THE SYROPHOENICIAN WOMAN OF MARK 7:26 [part 4]

A short story by JQuisumbing

Continued…

“You would think that their God would get tired of saving them especially when they continued to disobey him,” said the old cart driver. “Why would he do that, I wonder?”

“From what I understood, their God made a promise to the Jew’s ancient patriarch, Abraham, thousands of years ago,” she answered.

“What promise?”

“Three promises, actually,” she answered. “The first is about the land which will be theirs… forever. The second was made to Abraham himself.”

“Fascinating. Do tell.”

“Well, according to the stories, their God took him out to look at the night sky and count the stars. Then he said, ‘So shall your offspring be.’[Genesis 15:5] Seeing the incomprehension in his eyes, she explained, “His promise was that Abraham would always have descendent.”

“Ah. How about the third promise?”

“Well, this is where it gets interesting. The third was actually part of the first and seems like it was actually made for us… that is, we who are not direct descendent. Somehow, through Abraham’s offspring all nations on earth will be blessed.1 I was curious, so, I pursued it. And what I found out was about a legend of a coming Messiah; a Messiah who may be walking this land… today.”

[1. Genesis 26:4]

“Messiah? I heard of that word a number of times before. But what does it mean?”

“It’s the Hebrew word for Savior.”

“Ah yes… I’ve heard that the Jews talk of their waiting of such a one, to lead them to freedom against the Romans. So far, since I was a boy, there had been three of them stirring trouble. The last one, his bones’ still hanging on the cross along the old king’s road near Sepphoris… I think.”

“No, I think the Messiah is not just for the salvation of the Jews from the Romans. As I understand it, the Messiah is for all of us.”

“Us! A savior for us? You, me, Akbar on the lead wagon and the other drovers… all of us? Mmmm… Let me ask this. What do us need saving from exactly? I mean… ah… I live a simple life and I think I’m a good person. Do you think I’m a good person?”

“Of course, you are! But we are not perfect… or maybe that is not the right word. We are not complete to be with our Creator.”

“How are we not complete?”

To be continued…

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Author’s note:

Though this short story is basically fiction, the character of Elpida is based on an actual female personality described in Mark 7. She was a gentile who showed great faith.

There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them were not named 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.

THE SYROPHOENICIAN WOMAN OF MARK 7:26 [part 3]

A short story by JQuisumbing

Continued…

“This is an even longer story to tell,” said Elpida.

“Wait!” The old cart driver hopped off the cart and went to the front. Elpida heard him whistle and gave some instructions to someone in Arabic. Then he quickly came back to the cart and jumped back on. “The oxens are tied to the cart in-front, so, we will not stray off the road, and we are still half a day out of Cadasa. I am all ears.”

Elpida could not help but laugh. The story she told him went back a few years after she left Greece. She had visited many temples, shrines and religious centers along the route she followed on the coast of Asia Minor. Epimenides identified that the unknown god was a foreign god. In her search, she had learned of a variety of gods from multiple cultures. She had discounted the deities of Rome who were practically the same Greek gods but with Roman names. She also discounted the gods of Egypt, Africa and an even little known fierce people of the frozen north. At that matter, she had serious doubts that the unknown god was part of any polytheistic system. However, there was one god that interested her. It was the Phoenician god, Baal. Even, if the Phoenicians worship other gods, to them, he stood out as being aptly called Ruler of the Universe, Rider of the Clouds, Almighty, and Lord of the Earth. At least, she thought.

When she arrived in Tyre, her search took another turn. Baal was not so powerful as his title entailed. Where once the temples of Baal dotted Phoenician territories throughout the Mediterranean in the past, but what Elpida found in the capital city was just a dilapidated one room structure with a very beat up small bronze statue. Through the words of a disillusioned priestess, Baal had lost his standing among the Phoenicians long time ago. His downfall was popularly credited to the conquests of the Babylonians, the Greeks and now the Romans. But the priestess had reluctantly revealed that Baal’s downfall was actually caused when he was defeated on a lone mountain of Carmel which was by the sea south of Tyre. When pressed for more, she revealed that Baal was spectacularly defeated by the one God of the Jews.

“By the God of the Jews!? I have not heard of this before,” cackled the old cart driver. “And I thought that this trip was going to be boring. So, please continue.”

“Well, I left Tyre and proceeded to Cadasa, where my family was from, and it was there I got to learn about the one God of the Hebrews.”

Elpida told him that after she settled in, she found a small settlement of Jews nearby. She befriended an old Jewish couple, who were the only ones of that tight-lipped little community that would talk to her. From their tutelage, she learned of the one God that created the world in just six days; and who have flooded the entire Earth for the evil of early man. This one God had chosen a single man, Abraham, from among all mankind to build the nation of Israel. The same nation he later saved in such a spectacular way from the four hundred year clutches of Egypt into the very land she lives on today. Time after time, the people of Israel needed saving and every time the one God had redeemed them undeservedly and quite miraculously. Interestingly enough, Elpida had observed that in every form of the Lord’s salvation, he had imparted the use of a redeemer… a human savior.

To be continued…

PREV


Author’s note:

Though this short story is basically fiction, the character of Elpida is based on an actual female personality described in Mark 7. She was a gentile who showed great faith.

There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them were not named 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.

THE SYROPHOENICIAN WOMAN OF MARK 7:26 [part 2]

A short story by JQuisumbing

Continued…

Elpida bent down to read the worn out and somewhat small inscription on the base which read “Agnostos Theos”, that is “Unknown God”. Shrugging her shoulders, she went on her way to do her business, forgetting it. But then in a country lane, she found another shrine; then another; then another. For the past month, she had discovered over ten of them mostly in Athens with a few in surrounding villages.

The priests told her that some three generations or so ago, the city was in the midst of a great pestilence. Epimenides of Crete, a prophet of great fame, came to the city at that time. It was he that counseled a rather odd plan after the sacrifices to the other known gods resulted in nothing. Flocks of hungry sheep were to be let loose throughout the city and the surrounding districts. Priests and their acolytes were to follow the sheep and observe them. Epimenides had instructed them to take note of any hungry sheep that stops to rest instead of naturally racing to the fields to graze. He also suggested that the sheep may identify which god was strongly offended by the Athenians. Skeptics were surprised that a great number of sheep did not graze but instead rested in numerous clusters in different parts of the city, none in front of any temple. Wherever the sheep rested, the priests erected an altar and sacrificed them there. Epimenides then declared that the god that was offended was a foreign deity and altars to this god was to be erected. Not long after, the plague ended.

Elpida was so intrigued that she would pester her teachers about this god, but most offered very little. She finally left that temple, moved to Athens and hounded the wise men of the different temples. Many speculated about this god but she was not satisfied. Eventually, her single mindedness for this foreign god had branded her as a heretic and was being driven out of the city. Her relatives told her that maybe she should return to the land of her birth.

“And so, you returned here in Sidon,” said the old cart driver. “I take it your travels down south not once but four times have something to do with your search and ah… for your daughter. How is she?”

“You are perceptive,” she smiled at him. “Before I left her over a month ago, Yllana was showing signs of no more than two evil spirits tormenting her. At times, one or both spirits would cause her to fall on the floor and shake uncontrollably. It was painful to watch. I have seen this before.”

“So have I, especially among the Jews. And I have also heard of a Jewish teacher with wondrous healing power. I take it that was your reason to go south.”

“Yes. I heard from a friend who was recently healed by him and that he was in the Capernaum district. I missed him by a week.”

“So, is there a connection between him and your mysterious unknown god?”

“I will know when he heals my Yllana.”

“When! You sound convinced. Besides the rumors, what made you think that this Jew can do this?”

“This is an even longer story to tell.”

To be continued…

PREV


Author’s note:

Though this short story is basically fiction, the character of Elpida is based on an actual female personality described in Mark 7. She was a gentile who showed great faith.

There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them were not named 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.

THE SYROPHOENICIAN WOMAN OF MARK 7:26 [part 1]

A short story by JQuisumbing

It had been a long five weeks. Elpida knew she had been away from home longer than she desired. But when she had received a message from a fellow Greek acquaintance who had come to her some seven years ago, she had to go. On the back of a slow moving cart drawn by a pair of oxen, one of a dozen transporting wheat to Tyre, her eyes were glazed, mesmerised on the passing dusty road under her dangling feet.

“Elpida… Elpida?” Elpida looked up to the craggy old face of the cart driver who left his place up front. She blinked twice then glanced at the empty seat.

“Who is doing the driving?”

“Ah… the road is fairly straight for three miles. My oxen will not veer… I hope,” he chuckled. “You have been quiet back here for some time. I thought maybe you fell asleep and fell out.”

“No… I was just deep in thought.”

“And by the look of your face in this entire return trip, you were not successful in your search.”

She slowly shook her head and stopped with her head bowed.

“Well, let us see,” said the old cart driver thinking to change the subject. “When we last talked, you were telling me about the reason you left Greece. You stopped short of the unknown god. Who is the unknown god again?”

That is a good question. To this day, she still did not know. At one time, she was a seeress to the Temple of Hermes. This always amused her. As a young girl, she was abandoned by her relations to the priests of this impoverished and unpopular small temple just in the outskirts of Athens. Hermes was not as widely venerated as the more prominent gods and goddesses of Athens. Since his temple lacked the kind of in-pouring of gifts like the other temples, the priests saw in her a cunning opportunity to increase their coffer. The priests did not hesitate to train her the art of being a seeress. The training took no more than three days. Her part was to rant on cue and always end with her eyes rolled back and twitch crazily on the floor. Her reward was a clean bed and good food to eat. And there was food aplenty, especially after the priests scoured the district announcing that they had sheltered a child touched by the gods. But her time there was not just play acting. One of the older priests took it upon himself to educate her. She was taught to read and write and the secrets of herblore. When she grew to womanhood and the temple had other little girls to fill her place, she was given other tasks, one of which was to visit other temples basically to spy on them.

It was on a narrow street to the Acropolis that she came upon an unusual non-descript shrine in a recessed alcove between two houses. She thought that it was ransacked and it’s carved image was stolen for what was left was the carved pedestal base and inscription. But then an old couple walked up to it left a handful of flowers on the pedestal. Elpida approached it curiously. She lifted the flowers and found that no statue ever sat upon the pedestal. She bent down to read the worn out and somewhat small inscription on the base which read “Agnostos Theos”, that is “Unknown God”.

To be continued…


Author’s note:

Though this short story is basically fiction, the character of Elpida is based on an actual female personality described in Mark 7. She was a gentile who showed great faith.

There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them were not named 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.

SIMON THE LEPER part 15

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

In the morning, Simon came out of his tent feeling invigorated. Lazarus wanted to pull up stakes and make the return trip to Bethany today. But Simon was thinking about staying.

“Well, father, when we get home, we have to tell as many people that we found the Messiah… and show them how you were healed… and then…”

“No, I will not.”

“What! What are you saying, father? People must be told.”

“I agree, but it will not come from me.”

“Why, father?”

“Because the master asked me,” Simon said solemnly. “His words to me last night were ‘Tell not anyone about this. Go, instead to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering as is according to the law passed down by Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. It is most important that this will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.’ “

“Can we not even tell the girls?”

“Of course, we can.”

“Good. I cannot wait to see Mary’s face when you get home.”

Then, they were approached by two women carrying a large bundle. One of them said, “The master sends his regrets that he was not here to see you off. He and the disciples left before dawn. He asked us to bring you more supplies for your trip back to Bethany.”

Simon wanted to say that he was staying, but the other woman added, “The master also said that he knows of your desire to stay and follow him. But he instructs that you return home and await for him.”

Three days later, he was entering the village of Bethany to the surprise of everyone who set their eyes on him for they thought him to be long dead. When he reached his house, a crowd of curious neighbors had gathered. Just as he was getting off his donkey, he heard a gleeful sound and running feet.

“Abba! Oh Abba!”

It was Mary who was all grown up. They embraced for a long time. Mary took his face and looked closely at him.

“Are you healed, Abba?”

“Yes, Mary, I am healed…”, then a thought occured to him, “…and I am saved.”

PREV


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.

SIMON THE LEPER part 14

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

Then, the Nazarene turned his attention to Simon.

Simon took two steps forward and then like he realized who he was facing threw himself on the ground and asked, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

“I am willing; be cleansed.”

Then the Nazarene started to reach down and was actually going to touch him. The crowd simultaneously gasped and Simon flinched back. But the Nazarene was quicker. Before Simon could back away, his right hand was on his back, his left was gently grasping his arm and helping him up.

Simon felt a warm sensation throughout his body. Then the first thing he noticed was that he had feelings in his feet. He actually could feel the grass under his toes. Even his finger tips were tingling. He looked at his arms to find normal skin color rather than the expected sickly white flakes and bleeding sores.

“Look at his face!” exclaimed an awed voice from the crowd.

Simon hesitated for just a moment, then lifted trembling hands to his face. What his probing fingers revealed was a whole nose restored and no sign of sores.

Then, the valley was filled with celebratory singing and dancing. Lazarus, who had witnessed everything from among the crowd, went directly to his father and embrace him. They both wept.

“Come, follow me,” said the Nazarene.

Simon, still hugging his son, followed the rabbi to a nomad tent under the trees.

“Please, sit down,” the rabbi gestured to a matt on the ground. He went over to a low table and poured water into three clay bowls. He served the two bowls first to them, took the third bowl and joined them on the matt. “Drink first, then we talk.”

A woman brought in a large plate of flat breads, fruits, some meats and placed it in the middle of them. After they ate, the rabbi called for the men that were just outside the tent. Twelve men entered including the big man called Peter.

“Andrew, please take a couple of men and follow this young man to their camp and bring everything back here.”

“Yes, master.”

When they left, the rabbi gestured for the big man and two others to sit down with them while the others sat in other parts of the tent.

“Lord, what is your name? I only know of you as the Nazarene.”

“I am Jesus.”

To be continued…

PREV


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.

SIMON THE LEPER part 13

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

Suddenly, Simon was up and rushing down the hill with his son asking a little surprisingly on where he was going.

The hill was a little steeper, so Simon had to slow down his descent. Lazarus was following a short distance behind. He looks up and saw that the Nazarene was already in the valley approaching the creek, working his way through the crowd. He was approaching the edge of the crowd on his side of the valley. He paused to figure out where to go. Should he skirt the edge of the gathered mass of people? It looks like the only way to get to him was through all those people. Simon hesitated.

“Father, what is going on?” His son asked as he gasped for air.

“I have to see him, Lazarus.”

Lazarus looked at him then he looked at the crowd.

“Father… No! Those people will kill you! You do not have to see you him today.”

Simon looked at him then said, “Yes, I do.”

Simon started to walk towards the crowd who were still about thirty feet away. Lazarus, not able to block or physically detain him, followed from behind.

When he was about ten feet from the crowd, Simon started to shout out to them. “Unclean! Unclean! Make way! Unclean!” At first, no one turned around, but then a young woman heard his shout. She turned around and screamed out loud. Apparently, Simon’s veil was uncovered and all the woman saw was a leprous face with no nose. Her scream came to the attention of other women and they too joined in the screaming. When people saw a leper walking purposely towards them, they scrambled out of his way. Simon managed to successfully penetrate through the crowd, so he thought he was going to make it. But then their initial surprise and panic quickly turned into anger.

Simon had to slow down because the angry shouting crowd was not moving aside as much. Then, they started to pelt him with stones. Some of the bolder ones started to come at him with long sticks. One of them hit him in the back of the head and Simon collapsed on his knees. Then they started to pound on him, hitting him on his back and his head.

Simon was dazed and his head was ringing. At one time, he thought his son was calling for him but his voice sounded so distant. Then, the pounding stopped and he heard like a long roaring sound. When he opened his eyes, the first thing he saw were beefy legs. He looked up in wonder to find what he thought was a giant of a man swinging his staff in a wide circle driving the angry attackers back. Then, the angry voices quieted down.

He slowly and painfully stood up amazed as he watched the Nazarene calmly walking over to the giant and placed his hand on his arm. He looked up at him half-scoldingly and said, “Peter…” He didn’t have to finish the sentence. The big man returned a half grin and a shrug. He smiled shaking his head and then turned his attention to Simon.

To be continued…

PREV


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.

SIMON THE LEPER part 12

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

The Nazarene communicated to every sort of person. To the stingy and the attention seekers, he says to offer alms for the needy and to do it in private, so that only the Father, who sees everything, will reward them. He talked about the hypocrisy in how people pray and fast, then he would show them how. To those who work so hard to gain wealth and to toil even harder to keep it, he revealed unapologetically that it was temporary and even quite futile compared to true and everlasting treasures.

He told them of not judging others but looking deep in oneself instead. Finally, he summed up all that he spoke about with the golden rule – “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” [Matthew 7:12 NLT]

Simon thought he ended his sermon there, for the Nazarene paused for such a long time. But then he spoke of entering God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate and then of being wary of false prophets by deeply checking their fruit. Somehow, the delivery was a little different and Simon wondered if the narrow gate had something to do with him.

And sure enough, the Nazarene spoke of himself and said something that may be construed as blasphemous.

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” [Matthew 7:21-27 NLT]

Then, the Nazarene stood up indicating he was done. The people started to clap and call out to him.

For Simon, the words of the Nazarene was heaven in itself. He had almost forgotten that he was stricken with a flesh eating disease that will sooner or later take his life. He so wanted to live not because he was afraid. But because he wanted to be part of the Kingdom of Heaven. He watched the Nazarene work his way down the hill through the crowd. It looked like he was making his way to a copse of low lying trees on his side of the stream. It was then he noticed some tents among the trees. A thought occurred to him.

Suddenly, he was up and rushing down the hill with his son asking a little surprisingly on where he was going.

To be continued…

PREV


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.

SIMON THE LEPER part 11

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

You are the salt of the earth,” the Nazarene said. “But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.”

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets.” [Matthew 5:13-17 NLT]

Simon’s ears perked up when hearing about the law of Moses.

“No, I came to accomplish their purpose.” Simon almost wanted to shout out, ‘how?’.

“I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” [Matthew 5:18-19 NLT]

Then he said something that almost stopped his heart.

“But I warn you,” the Nazarene paused. “Unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” [Matthew 5:20 NLT]

Simon looked out at the crowd to gauge their reaction. From what he could see, a tiny number at the edge of the crowd reacted in silent protest. Clearly, there were probably some members of the ruling class in there.

To emphasize his outright blatant statement, he began offering a long series of achievable challenges on how to divinely deal with anger, adultery, and divorces. He spoke of on how holy vows are in the eyes of the Lord. He even tackled a subject that every Jew would find hard to swallow, loving their enemies and of revenge.

To be continued…

PREV


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.

SIMON THE LEPER part 10

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

The next day, they reached the southern end of the sea of Galilee. Because there were many boats available for hire, many of the people decided to make their way to Capernaum by the sea. However, because Simon is a leper, no boats would take them. Instead, they forded the Jordan River and continued on by land. This added another day and a half to the journey. They found themselves north of the village of Gennesaret just a few miles from the city of Capernaum. Lazarus spoke to a few people from a group of villagers heading north. He found out that they were heading to a meeting place, to listen to a very charismatic rabbi in the hillsides near the city. So, they followed those people from a discrete distance.

The sun was just rising to its zenith, when the group turned off the road to join an even larger group that came from the city. From what Simon could see, the people were gathering in a dale between three hills. He knew that the people would become very violent if they found a leper in their midst. So, he and his son, instead found a goat’s trail that went up the slope of the hill on their left. When they climbed about halfway, Simon saw that they had a good vantage point to overlook the whole valley. The valley was actually a small hollow, a shallow basin with a winding stream down its middle. Except for a copse of trees, the valley floor up to the foot of the hills were blanketed with a dull yellowish brown grass.

Simon and Lazarus dismounted and tied their animals to a short stunted tree. As Lazarus set up camp, Simon watched the people below. From what he can see, there must’ve been about two thousand people. At first, he thought that the people were just idly standing on both sides of the stream. Then, he realized that they were all looking up toward the hill that was opposite from where they were. Simon followed the direction of their gaze up the hill to an outcrop of rocks sticking out of the yellowish grass. Some of the people started to climb the hill and gathered around the outcrop. Then, a group of men, about twelve of them, were coaxing people to sit on the grass. At the top of the outcrop, a man appeared. Simon knew he must be the Nazarene, but whether he was the miracle worker, he saw no sign of any miracles.

The Nazarene started to look at the people. His head turned to scan those who sat nearby, then to the people in the valley. Then, Simon saw that the Nazarene was looking at his direction for the longest time, or at least, he thought. His followers finally got the majority of the people seated. The Nazarene himself sat down on a rock and began to teach. For Simon, he was not sure what to expect. Then when the Nazarene spoke, he was surprised that his voice carried across quite clearly.

He gave nine proverb-like proclamations starting with the word, “Blessed.” The first set of blessings were addressed to an unusual group of unfortunates; the lowly, the mourners, the meek and those desperate for righteousness. Then, he realized that he himself is one of those unfortunates. Is the Nazarene saying that the kingdom of heaven is his for the taking? Simon was really listening to every word uttered.

The other set of blessings were addressed to the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and then a twice mention to the persecuted. When he ended that the latter was to rejoice and be glad, because great is their reward in heaven, Simon was flabbergasted.

“Lazarus!” Simon called out.

His son walked over from setting up the camp. “Have I missed anything? What is all that noise coming from the valley?”

“Oh that. The Nazarene instructed the people to discuss among themselves about a marvelous declaration that he just spoke about.”

Simon retold his son about the Nazarene’s ‘blessing’ dissertation.

“I tell you my son, never have I heard any man offer such hope to the hopeless. And he speaks with such authority,” Simon said amazed. Lazarus was about to talk… “Wait! He is speaking again.”

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.