The sun was bright and the birds were singing, but these tokens of spring seemed hollow in light of the week's events.
Yes, the rabbi had seemed foolhardy last Sunday when he decided to come into Jerusalem despite the death threats, despite the danger. But it had turned out so well, with throngs of enthusiastic people waiting to receive him.
In that moment, with the crowds waving palm branches and screaming for salvation, he could have led them anywhere, accomplished anything.
His followers had asked themselves, "Could this be it? Could this be, at long last, the coming of the Kingdom?"
But instead of assembling an army or forming a provisional government, he started doing what he had always done best: Alienating people.
He began with the temple. Raving like a madman, he overturned tables, loosed animals, and generally raised hell anywhere he could. Merchants alienated? Check.
Then he moved on to the most respected members of the religious establishment, calling them blind guides and hypocrites. Oh, yes, and also calling down damnation upon their heads. Pharisees alienated? Check.
Not to mention his own disciples.
Judas, the treasurer, was incensed when Christ refused to speak out against the flagrant wastefulness of Mary's perfume-footwash debacle.
Simon the Zealot saw Palm Sunday as a wasted opportunity to throw off the shackles of the Roman oppressors.
Even Cephas was hurt -- the rabbi basically told him he was destined for cowardly failure.
And then there was the intensely awkward moment when Jesus had stripped down and bent to wash the filth from his followers' feet. How humiliating! Worse still, he commanded them to do the same.
They didn't hate him -- well, not all of them, anyway -- but they sure didn't understand him, either. Disciples alienated? Check x12.
So there goes the kingdom. Whatever this man might be, he's no politician.
And then came Gethsemane: Their failed battle against sleep as he struggled alone in prayer.
And then the mob who came to arrest him, the flash of steel and the ear bouncing to the ground, then miraculously restored.
And then the trials, where he resembled nothing so much as a sheep destined for slaughter.
And then the slow, agonizing death on the cross, and the blanket of darkness, and the earthquake, and his gasped "It is finished."
He may has well have been talking about hope itself. All day long, his disciples felt like Joseph at the bottom of the pit, bereft of any good future they could have imagined.
And that was Saturday.