THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch20 – part 1

STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL’S BACK – Temple Mount, Mount of Olives, JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

Two days had passed since Jesus’ triumphant entry into the city. Everyday he came into the Temple court and taught the people on the steps of Solomon’s Columns. He taught much and soon even the elites of the city came to hear him teach. The day before the celebrated Passover Meal, an exceptional group of Pharisees many of whom were members of the Jewish governing body, the Sanhedrin, were there. When Jesus saw them gathering, he finished the latest parable he was imparting to the crowd. Then he stood up like he was about to orate. He turned first to Peter and the others then toward Cornelius. He smiled and Cornelius knew to be ready because Jesus is going to say something controversial that can lead to violence.

Then he turned to the crowd and said…

“The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.

“They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.

“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” [Matthew 23:1-12]

Angry murmurs were coming from the Pharisees and scribes, while confusion was coming from his own group. They were caught off guard. They didn’t expect and understand why he was attacking them. Jesus criticized them for taking the place of honor at banquets, for wearing such ostentatious clothing, for encouraging people to call them Rabbi. For this he reminded the people that it was not them who are their true leader but only Christ. He was telling people that the true servants of God are not them who exult themselves but those that humbles himself. Some of the Pharisees were loudly protesting, while some were trying to maintain decorum. His own followers were probably relieved that things were calming down. But apparently, he was not done yet.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch17 – part 6

REVELATIONS – Emmaus, BethanyCG-book-cover-w

They rode out of the village and galloped down the Jericho Road. About an hour later, they reached the outskirts of Jericho near the river. They were about to ford the river when they saw Jesus and his disciples already crossing. There was a crowd waiting for him on their side of the shore. As soon as they waded out of the river, Jesus was quickly surrounded. Jesus started to talk to them and minister to the sick as he waded through them. Cornelius did not want to disturb him. He saw Simon the former Zealot and approached him. As they walked through the crowd, Simon told him what went on the past week.

“We did receive word of Lazarus’ illness about six days ago. We all thought that he was going to drop everything and return right away. But we stayed. We received two other messages. The last one read, ‘Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick.’ But when he heard this, he paused from his work, looked toward the direction of Bethany. He was looking a longtime. By the look of his face, I knew he wanted to go. Then he looked at us and said, ‘This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.’

“We thought that Lazarus was going to be healed. After all Jesus did heal the sick from a distance. Your own young servant was healed this way. Was he not? So, we did not think of it anymore. We stayed two more days, ministering and teaching. The he said, ‘Let us return to Judea.’ Peter and the others tried to sway him saying, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?’

“Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.’ We all stayed quiet because we were not sure what he meant. The he said, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.’

“Now, I thought his sickness had caused him to go into a deep sleep. We all thought that. Peter still hoping that he would stay told him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.’ But he just looked at all of us and plainly said, ‘Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sake that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.’

As they neared Bethany, Jesus decided not to enter the village. Instead, he went off the road and sat on a stump among a copse of pine trees. He seemed to be waiting expectantly and sure enough, Martha, sister of Lazarus, came to him with a servant. Cornelius could tell that she was slightly angry and disappointed at Jesus. She stood at a distance and said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Sighing deeply she said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Then Jesus approached her and stood before her. Her face was bowed and downcast. “Martha, look into my eyes,” he softly said to her. She slowly raised her teary eyes to meet his. Then he gave her a reassuring smile and said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” She cast her face down again in shame. Jesus ever so gently lifted her chin and asked, “Do you believe this?”

She sobbed loudly and Jesus drew her closer to him so that her face cried on his shoulder. Martha said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that you are the Christ, the Son of God, even he who comes into the world.”

[note: quotes in italics are from John 11]

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 070

DEMACLI THE LEGION DEMONIAC
33 AD – The Greek Visitors – Jerusalem, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

Recap Part 68 & 69

Several minutes had past when Philip reappeared at the double doors of the house and happily gestured for all of them to enter.

Looking about the large entryway of what Demacli could tell was once a grand residence of old. But instead of ornate furniture, the room had bags of grain stacked all the way up to the ceiling. Rows of worktables were pushed up against another wall.

“Who’s house is this?”

“It is mine.” A man about the same age of his father and a younger man came ambling through a side door carrying trays of flat herbal breads. He handed the tray he was carrying to a passing servant who was also bringing food up the stairs. “Welcome,” he said, “I am Simon of Bethany. The master told us to expect you and your group of believers from Hippus.”

Demacli blinked. Simon chuckled at his reaction. “Yes, I know. The master still surprises me the same way. Come. Let us go up.”

They all started to ascend the broad stairs case.

“I have done business at Hippus in the past,” Simon said. “At that matter, I do a lot of trading in the free cities.”

“You probably dealt with my father, then,” Demacli said.

“Oh, I have,” Simon said.

Demacli turned to look at him.

“As soon as I set my eyes on your face, I saw a younger image of him.” Simon was chuckling again. “Your father and I were dealing with each other since before you were born. But I have not seen him in the past ten years. Oh, I still deal with him but through my merchants that treks back and forth. I’m afraid I’m just a little too old taking those long trips through a scorching desert and fighting off robbers. And then I had to deal with your father. He was a shrewd man. Those were good days.”

“Demacli!” A voice called as they reached the top of the stairs. “You have arrived.”

Demacli saw it was the Master waiting with some of the disciples by tall ornately carved double doors. He and the other Greeks rushed up to him and quickly got down on their knees bowing to him.

“Get up, my friends,” Jesus said. “You have arrived on time for our celebration.”

“Thank you, Lord.”

Jesus greeted them all. When he got to Elpida, he smiled greatly.

“Elpida,” Jesus greeted fondly, “My heart is joyful of your union with Demacli. My Father’s blessings to your household.”

Elpida again went down on her knees with tears in her eyes, but Jesus help her back up.

“Come! Let us all enter.”

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch12 – part 6

THE MISSION – Capernaum, Nazareth, SidonCG-book-cover-w

When they returned to the encampment near Capernaum, many of the seventy men have returned including Jacob. There was joyous laughter throughout the camp. Jacob was recalling his week long adventure with the young John Mark, who was also recounting his own version to Peter. He spoke excitedly of preaching to an assembled crowd in every village they went.

“I cast out an evil spirit!” He blurted out excitedly. “At first, I was afraid for he was a mad man that dogged us with wild screeching and hysterical laughter. Finally, I pointed at him and commanded the demon in him to come out in the Master’s name… and it worked!”

Before Jacob could finish his story, Jesus called them all to gather around him.

“I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning,” He said. “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”

Then he raised his hands high up and with a joyous voice he called out, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.”

The people joined him in praise. Cornelius, who was much more reserved, closed his eyes and thanked Him silently.

Then Jesus announced to them, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”

He then went into the tent as the camp celebrated and privately spoke to the Twelve and Cornelius who was also invited. “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see, for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the things which you see, and did not see them, and to hear the things which you hear, and did not hear them.” [Luke 10:21-24 NASB]

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch12 – part 5

THE MISSION – Capernaum, Nazareth, SidonCG-book-cover-w

They spent about a week around the plains south of Sidon. Because they were in Gentile country only a few recognized who Jesus was. It was a time of rest and not contending with crowds. It was also a time for lessons. In one particular afternoon, when they were staying in a house of a Galilean acquaintance in a small village near Tyre, Jesus used an unexpected visit of a Syrophoenician woman as an object lesson for his disciples.

The woman had recognized him right away when they rode through the small village. Observing them enter the house, she barge in before the door was closed and threw herself to the ground before Jesus.

“Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David,” she cried out in desperation, “for my only daughter is cruelly tormented by the evil spirits sent by the gods.”

Cornelius sympathized with her but noted that Jesus was not responding to her. He was not even looking at her. Her wailing for mercy became even louder and annoyance was showing on the disciples’ faces.

It was Judas Iscariot who spoke first. “Master, you must send her away or her loud screaming will bring all the needy to us.”

The other voiced similar concerns. It was when Judas and Thaddeus were about to pick up the woman to lead her out was when Jesus quickly stood up and was sternly looking at each of the Twelve. He stepped forward and helped her to her feet. Then he stepped back a couple of steps from her and as he was looking at each of the disciples, he said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

She fell down to her knees and pleaded, “Lord, help me!”

Jesus again helped her up and again backed away two steps. This time he was looking directly at her and answered her with a slight smile, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

Cornelius thought she was going to beg but she stood there contemplating on his words and stared at his smiling face. Then her eyes lit up with understanding and quickly said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” [Matthew 15:21-28]

Then the woman broke out in tears and embraced Jesus. Jesus then turned his eyes toward Cornelius.

Cornelius understood the silent request. “I will take her home to her daughter.”

As they were walking to her house, he surmised that this was a test. This woman passed and by the look of disappointment in Jesus’ eyes, they did not. When they reached her house, as expected, the daughter was normal.
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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch12 – part 4

THE MISSION – Capernaum, Nazareth, SidonCG-book-cover-w

Cornelius stood aside as the brothers, shaking their heads, went into the workshop. He joined Jesus by the woodpile. He was staring down the beaten track that led to the Old King’s Road then he looked up with a smile.

“Peter and the others will be here by mid day. I intend to go north to the Phoenician coastal plains so that they may rest. Do you still wish to come? It will be several days.”

Cornelius considered it as he forlornly gazed at the grazing donkeys near by. He unconsciously started rubbing his backside in contemplation. Both Jesus and Simon broke out laughing and said sympathetically, “Nay, Cornelius, I will not subject you to more discomfort.” He mirthfully pointed to a wagon by the side of the workshop and two mules.

Jesus got up, rolled up the sleeves, and then proceeded to pick up some planks. Cornelius was about to help but then Jesus said, “No. This I must do with my brothers alone.”

The rest of the morning, Cornelius watched, fascinated, as Jesus worked side by side with his brothers; the earlier argument forgotten. Jesus, assisted by his novice brother, Jude, worked on a dining table that was ordered by a merchant relative in Cana. By mid day, the table was fully assembled. Jesus was doing some final touch ups when the rest of the Twelve arrived. After they ate their mid day meal, the mules were hitched to the wagon. The table was loaded on the wagon for delivery to Cana. As they all waited patiently on the wagon, Cornelius watched Jesus and his mother quietly talk to each other. He saw sadness in her eyes as she said her farewells.

They spent about a week around the plains south of Sidon. Because they were in Gentile country only a few recognized who Jesus was. It was a time of rest and not contending with crowds. It was also a time for lessons.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch12 – part 3

THE MISSION – Capernaum, Nazareth, SidonCG-book-cover-w

“Cornelius?” Jesus approached him. “I have matters that need attending at Nazareth. Do you wish to accompany us and be welcomed in my mother’s house?” Cornelius nodded his ascent. “Good! Matthew will wait for Peter and the others to return sometime tomorrow. They will meet us there.” Jesus looked at where Cestus waited by the picketed horses. “I suggest that you send your horses back. The trail we take will not be easy for them.”

“Are we going to walk to Nazareth?” He was not looking forward trekking through the Galilean range just by foot.

“No. We have these.” Jesus pointed amusingly to where Simon was leading three gray donkeys from behind the thickets.

“Very well,” Cornelius said laughingly. “I will send Cestus back with the horses.”
Nine hours later, Cornelius’ bottom was sore. Riding this small donkey was a challenge. At first, he rode it like his horse, but without a saddle and only a woolen blanket to separate him from the animal’s ridged backbone, he regretted it. Besides which his feet was hanging very close to the ground and managed to stub his toes on every boulder on the narrow trail. After an hour and much chiding from a laughing Simon, Cornelius relented and shifted his sitting position so that both legs were on one side with one knee resting on the base of the ass’ neck. He slipped off a couple of times but after a while he got the hang of it. Though Cornelius missed riding his horse, he had to grudgingly admit that they did good time. For these small animals were better suited for these rocky terrains.

They traveled mostly southwest from the Capernaum basin over the Galilean Range. By early night fall, they skirted around the north base of Mount Tabor and finally came upon the Old King’s Road which would take them to Nazareth. Cornelius recalled that this road, which was rebuilt by Roman standards, was as old as the time when the ancient Chaldeans raided the independent city states of this region. It was one of a network of established caravan routes as far as the great cities of Babylon and of Nineveh which was no more. This particular route led south through Gaza all the way into Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar, the greatest king of Babylon, led his vast armies down this road vanquishing what was left of the Philistines, all of Egypt and eventually Judah and Jerusalem. When they arrived at the house of where Jesus grew up, Mariam, his mother, was there waiting expectantly.

Cornelius was awakened by heated voices coming from the outside. By the angle of the sunlight streaming through the window, he surmised that the sun had been up for about two hours. He overslept. He groaned as he lifted his aching body off the sleeping palette. He and Simon slept in the wood crafting workshop. Simon, who was already up and about, left food for him on the worktable. Hearing the raised voices again, he goes out to investigate and found Jesus sitting on a pile of roughly hewn logs confronted by his brothers. Simon was standing slightly behind Jesus with his arms crossed and a stern expression.

“In three weeks is the Festival. You must go to the Festival, brother!” exclaimed James. “Many have already left you here but in Jerusalem, there are many there that are awaiting for you to perform your miraculous act. Think of what you can achieve.” As he was saying this, he was gesturing with wriggling fingers above his head.

“It is not yet my time,” Jesus responded quietly.

“Brother, it was you that chose this road. You openly proclaimed yourself to the public. What talk is this that it is not yet your time? Are you afraid that the Pharisees are out to get you? Then how much more should you go down to Jerusalem and show yourself to the people? After all, no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly.”

So Jesus said to them, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune.”

“What are you saying?”

“The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.” The brothers were about to object but he raised his hand up for silence and said, “Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because my time has not yet fully come. But soon it will be and you will understand.” [John 7:7-8 NASB]

Cornelius stood aside as the brothers, shaking their heads, went into the workshop.

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