It's Time

The first of 3 new monologues written for our Holy Week Services on the New South and Central Belfast Circuit in a series entitled "In the Footsteps of the Fisherman" looking at the events of Jesus' last week through the eyes of Simon Peter. This one was based on the "mini apocalypse" of Mark 13, where Jesus says that before too long the Temple will be torn down (as it was 40 years later) before going on to refer to other unsettling events... 

It’s time… surely it’s time… Time to throw off the yoke of our oppressors. To take control of our own destiny again. One nation under God. Time for us to be great again, as we were in the time of David and Solomon when the temple was first built… Time for us to throw out the foreigners like they did in the time of the Maccabees when the second temple was ruined. Time to humble the ruling religious elite down here in Jerusalem… They don’t care one jot or tittle for us up in the north… They’ve worked hand in glove with the Romans to squeeze the working men of Galilee dry, while they sit in splendour down here… The Temple may be magnificent but it was built with the blood, sweat and tears of men like me over the past 40 years… The Temple Tax bears no relation to anyone’s ability to pay… we’re just expected to cough up when they demand payment… And then when you come down here it’s a racket. The temple traders fleece the pilgrims. And the priests take their cut. Is it any wonder Jesus overturned the traders’ tables and drove them out earlier in the week, much to the annoyance of the priests? It’s time the whole thing was torn down and started again…
So when Jesus said that soon not one stone of these great buildings would be left standing, my ears pricked up…
Surely that’s what he has been leading us to over the past 3 years… It’s time for change… OK, when I and my brother and cousins left behind our fishing nets to follow him I wasn’t sure where he was leading… I wasn’t convinced like my namesake, Simon the Zealot, or Judas that there had to be a revolution… But I was looking for something more than just eking out a living from the fishing…
And yet, 3 years on, I’m still not sure… there are times when he warns us of what is to come… but I’m not sure it’s what we expect…
When he came into the city earlier in the week, everyone could see it was the fulfilment of the prophesies… they could see he was the promised Messiah…
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord… Hosanna! We are saved…”
We tore the branches off the trees and the clothes off our backs to lay down before him as a carpet of honour as he entered the city…
But even then, I wasn’t sure… Yes he rode a donkey colt as the prophet Zechariah had foretold… but why a donkey? Why not a warhorse? OK… it might have been slightly harder to get hold of a warhorse at short notice… But a donkey? Frankly, it looked slightly ridiculous… I’m not sure that it would have left the Romans quaking for fear… In fact I thought I saw a few of the guards at the gate of the city laughing… Oh how I would love to see them laughing on the other sides of their faces…
And even today when Andrew, James and John and I were sitting looking down over the city and asked him explain about the temple being torn down, he didn’t paint a picture of victory, but of destruction and death… Yes, if we are to throw out the Romans there will be tough times ahead… but it will be worth it… Yet he was painting a picture of devastation… and encouraging us to flee in the face of it… Not exactly a do-or-die, rallying the troops sort of speech… but a doom, misery and disaster sort of speech!
“Brother will betray brother to death...” he said. “Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death… Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
My dear brother Andrew joked with us afterwards, he said “The one who stands firm to the end? Hey Simon! Surely that’s you! Didn’t Jesus say you’re the rock on which he’s going to build his new temple after all these stones are torn down! Mr Reliable! Simon the Rock!” I don’t know about betraying my brother, but there are times when I’d also love to see him laughing on the other side of his face!
But surely this is it!? All we have been waiting for, hoping for, praying for… Surely we are in the last days!?
Selah

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