THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch6 – part 2

SERMON ON THE MOUNT – Hills South of CapernaumCG-book-cover-w

It was neither long nor difficult to find Simon Peter’s house. The house was not as large as that of Elan’s, the synagogue leader. There was one entry point and stairs that led up to the roof. The house and the narrow streets were literally wall to wall jammed packed with people most of which were crippled from disease and physical ailments. Cornelius and Jacob had to shove their way through the crowd until they reached a platform that overlooked the entrance. At the front entrance, a large man can be seen shuffling people in and out through the door. Cornelius recognized him to be the fisherman who allowed Jesus the use of his boat as a platform to teach people by the lake. He was also the one that bowed before Jesus after that miraculous catch of fish. Simon Peter was pleading for the people to not crowd the entrance and wait their turn. He was just letting a woman and her sons out when they started to praise God loudly. This added to the frenzy of the crowd. Gauging the size of the house, Cornelius calculated that it can only hold about forty people. For now, Simon Peter was only choosing those who were ambulatory. There were some exceptions though.

A group of six men all dressed in expensive robes easily walked through the crowd, especially since the crowd parted for them, came up to Simon Peter. Jacob told him they were Pharisees. Cornelius noticed that Simon Peter was not pleased they were here, but he called to his brother Andrew and whispered in his ear. The brother Andrew went back in and then about eight disappointed men were ejected and the Pharisees entered. Cornelius also spotted Simon the Zealot with three of his comrades and walked up to Simon Peter. They had a short conversation and Simon Peter allowed only Simon the Zealot in.

Then a determined group of men, who were carrying a crippled man on a pallet pleaded with Simon Peter to let them in. But he told them that there was just no more room. Eager to be inside himself, Simon Peter closed the door. But the dejected group would not give up, one of them pointed at the stairs that led up to the roof. Cornelius watched them carry the cripple up the stairs. He was curious to see what they were doing. So, he and Jacob climbed the stairs that led to roof of the house across the street. There was also a small crowd on that roof and they were calling out encouragement to that group of friends that started to dig up the roof by tearing at the dried mortar and thatch. Cornelius could hear the protest of a voice from inside. When the hole was big enough, the friends gently lowered the cripple in his palette. Then, there was silence for about five minutes. Then the friends who were peering in the hole started clapping and patting themselves in the back. It was not long when they started down the stairs. Then a man came out carrying a palette praising and crying out with joy. Cornelius almost did not recognize him and was not sure if he was the same man. But the friends knew and gathered around him. Then the whole crowd erupted in song and praise. From Cornelius’ vantage point on the roof top, he could hear the spreading of the singing and jubilation to the adjacent streets; though he was sure that many of the crowds were just caught up with the celebration not really knowing the reason. But if this spreads even farther, he feared that the nearby garrison may be called to quench what they may easily think is an uprising. But after a while, things were calming down a little. The atmosphere was still a little festive but not all were joyful. Midst the crowd the group of Pharisees walked out of the house frowning and did not seem pleased.

“There is no way we will be able to get in now!” He looked over at a teary eyed Jacob. “Come, my old friend. That is enough excitement for today.”

They made their way back down to the street and walked back to the house. Again, Cornelius’ mind was in conflict. It started when he realized that he was feeling an inexplicable sense of happiness. Did he get caught up with the festivities? The sober side of his mind needed to look over at the event logically. What did he really witness? Was that man, the cripple, healed magically? He had never seen the man before. The only proof he had was him being carried by his friends. Could it have been staged by the Nazarene? But then why deny them entry in the beginning? It does not fit. But then there were the Zealots to consider. Simon the Zealot was there with three others. Maybe more! Cornelius pursued this line of thoughts with a question. How will staging miraculous hoaxes help their cause? The answer was simple, mob mentality. He saw how easily a hopeful crowd got riled up. Get the people to fanatically declare that Jesus is the Messiah and crown him king which will unite them enough to push Roman rule out of Palestine. Another disturbing thought was that for the Zealots to this pull off, Jesus and his followers must be in collusion with them. When they finally got back to their house, though he had a hard time believing in it, he really hoped that what he saw was miraculous.
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The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 040

ZACCHAEUS THE LITTLE PUBLICAN
32 AD – Guess Who’s Coming For Lunch – Jericho, Jordan River Valleyfaithful-encounters-cover-w

Zacchaeus was always hated. Even as a child, he was the subject to ridicule and childish abuse because he was unusually short. They would call him, the Dwarf. By his appearance, he looked normal, just shorter. He is now a man. The ways of children had past but the hatred is still there.

“Yo, Dwarf!”, came a shout from the streets. “You have cheated me again!”

Zacchaeus again peered out the curtain of the carriage he was riding. He knew the man that was shouting. He laughed out loud enough for him in the streets to hear. When he peered again, he was gratified to see that the man moved away in a huff. He savored the thought that he achieved ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’ [Deuteronomy 19:21] Of course, he was pleased to take more than an eye.

“He deserved it, that big bully,” Zacchaeus said to himself remembering a childhood recollection of being tormented by him.

His satisfaction was short-lived. He sighed and looked out the carriage window to watch the people going about their business. The people were socializing and looked happy. A family came out of one of the public structures of the city. The father picked up his daughter, whispered something and the little girl was giggling happily. Zacchaeus smiled longingly. Then he noticed those that watched his carriage go by, they had utmost disdain written on their faces. He knew most of them and he remembered only too well how he cheated and profited from them over the years.

He may have been short in stature, lacking strength and skill to be any use in mostly an agrarian society, but he was quite good with numbers. He learned to keep books when he apprenticed under a shrewd merchantman and eventually became adept in the business of trading. He became rich and hoped that he would gain respect from those that treated him so badly. But the hatred was still there. So, Zacchaeus left Jericho for Jerusalem, where he befriended a man who also was ostracised by society because he was a tax collector.

Zacchaeus felt that since the people already hated him, he might as well profit from it. And there was much to profit from. He learned the ways of the publicans. This was done to take every opportunity by collecting more than required and kept the extra for themselves. The success of this practice was quite easy especially when you had a squad of Roman soldiers backing you. Zacchaeus quickly became rich and rose within the tight knit publican circle. But when he was noticed by the Romans, they made him a chief tax collector and gave him a choice for his own posting. He chose to pack up his lavish lifestyle, servants, his wife and moved back to the city that hated him. The people of Jericho were shocked to see him riding at the head of an extended wagon train that rolled through the rolling city streets. It was not long after, during tax collection that the people especially those that picked on him before felt his avenging ire. This happened year after year. He was the richest man in the district and yet, he was not happy.

Loneliness was not the problem, his money had always attracted a number of sycophants. No, Zacchaeus was unhappy because he was not liking what he had become. He had become like those who treated him badly because he was different. He had become a bully. He made some effort to change by showing some mercy to the poorest in the district, but true happiness eluded him until the Baptist came.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 40th 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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Until the next post.

Johann Q.

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