"But we had hoped," said the downcast travellers, "that he would pay off our debts, get us out of this crisis, and set us free."
The stranger listened patiently. Their disappointment was understandable. A promising young leader, hung up on bankruptcy charges, friendless, penniless, disgraced. But—couldn't they see?
They listened intently. They heard his words, but... It was getting late. They had somewhere to stay, but he did not. "Please, be our guest, no trouble, we insist."
But then—what is this?—their guest, their honoured guest! Should they say something? Did he want them to say something? They could not. Speechless, they looked on as the guest served the bread to them, the hosts.
Into their bewilderment there came a strange sense of familiarity. Almost as if they had seen it before. One who should have expected to be served, serving others. One who should have expected to receive payment from others, instead footing the bill. One who belonged in high society, treating the jobless and disabled as valuable, as equals, as family. One who should have demanded oaths from others, instead making binding commitments to them, to stick with them, whatever the cost.
But what a cost! Had their situation really been so bad, that it took this much to deal with it? Had it really been necessary, for him to give them not just bread—but to die?
But here he was. The stranger. The guest. Finally, they saw. It was as they had hoped—and more. Their real debts had been paid. The greater crisis was already over. They were free.