With my eyes closed, I tried to recreate the scene; chaotic perhaps. Roman soldiers mocking, teachers of the law condemning, civilians insulting, loved ones weeping etc. I would have to wait for the next issue of Jerusalem Today which should already be hanging on newspaper stands, to have some insight.
I had left my Ashanti town, Ejisu in Ghana to book a flight to Jerusalem the moment I heard the breaking news on BBC: Jesus Christ was on trial. I wanted to be around live and coloured but as it turned out, I was late.
I flipped the 3.5 x 2 card in my hands and took a quick look at the address. I turned around and walked down the hill: my hands, deep in my pocket, my mind, deep in thought.
I was soon seated in Joseph’s house which was in Jerusalem although he hailed from the Judean town of Arimathea. I first met him at the most recent International Pharisees Union Summit held in Rome. I befriended him when I noticed he was unusually quiet while his other Jewish colleagues made their hatred for Jesus clear to the union. Their desire to get rid of him was heightened at that meeting. At the end, the union reached a unanimous decision to take Jesus off the Jewish scene and since no other country wanted to deal with him, it was extended to the world scene.
Personally, I think it was a matter of pride: Jesus’ congregation grew by the day which made the Jewish council green with envy. Joseph and his pal, Nicodemus, as I later got to know believed in Jesus. No wonder, they were not opposed to Jesus. However, they would not make their belief public for fear of their colleagues.
“Has he really been killed?” I asked Joseph when he finally came into the living room.
“He lies in my tomb as we speak this very moment,” Joseph replied gravely.
“Wow! He seemed invincible,”
“Hmm, I’ll take you to see him tomorrow.”
We sat in the gloominess of the room sipping coffee. Jesus had an impressive ministry so I was very disappointed there was no drama on his part. He could have performed a miraculous escape or something; that is why I came – to see something spectacular.
No one spoke till I left for the hotel. It was the Sabbath so I spent the rest of the day tolerating their boring festivity. All those rules, how does a hyperactive man survive?
The following day, the sun rays gradually found their way into my room as their source steadily rose into the sky above. I laid in bed reading an account of Jesus’ trial in the newspaper when the phone rang.
“Hon. Joseph is here to see you,” the receptionist’s voice came through cheerfully. Man! He must really be an early bird. I looked at the time; it was only 5:58am.
“Send him a cup of coffee and tell him I’ll be with him before he can finish reciting Psalm 119.”
With that I hang up and floated to the bathroom. I was in no haste at all.
Half an hour later, I walked across the big hall to meet Joseph whose face was contorted into an ugly picture I don’t even want to remember.
“Are you serious?” He shouted with his hands in the air.
“My apologies for keeping you waiting,” I said without the least hint of being apologetic. “I didn’t know we would leave this early.”
His angry expression soon gave way to a frustrated one. “Let’s get going.”
When we walked through the doors towards the Range Rover, the chauffeur refused to open the door. I gave him a stern look only for him to return it. I turned to complain but before I could speak, Joseph quietly said, “we’re walking.”
I gave the doorman my you-could-have-easily-said-that look and walked away with my nose in the air not out of arrogance but I wanted to savour and suck in as much cool air into my lungs as possible. Maybe with a little bit of arrogance too.
We walked through the market, outside Jerusalem and into an impressive garden which was near the crucifixion site.
“Why is your tomb in a beautiful garden such as this?” I asked.
“It’s a thing,”
“Ridiculous…” Joseph turned to give me a sharp look so I added, “I mean, that’s interesting in its weird kind of…no, in its own unique way.”
He had stopped listening to me. His attention was fixed elsewhere. “What happened here?” He soliloquized.
I followed his gaze. About two meters away, a huge stone was propped to the right of the entrance of a hollowed out mass of rock.
Joseph walked towards the tomb and stopped short of the entrance. Whatever he saw made his surprise grow even more and mixed it with apprehension. I walked past him and stared into an apparently empty tomb.
“Is this where you laid Jesus to rest?” Joseph nodded. There were strips of linen cloths and a neatly folded cloth at one end of where I presume they laid the dead body.
“Sure?” Joseph nodded again. He had regained his composure now but he was still deep in thought.
“Wow, not what I expected. The air is as clean as it is out there.” Joseph turned and walked out of the tomb. I followed.
“Maybe the Romans have relocated his body,”
“I don’t think so,” Joseph picked his phone and called the chauffeur. “It might have something to do with a claim Jesus made about rising up again.”
I chuckled, “Jesus sure sounds like a fetish priest from my side of the world.”
“I’m not kidding,”
“Where are we going now?” I asked obviously uninterested with that line of conversation. The last time I heard a vaguely similar statement, it turned out to be a big disappointment. My mother told me the reason Okomfo Anokye would not return was because some women cried when he explicitly said no one should cry before he went on his journey to collect the key of death. So convenient. Here, Jesus did not add any clause to his return from the dead; Joseph was really in for a big disappointment. That I could tell and I was definitely not going to wait around.
“Send him my regards. I have to catch my flight back home.” Joseph just nodded. I wondered if he had brought me to the right tomb.
I arrived home and went straight to bed.
Contrary to my expectations, something strange happened the next morning and I got to know when Joseph sent me a text on WhatsApp.
[In an attempt to simulate their chat, the medium grey text belongs to Joseph whereas the green belongs to Kofi]
I have seen him!😀🙌🏻
Am I dead?
No one ever told me they use WhatsApp in the realm of the dead?
I am serious😒.
Jesus is alive!😄
He never died?😧
No, he was crucified. He died. I buried him myself but he is alive this very moment!
Send me a picture
Sorry, He has ascended into heaven and he will come again…soon.
How convenient. Ridiculous…
I mean, interesting in a weird kind of…no, unique kind of way.😬
My Lord is alive!😇
Much to my surprise, Jesus’ resurrection started a movement.
I followed the news feeds and frequently spoke with Nicodemus and Joseph. I followed each of the twelve apostles on Twitter and subscribed to their mailing lists. I was always on the official website of the Jewish Council and the Roman government. I must say, his resurrection was real: the unrelenting movement the resurrection left in its wake, the many witnesses (maybe my self included) and the inability of the authorities to totally quash it when they had the power to do so especially when they desperately wanted it to be false!
Inasmuch as it passed for a ridiculous story, no, a weird story, no, a unique story, Jesus’s death and resurrection demanded a response and not just a reaction.
I stared blankly into the big bonfire which shot into the black expanse above and around which the children sat and listened to my elderly mother as she told them a story about the great fetish priest born in Awukugua, Okomfo Anokye.
Joseph’s text came through. I reduced the screen brightness so I would not squint.
What do you say?
What do I say?
I stared at the screen as the cursor flashed within the text field.