Readers may remember a two-part article published here in December in the two weeks leading up to Christmas, titled “Bethlehem briefs.” It was a series of short, fictional articles based on the biblical Christmas story, told in the language and style of a modern-day newspaper.
As the upcoming holiday approaches, I find myself turning to the biblical Easter story and wondering how this portion of the Gospels would read in the same format. So, I once again took the liberty (many liberties) of writing a contemporary translation.
I give you part one of “Jerusalem briefs.”
Nazareth man rides in on colt, causing a stir in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM — A Nazareth man caused a stir yesterday when he entered the city on a young donkey.
Jesus, son of Joseph the carpenter, received an enthusiastic welcome from throngs of people lining the road with their cloaks and tree branches as he rode the colt.
“It was so exciting ... and loud,” said Matthias, a city resident participating in the display.
“Everyone was shouting things like “Hosanna!” and praising him (Jesus) and just fawning over him like he was a king.”
When asked if he knew who the man was, Matthias shrugged, saying, “I heard that he’s a rabbi and he travels around with 12 disciples, promoting some pretty radical views and even doing miracles.”
Some residents like Jonathan, one of the first to join the procession, believe him to be more than just a teacher.
“He’s the Messiah, he’s got to be,” Jonathan said, citing the Hebrew prophet Zechariah, who prophesied of a savior riding humbly on a colt.
“I still can’t believe I got to see him in person,” he added.
But not everyone is star struck.
Some are accusing Jesus and his 12 followers of treason, and the Pharisees are warning people not to trust him.
“We advise everyone to steer clear of this man and his teachings for the time being, while we investigate his claims and credentials,” said Joses, a sect spokesman, in an official statement. “We don’t know why he’s here or how long he plans to stay, but if we find him to be a heretic, his departure from Jerusalem will be in stark contrast to the triumphant welcome he received yesterday when he entered our fine city.”
Joses declined to elaborate.
Efforts to reach Gov. Pilate for comment regarding the accusations of treason were unsuccessful.
Tensions rise as controversial rabbi, Pharisees continue to butt heads
JERUSALEM — Straw, animal dung and the animals themselves went flying through the air in the temple yesterday when the rabbi Jesus, a Nazarene, overturned vendor tables in what one witness described as a “fit of mad rage.”
The witness, John, a city man who was there to purchase a goat for sacrificing, shook his head as he recalled the scene.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a person angrier than he was,” John said. “He just walked in and started throwing stuff, yelling at the merchants, calling them ‘robbers’ and chasing them out. Then after he calmed down, all these sick people came in and he started healing them. I honestly don’t know what to make of it.”
One of the vendors, also named John, said after the initial shock of the encounter wore off, he and some of the others held a meeting to discuss the incident and what to do about it.
“I won’t be called a ‘robber’ at my own place of business,” he said. “I’m sick of this guy and his self-righteous attitude, coming in like he owns the place. Even the religious leaders are saying he’s got to go. But so many of the people love him and think he’s God’s gift to mankind. Well, this ‘Messiah’ just cost my business a lot of money.”
The majority of the city folk feel differently.
Another resident, Jonas, claims Jesus healed his sister, who was born blind.
“The Pharisees keep saying not to trust him (Jesus), and that he can’t prove he’s the Messiah, but what more proof do we need? She can see – my sister can see,” Jonas said, his voice cracking with emotion.
He added that, despite his admiration for and faith in the man, he thinks he’s a bit foolish to go against the Pharisees and wealthy businessmen.
“I will always be grateful for what he did for my sister, but he needs to tone it down a bit,” Jonas said.
“This Jesus better be careful, or he’s going to get himself killed.”
Next week: part two.