A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing
The winter was in its last days in the village of Bethany just 2 miles from the busy city of Jerusalem. The last remnants of snow had disappeared around the hillsides surrounding the village. Warmer days will again bring back the greenery.
Simon, a successful and quite wealthy tradesman of barley and wheat, came out of his house just in time to meet with an incoming caravan of two dozen or so donkeys loaded with merchandise from the fields of Gilead.
He welcomed the head drover from the distant free cities up north.
Grasping his forearm in greetings, he asked, “Did you have any trouble on the route?”
“There were a couple of attempts to rob us, but your suggestion to stay close with the Roman patrol was to our advantage,” his friend exclaimed cheerfully.
“You see?” Simon chided, “the Romans are good for some things!” They both laughed together. They were discussing more business when suddenly Simon hears a delightful glee coming from the gates of his house. He turns just in time to catch the embrace of his six year old daughter who came out in excitement pointing at the packed donkeys milling around not too far away.
“Yes, yes Mary,” Simon was laughing. “You and your sister, Martha, have surprises hidden in the packs somewhere.”
“Oh, Abba! Can I see it now?” Mary asks eagerly.
“No no… My little sweet cherub. You and Martha will get your gifts later tonight. Meanwhile, did you leave your sister to do all the kitchen chores by herself again?”
Mary looks guiltily down, her sandalled foot fidgeting the dust on the ground.
Simon chuckled loudly then turns her towards the gate and said, “now, go help your sister and later after supper you can see the gift I have for you.” As Mary neared the gate, he looked around and asked her, “where is Lazarus? He was supposed to be here with me learning about the business.”
Mary stopped short and turned around looking guilty.
“Mary? Where is your brother?”
Mary quickly broke down under his continuous stare and cried out, “oh, Abba… He told me not to tell!”
“Mary? Tell me now.”
Looking down at her feet, she confessed in a quiet voice, “He went to the quarry with his friends.”
“Go along and help your sister,” he said smiling. “I promise I will not tell your brother.”
Simon spoke to the head drover for another 15 minutes while his servants unpacked two of the packed donkeys. Then he instructed him to bring the caravan to his warehouse in Jerusalem. He watched the caravan moved away, then he turned and walked towards the southern gate of his village.
Bethany is a fair sized village with many large homes belonging to wealthy people some of which were not all Jews. As Simon walked through the busy street into the marketplace near the southern gate, he was fondly greeted by his neighbors.
Simon walked through the southern gate, turned right on a gravel path then proceeded to follow it for several minutes. It was not long until he heard laughing voices of young people just below him. He walked to the edge of the pathway which looked down into the quarry pit which is also the burial sites of his family and the people in his village. There he saw his son showing off to a young girl and six other young people laughing away at his waving arms and balancing act on a loose boulder.
Simon then called out, “Lazarus!”
A young lad of about twelve years looks up then waves his hand in greeting. Simon gestures to him to come up. The young lad says goodbye to his friends and quickly worked his way up the hill to where his father was waiting.
Heaving heavily, Lazarus reached his father with a big grin on his face.
“Well, my son, did you forget that you were supposed to be with me today and learn the business that feeds you and clothe you and give you shelter over your head?”
“I am sorry, father.”
“You are coming of age. You are not an apprentice anymore. You will one day take over the business and I can retire to a ripe old age,” he said chuckling. “Come. Let us return to the village then we go to the city.”
To be continued…
Though my story is basically fiction, the character of Simon the Leper is an actual Bible personality who actually lived in Bethany, a village in Judaea on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. He is only mentioned in two verses in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark. There is no other reference of him in the Bible. So, I asked myself, ‘what was his story? How did he catch leprosy? And how was he cured?’ There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them had no names at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic license, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.