Jesus and the Boy
“Mal, your father and I are going into town today.” Mother says as she puts on her scarf. I remember the day Father gave her that scarf. I was about four years old, and it was Mother’s birthday. He surprised her with the hand crafted, one of a kind shawl. It’s a beautiful red-orange color, like the sunset.
“Can you get some water from the well,” Father hands me the empty jug, “and a loaf of bread.”
“Really? Can I?” I say excitedly.
“It’s about time you start doing things like this,” my father smirks, “you’re old enough.”
“We’ll be in town if you need us!” Mother calls after me as I begin to jog down the dirt road. I hear their footsteps heading in the opposite direction towards Jerusalem…
When I reach the well, the women are waiting in their usual line, giggling and gossiping over the day’s news.
“Hello Malachi!” an elderly woman waves to me.
“Hello,” I smile politely, though I don’t recall ever having met this woman in my life.
“Are you in a hurry?” she asks me as I head towards the line. “Here, you can go in front of me.” She says as I unscrew the cap of the jug.
I pull up the heavy bucket of water and gently pour it into the jug, trying not to spill any on the parched earth.
“Thank you,” I say to the woman.
“Sure honey,” she smiles kindly at me, “so how’s your father’s carpentry business doing?”
“Good,” I nod, twisting the cap on the jug.
“That’s good,” she pats me on the back, “Malachi, how old are you now?” She asks.
“Seven,” I answer sheepishly, “almost eight.”
All the women laugh. “Of course you are, sweetheart. Well, you’d better get going. Wouldn’t want to be late for the big event, would we?”
“What event?” I look at the women. They just giggle nervously as I walk away…
As I walk through the street I see more people than usual, all heading towards Jerusalem.
“Hello there,” a woman nods to me.
“Good morning,” another man acknowledges me.
“Hello,” a young girl smiles at me.
“Hello,” I smile shyly at her, “excuse me,” I stop her, “but may I ask where you’re going.”
“To Jerusalem of course,” she shrugs, and then continues down the road.
“I-” I sigh as more people bypass me on the road.
When I reach the bakery, no one’s there.
“Hello?” I walk in. “Is anyone here?”
”What?” a man reveals himself from behind a shelf of rye bread. “What do you want? Can’t you see we’re closed?”
”I- I, I’m sorry.” I apologize. “The door was open.” I take a step back.
The man sighs, “Alright, what do you need?”
“Just a loaf of bread,” I say, pulling out the silver pieces from my pocket.
“Keep your money,” he grumbles, tossing me the bread, “I’m in a hurry, so let’s get a move on.” He says, shooing me out the door.
I exit the shop and so does the baker, locking the door behind us.
“Where are you going?” I ask.
“Where is everybody going?” he chuckles. I just shrug. “To see Jesus of Nazareth, of course!” he shouts. “He’s going to be punished today. It’s all anyone’s been talking about.”
“Oh,” I nod, “I bet that’s where my parents are, too. Do you mind if I come with you?”
But he’s already halfway down the road, “Well don’t just stand there! C’mon!” he chuckles…
“Crucify him!” the people shout as I make my way through the crowd.
“Um excuse me,” I tug on a woman’s arm.
“Hmm,” she looks down at me, “oh dear, did you lose your mother?”
”No,” I shake my head, “well, I don’t think so. I was just wondering what this man has done.”
“He’s been charged with blasphemy,” She says gravely, “they’ve charged him with crucifixion. What a shame.” She sighs, and then turns away.
“I can’t see anything,” I mumble to myself as I push through the mobs.
I’m near the front of the crowd when I see some women from the well. They’re all crying and screaming out. Then I see the scarf. The red-orange color wrapped around her head, revealing a few strands of her wavy, dark brown hair.
“Mother!” I shout and wave. But the masses drown me out.
Then, just for a moment, the crowd goes silent as a man’s voice speaks up.
“Women of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but for your children.”
The women retreat back into the crowd, dabbing at their eyes. I’m suddenly shoved and I feel myself fall. I hit the dirt and it swirls around me. When it finally settles I realize I’m not the only one on the ground. I look up and see a man, covered in dirt and blood. His dark, weary eyes meet my dark, mystified eyes, and for just a moment we’re equals.
Realization floods me as I whisper the word, “Jesus.” I look into his weary, yet gentle face, and I know I’ll never forget it. He’s made a permanent mark on my heart, though I hardly know him.
I’m too stunned to move, but I watch as Jesus helps himself up, hands a man his cross, and stretches out his hand to me. I take it shakily and stand up. I rush to retrieve my jug and bread. I hand them to him. He denies the bread, but takes a sip of water from the jug.
“Thank you,” he smiles at me weakly.
I stand there; awestruck, frozen, taking in what has just occurred. I stare down at my hands. I’m the same person, so why do I feel different. I feel, like I was healed, maybe even enlightened.
Turning, I watch as Jesus takes up his cross again and continues down the road.
© Copyright 2016 Ned Flanders. All rights reserved.