SIMON THE LEPER part 9

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

“Father… Father?”

Simon thought he was dreaming. He woke up looking up at the tattered tent cover that he used ten years ago to put a roof over his shelter. He slowly sat up and felt the aches in his back. But his hands and his feet lost all feelings some years ago. He tried to get up but the lack of feeling in his feet still affects his balance. He reached over to a rough wooden cane he made and slowly painfully stood up.

A voice again called from outside his shelter. “Father? It is me, Lazarus.”

He has not seen his son ten years. He had given explicit commands to Tahan to never bring Lazarus with him when he brings the supplies. But Simon was so lonely, he did not hesitate. He threw aside the curtain that was his door and stepped outside. At first, his son was smiling but in an instant his eyes widened in horror.

“Father! Yo… your face! You have no nose!”

Simon quickly covered his face. “I am sorry, son. I was so happy to see you, that I forgot… It is the disease.” He left it there as the only needed explanation.

“I am sorry, father, that you have suffered so.”

“Oh my son, I had hoped that I would be healed but I now know I will die maybe soon. There is no more hope.”

“But father, there is hope!” Lazarus excitedly said. “We have been hearing of a rabbi in the north country who can heal the sick.”

“A rabbi who can heal? Why have I not heard this?”

“Uncle Tahan did not believe in the news. I argued with him for weeks. So, I came on my own. I was fortunate to find this canyon.”

“A cure,” Simon mused. “It is almost too much to believe.”

“Yes, it is father. But you cannot afford to not try.”

“Mmmm…” Simon thought about it for quite some time. Then he nodded. “Son, you are wise for your age. Very well. We might as well leave now, the day is still quite new. Unfortunately, my mule is way too old to carry me to the… Where exactly are we going, son?”

“In Galilee… somewhere near Capernaum is what I heard. And don’t worry about animals. I brought three donkeys and left them up on the plateau.”

Simon and Lazarus took the rest of the day working their way out of the rugged Judean Wilderness. By the time the sun setted, they had already forded the Jordan River just a mile from Jericho and camped in the Perean valley.

It took them two days to travel the eastern ridges following a well travelled caravan route. The road they were on was rocky, rough and skirted the edge of a high ridge. Simon was almost dizzy as he looked down a cliff when his donkey was walking pretty close to the edge. There was unusually heavy traffic going the same direction as they were. Last time he had seen so many people on this road heading north, they were pilgrims returning home after an annual Jewish festival. Though Simon was cut off from Jerusalem’s society for ten years, he still knew that the festivals had long past. So, he wondered why all these people were travelling north. He also observed a fair number of cripples and even lepers going the same way.

They camped, as usual, away from the other camps. Lazarus came back after talking to a number of people.

“Father, they say they are all on their to find the miracle worker who has been going from village to village in the Galilee area.”

“Did anyone say who he is?”

“Someone called him the Nazarene and that it was him that caused some incident at the Temple last Passover.”

“What happened at the Temple?”

“I wasn’t there when it happened. We, that is Uncle Tahan, the girls and myself, arrived at the Temple court and found it in turmoil. Do you remember how the court of nations had animal merchants and money changers setting up booths.” Simon nodded. “Well, father, it has become far worse. It had doubled in size and these money changers have been cheating the pilgrims. Some say that the priests were behind it. When we got there, tables were turned over with those changers and others scrambling after spilled coins. Animals were running loose from their pens. Pigeons and doves were flying all over. It was a real mess. And they said that the Nazarene was responsible. Another said that after the festival, the same man went north through Samaritan country and raised the populace.”

“Raise the Samaritans?” exclaimed Simon, a little perplexed. “How did he do that?”

“People think that maybe he might be the Messiah!”

“The Messiah?” This was a little bit too much for Simon to absorb and make sense. But then, he looked around at the numerous camp fires throughout the ridge they were on. There must be more than four hundred people here, a great number of which brought their sick and the infirmed with them. Can this miracle worker be the Messiah? The Messiah according to prophecy is one who would be sent by the Lord. So, wouldn’t the Messiah have powers to heal? Simon was not sure, however, like everyone else here, he hopes it is true.

To be continued…

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Author’s note:
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.

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