THE ANNOINTING ANSWER – Emmaus, Bethany
The city was buzzing with all sorts of talk about what happened. The story moved from one neighborhood to another like a plague, from the lower city then to the upper, with the story becoming more incredible and embellished than the last. When the story reached the Praetoria, Cornelius was quickly summoned.
As Cornelius and Cestus rode into the fortress, he was told to report to Tribune Marcianus’ quarters.
“What is going on out there, Centurion?” He was not a happy man. “I have reports of celebration through out every district in the city. Is there another foolhardy festival that we don’t know yet? It is a good thing that the Governor is at Caesarea. He would have a nervous fit.”
“No, sir. The celebration is not due to a new festival not with Passover just a week away.”
“Then what is it, Centurion?”
“I’m sorry to say, sir, but I have specific orders that the my reports are for the Governor’s and the General’s eyes only.”
“That means the commotion has something to do with that Nazarene. Very well, Centurion, tell me this, do I put my men on high alert?”
“Sir, an increased watch may be prudent, since there are even more people coming in earlier for the Passover.”
“Foolhardy festival, that is all that is. Dismissed Centurion.”
“Begging your pardon, sir?”
“This might interest you, sir. One of my informants in En Gedi sent me word that the brigand, Barabbas, has gone to the city of Ephraim, north of the city. The word is, he is trying to pass himself as a Zealot always seeking to gain their favor. I have a plan, sir, which I would like to use Centurion Flavius and his men to trap him.”
“My plan first is to circulate a rumor through out Ephraim that an unscheduled shipment of collected tax revenue will be on the northern road to the coast. The rumor will say that a wagon will be in disguised as a merchant’s wagon and that it will leave Jerusalem on the day of the Passover ceremonial meal. I believe he will jump on the opportunity, sir.”
“Approved! Get him, Centurion! The Governor and I would like to see him rotting on a cross by the end of the festival. Get it done!”
Cornelius was back at Emmaus. After all the reports were done and dispatched, he was back at that one chapter that had intrigued and mystified him before the battle. On his chapter designation, this was the forty second. On his notes, he asked ‘why such suffering and pain?’ He felt there was still something missing.
For weeks, he had read and translated many chapters. That night, he finally found what he was searching for in a grouping of passages which he designated in his notes as chapter 53. His eyes rolled down unto the first passage.
Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
Cornelius smiled as he remembered the first time he saw Jesus. He was so plain looking, how could he ever be a world leader? Now, after two years of journeying with him, talking with him, he does not think that way any more. Reading on…
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
[note: italics are from Isaiah 53]
Cornelius recognized the prophetic aspects of these passages being in the past tense. He had always appreciated on how One who is eternal sees the future as if it had already happened. In these passages Jesus would be despised and rejected. He was also given another title, ‘a man of sorrows.’ He didn’t want to think where this is going. Whatever is going to happen to Jesus, it’s going to be public. He was especially not happy about how people, which he concluded can only be the Jews, concluded the afflictions and pain he was going to suffer were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! Cornelius recalled sometime ago when he and Jacob rode by a man who was nailed and hung on a tree that the Jewish cultural belief was that being hung on a tree represented it was a curse from God. Cornelius quickly wrote on his notes, ‘Can this mean a public execution?’ Shaking his head, He read on.
The story continues on in my next post.
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