“Aren’t you going to see the crucifixion?” Tobit heard his neighbour, Jeremi, ask.
A man called Jesus was going to be crucified along with two thieves. Every crucifixion is an entertainment for these people who are burdened with the agony of existence. Caesar and his men impose all sorts of taxes whenever they need money. The priests in the temple keep giving rules just to make sure that no one ever rises above their control. Taxes and rules. What else was the lot of the common man? The sweat of his brow. That was God’s gift to them from the time He created Adam and Eve. Taxes, rules and sweat. A crucifixion was good entertainment whenever it came.
But Tobit was not happy. He knew Jesus. He knew him from the time he was a tiny baby brought to the temple for the ritual dedication. Simeon, the holy man, was present in the temple that day. Tobit was there because he wished to seek the blessings of Simeon.
Simeon took Jesus from Mary’s hands and said, “This child is going to mark the rise and the fall of many in Israel.” He raised his eyes to the heavens and uttered a silent prayer. Then, giving the child back to Mary, he said looking into her eyes sadly, “A sword will pierce your heart.”
Tobit’s heart trembled in his breast. Evil forebodings rose in his heart churning his core. He went out to vomit.
Tobit was just another ordinary carpenter. A man who learnt the job from Joseph, Jesus’ father. Otherwise he would have taken little interest in what Jesus said and did. In whatever happened to him. There was nothing new about people coming and proclaiming the end of the world. His people, the Jews, were used to prophets of all sorts. Those who warned them. Those who cursed them. Those who wept over them. Some of them gave more commandments. Not one prophet was ever happy with the world. Not with the world of Yahweh’s chosen race, at any rate. Tobit longed to see one smiling prophet. A prophet who could teach the people to smile. Who could tell them that life was not such a pain in the ass as made out to be by the prophets and other men of religion.
Then came Jesus. He smiled. He tried to, at least. Little children made him smile. And he asked the people to be like the little children. How absurd! But no one can be a prophet, a man of God, without being absurd. Tobit knew that though he was only a carpenter.
Tobit also knew that Jesus was hurling himself headlong into a whirlpool of troubles. Because Jesus was challenging the priests. He challenged the law. What is Judaism without its countless laws?
“Man is not made for laws,” Jesus proclaimed rankling the blood in the veins of the priests. “The one among you who has not broken any law so far, let him cast the first stone at her.” Jesus said to the multitude that waited eagerly for their occasional entertainment of stoning a woman to death.
He stole the law from the people. He stole their entertainment.
He was thus a thief. Law-thief. Entertainment-thief.
He promised them smiles. But they wanted guffaws.
The legislator washed his hands and said, “I want no share in the blood of this just person.” He had better entertainments.
“Crucify him! Crucify him!” the multitude shouted eagerly. Their hunger for entertainment had turned into impatience.
“No, I don’t want to see it,” Tobit said to Jeremi.
A sword pierced Tobit’s heart. A smile was dying on Golgotha. Darkness was spreading across the sky.