This article will be presented in three parts in three consecutive days.
Part 1 – Veronica Hears of the Condemnation
The three women covered themselves carefully, as the March air was still cold with a penetrating damp. Each brought along a basket, for this was the day to purchase necessary foods and wine for the solemn Passover feast. There was the customary anticipation in them, as they planned their celebration in the traditional way, recalling and reliving the truths they had been taught since they were children. At the same time they talked in awed tones of the new movement spreading throughout their community and the larger part of their world was a movement they believed in, but did not know was destined to change everything.
The women set off towards the teeming markets, across the cobbled stones in their sandals, headgear covering their faces. As they walked quickly to shield themselves from the chilling wind, the three began to experience feelings of unusual uneasiness as they proceeded through the crowded streets. The air, always pervaded by unpleasant odors, seemed today to be particularly heavy, almost suffocating. As they endeavored to approach the market stalls, they found themselves impeded by a steadily enlarging body of shoving, raucous people. Now, with considerable consternation, one asked the other, “What do you suppose is happening here today?” The other shook her head and shuddered, “I fear something terrible is going on.” In their world it was not unusual for altercations to break out between the various religious and political sects, though unsettling. The three women slipped in one of the wider doorways to catch their breath and there encountered another shopper. The woman had overheard their wondering remarks and asked them quietly, “Do you not know what has happened? Pilate has condemned the one they call Jesus to death. He is on his way to Calvary for crucifixion.”
The oldest of the three women reeled, leaned against the wall, dropping her basket in horror. The other two, their faces paling, were struggling to comprehend what was unbelievable to them, such appalling news. “Surely there must be some mistake,” said the youngest, as tears began to swell up in her eyes, “for this is Passover, and all was well when last we heard Him speak.” The other continued, “Only last weekend, was He not received with vast acclaim as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey? There were thousands of people there, on both sides of the path, spreading palms before Him, bowing and praising Him. The oldest affirmed, “We indeed were witnesses to that amazing spectacle, and we saw how all the people were rendering Him heartfelt praise and homage. They respected Him as their true leader. Why, they loved Him. It is impossible now to believe what you are saying. How could this happen?” “I do not know”, the stranger responded, “but nevertheless it is true. Some are saying He is a rabble-rouser. Some accused Him of blasphemy because, they say, He called Himself the Son of God.” She shook her head. “Yet still others, many who have seen Him perform miracles beyond any human explanation, truly do believe He is the Son of God.”
She paused and hesitantly studied the three, all of whom were listening intently in their great distress. “My own sister, suffering from constant bleeding, an affliction before which the physicians were both baffled and helpless, decided in desperation to go last weekend to where she heard He would be passing. We tried to talk her out of it, in her weakened state, but she said to us, “”If I can but touch the hem of His garment, I will be healed.” The woman sighed in recollection, and continued, as her story, like so many like it, had captivated her audience. The crowd surrounding him that day was vast, as countless numbers were desperately seeking to be healed; others simply wanted to hear him speak. For who could hear His words without being struck to the core of our being? He spoke with such authority “we had never heard anything like Him before.” She wrapped her poor shawl around herself. “My sister braved the crowd, and managed to reach out as He passed and did, miraculously, touch his robe. Instantly, she felt a warmth course through her sick body, and knew she had been cured. He stopped the procession, turned His face to the crowds and asked, ‘Who has touched my cloak?’ His apostles remonstrated with him, that anyone of these multitudes could have touched him. My sister looked up in fear and trembling and said, ‘It was I, sir.’ He looked kindly at her, took her hand to help her to her feet, and said
Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” How could we not believe, after what we know happened to her? But these are strange times, are they not? Anyway, I am fearfully sorry to inform you that there is no hope for Him now. Pilate has washed his hands, in an attempt to proclaim his own innocence, for he himself did not believe the case they tried to make against Jesus — he, Pilate, the most powerful Roman, but in the end a craven coward. As she said this she looked around, fearful of witnesses to her remarks. “And look at that seething mob; always they lust for blood.”
Continued tomorrow in Part 2