FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 016

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ANDREW THE FIRST DISCIPLE
30 AD – Bethsaida, Sea of Galilee

They were just approaching their father’s house, both were carrying the long mast and the sail wrapped around it on their shoulders. Andrew, who was leading, saw Jesus sitting on the stoop of their house having a conversation with their father. When they saw them coming, the father excused himself and went inside. Jesus stood and waited for them.

They set the mast and sail against the side of the house. After which Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. But before he could make the introduction, Jesus went up to Simon, looked intently at Simon, and said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Peter.”

Before Simon can react, Jesus gave them a knowing smile and walked out the gate towards the town.

 

It was six hours before sunlight, when Simon Peter and Andrew rowed out unto the lake for some fishing. Four other boats went out with them, one of which was their partners, James and John.

Simon Peter casted the net into the cold water. As they started to pull in the nets, Simon Peter asked, “Where was your Messiah this early morn?”

“Oh, he went up to the hills. I followed him one night and asked him why does he come here? His answer was so that he could be alone with his father.”

Simon Peter mumbled to himself, “…be alone with his father! Ha! Who would his father be, I wonder?”

Andrew would not answer. He grew tired of arguing with him.

“Argh! Empty again!” Simon Peter said frustratingly. He looked over at where John and James were pulling up their nets. “Ho! James… any luck?”

“Not even one fish!”

“Come, let us set sail to the eastern end of the lake. We may have better luck there,” said Simon Peter.

But luck was not with them all night. Three hours after sunrise, both boats landed on the gravelly beach fronting the fish monger’s trading post. It was the only solid structure built right on the waterline where the fishermen’s catch are inspected and deals are made. As Simon Peter jumped out of the boat, he noticed a gathering crowd in and around the trading post.

“Why are there a lot of people here?” asked Simon Peter.

Andrew shrugged as he passed the nets to his brother who dipped them in the water and proceeded to wash them. And as he was doing so, the crowd started looking down the shoreline attracted by the sound of celebratory clapping and the high pitch ululating sound that women make with their tongues. Andrew climbed back on the boat and stood on the gunwale of the boat to get a better look. He saw another crowd of people coming towards them and in the midst of them was Jesus.

“It’s the rabbi, Jesus!”

Andrew jumped down from the boat and ran to the approaching crowd. People were calling out to him. There were a mixture of supplications from the crowd. They wanted to be healed. They wanted their lives to be good. Some asked if he was the one. Jesus continued on smiling, shaking their hands and occasionally picking up a child, laughing with them. The crowd started to press around some more until he could not progress further. Then Jesus, with Andrew in tow, worked his way towards their beached boat. Simon Peter was still vigorously washing the nets clearly ignoring his approach. Jesus climbed unto his boat.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 16th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.
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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch2 – part 1

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Galilee

The Cohort actually made good time. Four days out from the Phoenician city, Cornelius could just make out the inland sea, the Sea of Galilee. Of course, the sea was really a great lake of fresh water. From North to South, it is about thirteen miles in length then eight miles at its widest. The column of three hundred soldiers have been traveling on a caravan route following the tributary, Jordan River, which feeds the north side of the lake. The column halted and the men were lying about on the sides of the track getting some well earned rest. As they rested, Cornelius was standing on a shelf just above the track with a panoramic view. To the north were the Lebanon mountains. To the east was a wilderness of rocky hills, canyons and deserts. Then to the south toward the inland sea on the east side of the river, lies the lush green farm lands of Bethsaida. They were on the west side of the river following the rough craggy hills of the Galilee region. Though he could not make it out yet, his destination is a fort made by the first expeditionary Legion that conquered this land some fifty years ago. The fort lies about a few miles east of Bethsaida.

Cornelius saw Jacob climbing the shelf to join him.

“Look there, Jacob,” Cornelius pointed. “You are almost home.”

“I think I still have kin in Betsaida, farmers and fishermen both. I wonder if my brother is still living in Capernaum?”

“I have important work to do here, Jacob. They are your people and I am coming here as their conqueror and as another Roman oppressor.”

“An oppressor, yes. But that is not new for the people especially for those of us in the north part of the old kingdom. After the last exile into Babylon, those of my people who returned to Judah to rebuild the Holy city also remembered the lands of Zebulun & Nephtali, the lands of our ancestors. So, when the holy city was done, my family and many more returned to this area but the lands were already occupied by gentiles. There were some of the Israelites that were not exiled, the Samaritans, but they forgot the traditions of our people and generations of them intermarried with gentiles. Today, there is still deep enmity between our peoples. Anyway, we did re-establish the many settlements that were lost to us but had to learn to live with the gentile communities for they were protected by Persia at the time. Eventually, we became an independent province again but we were conquered by the Greeks, Egyptians and finally the Romans. So, we are not strangers to oppression but yet there is hope.” Then Jacob noticed Cornelius’ brooding look. “I have known you since your childhood. I have watched you grow into the man that you are today. I have surmised the difficult task you have to undergo to fulfill the orders of your superiors. I know you will be torn inside. All I can say is that when I chose bond servitude to you, it means I will support you. Does that help?”

Cornelius nodded and smiled.

“Now, how goes your study of the Prophet Isaiah?

“I have to reread the first quarter again. I did read something odd, though. ”

“What is that?”

“King Ahaz was king of Judah and it was reported to him that the king of Aram had made an alliance with the king of Israel. Both kings waged war against Jerusalem at that time. The Lord had prophesied to Ahaz that Judah will prevail against them and revealed a future that sixty five years from then both Aram and the north kingdom of Israel will be no more.”

“Yes, I recall that passage.”

“Right after that, God spoke to Ahaz again and gave him an opportunity to ask the Lord for a sign… which Ahaz foolishly did not ask, inviting a scathing rebuke. Then God gave him a prophesy anyway of ‘a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.’* I’m a little puzzled by this prophecy. I am not sure if this is literal or figurative.”
* Isaiah 7:14 NASB

“When it comes to prophecy, my boy, expect it to be both.”

“If it is literal, how can a virgin be with child?”

“I’m afraid I cannot answer that. It is an impossible mystery. However, when it comes to the impossible, it clearly belongs in the purview of the Spiritual. To be candid, I don’t think you or I will ever be a witness to any of the prophesies. I have been in this life for over sixty years, I have not seen any fulfillment. But I can hope.”

 

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The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

Thank you

Johann Q

 

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 015

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ANDREW THE FIRST DISCIPLE
30 AD – Capernaum, Sea of Galilee

The next day, Andrew took the boat by himself and sailed to Capernaum. When he landed at the city, he went to the house of his brother, Simon.

“Andrew! At last,” said Simon. “I thought you and John were going to stay down south following that desert fanatic all through winter time. I’m glad you are back.” Simon was a large bulk of a man with brawn sholders and thick neck. He stood about four inches taller than Andrew. His head of hair and thick beard were curly and was somewhat redish brown. He was sometimes mistaken for a foreigner.

Simon hastily came out of the house, picked up a large bundle of nets and rested them on his shoulders and started to head for the shoreline.

“It is a good thing you came along today,” said Simon. “If I had to stay with the in-laws a day longer, I think I’d tear my beard off.”

Meanwhile, while trying to keep up with his brother, he was trying to say something to him. “Simon… Ah Simon… I need to tell you… something… important.”

“Later! Let us get into the boat first,” Simon ordered.

When they reached the boat, Simon easily unburdened himself of the bundled nets which was quite heavy then jumped in. Andrew untied the anchor line, took hold of the bow of the boat and pushed it out on the water while Simon was in the process of erecting the mast. As soon as Andrew was waist deep, he climbed in and took up the oars. He didn’t have to row too far, for Simon had the sail up.

A mile out on the lake, Andrew tried again to talk to him.

“Simon… I have news!”

“Mmmm? What, what?”

“Simon, we found him!”

“Who?”

“We have found the Messiah!”

Simon was staring at him for awhile, then he broke out into hilarious laughter.

“Simon, listen!” Andrew said a little intensely. “We really have found the Messiah! He awaits to meet you at our father’s house.”

Simon was still laughing as they sailed back to their hometown of Bethsaida.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 15th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.
Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

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Until the next post.

Johann Q.
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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 014

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ANDREW THE FIRST DISCIPLE
30 AD Jordan River Valley

Feeling released, they ran to the spot where the man left the road. They found a trail and followed it up to the hill. They actually lost sight of him when they were at the foot of the hill. When they got to the top, the trail ended and there was no sign of him. They split up. Andrew jogged to the north side of the hill. When he got there, he scanned downed the hill and saw him. Andrew whistled for John who was some distance away. John quickly turned and started to run towards him. Meanwhile, he kept his eye on the man who may be the Messiah.

They decided not to dash after him but instead follow from a discrete distance. For a day, they trailed him going north skirting the Judean highlands into Samaritan territory. It was about the tenth hour, when they were going around a bend on the trail they were following, the man was waiting for them.

“What do you want?” he asked with no hint of mistrust in his voice.

“Rabbi,” asked Andrew. “Where are you staying?”

Then, the man laughed a little from amusement. “Come and see.”

They followed him to a farm house not too far from the river. The farmer was leading some animals to a pen when he saw them. He was quite happy to see the man.

“Blessings to this house, my friend,” said the man “Can we impose in your hospitality?”

“Of course, Jesus. You need not ask.” The farmer invited them into his house where his wife was already setting food for them.

When Andrew heard his name, he realised that Jesus means ‘Yahweh saves’ or ‘Yahweh is salvation’. A Jewish mother would not boldly name her child so, unless… unless an angel told her so.

 

That night, John asked him, “Rabbi, are you the Messiah?”

“What had John, the Baptist said?” asked Jesus.

Andrew and John told him what the Baptist shared. He smiled at that and said, “The answer you seek will have to come from what you believe. Faith is not blind. Come. Let us sleep. We leave for Galilee at first light.

The next day, the farmer hitch up a wagon and took them to the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was by good fortune than John found some fishermen and a boat that could ferry them to Bethsaida.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 14th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.
Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 013

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ANDREW THE FIRST DISCIPLE
30 AD Jordan River Valley

“John… Are you awake?” Andrew asked.

“I am now,” he said amusingly. “I know what you are thinking. You want to leave here and search for him.”

“I have the feeling that you will argue that we don’t know what he looks like. We have no idea where to start to look for him.”

“Well… I have one idea,” John said. “We stay with the master because he knows who he is.”

“It will be hard to leave him, but I have a strange feeling we are suppose to.”

“I hope we find him soon or else our brothers will not be too happy we’re not back.”

Andrew laughed at that. “I guess we should speak to the master about returning up north before winter sets in. Simon will probably be grumpy if I, that is, we… don’t show up for Fall fishing.”

“I am sure your brother and James are killing each other as well as driving my father crazy over who is the better fisherman.”

They both laughed again. “We better get some sleep, Andrew. The morrow will be busy.”

 

Andrew was carrying some bundles into a tent. John was not far behind also carrying bundles. Then, another of the Baptist’s followers came to them and told them to meet the master by the road.

They found the Baptist talking to some soldiers belonging to Herod Antipas’ palace at Jerusalem.

“Do not extort money from your brethren or even from foreigners. Make no false accusations. And be content with your pay,” the Baptist instructed.

When he saw Andrew and John waiting, he dismissed the soldiers and a small crowd watching. Then, all three meandered toward the shade of a large tree to watch the foot traffic on the dusty road. For a long time, they just stood there looking at the passersby. John and Andrew looked at each other. John shrugged his shoulder. Then, the Baptist took a half step forward, like he saw someone he was looking for.

“Behold,” he said in a soft voice as he gestured with his hand. “…the Lamb of God!”

Both John and Andrew looked towards where he pointed. At first, they were not sure who among the foot traffic was the Baptist pointing at. Then, they noticed a lone individual garbed like what most Galileans wore. He just went off the road and started walking up a hill.

They both looked at each other, then they faced the Baptist.

“Go,” he said. “This is as it should be. Farewell.” Without saying another word, he walked away.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 13th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch1 – part 6

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Tyre

General Gaius was a burly man in his mid fifties. He was reviewing some dispatches when Arturos and Cornelius entered his tent.

“Gentlemen, stand at ease,” said the General. He read for another minute or so. Then he stood up, walked around the table and greeted both men with the shake of their hands. “Centurion, you have come highly recommended from your last commanding officer and Tribune Arturos. Also, I believe I met your father one time or another.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“You are probably wondering how you have rated the senior rank of Primus Pilus at your age?”

“The thought did occur, sir.”

The General walked over to a large map of Palestine and the surrounding region. “Our Governor General is the prefect of this entire region.” The General was gesturing on the map from north area of the Lebanon all the way down to the Red Sea and Egyptian border of Gaza. “Do you see the problem?”

“Sir, that is a large area to cover with only our twelve cohorts that we brought in plus the eight cohorts that were already here.” Arturos said.

“Precisely, gentlemen. The territory is about the size of over a fourth of Italy but worst since the entire eastern border is open with the Jordan River valley as the only natural barrier. The main problem for the moment is not external. It is internal,” he said tapping in the Judean part of the map.

“This country is riddled with rebellion,” said the General as he sat back at his table. He picked up a scroll and opened it. “According to this, our forces had to quell about thirty uprisings since the old Herod died. The last one was just two years ago. An upstart called Bar-Jesus who claimed to be the Jews’ messiah was able to recruit the gullible fanatics… they call themselves zealots… and it were they that almost brought the populace to rebel almost successfully that the eastern trade to the empire was disrupted. It was by sheer luck that this Bar-Jesus was inept in his own country’s politics. It was the greed of the Jewish leadership that gave up his hide out and we were able to quash this rebellion. A thousand crucifixions still line the north caravan road to Jerusalem. But most of the zealots have blended back among the masses. We don’t know who they are.”

“This is where you come in, Cornelius” said Arturos.

“Me? How so, sir?”

“The Tribune came to us and said that not only can you speak the language of the Jews but you have a working knowledge of their culture and religion. An education that took up most of your youth. That makes you an expert. With what your former commander have written on his assessment of your command capabilities and your specialized education, the Governor had approved your advancement and commissioning you with a very important assignment.”

“General, I am gratified to serve. What are my orders, sir?”

“The Emperor Tiberius has his eyes on us. Pontus Pilate must succeed in not just subjugating this province but to prosper it. He will need up to date intelligence. He must not be caught unaware like his predecessor. You requested to garrison in the region of Galilee. That is good. That area is currently a hotbed of zealot activity. Root them out, Centurion. Establish a base of operation there. Get us that intelligence. The Governor will be at Caesarea Philippi for a year or so. Then he will take residence in Jerusalem.” He reached into a drawer and took out a short white baton with a silver wolf emblem on its crown and handed it to Cornelius. “This will give you governorial authority to make request of any military command in this region.” He hands a sealed leather bound packet. “Here are your orders and signet ring. Any questions?”

“Where will you be, General?”

“While the Governor is up north, I will be at the port city of Caesarea down south. I will sail with the fleet in a forth night. Dismissed, gentlemen.”

Cornelius and Arturos saluted and then exited his tent.

As they were walking slowly back to their respective tents, Arturos broke the silence. “Well, Cornelius, it seems that you got your wish to be assigned in the Galilee region. I’m a little concerned about this assignment. This assignment can make or break your career. The General didn’t say it outright but the implication is clear. Failure is not an option especially for you. And lately, I could not help but notice that you have been occupied with something.”

Cornelius paused and was about to reveal his thoughts but instead… he said, “No problems, Tribune. I will not fail.”

“Very well, Cornelius. The gods seem to favor you. So, let us hope that you will be successful in all the things you do.”

‘The gods,’ thought Cornelius. In his mind, he really is having a hard time believing that the gods have any influence at all. In about a week from now, he will be in a land where the people were given a promise of true hope by a god that supposedly has no equal. He will find out the truth.

 

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The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

Thank you

Johann Q

 

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 012

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ANDREW THE FIRST DISCIPLE
30 AD Jordan River Valley

That night, Andrew and his friend John, son of Zebedee, brought the Baptist his evening meal.

“Master, when will the Messiah come?” asked John.

“He is already here!” he said. Andrew’s ears perked up at what was said. “You both didnot join me yet. It was more than a month ago. I was there at the river baptising people, when I noticed walking through the crowd the one person that I didnot ever expect to come to me for baptism.”

“Who was it, Master? Please…” asked Andrew eagerly.

“You have heard the tale of my birth, have you not? Of how an angel appeared to my father and told him of my coming as the one who will precede the promised Messiah? And of how I was miraculously born of parents who were old and barren?” Both he and John nodded. “Well, my birth was not the only birth that was extraordinary. Heed first this prophecy of Isaiah, ‘Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son…’ [Isaiah 7:14 NLT]

“Six months before I was born, a young maiden was also visited by the same angel that appeared before my father. After the angel revealed what the Lord wanted her to know, she traveled a long distance to see my mother. From what my mother told me, it was a meeting of recognition but not between mothers but between me and him, though we were yet born. I was twelve years old when my aged told me this. She told me that the Holy Spirit had conceived in her the son of God. A month later, my mother joined my father in the bosom of Abraham and grew up the rest of my childhood with kin in Jerusalem.

“Of course, I thought I met him once. Though, I am not sure but there was this one boy I ran into during the Festival of Booths. We looked almost the same age. We passed each other but then our eyes locked for what seem like a longtime. It was like we have met before. Then, we lost sight of each other. For years, after that I left my kin and sought out the secretive society of the Essenes. I thought I’d never see him again but then last year, I had a vision of how to recognise the chosen one.”

“Master, tell us, how did you recognise him?”

“When he approached, it was like I knew him before. However, I was puzzled why he wanted to be baptized. I said to him that it should be I to be baptized by him. But his reply to me was that ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’ So, I immersed him and when he came out, a dove landed on his shoulder. Then I heard an echoing voice from Heaven, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ * It was the vision I saw come to life. Then he smiled at me and left.”
[* Matthew 3:15,17 NIV]

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 12th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

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Until the next post.

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