Simon “Kepha” (Aramaic for “rock”) Bar-Jonah joined with the others in singing the second part of the Hallel (Psalm 114:1 - 118:26). The fourth cup of wine had been poured and blessed at the end of the Passover Seder, a ritual feast he — like many Jews — knew well.
But questions about the future most likely held his thoughts even as he sang: “I will praise you: for you have heard me, and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders refused has become the head cornerstone” (Psalm 118:21-22). After three years of gathering support across Palestine, the battle for kingship surely approached. The crowds in Jerusalem for the Feast of Unleavened Bread so rejoiced in their coming only days ago.
The others clearly felt the same. After the hymn concluded the Seder, conversation about the coming kingdom turned anew into a heated argument about what office each deserved. Their rabbi, Yeshua (Jesus), calmed them all by assuring them they would each dine at his table in his kingdom and sit as judges over the people.
As he often did, the rabbi wished to pray on the Mount of Olives, one of three peaks east of Jerusalem. It offered the best view of Solomon’s Temple where, in the Holy of Holies within the Tabernacle, lay the Ark of the Covenant. There the God of Israel dwelled...