Hear My Dream

The inevitable Man will
burn conscience to ash
if Pilatos hears me not.

I witnessed His suffering,
a visceral dream so low
waking seems only dreaming.

Hear me, infinite
aspiration! Destiny
is not among your gods.

Jupiter this day has
fallen from the
grace of veneration,

And so shall you
if you hear me not—
if you dare with cold fingers
to touch the Soul of the universe.

Michael James Fitzgerald

See Matthew 27:19.

The Last Supper and Gethsemane

I have always been a believer, since as early as I can remember. Thanks to my parents, I was nurtured warmly in the traditions of Christianity as a child, and I took them to heart from the beginning. Even in my sassy pants teenage years, an ember of faith in Jesus Christ glowed in a hidden hearth.

This week, Easter week, is my favorite of the year. I get to relieve the events of each day, on the day (as best we can tell) they happened. Today marks Jesus’s final Passover in an upper room in Jerusalem, the sacred day that He himself instituted in the days of Moses, a day that honors His own eternal sacrifice. Every Sunday we renew our relationship with the Savior by taking of the emblems given to His disciples this night. The Last Supper was also, in a sense, the First Supper.

After they sang a hymn, most likely the Hallel or praise psalms, Psalms 113 through 118. Then Jesus and the elevent walked beyond the walls of Jerusalem to Gethsemane, a nearby olive grove, to prayer, to be alone, to suffer an agon, Greek for contest or struggle. What a monumental and decisive struggle that was, a struggle to pay a debt He did not owe, for those who did not understand or appreciate the cost or toll it required.

Jesus Cleanses the Temple, for the Last Time

The following text is taken from Behold the Man: A Biblical Narrative of the Last Days of Jesus Christ which combines the gospel accounts of Jesus’ last days in a single narrative.

And they come to Jerusalem. And Jesus went into the temple of God and began to cast out all them that sold therein, and them that bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.

And he taught saying unto them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer?’ But ye have made it a den of thieves.”

Matt. 21:12–13; Mark 11:15–17; Luke 19:45–46

Palm Sunday — Jesus’ Triumphal Entry

The following text is taken from Behold the Man: A Biblical Narrative of the Last Days of Jesus Christ which combines the gospel accounts of Jesus’ last days in a single narrative.

AND IT CAME TO PASS, when they came nigh to Jerusalem, and were come unto Bethphage and Bethany, unto the mount called the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, “Go your way into the village over against you, and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her, whereon yet never man sat: loose them, and bring them unto me.

“And if any man ask you, ‘Why do ye loose him?’ thus shall ye say unto him, ‘Because the Lord hath need of him.’ And straightway he will send them.”

And the disciples went their way, and did as Jesus commanded them, and found even as he had said unto them—the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met. And they loose him.

And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof that stood there said unto them, “What do ye, loosing the colt?”

And they said unto them, “The Lord hath need of him,” even as Jesus had commanded. And they let them go.

And they brought the ass, and the colt, to Jesus, and they cast upon the colt their garments, and they set Jesus thereon.

All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Tell ye the daughter of Sion, behold, thy King cometh unto thee, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.”

These things understood not his disciples at the first, but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.

And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from off the trees, and strawed them in the way.

The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen. And the multitudes that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying,

“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the King that cometh in the name of the Lord.

“Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven, and hosanna in the highest!”

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, “Master, rebuke thy disciples.”

And he answered and said unto them, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.”

The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.”

Matt. 21; Mark 11; Luke 19

The Hammer and the Nails

Courtesy LDS Media Library

Many years ago, I taught a lesson in a priesthood meeting. I don’t remember much about the lesson other than the topic. It was about Christ and, at least in part, about His crucifixion.

I brought a heavy hammer and a block of wood that Sunday. I had also purchased the largest nails I could find at a local hardware store, nails that looked nothing like the photo to the left, but which would serve their purpose.

Our little group sat on the stage in our Church building, behind a thick, velvet-like curtain. I think I left the hammer and nails on the small, laminate table during the lesson.

Near the end of the hour, I knelt on the floor and hammered a large nail into the block of wood with the heavy hammer. It was part of an object lesson. I hit the nail, slowly and deliberately, over and over, until it sunk deep into the wood. I don’t rightly remember what my point was.

The little group fell silent, as did I. All ears, all hearts, were focused on the ringing of the hammer and nail.

This might have been 25 or 30 years ago. I can still hear the ring of metal striking metal. It made me tremble — not the sound itself, but what the sound meant. What the sound cost. What I cost. 

None Were with Him—An Apostle’s Easter Thoughts on Christ

“I speak of the Savior’s solitary task of shouldering alone the burden of our salvation.

“I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have been prepared intellectually and physically but which He may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually—that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries in ultimate loneliness, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

“Thus, of divine necessity, the supporting circle around Jesus gets smaller and smaller and smaller . . . essentially His lonely journey back to His Father continued without comfort or companionship.

“It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind—us, all of us. . . .

“[Then] finally and mercifully, it was “finished.” Against all odds and with none to help or uphold Him, Jesus of Nazareth, the living Son of the living God, restored physical life where death had held sway and brought joyful, spiritual redemption out of sin, hellish darkness, and despair.

“One of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. . . . As we approach this holy week—Passover Thursday with its Paschal Lamb, atoning Friday with its cross, Resurrection Sunday with its empty tomb—may we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith . . . may we stand by Jesus Christ “at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death,”21 for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “None Were With Him,” April 3, 2009).

An Easter Gift for You

I want to let you know that in honor of this Easter season—Easter is March 27—I am offering my book Behold the Man: A Biblical Narrative of the Last Days of Jesus Christ free for anyone on Kindle from March 1 through March 5, 2016. You don’t need Prime or Kindle Unlimited. It’s free to anyone.

I started writing during Easter of 1986 as I began putting together events surrounding the last week of Jesus’s mortal life. The Passion of Christ is the greatest tragedy and triumph in history. I have never found anything to compare with it in meaning.

That spring, I started to put together the puzzle of the accounts of the Passion as told in the gospel accounts of the New Testament. My goal was to: (1) identify the unique details from each of the gospel accounts relating to the Passion; (2) to unify all this material; and (3) to present it in an easy-to-read, narrative format.

The source for this book is the King James Version of the New Testament. While my book is scripture based, I’ve updated some punctuation and paragraphing, altered and modernized some capitalization and pronouns, and added single and double quotation marks in places. To help the flow of the narrative, I have also added conjunctive or transitional words, without setting them off with brackets, and occasionally deleted some words.

This book took me a 23-year period to complete. I hope it will help you draw closer to our Savior during this my favorite season of the year.

P.S. If you missed this deal, contact me here and I’ll fix you up. 

Easter 1986

Courtesy LDS Media LibrarySmoke rose impatiently
through the pearly
Spring blossoms,

and the tonic of flowers
like the prayers of the saints,
overthrew dark persuasion.

From a faded tulip chair,
he looked up and said,
“Why seek ye the living
among the dead?”

He inhaled the light and fragrant day,
and, sitting back, rested mute bones
against impossibility.

Michael James Fitzgerald

The Dream of Pilate’s Wife

One of the vignettes that haunts me from the story of Easter week is about the inspired dream Pontius Pilate’s wife had and the warning she gave to her husband because of it.

We know that Jesus was destined to be offered as an infinite sacrifice, and that such a warning could have not stopped the infamous deed, but I’ve taken a few lessons from this glimpse of Pilate’s wife—her nature and her attempt to protect her husband.

Here is the passage, just one verse from the gospel of Matthew:

When he [Pilate] was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. (Matthew 27:19.)

I have learned over the years to listen to my wife. She has an astoundingly accurate sense about people, for good or ill.  It’s one of her gifts. It’s what I call a “creepometer.” If she warns me about a person or a situation, I listen. She is always right about these things.

Now about Pilate’s regret. Did he have moments of self-condemnation after the crucifixion? Did he ever say to himself, “Why didn’t I listen to my wife?” I have asked such questions of myself. I suppose most husbands have, whether they admit it or not. Of course, I don’t know if this was the case with Pilate, but I wonder.

And what of his wife? What exactly did she dream? Was she a believer? Did she become one?

What warning could we accept today, from the scriptures or from someone we trust, to save us from future regret, or, worse, a damning sin?

This video doesn’t depict the scene mentioned in this post, but it gives us a taste of the inner conflict Pontius Pilate might have suffered. He walked away, but could his conscience ever be free again?

A Place Called Gethsemane

Courtesy LDS Media Library

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron [or Kidron, to the east of Jerusalem] unto a place where was a garden which was named Gethsemane [or garden of olives], into the which he entered.

And he saith unto the disciples, “Sit ye here, while I shall go and pray yonder.”

And when he was at the place, he said unto them, “Pray that ye enter not into temptation.” And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful, sore amazed, and very heavy.

Then saith he unto them, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. Tarry ye here, and watch with me.”

And he went a little further from them, about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and fell on his face on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.

“O my Father, Abba, if thou be willing, all things are possible unto thee. Let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”

And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

And when he rose up from prayer, and was come unto the disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, and saith unto Peter, “Simon, sleepest thou? What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

And again, he went away the second time, and prayed and spake the same words, saying, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.”

And when he returned and he found them asleep again—for their eyes were heavy, neither wist they what to answer him. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

Then he cometh the third time and saith unto them, “Sleep on now, and take your rest. Behold, it is enough, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

“Rise, let us be going—behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.”

“For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.”

(Passages combined and arranged from Matt. 26:36–46;,Mark 14:32–42, Luke 22:40–46, John 18:1, and D&C 19:16–19. Punctuation mine.)