THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch22 – part 2

THE TRIAL – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

Then he turned to Arturos. “Tell me, Tribune. Was it not his task to keep me from these kind of surprises?” He again looked at Cornelius and asked, “Who did you bring in?”

“I’m sorry, sir. The prisoner is the Nazarene, sir”

Pilate looked at him questioningly. “The Nazarene? You mean Jesus of Nazareth? What in the name of Jupiter is going on? Why did you arrest him? I thought he was no threat.”

“Sir, he was not really my prisoner. I took custody of him from the High Priest.”

“The High Priest! Talking about a thorn on my side!” After some silence, he said, “Wait! He is out there, isn’t he? He is the one that riled up the populace to gather at our footsteps, didn’t he?”

“Yes, sir. I believe that may be his purpose.” Cornelius suddenly felt a little hopeful.

“Very well,” Pilate said. “Let us get ourselves outside and play along in their charade.”

Just as they were to go through the main gate, several trumpets blared out announcing that the Governor General is about to hold court. Pilate, striding with all the dignity of his office, took his place on a gilded throne under a canopy. He was flanked on both sides by his officers and sitting on a stool below him was a court recorder.

Pilot then called for the prisoner to be brought before him. Jesus was brought to the ledge of the platform so that the Governor and the people can both see him. Then the Governor lazily raised his hand to Tribune Marcianus to proceed.

Tribune Marcianus stepped forward and announced to the crowd, “By the authority of our glorious emperor and the senate, the Roman prefect and Governor General of all Palestine hereby declare that this court is ready to accept any grievances for judgment.”

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch22 – part 1

THE TRIAL – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

The old city of Jerusalem was originally known as the ancient city of Salem way back before Abraham walked the lands of the Canaanites. It was a small walled-in city built on short rolling hills. The streets were extremely narrow with the houses stacked up high and close together. There was also not a single street in the old city that ran straight. Half the time, the streets wound up a hill then down. A couple of the narrower lanes ascended to an abrupt stop on a ledge then you have to descend a number of very steep steps to another narrow lane below. This was what Cornelius and his entourage had to contend with as they traversed through Jerusalem’s old city.

The crowd following was getting larger and somewhat festive. Cornelius was thinking that most of those following were not even aware why they were. People in the houses would peer out and shout to the crowd below inquiring what was happening. Some would say that the Nazarene was arrested by the Romans. Others would call out that he was going to claim his kingdom and push the Romans away. By the time they came out to the grand plaza fronting the fortress, it seemed that the whole city was pouring in to fill it.

Cornelius noted that the entire Praetorian garrison was out and lining the city wall. Another detachment was lined up cordoning off the grand stairway to the main gate and the observation platform where the Governor usually held court. Cornelius led his men and Jesus to the platform. Caiaphas and Annas got out of their litter. They and the members of the Sanhedrin ascended the steps about halfway then waited.

Meanwhile, at the top of the platform, Tribune Marcianus and Braga came through the gate.

“This is a big mess you brought us, Centurion,” Marcianus said.

“Sir, where is the Governor?”

“He is waiting in the antechamber. He is not really happy with you, today. For the mean time, Bragga will take custody of your prisoner.” Before Cornelius can object, he said, “No arguments, Centurion. Governor’s orders. Now, move. The Governor is waiting for you.”

“Yes, sir.” Cornelius motioned to Cestus to stay close to Jesus. He nodded in acknowledgment.

The antechamber was adjacent to the main gate. When he entered, Pilate was eating breakfast while Tribune Arturos was also there waiting. Cornelius stood at attention for a long time as the Governor continued to eat. It was Arturos who broke the silence.

“Good job in bringing in that brigand, Barabbas. He is one thorn out of our side.”

Then Pilate slammed his bowl of food on the table.

“Oh yes, congratulation Centurion! Good work!” Pilate said sarcastically. “But tell me this, how did you manage to bring a bunch of prisoners just last night and then while escorting another, you also brought the entire city to my doorstep in so early in the morning?”
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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch21 – part 4

A NIGHT OF REGRETS – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

Cornelius and the others left Judas sobbing uncontrollably at the perimeter walls. To get to the upper city they had to use the old north wall, called the Zion Way, that ran from the Western side of the Temple Mount over the Tyropoeon* to the upper city. They quickly climbed the stairs of the Temple Mount to the level of the Court of Nations. Then they went to the Western wall and found the portal that led to another set of stairs. They followed those stairs until they emerged unto the old north wall. The height of the wall was about twenty feet high. Battlements lined both sides of the path which was wide enough for three men to walk abreast. Roman guards held all the perimeter walls of the city. They told Cornelius that they can descend to the upper city about half way up the path and get directions to the house of Annas from the post commander.

[ * Tyropoeon was once a narrow deep terrain valley that was filled in during King Solomon’s reign. Parts of the old city was later built over it.]

The commander was helpful to direct them to the house of Annas which was the way at the Southern end of the upper city. By the time they reached the street where the house was, the roosters were crowing and the sky was paling. As they had the house in sight, Cornelius called a halt. He saw someone he knew in an alley way. It was Peter. But before he could talk to him, Peter saw him then ran away the other way. Cornelius decided not to chase him.

When they finally got to the house, they found a lot of men milling around the gate. Cornelius knocked on the doors and and demanded entry in the name of the Governor. When they were let in, they found more people in courtyard warming their hands in the braziers. They were led through some double doors into a large anteroom. Then another set of tall doors opened with a lot of prominent Jews coming out. Among the men was John, brother of James. He was wondering how he was able to be inside this residence but then he remembered his family was related to Caiaphas. When they locked eyes on each other, John minutely signaled for Cornelius not to show that they knew each other. Then he blended among-st the exiting people. Then Caiaphas, the High Priest, and a shorter older man came striding out. When they saw the Romans waiting in the anteroom, they nonchalantly approached Cornelius.

“How may we be of service, Centurion?”

“I believe you are holding a prisoner here. In the name the Governor, I order you to hand him over to me.”

“We are fortunate you are here, Centurion. We do have here a man guilty of blasphemy and instigating the people to revolt against Rome. Since the Governor had declared that we have no authority to execute blasphemers, we hereby formally hand over our prisoner to you for judgment before the Governor. We will also be accompanying you as you escort him to the governor.”

Cornelius grudgingly nodded his head in ascent. He had no choice now but to bring Jesus before Pilate. Two men came out of the same room with Jesus bound between them. His face was bruised under the right eye and some blood trickled down from his nostril. Cestus stepped forward hulking over those men, they quickly handed Jesus to him.

“I’ve got you, Master,” he whispered to his ear. Jesus gave him a very slight smile. Then he addressed himself to the six soldiers, saying, “Form up, lads.”

They quickly formed two lines with Cestus supporting Jesus in the middle.

Cornelius ordered, “Let’s get going.”

With Cornelius leading the way, they marched out of Annas’ house followed by Caiaphas and his father who rode a litter carried by twelve servants and the crowd of people who were milling around the house. As they walked down a wide avenue, the city was coming to life in the early morning light. There was about a hundred people following and they were attracting a lot more people who were wondering what was going on. As they approached the Zion gate that separated the upper city from the old city, there must have been over a thousand or so people trailing. The guards on the wall were all at alert. The post commander ran to Cornelius and he gave him instructions to signal the fort to expect him and a high profile prisoner for trial.

There was a lot happening but Cornelius was determined to save his life.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch21 – part 3

A NIGHT OF REGRETS – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

The city of David was a fortified walled city built on a long ridge shaped like a finger protruding from the Temple Mount. The ridge overlooked the bottom end of the Kidron Valley in the East, the lower city in the West and the tip overlooked the main Southern gate of Jerusalem and the Pool of Siloam. The city of David was originally built by King David and held the royal residences. Now, the palaces, located at the fingertip of the ridge were mostly used by visiting dignitaries and it many halls used by the ruling class. The rest of the ridge were houses of the rich.

They found the halls empty. Cornelius was frustrated. They back tracked to the plaza under the Temple Mount. The city was quiet with very few people wandering the streets. Then Cornelius spotted a figure crouching against the tall perimeter wall. When he came closer to him, by the light of the torches they carried, Cornelius recognized Judas Iscariot.

Judas saw them closing in and all he perceived was they were Romans, so he tried to run. But Cornelius cornered him. Judas was panicked and his face was riddled with guilt. Cornelius knew he was the one that led the High Priest’s henchmen to arrest Jesus.

“Judas… Judas! It’s me, Cornelius. Tell me what happened.”

Judas seem to calm down a little. Seeing that it was someone he knew, he told his story. He was disappointed with Jesus for sometime now. He was really hoping Jesus would use his heavenly powers to claim his rightful kingship. But Jesus would not. For weeks he was disillusioned. So, he met with the High Priest’s people to see what deal he could make. Then during the Passover meal, Jesus said that one of them will betray him, he panicked and went again to the High Priest and told them that he can lead them to where Jesus will be alone.

So, he led the High Priest’s servants and Temple guards to the Garden of Gethsemane. He betrayed him with a kiss. He told them that whoever he kissed is the one they wanted. Then Judas cried out.

“I looked at his face when I betrayed him! I looked into his eyes. There was no condemnation in his eyes. I cannot stand it. What have I done?”

Cornelius had no more time to console him. “Judas!” He had to shake him a little. “Judas, where did they take him?”

Judas pointed to the upper city and sobbed, “The house of Annas, the father of Caiaphas, the High Priest.”

“Listen, Judas. The Lord will forgive you if you let him. I’m going after him. Look for the others and wait. I have to go.”

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