THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch2 – part 2

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ENCOUNTER WITH A PROPHET

Galilee

A whistle was blown below. The men were picking up their gear and moving back into formation. Jacob went back to the wagon he rode with Trax. Cornelius got back on his horse and rode at the head of the column. As he rode, he thought more on the son of this impossible virgin birth whose name would be Immanuel. He learned early on when studying Scriptures, to pay special attention to the meanings behind names. Immanuel in Hebrew means ‘with us is God.’ There is no other way of interpreting these words. God will be born among men and the sign for mankind will be that His birth will be through a woman who have not known any man. Impossible as it sounds, Cornelius thought it made sense. He recalled another impossible occurrence in the book of Moses where God intervened and caused the barren wife of Abraham to give birth in her eighties. This was written as fact, as something that had already happened. There were a lot more supernatural events recorded in the Scriptures. Others would say that they were nothing more than tall tales… exaggerations, but not him. In his heart, he always believe them to be true.

 

A few hours later, the column reached the crossroads. To the right, the road goes to the city of Capernaum. According to Jacob, it is the trading center of the Galilee region with a population of thirty thousand people. The column turned left on a bridge over the Jordan River toward the village of Bethsaida. Bethsaida is a farming and fishing village with an estimated population of about four thousand people mostly Galilean Jews. The main village is about a mile from the lake and is enclosed by a perimeter wall. However, the fishing community preferred to keep their homes closer to the water where their boats lie on the pebbly shoreline.

The road they were on went through the main village then out the east gate. As Cornelius rode through the gate, he noted how the populace watched him and the column with outright disdain. The other towns and villages they went through, the people mostly stared with blank faces, but here their looks can almost be construed as rebellious. The reason becomes clear as the column enters the village square. The column came upon a crowd of angered men and weeping women. But they were not looking at his column. Their focus were mostly on a squad of thirty auxiliary soldiers** who were tearing down an unrecognizable building. But Cornelius figured by the reaction of the crowd that this building was significant to them. He signaled for the column to continue on through the crowd. The crowd who then realized that a greater number of Romans were there, began to disperse fearing greater violence. As his column marched by, he called to one of the Legionaries that always stayed with Cornelius.
** auxiliary soldiers are Roman Legionaries made up of foreign descent

“Cestus. You come with me,” ordered Cornelius “The rest of you march ahead with the column”

Legionary Cestus was a head taller than him. He was a veteran of the Spanish campaign and was one of the survivors who closely fought side by side with Cornelius in the trap that almost decimated their whole unit. Ever since then, he loyally followed Cornelius. Still on his horse, Cornelius rode through the remainder of the crowd with Cestus making way for him. He approached the soldiers that were tearing down the building.

Cestus then snapped to attention, took two steps ahead of Cornelius and with a commanding voice he shouted, “Auxiliaries! Cease what you are doing, NOW!”

The soldiers realized the presence of an officer, they halted in what they were doing.

“Who is in charge here?” Cornelius asked looking around menacingly.

Two soldiers stumbled out of a house hurriedly fixing their clothes. A sobbing sound can be faintly heard coming from the inside of that same house. An elder woman that was held back by some men of the village quickly dashed to the house and entered it. A scream of agony was heard within. Cornelius kept his focus on the approaching men, one of them clearly the squad leader – an optio.

“Sir!” They came to attention and saluted sloppily.

“What occurred here?” asked Cornelius. “Why was this place torn down by your men?”

“Your honor, serr. We were ordered to by our commander,” the squad leader spoke with a deep accent of that of a Syrian descent.

“Why?”

“Serr, one of our patrol was ambushed by Jewish rebels. The commander believes them from here. So, we destroy their praying place.”

“I see,” Cornelius could not fault them for following orders. “Well, you completed your task. You are done here!” He then turns to Cestus, “Cestus, take command of this men.”

“Auxiliary!” Cestus called in a commanding voice, “Alright lads. Form up into three lines and get ready to march like real Legionaries.”

“Halt!” Cornelius pointed at some of the men who were going to gather some bundled items that came from the collapsed building. He saw among the loot a large bounded scroll nicely covered in deep colored felt trim with silver tassels. He recognized what it was. It was the holy copy of the Scriptures, the Torah. He ordered, “No loot today. These items stay!”

The soldiers grumbled but they quickly went silent when the hulking figure of Cestus stared them down. The auxiliary unit was soon filing by, joining the column. Cornelius scanned the crowd until he spied a cluster of elderly men helping another older man sitting on a bench nursing a bleeding cut on his head. Cornelius called to them in Hebrew, “Please, take back what was taken.”

He did not wait for them to respond. He wheeled his horse around and went to the head of the column at a trot.

 

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The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

Thank you

Johann Q

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 018

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SIMON THE LEPER
31 AD – the Journey – Judean Wilderness to Galilee

“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 didnot 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.”

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 18th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

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Johann Q.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 016

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ANDREW THE FIRST DISCIPLE
30 AD – Bethsaida, Sea of Galilee

They were just approaching their father’s house, both were carrying the long mast and the sail wrapped around it on their shoulders. Andrew, who was leading, saw Jesus sitting on the stoop of their house having a conversation with their father. When they saw them coming, the father excused himself and went inside. Jesus stood and waited for them.

They set the mast and sail against the side of the house. After which Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. But before he could make the introduction, Jesus went up to Simon, looked intently at Simon, and said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Peter.”

Before Simon can react, Jesus gave them a knowing smile and walked out the gate towards the town.

 

It was six hours before sunlight, when Simon Peter and Andrew rowed out unto the lake for some fishing. Four other boats went out with them, one of which was their partners, James and John.

Simon Peter casted the net into the cold water. As they started to pull in the nets, Simon Peter asked, “Where was your Messiah this early morn?”

“Oh, he went up to the hills. I followed him one night and asked him why does he come here? His answer was so that he could be alone with his father.”

Simon Peter mumbled to himself, “…be alone with his father! Ha! Who would his father be, I wonder?”

Andrew would not answer. He grew tired of arguing with him.

“Argh! Empty again!” Simon Peter said frustratingly. He looked over at where John and James were pulling up their nets. “Ho! James… any luck?”

“Not even one fish!”

“Come, let us set sail to the eastern end of the lake. We may have better luck there,” said Simon Peter.

But luck was not with them all night. Three hours after sunrise, both boats landed on the gravelly beach fronting the fish monger’s trading post. It was the only solid structure built right on the waterline where the fishermen’s catch are inspected and deals are made. As Simon Peter jumped out of the boat, he noticed a gathering crowd in and around the trading post.

“Why are there a lot of people here?” asked Simon Peter.

Andrew shrugged as he passed the nets to his brother who dipped them in the water and proceeded to wash them. And as he was doing so, the crowd started looking down the shoreline attracted by the sound of celebratory clapping and the high pitch ululating sound that women make with their tongues. Andrew climbed back on the boat and stood on the gunwale of the boat to get a better look. He saw another crowd of people coming towards them and in the midst of them was Jesus.

“It’s the rabbi, Jesus!”

Andrew jumped down from the boat and ran to the approaching crowd. People were calling out to him. There were a mixture of supplications from the crowd. They wanted to be healed. They wanted their lives to be good. Some asked if he was the one. Jesus continued on smiling, shaking their hands and occasionally picking up a child, laughing with them. The crowd started to press around some more until he could not progress further. Then Jesus, with Andrew in tow, worked his way towards their beached boat. Simon Peter was still vigorously washing the nets clearly ignoring his approach. Jesus climbed unto his boat.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 16th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.
Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch2 – part 1

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Galilee

The Cohort actually made good time. Four days out from the Phoenician city, Cornelius could just make out the inland sea, the Sea of Galilee. Of course, the sea was really a great lake of fresh water. From North to South, it is about thirteen miles in length then eight miles at its widest. The column of three hundred soldiers have been traveling on a caravan route following the tributary, Jordan River, which feeds the north side of the lake. The column halted and the men were lying about on the sides of the track getting some well earned rest. As they rested, Cornelius was standing on a shelf just above the track with a panoramic view. To the north were the Lebanon mountains. To the east was a wilderness of rocky hills, canyons and deserts. Then to the south toward the inland sea on the east side of the river, lies the lush green farm lands of Bethsaida. They were on the west side of the river following the rough craggy hills of the Galilee region. Though he could not make it out yet, his destination is a fort made by the first expeditionary Legion that conquered this land some fifty years ago. The fort lies about a few miles east of Bethsaida.

Cornelius saw Jacob climbing the shelf to join him.

“Look there, Jacob,” Cornelius pointed. “You are almost home.”

“I think I still have kin in Betsaida, farmers and fishermen both. I wonder if my brother is still living in Capernaum?”

“I have important work to do here, Jacob. They are your people and I am coming here as their conqueror and as another Roman oppressor.”

“An oppressor, yes. But that is not new for the people especially for those of us in the north part of the old kingdom. After the last exile into Babylon, those of my people who returned to Judah to rebuild the Holy city also remembered the lands of Zebulun & Nephtali, the lands of our ancestors. So, when the holy city was done, my family and many more returned to this area but the lands were already occupied by gentiles. There were some of the Israelites that were not exiled, the Samaritans, but they forgot the traditions of our people and generations of them intermarried with gentiles. Today, there is still deep enmity between our peoples. Anyway, we did re-establish the many settlements that were lost to us but had to learn to live with the gentile communities for they were protected by Persia at the time. Eventually, we became an independent province again but we were conquered by the Greeks, Egyptians and finally the Romans. So, we are not strangers to oppression but yet there is hope.” Then Jacob noticed Cornelius’ brooding look. “I have known you since your childhood. I have watched you grow into the man that you are today. I have surmised the difficult task you have to undergo to fulfill the orders of your superiors. I know you will be torn inside. All I can say is that when I chose bond servitude to you, it means I will support you. Does that help?”

Cornelius nodded and smiled.

“Now, how goes your study of the Prophet Isaiah?

“I have to reread the first quarter again. I did read something odd, though. ”

“What is that?”

“King Ahaz was king of Judah and it was reported to him that the king of Aram had made an alliance with the king of Israel. Both kings waged war against Jerusalem at that time. The Lord had prophesied to Ahaz that Judah will prevail against them and revealed a future that sixty five years from then both Aram and the north kingdom of Israel will be no more.”

“Yes, I recall that passage.”

“Right after that, God spoke to Ahaz again and gave him an opportunity to ask the Lord for a sign… which Ahaz foolishly did not ask, inviting a scathing rebuke. Then God gave him a prophesy anyway of ‘a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.’* I’m a little puzzled by this prophecy. I am not sure if this is literal or figurative.”
* Isaiah 7:14 NASB

“When it comes to prophecy, my boy, expect it to be both.”

“If it is literal, how can a virgin be with child?”

“I’m afraid I cannot answer that. It is an impossible mystery. However, when it comes to the impossible, it clearly belongs in the purview of the Spiritual. To be candid, I don’t think you or I will ever be a witness to any of the prophesies. I have been in this life for over sixty years, I have not seen any fulfillment. But I can hope.”

 

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The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

Thank you

Johann Q

 

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 015

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ANDREW THE FIRST DISCIPLE
30 AD – Capernaum, Sea of Galilee

The next day, Andrew took the boat by himself and sailed to Capernaum. When he landed at the city, he went to the house of his brother, Simon.

“Andrew! At last,” said Simon. “I thought you and John were going to stay down south following that desert fanatic all through winter time. I’m glad you are back.” Simon was a large bulk of a man with brawn sholders and thick neck. He stood about four inches taller than Andrew. His head of hair and thick beard were curly and was somewhat redish brown. He was sometimes mistaken for a foreigner.

Simon hastily came out of the house, picked up a large bundle of nets and rested them on his shoulders and started to head for the shoreline.

“It is a good thing you came along today,” said Simon. “If I had to stay with the in-laws a day longer, I think I’d tear my beard off.”

Meanwhile, while trying to keep up with his brother, he was trying to say something to him. “Simon… Ah Simon… I need to tell you… something… important.”

“Later! Let us get into the boat first,” Simon ordered.

When they reached the boat, Simon easily unburdened himself of the bundled nets which was quite heavy then jumped in. Andrew untied the anchor line, took hold of the bow of the boat and pushed it out on the water while Simon was in the process of erecting the mast. As soon as Andrew was waist deep, he climbed in and took up the oars. He didn’t have to row too far, for Simon had the sail up.

A mile out on the lake, Andrew tried again to talk to him.

“Simon… I have news!”

“Mmmm? What, what?”

“Simon, we found him!”

“Who?”

“We have found the Messiah!”

Simon was staring at him for awhile, then he broke out into hilarious laughter.

“Simon, listen!” Andrew said a little intensely. “We really have found the Messiah! He awaits to meet you at our father’s house.”

Simon was still laughing as they sailed back to their hometown of Bethsaida.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 15th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.
Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

If you want to support my writing, please use my Go-Fund-Me site below.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.
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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 014

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ANDREW THE FIRST DISCIPLE
30 AD Jordan River Valley

Feeling released, they ran to the spot where the man left the road. They found a trail and followed it up to the hill. They actually lost sight of him when they were at the foot of the hill. When they got to the top, the trail ended and there was no sign of him. They split up. Andrew jogged to the north side of the hill. When he got there, he scanned downed the hill and saw him. Andrew whistled for John who was some distance away. John quickly turned and started to run towards him. Meanwhile, he kept his eye on the man who may be the Messiah.

They decided not to dash after him but instead follow from a discrete distance. For a day, they trailed him going north skirting the Judean highlands into Samaritan territory. It was about the tenth hour, when they were going around a bend on the trail they were following, the man was waiting for them.

“What do you want?” he asked with no hint of mistrust in his voice.

“Rabbi,” asked Andrew. “Where are you staying?”

Then, the man laughed a little from amusement. “Come and see.”

They followed him to a farm house not too far from the river. The farmer was leading some animals to a pen when he saw them. He was quite happy to see the man.

“Blessings to this house, my friend,” said the man “Can we impose in your hospitality?”

“Of course, Jesus. You need not ask.” The farmer invited them into his house where his wife was already setting food for them.

When Andrew heard his name, he realised that Jesus means ‘Yahweh saves’ or ‘Yahweh is salvation’. A Jewish mother would not boldly name her child so, unless… unless an angel told her so.

 

That night, John asked him, “Rabbi, are you the Messiah?”

“What had John, the Baptist said?” asked Jesus.

Andrew and John told him what the Baptist shared. He smiled at that and said, “The answer you seek will have to come from what you believe. Faith is not blind. Come. Let us sleep. We leave for Galilee at first light.

The next day, the farmer hitch up a wagon and took them to the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was by good fortune than John found some fishermen and a boat that could ferry them to Bethsaida.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 14th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.
Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

If you want to support my writing, please use my Go-Fund-Me site below.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.
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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 013

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ANDREW THE FIRST DISCIPLE
30 AD Jordan River Valley

“John… Are you awake?” Andrew asked.

“I am now,” he said amusingly. “I know what you are thinking. You want to leave here and search for him.”

“I have the feeling that you will argue that we don’t know what he looks like. We have no idea where to start to look for him.”

“Well… I have one idea,” John said. “We stay with the master because he knows who he is.”

“It will be hard to leave him, but I have a strange feeling we are suppose to.”

“I hope we find him soon or else our brothers will not be too happy we’re not back.”

Andrew laughed at that. “I guess we should speak to the master about returning up north before winter sets in. Simon will probably be grumpy if I, that is, we… don’t show up for Fall fishing.”

“I am sure your brother and James are killing each other as well as driving my father crazy over who is the better fisherman.”

They both laughed again. “We better get some sleep, Andrew. The morrow will be busy.”

 

Andrew was carrying some bundles into a tent. John was not far behind also carrying bundles. Then, another of the Baptist’s followers came to them and told them to meet the master by the road.

They found the Baptist talking to some soldiers belonging to Herod Antipas’ palace at Jerusalem.

“Do not extort money from your brethren or even from foreigners. Make no false accusations. And be content with your pay,” the Baptist instructed.

When he saw Andrew and John waiting, he dismissed the soldiers and a small crowd watching. Then, all three meandered toward the shade of a large tree to watch the foot traffic on the dusty road. For a long time, they just stood there looking at the passersby. John and Andrew looked at each other. John shrugged his shoulder. Then, the Baptist took a half step forward, like he saw someone he was looking for.

“Behold,” he said in a soft voice as he gestured with his hand. “…the Lamb of God!”

Both John and Andrew looked towards where he pointed. At first, they were not sure who among the foot traffic was the Baptist pointing at. Then, they noticed a lone individual garbed like what most Galileans wore. He just went off the road and started walking up a hill.

They both looked at each other, then they faced the Baptist.

“Go,” he said. “This is as it should be. Farewell.” Without saying another word, he walked away.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 13th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

If you want to support my writing, please use my Go-Fund-Me site below.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility