* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are preparing to celebrate Easter in a big way. Not quite as big a way as Judas Iscariot. Which is a story that Karl MacDermott just happens to have for us.

The Judas Journal

By: Karl MacDermott

(Approximate translation of extract from Judas Iscariot’s recently unearthed journal.)

Am approached by a Roman centurion in a crowded bazaar. He asks me would I be willing to betray Jesus. It would be worth my while. He winks. I make an instant calculation. Eternal damnation or never having to hear another parable about sheep ever again. I decide to pursue the matter.

“How much you offering?”

“Thirty pieces of silver.”

Not bad. And anyway Rispah has been nagging me for weeks to buy her that new kethoteth. I look at the centurion.

“That sounds like a very interesting proposition.”

He wonders when I can do it. I tell him Thursday night. Jesus has organized this big get-together. Some supper thing. A thought crosses my mind. “By the way, why do you need me in the first place? Why don’t you just apprehend him yourselves?”

He sighs and shakes his head. Almost embarrassed. He states that although they have had Jesus under surveillance for the last number of years they have absolutely no idea what he looks like. He admits they fall down somewhat in that whole monitoring an individual and facial recognition area, and it is something they definitely need to improve on in the future.

He suggests a plan. After our meal on Thursday night, he and a few of his soldiers will be waiting outside and he proposes that I should kiss Jesus for identification purposes.

Hold it right there, buddy.

“Did you say I have to kiss him?”

“Yeh. Those are the orders.”

“Can I not just point him out?”

“No,” he persists, “You have to kiss him. Orders are orders. They come from above.”

He points to the sky. I’m confused.


“No. Pontius Pilate you idiot!”

I start to mumble.

“I feel uneasy kissing a man in public. Or in private, for that matter. It’s just something I wouldn’t normally do.”

He grins.

“Come off it. Look what the Greeks got up to! Were you ever in a Roman bath? Loosen up. Just one little peck.”

I bring up my parents.

“I’m sorry. I was brought up in quite a traditional household. That’s all.”

He glares at me.

“Look, Judas, there are guys out there who’d imbibeth his loins for thirty pieces of silver — all we’re asking you to do is kiss him.”

I think about what he has said for a moment and realize he has put things in perspective. I agree to kiss Jesus.

Suddenly it’s Thursday night. We all turn up at the place. Newly opened. “Gethsemane Nosh.” Quite flashy and very busy. Jesus goes up to the maître d’.

“Good evening. A party of thirteen. Booked in the name of Christ.”

The maître d’ consults his bookings scroll. Sighs.

“Christ, is it? Let me see. No. I don’t see the name here.”

Jesus looks at Peter. “Did you book?”

No response. Jesus goes ballistic.

“I can’t believe this! Peter, I told you to book. I even reminded you the following day. It’s the Last Supper! It’s so important that we have this meal!”

There is an awkward silence. The maître d’ looks at us.

“I’ll see what I can do.” He leaves.

“We can go somewhere else, Lord,” Bartholomew suggests.

Jesus shakes his head. He’s getting agitated. Really starting to lose it.

“This time on a Thursday night? It’s hopeless, Bartholomew! Most places will be all booked up.”

I’m secretly relieved. I have 16 sweaty men in leather skirts hiding outside in a bush. I don’t want us going anywhere.

The maître d’ returns.

“I can fit you in, but I’ll have to break you up into two tables of four and a table five, is that all right?”

Jesus sighs. “Well, I was hoping for a group table because I have some extremely important things to say that sort of determine the future of Christianity…but if it’s the best you can do.”

We get three different tables in three different corners of the restaurant. I get to sit with Jesus, Peter, Andrew and Doubting Thomas. In a poky little alcove, right next to the kitchen. Jesus is still shaking his head and muttering at Peter, who just stares straight ahead. Finally Jesus calms down a little and asks for some bread and wine. Great! I could do with a glass. Ease this tension.

The bread and wine arrive.

“I think it’s corked.”

It happens every time. When we go anywhere with that Doubting Thomas it’s always the same story. There’s always something. Andrew, the self-confessed sommelier of our group, sniffs at the wine.

“It’s not corked. There’s a hint of cinnamon, that’s all. But it’s a perfectly quaffable above average vin de table.”

Jesus picks up a piece of the bread. He taps at the side of his goblet as if about to make a speech. He clears his throat.

“Take this all of you, well, just the four of you” — he signals weakly at us — “and eat it. For this is my body!” We look puzzled. Suddenly a bell rings loudly. Pandemonium. A fire has broken out in the kitchen. We are told to evacuate the premises. The emergency exit. Go out the back way. The back way! The perspiring pedites are still out front! What do I do? Do I kiss Jesus? Do I wait?

Five minutes later. We’re outside. No sign of the leggy legionaries. Jesus addresses us.

“Look, let’s just write this evening off. It hasn’t worked out. The mix-up with the booking. The seating arrangements. The unfortunate blaze.”

He pauses.

“Can we reschedule for next Thursday?”

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where it's Christmas every day in our hearts. If only we could say the same for Joseph. Karl MacDermott has the whole sad holiday story. Note: The Big Jewel is taking New Year's Week off. See you in 2015!

Joseph’s Christmas Diary

By: Karl MacDermott

In the archaeological discovery of the year, Joseph the Carpenter’s diaries have recently been unearthed. Here we examine his account of that very first Christmas and find a written testimony that at times gives us a surprising insight into this neglected biblical figure.

DECEMBER 23rd — 9:43 p.m.

Things are quite tense with M. at the moment. We got into a blazing row after our pre-natal class. She asked me had I booked the accommodation for Bethlehem. I said yes. This was a lie. I was meant to tell the shepherd Shobal, the son of Ezer, who recently begat Azariah, to tell his brother Pharaz who runs The Room At The Inn Quality Budget Lodgings in Bethlehem to set something aside for us. But I forgot. There shouldn’t be any problem though. I mean it is a one-horse town in the back of beyond. It’s just that I’d hate for M. to end up in the middle of nowhere having to give birth in some stable or something, but that’s just my worried mind working overtime again. We’ll be fine. Fingers crossed.

DECEMBER 24th — 7:56 p.m.

Arrived in Bethlehem. Finally. The roads were crazy the last hour, a donkey tailback all the way from Anathoth. To my eternal relief there was one unoccupied room at The Room At The Inn. But M. wanted to look at it first. She wasn’t impressed with it at all. Okay, there was that stale smell, and the mattress had seen better days and the towels weren’t that fresh, but it didn’t bother me that much. I guess because I’m a man and men don’t notice these things. Well that’s what M. always claims, anyway. “Let’s take it!” I said, but M. insisted — “No, we’ll get something better somewhere else.” That was three hours ago.

DECEMBER 24th — 9:52 p.m.

Have finally found the “something better somewhere else.” To be honest, it’s not perfect. In fact, my worst nightmare has come true: we have ended up in the middle of nowhere in some stable. I was going to launch into a long tirade about M. never taking my advice and that we should have stayed in The Room At The Inn but I felt it wasn’t the right moment, with her waters having just broke. What do I do now?

DECEMBER 25th — 1:06 p.m.

I am a father. I can’t remember much about the birth because I passed out during M.’s prolonged contractions. I’m gobsmacked that little old me, Joseph the Carpenter, is responsible for bringing this tiny creature into this world. Well, sort of responsible. I’m still not completely clear in my mind about the exact sequence of events all those months ago, and who exactly did what with my wife — and how — but I’m prepared to put all that to one side because this is a momentous day.

DECEMBER 28th — 9:18 p.m.

Felt a bit cooped up in the stable, so I went for a walk around Bethlehem. When I returned home I noticed some loaves and fishes in the corner. I asked M. where she got them and she swore she didn’t know. She told me she dropped off to sleep for a few minutes and when she awoke there they were. Later had a most satisfying meal. Must be something in the water ’round these parts, for it tasted just like wine.

DECEMBER 31st — 10:46 p.m.

New Year’s Eve. Can’t get to sleep with all the parties and revelers. It’s louder than feeding time on Noah’s Ark. We decide to have a quiet night in this year, having difficulty organizing a babysitter at such short notice. Anyway, M. said she didn’t have anything nice to wear. Last year she spent hours getting ready. And then on her way out she turned to me and said, “I hate myself in this crimson tunic. I look so fat!” Later we spent a rather strained evening with our friends Joachim and Jezabethum. Joachim is in the recycling business. He tells me recycled crucifixes are the future.

JANUARY 6th — 9:35 p.m.

I was in the middle of changing my first nappy this afternoon when a voice said “Hello.” I turned around and saw these three old guys just standing there with bags of stuff. From the word go, I didn’t trust them. In life you always have to go with your initial instincts.

“Whatever you’re selling, I’m not interested,” I said.

“No, you’ve got it all wrong.”

They then told me they were the Three Wise Men.

I called out to M. in a slightly sarcastic manner:

“Come here! I want you to meet the ‘Three Wise Men’ — not just ordinary men, mind you, but wise men.”

Then I really began to have fun with them.

“Well, we’re the ‘Two Tired Parents’! What do you want?”

Then they started going on about the baby and they took out the stuff out of the bags.

“We want to give you this.”

They removed some gold, frankincense and myrrh.

“What’s the catch?”

“No catch.”

Then they just turned around and left.

M. and myself looked at each other.

Something definitely not kosher about all this. Three old guys turn up out of the blue, and they want to give us stuff? M., being more naturally suspicious and paranoid in nature than me, came up with an angle.

“Maybe they are highway robbers,” she said. “I mean those beards look like a joke, for starters. Maybe the authorities are after them and they’re trying to dump the stuff somewhere, and later on they’ll want to come back and cut our throats and retrieve it.”

She could be onto something. Then M. wondered: what happens in the meantime if we’re found with the stuff? We’d be flogged, stoned, put away for years, and the kid would have to be taken in by social services. Where would that leave us all? And the future of Christianity? Without further discussion, we immediately disposed of the boodle in a well down the road — looked like pretty fake stuff anyway!