Gospel of John: Behold!


Jesus had paused, and was now leaning by the window, gazing out into the night. A soft, steady wind was gently lifting the hair around his face, and the moon’s beam on his forehead and cheeks cast mysterious shadows.

When he spoke again, it was with a far-off look, his voice soft.

I have said these things to you all in parables.”

John nodded, unconsciously. He had waited to put his sandals on, until he could no longer feel the tingle of Jesus’ hands rubbing them dry, and had thought long on what his lord’s humble service had meant. His mind went back to the meal they had shared, the kerfuffle of Judas’s sudden and unexpected departure, the swirl of agitation over Jesus’ cryptic prediction of treachery and betrayal.

Where was Judas, anyhow? John looked anxiously at the upper room’s only door. The last of their dishes had long since been cleared, the floor swept, the lamps trimmed, the braziers refreshed, and the last person taking care of all these things had left through that door already a while ago.

What was taking Judas so long? What errand had the master sent him on? Tonight of all nights, Judas would need to be here, with them, receiving this intimate teaching from their rabbi.

John looked up as Jesus moved away from the window, his robes rustling as he walked to the middle of the room. Jesus was looking at each of them, arrayed around the benches they had pushed against the walls, his face still glowing, but now with an inner fire.

The hour is coming,” he said, his voice charged with energy, “When I will no longer speak to you all in parables, but rather in plainness and openness of speech—freely, boldly, I will declare to you all concerning the Father.

It was as though his intensity were an invisible force, reaching from him into their very bones. Unbidden, the image of Ezekiel’s strange vision suddenly came clattering into John’s imagination, for the passage had been read in synagogue just days ago. He silently moved his lips as he recited the prophet’s revelation.

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me,

Mortal, can these bones live?

I answered,

“O Lord God, -you- know.

Then he said to me,

Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

John’s breath caught as Jesus turned at that moment, to look straight into his eyes. Still, the prophet’s words, in the sound of the synagogue reader’s voice, continued to play in his inner ear.

So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone.

I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me,

“Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.”

I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

Jesus was still looking at John, and in that instant, when John whispered the words, “and the breath came into them,” a gust of wind whooshed through the window, flattening the flames that had been so steadily burning, yet also whipped up the braziers’ coals, so that sparks flashed and flew, and smoke billowed up.

John swallowed hard, his eyes wide, his hands shaking so that he clutched his prayer shawl tightly. The last of the passage tumbled through his brain,

Then he said to me,

“Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them,

Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people.

I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.”

A shudder passed involuntarily through John’s whole body as Jesus’ face transformed before him, now a burnished bronze, as though all the light from all the lamps had sent their radiance to the Light of the World.

Slowly nodding, Jesus again spoke.

In that day you all will ask in my name. Now, I am not telling you all that I myself will ask the Father concerning you all.

For the Father -himself- loves you all with deep affection, because you all have loved -me- in this same way and have believed that I came from God.

I came from the Father and have gone into the world, again I am taking leave from the world and am going to the Father.

And even in the speaking of those words, they all knew it was true. John looked over at Peter, who had been staring so disconsolately at his feet, and his hands, this entire time. Now Peter had looked up, his face bright with love and hope.

All at once, everyone was speaking, the same phrases, the same truths, and one voice came through the others, a singer’s voice, strong and sure. Peter, the fisherman who could always call to shore for them all, when they were far into the Galilean Sea.

Behold!” He had jumped to his feet, and was practically shouting. “Now you speak openly and freely, and not in adages. Now -we- have perceived and known that -you- have perceived and known everything and you do not have a need for someone to question you,” and here Peter thumped his chest, then pointed to Thomas and to Phillip (who were also nodding vigorously, pointing to Peter and to themselves also).

Peter now looked all around the room, as the others’ voices quieted down. All eyes were on him, nodding, “In these things we—” Peter opened his arms wide, turning slowly so that he encompassed the whole room, all eleven of them, “—believe that you came from GOD.”

More of them pointed to Peter and nodded, shouting “Indeed yes!” Others raised their hands in the air and sang, “Hallelu-Jah, Hallelu-Jah!” Jubilation, and a relief to realize and rejoice, Jesus is come from Almighty God!

The wind blew all around them, bringing the heady spices of the temple’s incense into the room, the coals burned brightly, so that both heat and cool brushed their skin, and John felt dizzy with elation . . . yet also taut with underlying anxious unease. For even as they sang and praised God for Jesus, even as they danced and clapped, Jesus stood still among them, his dark eyes inscrutable.


Scriptures quoted are John 16:25-30 and Ezekiel 37:1-4 (NRSV)

This is my imagining of the scene

[The Vision of The Valley of The Dry Bones | By Gustave Doré – https://www.flickr.com/photos/49580580@N02/5340485342/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12656746%5D

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s