THE PLAN – Sea of Galilee shoreline, Bethsaida
Cornelius slowed his pace, a little. After listening to Jacob explaining things to Cestus, he now felt that the urgency to return to the fort to send dispatches seem less urgent. When he heard the rabbi’s last parable of the Weeds Among the Wheat, he had an ominous feeling that the weeds were the Romans who will be uprooted and cast into the fires. But then Jacob did say that the rabbi’s true intent may be more spiritual than worldly. So, he had to rethink about what that parable really meant. He and Jacob will have to discuss this some time. For the meantime, he can slow down. Deep down, he would hate to think that this man, Jesus of Nazareth, as some kind of enemy. If this is the one that John the Baptist wanted him to seek out, then he may be the Savior of not just the Jews but all mankind. At that instance, he somehow realized that the parable of the Weeds Among the Wheat may be a spiritual description of the ultimate time of Judgment. Inside himself, he was elated that he may have figured out the parable. But then, how about others like the Zealots. There were probably a few of them among the crowd. What if they interpret his teachings as an opportunity to move the people into rebellion against Rome? They would do that.
His mind started racing again. He has to find a way to be even closer to him. He felt he needs protection not just from the schemes of men like the Zealots who won’t think twice of exploiting him but also from Rome, who would not consider his innocence if captured for being an unwitting figurehead of an insurrection. A plan started to develop in his mind. He again picked up his pace to get back to the fort. He had dispatches to write.
It was late in the evening. Cornelius had a long day of planning and doing the other duties of his command. He thought about his command. He is really going to miss it. But shaking his head, he sat at this desk, pulled in a blank parchment and started to write.
To General Gaius. Greetings and salutations.
Today, I am happy to report that I had personally sighted that wandering teacher that I have been tracking for the following week. His name is Jesus of Nazareth. I have observed him by the shore of the Sea of Galilee. There was a gathering of about three hundred people mostly peasantry. It was a peaceful gathering and his preaching was that of religious nature with no hint of rebellious talk. Since I have started my investigation of this man when I have first learned of him from Herod Antipas, he has gained in popularity. My estimation is that his increasing popularity would already attract the attention of insurgent groups like the Zealots.
Sir, I am requesting that you would approve a plan of my design that will enable me to embed myself deeper into the populace’s closed-in society and maybe even in this Jesus of Narareth’s circle of followers. I already have a good relationship with the villagers of Bethsaida because of my aid in the rebuild of their Synagogue. However, I cannot continue to effectively execute my assignment in my present situation as the active commander of this garrison. I believe I would do better being situated at a separate and private villa just outside the north end side of Capernaum. My agents there have found a trader deep in debt and is ready to depart from his estate. It is an ideal location to be my center of operation.
But changing of location is part of the plan. To the Jews, I must seem more than a Roman sympathizer. To them I must be a disgraced officer and a gentile who is willing to partake in a Jewish process of being an proselyte. It is the accepted practice for gentiles to become Jewish disciples. As a proselyte, I will have inside access into their Synagogues where I am sure I can learn the identities of the insurgents.
So, sir, I have to be publicly demoted and disgraced as soon as possible. I think being re-assigned to procurement and provisions will make an excellent cover for what I need to do.
I shall eagerly await your reply.
Cornelius poured some red wax on the bottom of the sheet then he pressed his seal on it. He folded the letter and again used his waxed seal to seal it. He put this letter with the other dispatches. In the morning, a rider will bring it north. He could not sleep. So, he climbed to the top floor. The guard there quickly stood to attention. He told him to be at ease and stepped over to the north-side. He could just make out the shaded outline of the highlands. Everything was dark except for a distant pinpoint of light high on the hillsides. It was probably a campfire. He wondered if maybe Jesus of Nazareth is sitting around that campfire with his followers.
“Are you the one?” He whispered to the distant light. “I will know soon.”
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.