It was the danger of Jesus challenging and changing people that ultimately led to his arrest.
I’ve often imagined myself in Israel, on the dusty hillside, just outside Capernaum, part of the multitude surrounding Jesus. Or, rather, on the edge of the crowd just watching, happy simply to see the Savior if only from a distance.
In my mind I see a rocky vista, some sparse vegetation, a smattering of grass, but pretty much blown brown by the dry wind. I’ve been to Galilee, so I know what it looks like; I know the way it feels to be in that place, the very boulders I rested against maybe resonating still with the distant echo of the Great Teacher’s words.
I see a crowd; maybe five thousand or more stretching across the natural amphitheater created in the hollow of the hills, there above the blue sea. In the distance, around what can almost be described as a grassy place, near where a spring emerges from the rocks, the throng is more dense (not in the way the disciples were dense but in terms of a physical concentration).
It is there that scores of people are pressed, inclined toward the place where Jesus sits. The Master is laughing softy, dangling his legs from an outcropping, speaking fairly quietly yet with the kind of authoritative tone that carries beyond mere volume.
Then, nearer, I can make out the hundred (more or less) who travel in his entourage - and closer still his disciples, a dozen or so men and a handful of women, leaning in, deeply attentive, literally touching his garment… his arm… the bottom of a foot.
And out at the rim of the congregation, there in the margins, half in half out of earshot, scores of the hesitant mill around. Some pause to edge in and take a few tentative steps toward the personification of their hopes and dreams (if only they dare to trust him). Then they waver, maybe turn around, maybe listen, maybe not….
I find myself wondering where I would fall among such a multitude? I wonder and then sometimes - if I wonder long enough – this is what I see...
…I see a figure approaching – he’s about six foot tall and of average build - long strides hurrying up the hillside as if anxious not to be too late. I see the cloak pushed back to reveal wavy, blond hair (I was blond once and I still could be at least in the summer) and I see brown eyes, piqued with curiosity, peering intently as the long legs stalk around the borders of the crowd…
…And I watch him stay, right there on the periphery, as if he – as if I – know exactly what will be required if he dares move any closer to Jesus.
And I hesitate; I turn back; I stumble. Yet, still I do not leave; I cannot. What should I do?