THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch16 – part 4

SPEARS AND SHIELDS – GadaraCG-book-cover-w

Cornelius was relieved that he was finally alone. He hoped that there will be no distractions for the rest of the day. He sat on his chair and opened up the big book. The night before, he completed translating a prophetical discourse of the Messiah’s message of encouragement to Israel. Whether it is to the Israel of today or the next generation is still up in question. The next passages he was reading had the beginnings of a new chapter designation. This chapter piqued his interest for it had a different ring to it than any of the preceding chapters. The Prophet Isaiah seems to be describing on what is to happen to the Messiah and it describes him suffering greatly even unto death.

On a separate parchment sheet, he translated the fifteen Hebrew verses into Greek. After reading it three times, he had to wonder if Isaiah was describing a literal happening or something that was figurative. He hoped it was the latter.

When Jacob returned, he beckoned that he sits next to him. “Jacob, look at these passages!” He slid the big book to him and pointed at the desired passages. “Let me read out loud my translation to you and you follow by reading the Hebrew. Tell me if I have gotten it right.”

“Behold, my servant will prosper;
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.

“Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.

“Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand. [Isaiah 52:13-15 NASB]

“Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

“For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

“He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

“He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.

“By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

“His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

“But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

“As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.

“Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.” [Isaiah 53 NASB]

“Cornelius, this is going to be strange to hear,” Jacob quietly said as he lifted his eyes. “But you have come upon a passage that I am strangely unfamiliar with. Though I have read this prophet many times, I do not honestly recall these particular words. Of course, I do tend to mostly focus on prophetic promises. I am ashamed to admit that this selfishness had blinded me to miss out on what should be a profound revelation to my God’s character.”

Jacob went silent. Cornelius could see that he was lost in his thoughts and did not want to intrude. He reached for another sheet of parchment which had his notes of the preceding chapters including many chapters that he jumped ahead right after this one. On his notes, he reviewed the list of the works of the Messiah. It is quite clear that the Messiah will fulfill everything that God had promise to not only to Israel but to the world. But this chapter which describes what happens to the Messiah stands out from the rest. He could not make it fit.

“This chapter is an enigma!” Cornelius said, breaking the silence.

“How so?”

“This indicated that Messiah is to be killed and that God allowed it. How is this futuristic kingdom to be ushered in if the Messiah is killed?”

“There lies the mystery. As a young scribe, I tried to make sense of much of prophecy. The problem is that we are reading of things that are yet to happen. Understanding comes when they are finally fulfilled. Look at what we uncovered so far that convinced us that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. When I first came upon the prophecy of the sign of the virgin birth, I did not think it was literal. Then we hear Mariam’s account of Jesus’ birth. Then there are those things that he had done which again fit. But his story is not yet over. There is only one absolute truth that we can count on. If God says that it is going to happen, then IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN!”

“But why such suffering and then death?”

Before Jacob could answer, multiple whistle sounds can be heard through out the fort. Then the trumpets were sounded.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch16 – part 2

SPEARS AND SHIELDS – GadaraCG-book-cover-w

Alto pointed at an area east of the sunken salt sea, “This is the region of Perea. With Herod as tetrarch of this region, the area had been experiencing frequent excursions by Aretas’ forces. Lately, these excursions were mostly raiding parties by tribal Bedouins loyal to him. Aretas had managed to annex three small outlying villages that were already allied to him. The Decapolis and Trachonitis regions up north have, so far, not been touched. But he does have his eyes on them.

“We have recently received some intelligence that he had acquired a mercenary force of five thousand Nubians. This can only mean he is planning something major. Our task is to offer a show of force along the eastern frontier of both Trachonitis and the Decapolis. However, if Aretas sends his mercenary force into our territory, we will respond with deadly force. Herod’s forces will handle the Perean region. The garrison at Caesarea Philippi will secure Trachonitis. For us, I have tasked our engineers supported by two cavalry units to build two forts; one – east of Gadara; the other east of Gerasa. They should be completed by week’s end.”

The rest of the meeting was mostly on logistics. When the meeting was finally concluded, Cornelius heard that Arturos’ two cohort units was to garrison the fort at Gadara. When he heard this, he sought out General Gaius Alto.

“Sir! I would like to go along with Tribune Arturos on this campaign.”

“Why?”

“Sir, two reasons – One, this will be Tribune Arturos first campaign. I would like to be there and help him out. Two, the man Jesus is hold up in Capernaum for the winter. He has no plans of going anywhere until Spring. Centurion Porcius knows all of my informants and they know him well enough. They can report to him and if need be he can send for me.”

“Very well, I will inform the Governor General.”
In two days, Arturos’ two cohorts, made up of fifteen hundred men, marched out of Caesarea heading east. Cornelius rode north back to Capernaum to organize his men and to bring extra supplies. He also wanted to talk to Jesus.

Upon arriving at Capernaum that night, he had set Cestus to get everything ready for the morning. Then, he went to Peter’s house to find that Jesus was expecting him.

“Lord, I have to join my cohort somewhere out east. I may be gone all winter.”

“Cornelius, I sense that you are still concerned,” Jesus said knowingly.

“Yes, Lord. You have told me that my task is tied to your task. At first, I thought I knew what I was supposed to do, but these past months I am not sure.”

“Cornelius, continue to seek the answer in the words of the Prophet Isaiah. But keep this in mind, as I only seek to do the will of my Father, you too must do the same. A choice you must make. This choice may change countless destinies.”

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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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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 002

Simon the Leper – S1 – Jerusalem

Jerusalem is about two miles from Bethany. Simon and his son were on the Jericho road riding on a wagon. The ancient road went from the Jordan River valley city of Jericho up the Judean Highlands over the Mount of Olives to the southern gates of Jerusalem. As Simon rode through the gates, he looked up at the towering ramparts of the old city of David sitting on a prominant narrow ridge overlooking the Tyropoeon Valley to the west, the Hinnom Valley to the south, and the Kidron Valley on the east. In those walls is his destination. He owns an old government building that he uses as both storage and trading.

“Hello Imraam,” Simon hailed a crippled man being carried on a palette by two men across a crowded cobbled stone street. “I thought you would be at the north side of the city at this time?”

As the wagon slowed down by him, Imraam answered nonchalantly over his shoulder, “I was there, my old friend, but I was summoned to my relatives.”

“What for, Imraam?”

“What else, Simon? They are wondering why I have not gone to the bossoms of my fathers.” He chuckled loudly. “But as you could see,” he raised himself up on his palete showing a wide grin. “I may not be able to walk but I may live longer than them.” They both laughed out loud.

Well, I going back home and tomorrow… back to my spot at the pool of Bethesda. Maybe, that will be the day that the angel will stir the waters and I’ll be lucky.”

“Well, Imraam… I wish you luck.” Simon coaxed the mules to turn right. Imraam and his servants was soon disappeared amongst the heavy traffic of people and animals.

“Poor Imraam,” Simon shook his head as he chuckled himself.

“Father? Do you ever think that an angel of Lord would stir the water as the legend states? And do you think, Imraam can ever get into the water first ahead of the others?”

“He has been going to that pool for about thirty years now since he became crippled. Can you believe it? I really hope he does.”

They weaved their wagon up a noisy busy street. To their left rose the jam packed square houses of the lower city of Jerusalem. According to a trader friend of his, over three hundred thousand people live in squalor there based on the last census by the current Roman governor. To their right was the shored up canal creek the water of which ran down from the temple mount and was lined with chattering women doing their laundry. The creek then collected at the pool of Siloam before draining out under the city walls.

“Father, look!” Lazarus was pointing at a flapping banner hanging on the side of a long tall structure across the canal creek. “The chariot races are coming back in a week from now.”

“I know, son. I do have eyes.”

“I know father how you hate the sport. But surely, those of our people who race in the arena, do they not bolster the pride of our people?”

“Pride, you say. Be careful, my son, remember what the prophets says, ‘Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.’ (Proverbs 16:18 NLT) And trust me, I have seen many racers fall, both of our people and foreigners.”

Simon coaxed the mule to turn right. They went over a wide bridge that crossed over the canal and started up a gentle incline with the arena to their right. And as his habit, Simon looked to his left and his eyes followed up a grand staircase the went up about 40 feet then it dramatically turned right as it bridged over empty space and went up another 30 feet to the Temple Mount. This architectural feat have never failed to impress him. The mount itself took up most of the view of the sky. They rode unto the landing of a vast plaza with the massive southern walls of the Temple Mount rising over 90 feet tall looking down upon them. They rode by a busy market place then stopped by one of the stall which he own. After Simon spoke with a the stall merchant who worked for him, he and his son drove their wagon into the old City of David.

In the days of King David to the Judean exile to Babylon, the city was both his residence and government buildings. Most of the palaces were torn down by the invading Babylonians. Only a few government buildings were still standing. Then, when the exiles returned, the old city was rebuilt but remnants of David’s line did not rebuild the palaces. By the time the Romans came, the City of David was mostly made up of the residences of the rising middle class.

They rode through the old city’s porticos, then Simon stopped the wagon infront of one of the surviving 3-story government building which he had taken over. A servant came out to tie the mule to a hitching pole. Both Simon and Lazarus alighted off the wagon and entered the building.

“Master?” said a stout man slowly getting up from behind a wide desk. “We were not expecting you for a couple of days.”

“I know, I know Joral,” Simon said. “Lazarus and I are here in the city to see my cousin at the Temple. Since we were in the neighborhood, I thought I’d check on the rennovations upstairs.”

Joral trailed behind them as they crossed the lower floor where laborers were busy unpacking bundles of processed wheat husks. Some of them carried several bundle to an adjoing room where a millstone can be see moving in circle.

“How many bags of flour produced today?” Simon asked Joral as they ascended a grand staircase.

“Only about 9 bags. One of our asses became ill. We had to wait for a replacement.”

“You see, my son,” Simon said to Lazarus. “This business requires constant overseeing. If Joral was not here, there could have been a longer delay in fulfilling the order. This is why you must pay more attention and remember that the clothing you wear and everything else comes from this business.”

“Yes father,” he said with a slight hint of exaspiration.

Simon was smiling inside when they reached the second floor. The went down a hallway a little to where they can hear hammering. Jorel pushed open ornately carved double doors to reveal a vast room.

“As you can see, Master. They took down the walls of 3 large rooms to form this large room. I believe this room can hold over a hundred people.”

“Excellent, Jorel. This large room should bring in some extra revenue. When will they finish the rennovations?”

“In 3 months or so, Master.”

“Good… just in time for the summer festivals. Very well, we must go. It will be a long climb to the top of the Temple Mount.”

 


 

Hello readers,

Again, I would like to invite your comments with constructive inputs which I’ll look forward to put into good use as I direct my creative thoughts.

I hope you enjoy what I hope will be the product of my Spirit sanctified imagination.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

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