A Meditation on the Passion of Christ Through the Eyes of Peter and Judas
[ WordBytes on Lenten Topics ]
Written with a powerfully life-changing twist, this is not the usual Passion story. “Forgiven” shows the passion of Christ as seen through the eyes of Peter and Judas. Each react in different ways to the final days and crucifixion of Jesus. One chooses forgiveness and the other ends his life in terrible guilt.
The story ends with the reunion of Jesus and Peter after the resurrection when Jesus calls Peter to become the first leader of the Church.
This is a fictional account based on the true events of the Passion of Jesus Christ, for the purpose of meditation.
Imagine that you are in each scene. What you would be saying if you were one of the townspeople or disciples?
The disciples are talking quietly amongst themselves as they enter one of the busy streets of Jerusalem. Jesus is in the lead, looking pensive.
Townspeople are focused on their shopping or errands until they recognize Jesus. A crowd of voices exclaim, “Look! It’s him! The healer! I heard he’s a prophet! He’s a miracle worker! He’s a great prophet! Jesus heal me!”
Soon they are joined by beggars and the sick. They hurry to Jesus, some limping, some using crutches or walking sticks, some blind and being led by friends. They surround Jesus, causing him and the disciples to stop.
Jesus smiles warmly and lovingly reaches out to touch each person. The disciples watch in awe from the background, occasionally pointing at people who are healed, whispering to each other.
The townspeople react to his healing touch. Some kneel in reverence. Those who had been limping now jump freely. Others throw down crutches and run like playful children. The blind look around at everything, discovering the world they can finally see.
Finally, the people wander off. A few linger. Jesus turns to his disciples, and they gather around him, congratulating him with pats on the back. They are excited. Jesus quiets them.
Jesus: “Why are you still amazed? You’ve been with me for three years, now.”
Peter (enthusiastically): “Master, for all of my life I’ve heard the prophets in the scriptures promise that the kingdom of God would one day come to Israel in power, but I never believed I would see it happen with my own eyes. I used to think that miracles belonged to the times of Moses and Elijah. But you’ve changed my faith. My faith grows every time I watch you perform a miracle. When you heal people, when you cast out demons, when you multiply the loaves of bread and the fish, my faith grows again! I need to keep seeing these things.”
Jesus (looking at all the disciples): “Who do the people say that I am?”
Andrew: “Some say you’re John the Baptist.”
Judas: “Others say you’re Elijah.”
John: “A prophet!”
Jesus: “And who do you say that I am?”
All pause to think.
Peter (with certainty and reverence): “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus (putting a hand on Peter’s shoulder and smiling): “Blessed are you, Simon. Your human reasoning could not have revealed this to you. It was my Father in heaven who told you this. And so I say to you, you are Peter. The name indicates that you are a rock of faith. Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Peter, I give to you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Jesus takes his hand off of Peter and speaks to the whole group.
Jesus: “Do not – I repeat, do not! – tell anyone that I am the Messiah. The time will come later for the world to find out. First, I must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly.”
The disciples look surprised and unhappy. A few mumble briefly to each other.
Jesus: “I must suffer at the hands of the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes.”
Peter: “Don’t let that happen, Master. Everything’s been going great so far. Don’t let anything change that! As the Son of God, you have the power to protect yourself and your ministry.
Jesus: “Hear me and remember what I tell you. If you understand my words, you will avoid needless anguish. I will suffer, and I will even be killed.” The disciples all gasp and their mumbling gets louder. Jesus looks compassionately at them all. “But on the third day I will be raised.”
Peter (taking Jesus by the elbow to pull him away from the noisy group): “Suffer and be killed?! Jesus, listen to me. God forbid such evil should happen to you! That cannot possibly be God’s plan. What would we do without you? What about all the good you’ve been accomplishing? You must not let anything stop your ministry. Suffering and death? No way!”
Jesus (yanking free from Peter’s hold): “Get behind me, Satan! You’re an obstacle to me.” Then he pauses to look deep into Peter’s eyes. “Simon, beware: You’re thinking not as God does, but as human beings do. You’ve become a tool of the devil.”
Peter stares back at Jesus in shock and disbelief. The other disciples continue discussing the matter amongst themselves, shocked and confused. Jesus softens his expression and waits for Peter to understand. Peter, however, looks away, unable to bear the loving gaze of Jesus. He quickly turns and walks away. Jesus follows him at a slower pace. The others follow behind Jesus, except Judas.
Judas (grumbling to himself): “What’s the matter with Jesus? I thought he was going to save Israel from Roman tyranny! I think he’s lost sight of God’s priorities.” After hesitating, he follows the others.
[Cut to the day of the crucifixion]
The busy street of merchants is full of life. Then everything stops as Jesus stumbles across the cobblestones, carrying the cross-piece that will be used for his execution. His body is torn and bleeding from the scourging. He is led and followed by Roman soldiers who whip him when he falls. His cries of agony echo against the walls of the shops.
The macabre parade gathers more and more onlookers. They spread out when they reach the place called Golgotha, the place of execution. A weeping woman – Mary the mother of Jesus – and a young man – John – separate themselves from the crowd. They hold each other tightly as the gruesome crucifixion tortures their beloved Jesus.
A solitary figure watches from a distance. It is Peter.
Another solitary figure is watching from the other side of Golgotha. It is Judas.
© 2021 by Terry A. Modica
For the rest of this Meditation on the Passion of Christ Through the Eyes of Peter and Judas, please order the ebook (PDF, 18 pages) from Catholic Digital Resources.
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