MEETING FACE TO FACE – Hills South of Capernaum
It was night when he rode up into their camp under the same copse of trees. The men around the fire all stood up but none walked over. Cornelius slowly dismounted and raised his hands up to show that he came in peace. He called out the traditional greeting of offering peace.
“Peace be also with you, Centurion.”
Cornelius turned to see the big fisherman and Levi, the former tax collector, emerge from the tent.
“I am pleased to see you again, Centurion.”
“Oh no… my friend. I am now called Matthew. The master named me so.”
Peter reached out his big hand and they shook hands. “I am Peter. The Master had chosen to meet you up there.” He gestured toward the same hill where Jesus gave his sermon. He calls to the tent, “Simon!”
Simon came out of the tent obviously livid.
“Simon here will be your guide.” Simon Peter faced the Zealot and said, “The Master suggested it.”
Simon reluctantly went to the fire and picked up a fiery brand. “Come Roman, follow me.”
They had to cross the creek with the limited light of the torch but Cornelius managed it with just wetting one of his sandaled foot. The Zealot lead him to a foot path which they followed up the hill. For a long while they did not talk. When they reached a level spot, the Zealot suddenly turned around to confront him.
“What do you want with the master, Roman? You are not wanted here!”
Cornelius was not caught unaware. He expected it. Though he had no weapon, he knew Simon could not best him in close quarter fighting alone. But there could be others nearby in the dark. Cornelius started moving slowly to the right forcing Simon to go right as well; circling each other.
“It was he that called me, Zealot. Now, tell me this. What are the Zealots intention with the rabbi? Do you think you can make him king to rally the people?”
That touched a nerve with Simon, he crouched like was ready to pounce.
“How did you do it, Zealot? How did you get the rabbi to choose you to be one of the Twelve?”
The Zealot stopped circling and then stood straight. “I did not! When Jesus called me, I was so proud but then deep down, I really knew there was nothing to be proud of. But yet he chose me. I will not betray him.”
“Peace,” said a voice in the darkness. Then Jesus walked into the light. “Greetings, Cornelius. It is a good night to be about. Is it not?”
“Good evening, Lord. It is truly a very good night.”
Jesus placed a hand onto Simon’s arm. “Thank you, Simon. I will take it from here. Come, Cornelius. Let us walk up in the dark.”
The story continues on in my next post a week from now.
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