In Uganda, Jesus would have been tear-gassed last Sunday

A week or two before his crucifixion, Jesus sent two of his disciples on a special errand. They were to openly steal (unless there was a prior arrangement for securing) a young pony or donkey, riding which he would complete what many of his followers believed was a walk-to-power into Jerusalem.

Jesus was as naughty as he was serious. From around the time of his birth, he was linked to the possibility of a scheme to re-establish the rule of King David’s defunct dynasty.

If you ignore the elegant but completely untrue account that his mother, Mary, had a virgin conception, and the never mentioned possibility that a priest from one of the Judaic sects, embodying the “angel” Gabriel, could have been the father, we are left with Jesus, a son of Joseph, whose genealogy the Bible traces back to David.

But there was a ruler, the tetrarch Herod, in Galilee, where Jesus had come from. And there was Caesar’s man, Pilate the governor based in Jerusalem, where Jesus was going on his donkey.

So there was no vacancy. Playing with the idea of a Davidian kingship implied overthrowing the sitting tetrarch and possibly a mass rebellion against the edifice of Rome itself. If Jesus and his followers had their sights on Jerusalem for his earthly throne, that would be a joke in very bad taste.

Even if the governor and the tetrarch had their old differences, the threat from a Jesus-led crowd marching into Jerusalem presented them with a common enemy.

But Pilate was apparently a wily administrator who did not rush into action, especially if he could achieve his objective by making other people knock each other.

In the idealised version of Jesus that has been fed to believers down the centuries, the Jewish political content of his mission has been suppressed, as his interest in a heavenly kingdom for all mankind has been exaggerated.

Never trust crowds. The crowd that cheered Jesus into Jerusalem was different from the crowd that later heckled him.

There were chief priests, Pharisees, tax collectors and other government officials with big stakes in the status quo. They and their dependants would chant, “No change”, making Pilate’s work much easier.

If that march had been into a city like Kampala in our times, Jesus and his followers would have certainly been tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed and whipped into disarray last Sunday. Jesus would very likely have been arrested and subsequently charged with treason.

The consequences would be a subject for intriguing speculation.

With Jesus’s activities disrupted and him remanded in prison, or out on bail but naturally restrained and his followers hiding in fright, the cock-crows at the dawn of what we now call Good Friday and Easter would have woken us to days of non-events.

If super lawman Steven KavumaSorry…If Chief Justice Bart Katureebe were to preside over the court proceedings, and if he remained patient and impartial, he would perhaps receive evidence around which a complex trial would be built.

The court would hear about where Jesus the prince and spiritual cult leader was coming from the backdrop of slavery, persecution, exile and subjugation of the Jews but also a history of mega scale escapist fantasies and aspirations a little people whose dreams had made large.

The court would listen to Jesus’s cryptic references to earthly power and his bold but confused certainties about the kingdom in heaven.

There would be testimonies from the different places where Jesus had talked.
Stories of his miracles would be explored and probably exposed as mostly myths and sometimes coded narratives.

The conclusion would probably be reached that Jesus was a brilliant teacher who nevertheless had delusional tendencies. And in the absence of concrete evidence of a conspiracy or an armed group backing his fantasies of earthly power, the charge of treason would probably collapse.

Disruption of public order and assembling without permission from Gen Kayihura’s people could be sustained. But Jesus would not be executed for these.

So the teargas of Palm Sunday would have denied mankind a martyr and a tale of the biggest of biblical resurrections.

Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator

SOURCE: Daily Monitor


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