Maundy Thursday


Yesterday, in the Maundy Thursday service, 14 different readers (including me) read in sections the Bible verses John 18:1 through John 19:30. That’s what was read, but what I heard was different. Probably because, when the pastor broke the communion bread at the beginning of the service, he reminded us that, even though Jesus was crucified for us, people are still being crucified all over the world.

This is what I heard:


John 18: 1-8, 12, 13, 16, 17, 19-27

After that, Jesus and his friends went across Lehigh Ave. to a nearby vacant lot. Now Judas, who was tempted to be an informant by the cops’ promise of a reduced sentence, also knew about the lot, because Jesus often met there with all his friends. So Judas led the cops, and they came there with bright flashlights and guns and tasers. Then Jesus, knowing what almost always happened when people like him had to interact with police, walked up to the cops and asked them, “Who are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus of North Philly.” Jesus replied, “That’s me.” Judas, who was pressured into betraying him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “That’s me,” they stepped back and tripped and fell on the ground. Again he asked them, “Who are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of North Philly.” Jesus answered, “I told y’all, that’s me. So if you’re looking for me, let my friends go.”

So the cops arrested Jesus, handcuffed him, and roughly threw him into the cop car. Instead of taking him straight to Pilate, they took him for a rough ride around North Philly: first they took him to Annas, who was lieutenant at the 25th district police headquarters, under Caiaphas, the chief of police.

Peter was hanging out nearby the 25th district police headquarters. A cop came out to smoke and asked, “Aren’t you one of Jesus’ friends?” He said, “No, ma’am.”

The chief of police asked Jesus about his friends and his organizing. Jesus answered, “Everything I’ve said and written is public; I’ve organized teach-ins in churches and community centers, where all different Philadelphians come together. I don’t have any secrets. Why’re you asking me? Ask the folks that I’ve spoken to; they know what I said.” When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the chief of police, smart-ass?” Jesus answered, “If I said something wrong, let me know. But if everything I said is true, what’s the problem?” Then they put him back in the cop car and sent him to Caiaphas, the chief of police.

Meanwhile, Peter was still outside, smoking. Someone asked him, “Aren’t you one of Jesus’ friends?” He denied it and said, “Nope, not me.” Another person asked him, “Aren’t you a part of this society? Don’t you bear some responsibility for the ways things are in this city? Isn’t it your duty as a member of this human family to seek justice for your siblings? Do you not hurt for your brother who is right now in the violent hands of a corrupt police force? How can you just stand here in you comfortable privilege, smoking, knowing what’s going on?” Peter replied, “That has nothing to do with me!” and at that moment a siren wailed.



One thought on “Maundy Thursday

  1. I’m awestruck! You have a true gift for empathy and for seeing things from other viewpoints. I think your application here is so well done, not sensational, true to the word and accurately reflecting both worlds you portray here.


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