Joanna’s Story
A reflection for Good Friday by the Revd Margie Dahl

We followed at a distance.  It was hard to believe what was happening. This time yesterday we were laughing and joking as we prepared the Passover meal. It was quite a crowd and we'd been working very hard.  I'd taken Nathan aside and coached him because he was now old enough to ask the questions.  He was solemn and proud as he asked Jesus, "Why is this night different from other nights?" He was word perfect and spoke clearly and loudly.  I was very proud of him.  Jesus looked at him lovingly as the two of them recounted the story of the first Passover.

Chuza would have come.  He's my husband, you know, but he works for King Herod and he was flat out at the palace.

That was yesterday.  After dinner, Jesus and the blokes took off leaving us to wash up and clear up after the meal.  We were a close knit group.  We'd been following Jesus for nearly three years now AND we had financed the enterprise.  I wonder if anyone will even remember our names now.  We had been very pleased with the meal, and even though we were tired after all that hard work, we were enjoying each others' company as we worked in the kitchen.

Sudden in burst Philip with dreadful news. Jesus had been arrested.  We couldn't believe it.  We knew that the legal system was like - Jesus was probably a goner.  We hardly slept a wink last night, worrying about what was going to happen. Since we were in Jerusalem I went home and spent the night with Chuza.

Chuza was in a state.  He'd never been all that happy about me traipsing around the countryside with an itinerant preacher.   Said it wasn't decent for a woman of my age and status in life.  

Later, when he found out how much money I'd spent, he'd gone ballistic.  Tough luck, I wouldn't have changed a thing.

Anyway, this morning at the trial Chuza was there behind Herod, waiting on his every whim.  He knew that I was in the crowd, but he didn't dare look at me. Silly old goose!  As if anyone was going to think that he was on Jesus' side.  If anyone was in trouble it was me, and I was beyond caring by that stage.

So here we were, following behind Jesus who was carrying his cross.  This was just too dreadful, I could not believe that Jesus would be killed. Surely God would intervene, send an angel, anything.  Surely God would not allow this to happen.

People lined his route.  It seemed as if everyone in Jerusalem had come to gawk at him.  My mind was a bit muddled, I admit, because I'd had hardly any sleep, but I could not work out where all these people had come from.  But of course, Jerusalem was full of pilgrims who'd come for Passover. Now they were getting a bit of free entertainment at Jesus' expense.  Why didn't they just pack up and go home.

A group of women stood at the corner and Jesus stopped to talk to them.  My heart melted.  Wasn't that just like him.  Jesus' attitude to women was so different.  It was no wonder women flocked to him.  He wasn't bothered about whether meals were posh or plain, or whether women were ritually clean or not.  He just treated us like people, like people with a heart and a brain.  He taught us, just the same as he taught the men.  He was never patronising or put one of us down if we didn't understand.  

He was patient and caring and clearly thought it was worth putting in the time to teach us.

Before we knew it, we'd arrived at Golgotha, a bare and windswept place.  Jesus knew that we'd been following him.  How would he feel if we abandoned him now?  I was revolted.  I did not want to see him being nailed to the cross.  I couldn't bear the thought of it. I hate to see anyone in pain, let alone someone like Jesus who took pain away from people.  I did not want to see him being nailed to the cross.

But neither could I leave.  I can't describe it.  I didn't want to leave him at this time of his greatest need.  We felt so powerless. Here was the might of Rome and the power of the religious authorities against a small bunch of women.

We were standing off to the side and we could see a soldier hammering Jesus' hand to the cross bar of the cross. Jesus turned his head and looked at him.  The silly man was so intent on what he was doing that he missed it all.  With a jolt, we realised that we recognised that look. We turned to each other in amazement.  Jesus loved him. He'd told us to love our enemies, but we didn't expect him to take it so seriously.

Then they raised the cross.  Jesus was in great pain - we could see that. Why hadn't God intervened. How had God allowed this to happen?  We looked at him hanging there.  Was this how it was all going to end?