Summary and Analysis Chapter 21
Daniel has gone to find Jesus. Daniel tells Simon of Joel’s warning, but Jesus is aware of the perils he faces. Daniel is annoyed because now that he has found Jesus, Simon will not let him talk to the teacher. Simon tells his young friend that Jesus has been harassed by the priests for three solid days. Daniel asks why Jesus stays; Simon says that the people need him.
Daniel cannot bear to leave. He creeps toward the foot of the staircase. Jesus detects his presence and softly calls for Daniel to join him. Daniel hurriedly delivers his warning, but Jesus is less concerned about that than he is about Daniel. Gently, he prods the boy to tell him his worries. Daniel spills everything: his sadness, his sense of failure, everything he “had hoped and lived for.” Jesus asks what “everything” means to Daniel, who responds “freedom for my people … vengeance for my father’s death.” Jesus presses him to examine his feelings. Daniel recalls how both Samson and Nathan had given their lives for his. Jesus points out that their lives were not given in hate but in love.
Daniel wants to know when the Jews will be free. “How long must we wait?” the desperate boy asks. Jesus does not give Daniel an answer. Instead, he first asks Daniel to follow him. Daniel enthusiastically agrees. Then Jesus makes a harder request: will Daniel love him to the end? The boy exclaims, “I will fight for you to the end! I will give you everything I have.” With humor and patience, Jesus tells Daniel that “riches are not keeping you from the kingdom of heaven.” Instead, he asks Daniel to do something much more difficult and important: to surrender his hate.
Jesus’ message of love and tolerance, so inconceivable to Daniel just a few months ago, now seems not only possible but right. Daniel has matured spiritually, and he understands that to Jesus, he is more than a cog to the cause, as he was to Rosh.
Jesus is also carefully humanized. He is weary. He needs time alone and secludes himself, but even so, he makes time for Daniel. Jesus is even shown to have a sense of humor.