, even though I won it fair and square.


  • Footsteps of Jesus 11
    Footsteps of Jesus 11

    Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

    Isaiah 6:10

    As seen by the soldier on duty 

    My job is routine. I make it so, by the rules I live by. The prisoners are not human. Doing what is required is all that is important, so they can’t be human. And, just to be sure, I never, never look them in the face. I never see their horror or their agony, their fear or their hatred.

    I was the one on duty during the Jewish Passover, when Jesus was condemned to death. Can’t say I ever heard his teaching, but whatever he did, he got his own people pretty riled up about it. It was they who brought the charges against him, and it was they who demanded Pilate order the death penalty.

    He made it up the path to ‘Skull Hill’, he looked so badly battered, I was almost surprised – after all I had heard he had fallen a number of times – but then he did have that big black guy carry his cross – without him, I don’t think we would have been needed to nail him onto these hunks of wood.

    I lifted the hammer to bring it down on the wrists. The trick you see is to just look at the places where you need to hammer, wrists and feet. Don’t look at the face, and definitely not into the eyes – just the feet and the hands. And so I drove the hammer down onto the huge nail, puncturing his wrist and securing him to the wooden horizontal bar of the cross. He didn’t offer a sound, and laid still as I grabbed hold of the other wrist and repeated the exercise. His silence disturbed me. It had never happened like this before. But I knew what I had to do, so I resisted the need to look into his face, and I kept my head down at the task at hand. I had moved now to his feet. Again and again the hammer came down, splintering bone and fixing his feet securely to the upright bar of the cross.

    I had done my job, and now I took the risk of looking at his face. As my fellow soldiers heaved the cross into its hole, with him upon it, I foolishly looked up, thinking that the pain would stop any recognition in him. But he glanced at me, and the other soldiers around me and then he raised his face to the heavens and said “Father, forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.”

    I pretended I hadn’t heard, because deep inside I was shaking. Now I sit here in the dark, seeing the outline of the cross against the night sky, and in the darkness I weep silently, for myself or for him, I do not know.

  • Footsteps of Jesus 12
    Footsteps of Jesus 12

    Jesus Dies on the Cross

    Mark 1537-39

    As seen by the Centurion 

    Something strange was happening, but we were soldiers and we did what we were told. This prisoner was different, and the circumstances were different. Who was this Jesus anyway? And what did it matter to me?

    I had spent time in Galilee, and now, as I looked at the prisoner, recollection stirred within me. You see, I have a slave, he has been with me forever, and he was sick. I had heard of this local healer, and I was desperate, so I sent word to him—this Jesus. I had been impressed by the reports about him, and when my slave was so near death, I went to this Jewish Rabbi/ healer, and asked for his help. Well, the slave was healed, and this Jesus didn’t need to even come and touch him.

    When I was recalled to Jerusalem, I left all that behind me, thankful but focused on the work at hand. But Jesus confronted me now, the very same man, and a sense of foreboding filled my heart. What if the God’s are with this Jesus? Pilate seemed uncomfortable with the charges and it was obvious that he didn’t want to condemn him. Even he can see that he does not deserve such a punishment. None-the-less, early in the morning he does condemn him, washing his hands as he does so, as gesture to try and allow the blame to fall on others.

    There were moments in that walk that I will never forget, the woman who walked alongside him, the one who wiped his brow, the black man who was dragooned to carry his cross, the large group of women he spoke to along the way- they were the good memories. But there was also the violence by the crowds, their jeering and kicking him as he fell - that sort of hatred I wish I could forget. Throughout it all, he had a presence, and I understood my friend from Galilee. I felt sad that this man was going to die at our hand.

    Something fell into place when Jesus drew his last breath. A great cry arose from deep within him, his last breath escaping – “It is finished!”

    For the past three hours an unnatural darkness had fallen upon Skull Hill, and the sun had seemed to disappear. We felt abandoned by the universe, and it seemed that the cosmos echoed this momentous time. Who was he? – I heard myself say aloud. As I faced him, seeing how he died, and knowing the way he had lived, I could only exclaim “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

  • Footsteps of Jesus 13
    Footsteps of Jesus 13

    The Body of Jesus is placed in the Arms of His Mother

    John 19:38:

    As spoken by Joseph of Arimathea  

    I cannot be secret any longer. I must declare my loyalty, and do it publicly. I have spent too many months watching him, listening to his words, and seeing his miracles, all in secret admiration and belief. Now I must declare myself his. What stopped me for so long? I was a member of the Sanhedrin, and I knew how many of my fellow council members were bitter in their dislike and anger. It should not have stopped me, but the fear of losing face was too great. I remained silent when I should have spoken out. Now I live with my own shame. Pilate gives his permission, strange as the request must seem to him, a foreigner unused to our laws, and I move back to the place of the skull to take his body away and wrap it in graveclothes for burial.

    It is dark all around, though still before official sundown, and the beginning of the Sabbath. Most of the spectators have gone home, their gory spectator sport now over and finished with. There are still women at the foot of his cross, or at least as close as they are allowed to get. They weep and grieve, for him or for themselves, I do not know.

    As my servant and I give the guard our authority to take down his body, a number of the women look up, some young, others older. An older woman stood by, her face streaked with tears, sad and grief-stricken. With help the cross was upended from the hole, and laid once again on the ground. Nails driven in such a short time before are now ripped out again, as Jesus dead body is released from it’s cursed tree.

    Before I could stop her, and I am not sure I would have wanted to, the woman rushed forward and gathered his vacant and staring face into her loving arms. And in that action, I knew her for his mother. She rocks back and forth, holding him close to her breast, as one would to suckle a new born babe. Even as the tears roll down her face and touch gently upon his, she reaches down and touches his face one last time. Despite this day, I now sit in wonder at what tomorrow might hold.

  • Footsteps of Jesus 14
    Footsteps of Jesus 14

    Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

    John 19:39-42

    As spoken by Nicodemus

    If Joseph can show courage, I should do the same.

    I was the one who spent the most interesting night of my life listening to the young rabbi. I went in secret, and kept my secret admiration from all my friends in the Sanhedrin, even from his followers. I couldn’t afford to let anyone know how much his teaching disturbed and fascinated me. And now, here I am, public in my following of him, grieving together with Joseph his other secret disciple.

    A servant of Joseph’s came a few hours ago to tell me that a tomb was prepared for the body of Jesus. Would I be willing to help with the burial?

    The time has come, we must hurry in order not to violate the Sabbath.

    Quietly now, with no tears, Jesus mother touches one last time the face of her beloved son, and Joseph and I, assisted by our servants, lift the lifeless body and carry it across the garden to the tomb. The other women take hold of Mary and lead her away, supporting and encouraging one another, as they leave this place of suffering and death. I have brought spices and herbs. We have little time, before the Sabbath begins. None-theless he must be buried properly and with dignity.

    We enter the tomb, only Joseph and I. The servants stand respectfully outside. There is a large slab of stone in the centre of the cave, and on it we lay the body and I sprinkle profuse spices on it. Then the two of us wind the long sheet around and around his body until everything is covered in white.

    His pierced brow has stopped bleeding, but I can still see the marks of the thorns. Tenderly, I lift the head and Joseph winds a separate long white band around it.

    We exit walking backwards, as if in the presence of a king. The stone on the side of the cave is round and flat and looks extremely heavy. The four of us put our weight and strength to it, and slowly, with great difficulty, we seal the tomb. As we turn around two things happen. Through the bushes we see some of the women who have come to see where his body has been taken. They move to speak, but at that moment, some soldiers come up, ordered to keep watch so that no-one disturb or steal the body.

    The women in fright turn away. The soldiers set up their guard stations, and we go home to celebrate the Sabbath. What will the new day bring? What has happened to all the hopes of those who love him, and where is the new life he promised?

  • Footsteps of Jesus 15
    Footsteps of Jesus 15

    Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!

    Isaiah 52:7

    As Spoken by Thomas 

    I wasn’t there when Jesus appeared to all the other disciples behind the locked doors. I heard about it of course, and I saw the difference in my friends. I realized that I had missed out on something, but I just couldn’t get my head around the idea that Jesus was alive again. I had watched from a distance, but I knew without a doubt, he was dead! I guess I resented their enthusiasm. I declared that I wouldn’t believe that he was alive unless I saw him myself, and put my fingers into the nail wounds and wound in his side. What a gracious Saviour he was! Even in the face of my arrogant words of disbelief, he met my need to see him myself, his wounds and his risen body. I fell at his feet, recognizing him for who he was Lord and God. He was disappointed, I think, that I needed physical proof, and compared my faith to those who would believe without the physical evidence of wounds and risen body.

    And then I knew what I was being called to do. I was to travel to far off places and tell people what I had seen and what I knew of Jesus, Son of God. I remembered a passage from Isaiah about the ‘feet that bring good news’ and this was good news indeed. I walked through valleys, and over mountain ranges, through fields of flowers; everlastings that reminded me of the everlasting life and hope promised and begun in the new life given.

    My wanderings took me far and wide, even to the shores of India, and beyond, always heading east where many accepted my words, my testimony of the one who had defeated death, and given us this hope of life everlasting. From doubt and blindness, to faith and seeing, to awe and joy and finally commissioning and sending, The ends of the earth have indeed seen the salvation of our God.