Soliloquies of the Passion

Ed. Note: One powerful way of reflecting upon scripture is to imagine yourself as part of the story. How would you react if you were present? To whom would you be drawn? How might you perceive the other people in the story? In that spirit, and as a meditation on the events of the Passion, we are pleased to offer these reflections from Jeff Rexhausen, who graciously shared them with us.  –ca

Soliloquies of the Passion: A Triptych
by Jeff Rexhausen


Bread blessed, bread broken.
Words of thanksgiving,
Cup of His blood taken.
The Master is serving.

What can I tell you about that last supper
together that you haven’t already heard?
Hardly seems like it was just two days ago.

I’m John, the youngest, the least.
Some of you know how that feels—
the struggle against being left behind,
left out, overlooked.
It was never that way with Jesus.
He was like a father and twin brother to me,
rolled into one.
There was always a special place for me.
That day, He asked me to help
with the preparations.

How I had looked forward
to that passover feast.
As Peter and I prepared the supper,
I felt a deeper and deeper sense
of being part of that initial passover.
It was like the years in between had vanished,
and we were being united with those
who were first delivered out of slavery.

As we ate the lamb, I remember thinking,
“This isn’t just a story,” and I felt like
that lamb had been killed for me.
And then Jesus took the bread and said to us,
“This is my body, my flesh,
for the life of the world. Eat it.”
My hands trembled
and my heart pounded as I obeyed.

I thought again about the lamb,
its blood on the door, and I knew
that somehow the blood of the lamb
was protecting me.
And then Jesus took a cup of wine
and said to us,
“This cup is the new covenant,
my blood to be shed so that you might live.
Drink it, and remember.”
It burned in my throat
and my belly when I swallowed.

One more thing He gave us that night—
a lesson in giving.
While we talked of our own importance,
He took the footservant’s bowl
and knelt before us.
The Master, like a servant, washed our feet!
I swear His tears mixed with the water.
My mind and heart were filled as we went out.
We sang the ascents
as we climbed the Mount of Olives.

Eat, drink and remember, He said.
Blood, not wine; flesh, not bread.
Jesus, did you weep for me?
Showing us the way.
One day later, He hung dying on that tree.
I died, too, that day.


Promises made, promises broken.
Words of denial,
Oaths of rejection spoken
While He was on trial.

That’s something everyone remembers
about that night.
I promised to stand by him; then I denied him.
But let me tell you the rest of the story.
I’ve always had a ready word for any occasion,
always been ready to speak.
And I’ve kept my word, made good my boasts.
As a result, I’ve always been
the one others looked to for leadership,
whether among the fishermen in our village
or those of us who followed Jesus of Nazareth.

He was, in many ways, the opposite:
a friend of few words,
His looks spoke volumes.
He gave me so much, and sometimes
I felt that I owed Him something in return.
I always tried–wanted–to have the answer,
to be the strong one, the Rock.
But that night, … well …
When Jesus told me, in the face of my promise,
that I’d deny Him, I was hurt and upset.
I vowed to myself that I’d be faithful
and true to Him, no matter what.
Boy, was I ever wrong!
I was brought face to face with my weakness
three times that night.

First, I fell asleep.
He asked me to be with him for an hour—
nothing heroic, just my companionship.
Why was it so hard for me
to fulfill that simple request?
Then, when the powers that be
came to take Jesus away,
I cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant.
He taught us about love, about forgiveness—
“seventy times seven” He told me.
What happened to that changed life
I thought I had?
And my “shining moment” in the courtyard.
That’s when I showed how proud I was
to know Him, to be one of the closest to Him.
Not hardly!
After his arrest,
it seemed like a good idea to follow.
In the courtyard, it suddenly seemed foolish.
And when I tried to hide in the crowd,
they recognized what I denied—
that I had followed Him.
What could I say when He looked at me?

He wept in the garden that night.
Then I wept, too, before the sign of morning light.
Jesus, did you weep for me?
Nothing left to say.
Hours later, He hung dying on that tree.
I died, too, that day.


Mother wept, heartbroken.
On the cross, dying
Jesus to God beckoned.
Friends in hiding.

I couldn’t believe it was really happening;
it had to be a dream, a nightmare.
But it wasn’t. I felt helpless, powerless.
You can’t imagine how hard it was to be there.
My name is Joseph–of Arimathea–a member
of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council and court.
Some of us were followers of Jesus.
I guess what attracted me to Jesus
was that He not only spoke of God’s love,
He embodied it.
It so lived in Him that . . . His body
was a tangible sign of God’s presence and love.
Most of the council saw Jesus as a threat
to their power and prestige.
They had ears, but could not hear.
When Jesus acknowledged
that He was Messiah–anointed—
I knew it was true.
And when I saw their anger, my heart sank.
How could they find fault with Him?
Even Pilate was not blind like they.
But their anger overpowered Pilate, too,
and in the end, Jesus was led away,
like a sheep to the slaughter.
Seeing Him nailed–nailed!–to a cross,
I wanted to scream “Stop!”
His mother and the other women
sobbed disconsolately.
But Jesus’ tears were for us, not Himself.
He reached out to forgive
the blindness and anger
of those enemies who condemned him
and the ignorance and fear
of His friends who ran away.
That’s how He died.
I had asked Pilate for His body.
There, by the cross,
holding His body in my arms,
I prayed, I cried.
I cried to God to restore His life.
I wished that I
could have given my life for Him.
Then I realized—
that’s what He had done for me.
As we placed His holy body in the tomb,
I felt crushed by the weight of this tragedy.
I thought this was
the closest I would ever come to God.

Taunted, stripped, and beaten
When angry men refused to listen.
Jesus, did you weep for me?
Love on display
Right before me. As He hung dying on that tree,
I died, too, that day.

One comment

  1. In both personal an parish use, I have found that the crucifixion narrative fits well in between the second and third sections.

    Also, after writing these reflections, it occurred to me that perhaps someone would want to set to music the verse elements that begin and end each section. If any readers get inspired to do this, you have my approval; I’d welcome getting a musical take on these lines.

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