He Who Has Ears (part 2)
When I saw Judas with the High Priest I realized, “It is on.” The plan would go down that night.
The mood among the men gathered together had become muted and dark. No one talked. Our eyes darted back and forth, glancing at one another, but never making eye contact. Finally, we all just sort of looked down and filed out into the dark night.
As we – a good number of us, all armed – as we left the city I remember trying to keep in step with Judas. He led the way. He knew where Jesus would be, and I was fine with him leading because, by this time I wasn’t really feeling all in on this plan anymore.
Judas trudged along, down through the Kidron Valley, and up toward a garden on the western hillside of the Mount of Olives.
I tried to talk to Judas as we walked but all he said was, “He’ll be the one I greet with a kiss.” His voice sounded cold and determined.
At last we entered an olive grove and Judas slowed way down. His posture was hunched. He crept along in the torchlight. His feet seemed to slither in the dirt. I could see a few men ahead of us – maybe 20 yards or so. I assumed one of them was Jesus, but they were still in the shadows.
Then one of them stepped forward into the light. “Who is it you want?” he asked, with a far more patient tone than I would have imagined.
I probably should have answered, but I’ll be honest with you, by this time I was feeling kind of sick. And besides, Judas was supposed to lead with a kiss. So I kept my mouth shut.
Just then a couple voices piped up; guards from behind me somewhere: “Jesus of Nazareth?” Because that’s who we wanted, right? Honestly, it lightened the mood slightly because the guys said it in a sort of rehearsed unison, trying to sound commanding, but both their voices cracked and both their voices toned up at the end of the declaration, turning it into a question.
The guy in the light before us – most assuredly, by now, Jesus – he says, “I am…” And I think he said something else after that, but I didn’t catch it because the sound of his voice amped up with a sort of power and force, and those words hit us like a left hook. Put me back on my heels.
Judas fell on me. I fell on the guys behind me. And the whole lot of us went down like dominos. We must have looked like a bunch of goons. I tell you, I was embarrassed; while at the same time, a bit angry and frustrated and worried, all at once.
So anyway, we all got up and tried to put back together some measure of composure. I could hear the company of guards behind me tighten their grip on their swords and spears.
Judas moved forward slowly. I followed. And the guards followed me. I thought I heard Jesus say something to Judas right before the kiss but I missed it because things got crazy.
The guards behind me surrounded Jesus and a couple of his men, which caused a scuffle to break out. I found myself pushing someone; maybe Judas, I don’t know. But whoever it was, he moved out of the way. I remember holding someone at arm’s length and turning to call a guard over. But then, without warning, I hear a shearing sound. Shrill. Like Velcro tearing apart or like nails on a chalkboard, but it was right by my ear. Pain throbbed across my face and around my head. I cried out and grabbed at my ear.
I pulled my hand back.
And here was this guy next to me with a sword in his hand
looking terrified. He had lopped my ear
off. Everyone stood still. The shadows in the garden began to spin. I sunk to my knees.