• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 03
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The divergence, as it were, occurs in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas steals away from the supper as before. Peter cites his constancy in the same assured tone. The watchful sons of Zebedee still succumb to the drowsy grove after the walk from prayer.

Away from the sleepers under the trees, Jesus thrice plays out the agony of flesh and spirit. The die cast, the end as prophesied, he lies resolved and pictures the hard hours to come: the damning kiss; the denials; the judgement that will be; the pain; the long and lonely passing. Behind closed eyes, he follows his stoic shade along its predetermined path and feels the pangs of the lacerating crown, the wrath along the roadside and the weight across his aching shoulders at the foot of the fearful hill. His father's will be done. A last desperate climb to Calvary. The heart beats slower. The flesh hardens.

But there is no clamour of arms in the olive grove. No rough hands are laid on the scourge of the servile, sycophantic priests. Sleeping soundly through the night, Jesus is roused by the chattering sons of Zebedee long after sunrise. Peter is gone, they stammer through their tears. Stung by the words at that strange last supper, he rose at first light with the crowing of the cock, spoke his master's name three times and vowed no more to follow false messengers. Why would Peter deny him unprovoked? What was the meaning of the wine and broken bread? Where is brother Judas?

Barely able to draw breath, His will undone, Jesus flees in uncomprehending terror from the brothers in the garden and is seen no more in the great city. Slighted and ashamed, the remaining disciples turn back to old trades and angrily deny their relations with the missing prophet until they are no longer recognised or remembered.



Some say the sly Sanhedrin conspired to get their man. Others say Pilate had him cast into the sea weighted with stones. Hopeful souls share rumours of great miracles abroad. Sceptics talk archly of a suicide in Aceldama. Even before the Romans leave these lands, the story of the vanishing Nazarene is a muddled footnote lost in the greater tale of the occupation.

Stumbling through the trees on that mystifying morning in the garden, Jesus was certain he was losing his mind. His course irrevocably altered, the visions and miracles of the past seemed more the products of a powerful and controlling delusion teasing him into madness. No betraying kiss. No walk to Calvary. He falls, exhausted and confused outside Aceldama.

But there was betrayal in the garden just as before. Willed by a love far greater than design, Judas stole away from the table at supper and broke his bargain with the waiting council. Cursing their ignorance and cowardice, he cast the tainted silver at their feet and got to within a yard of the leaders before he was cut down. No soldiers marched to Gethsemane.