At age twelve, Zekie was too old to be seen holding his mother’s hand. He wrenched his palm from her grip and ran ahead to listen to Jesus again.
Zekie’s mother wagged her finger. “Stay with me!”
He knew he should honor her with obedience, but Zekie climbed up on the stone wall of a livestock pen to get a good view. His mother joined other women clustered near the public well.
Dust clouds hovered above the crowd’s heads. From his vantage point, Zekie was eyelevel with people leaning out of second story windows, straining to hear what the rabbi was saying this time.
All Zekie could make out over the racket was, “I tell you the truth….” That’s what the boy loved about Jesus. Jesus spoke truth. A new truth.
A wind kicked up, driving odors of household waste residents had tossed into the street.
Suddenly, a man strode through the crowd, shoving people aside. A wedge of rabble rousers murmuring “crucify him” and officials brandishing swords and clubs followed in his wake. Dogs snarled at their heels, donkeys brayed, chickens protested as though a predator were terrorizing the coop.
The man drew himself up nose-to-nose with Jesus. He bellowed, “Rabbi!” kissed Jesus, and recoiled as if stung by scorpions.
Silence befell the crowd. The only sound: wind sighing in the olive trees.
Guards grabbed Jesus.
Zekie yelled, “Run, Jesus! Break away, Jesus!”
Jesus didn’t resist.
But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.
Zekie instinctively touched his own ear.
Jesus shouted, “No more of this!” He touched the slave and reattached his ear, with no traces of blood or scar.
Above the tumult, Zekie heard Jesus ask, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there among you teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me.”
Then all His disciples deserted him and ran away. One young man following behind was clothed only in a long linen shirt. When the mob tried to grab him, he slipped out of his shirt and ran away naked.
Zekie’s mother rushed to her son’s side. He told her, “Jesus stuck a man’s ear back on after it was sliced off!”
“Don’t lie, Zekie.”
Out of the corner of his eye, he watched men lead Jesus toward the high court. Even Zekie knew lies, many lies would be told there, anything to get rid of Jesus.
“Why do they want to kill Jesus?” he asked his mother.
She buried her face in her sleeve and sobbed.
If he were still a little boy, he too would have sobbed into his sleeve. Zekie took his mother’s hand in his and led her away.