FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 006

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Simon the Leper – 20AD – S4 – An oasis in the wilderness – Judean Wilderness

Simon was standing on a high plateau many miles from the closest village. Looking east, he could see the salten sea. The north, west and south, as far as his eyes can see is a redish brown mountainous wasteland devoid of any greenery. Of course, Simon knew the secret of the wilderness. From the high ridges it may look like a desert but greenery can be found in a number of deep crevices and canyons. And below him was such a one. A hidden gem, known only to few. It was a deep canyon carved out by an ancient water flow. A well hidden track was the only way down to the canyon floor.

He walked along the edge of the canyon until he found the marker he was looking for. That marker was an old petrified stump which he finally found and almost missed because it was overgrowned with several thorny bushes. After he cleared away some of the bushes, he first peered over the stump to find that the path was still there and had not eroded away. The path was natural against the canyon wall and went down a gentle slope for about a third of a mile before it hit the sandy bottom. Because the path was narrow, he had to unload the packs off the donkeys and lead them down one by one. But before he did that though, he took out the ropes and lowered the packs down to the canyon floor. Then he started to guide the animals down. When that was done, he led them to where he lowered the packs. After securing the packs back on the animals, He continued on and followed the narrow canyon on an easterly route for a mile or so. The rocky walls rose some twenty feet up and there was no sign of vegetation except for dry brush. The canyon was mostly narrow, about the width of three men standing a breast of each other, until it opened up.

He paused and took a long look around. Simon was pleased to find that the oasis in the bottom of the canyon was still as green as he remembered it. Originally, it was an oasis in a box canyon about an acre in size. Fruit bearing trees mostly grew on the sunniest side of the canyon. The grass was greener and taller from what he remembered. This is good because the stream is still flowing from the rocks out unto the basin floor just inches under the top soil.

He led the animals to the far end of the canyon where he found the old hunting camp that his father’s father’s father built even before the Romans came. Simon gave a sigh of relief to find the camp still had the rock walls for both his shelter and animal pens. Leaving the animals in the pen, he went farther up the canyon and found the stream that flowed out from a crack in the rock wall into a pool. Then it flowed and disappeared back into the rocks. He knew that the water came from frost and snowfall on the high ridges of the wilderness during the short winter months. His father once told him that when it melts, the water would flow into what he believes were cavernous reservoirs in the mountains.

Simon’s mind was working as he looked at the shallow pool. He had an idea of tilling the soil in the grassy area into plots of vegetable and grain. Those plots will need a regular stream for irrigation. He’ll have to damn up the pool a little higher and then guide the overflow to the plots. He smiled to himself about keeping busy. Deep down, he hopes it will help him forget that he is a leper.

 

Three months later, Simon was awoken by a distant shout. He got up from his sleeping palette feeling a little bit sore. He walked towards the edge of the trees to see who was there. The sun had not risen fully yet. The canyon was still pretty much deep in shadows. Then he saw movement at the canyon’s entrance. It was a single man leading a train of animals. He still couldn’t tell who it was, until…

“Simon!” He recognized the voice. It was Tahan.

Simon walked out into the opening calling out, “You are one month late.” He jumped over a flowing irrigation canal then came to a stop about fifteen feet from his brother.

“Can’t be helped. There was so much people at the festival this year, we were kept busy filling out new orders. By the way, that upper room you rennovated brought in a lot of revenue. Joral knew you’d want to see the books, so he packed a copy in one of the packs.”

The sky brightened a little bit more and Tahan was looking around. He was especially inspecting the tilled plots “You have been busy. I almost didn’t recognize this place. How did you plow these plots?”

Simon laughed, “It was not easy? Those donkeys were not cooperative, but after a week… Mmmmm.”

“Well, I will leave you one of the mules and I also brought two more goats. Have you had any problems?”

“Just some jackals who tried to get my goats last week. Fortunately, I got their pack leader and built up the walls of the pen…”

“I meant… how are you doing?”

“Ah, yes. The whiteness is spreading gradually on my arms, legs and chest. And I also seem to lose some feeling on my finger tips. I mean, I can feel pressure but sharp points, not so much. But I can still work this farm.”

“So, what is your plan, Simon?”

“I work… I pray… I wait…”

“Wait? Are you hoping that the Lord will heal you like the way Miriam, the sister of Moses was healed of Leprosy? Do you recall why she had leprosy?”

“Yes. Miriam angered the Lord by critisizing Moses for marrying a Cushite.”

“Yes! And she knew her sin.”

“Brother, what is your point?” Simon asked.

“In the Torah, she is the only one healed of leprosy. No where else is written or heard that anyone was ever healed of this dreadful disease. Her healing was specific and it was after seven days, so that the lesson would be learned. Do you know why you were stricken?”

“I still don’t know why.”

“I think Nadab is wrong. I think what happened to you is the result of what happened in the garden of Eden. I’m sorry to say this, brother, but what happened was just bad luck.”

“That may be true. But I have to believe. For the meantime, I stay busy.”

 

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 6th segment of my 2nd ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS. Here we take a pause on the story of Simon the Leper. In my next post, I will introduce you to Demacli, a Greek man who later get possessed by a legion of demons.

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.

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

 

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 005

 

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Simon the Leper – 20AD – S3 – Exile – Bethany to the Judean Wilderness

Three days later, two donkeys loaded with supplies and two goats tied to them were waiting outside the gate. When he came down from the roof, the halls and courtyard were empty of servants.

Then he faintly heard, “Bye Abba.” He looked up to see both Mary and Martha peaking out of the window. It wrenched his heart. When he went through the gate, Tahan and Lazarus were waiting for him.

“My son, if I do not return, you will be the man of this house. When Mary reach of age, it will be up to you to choose her husband. As to Martha, Tahan, do not pick someone too old.”

They both chuckled lightly. “Do not fret, Simon. I will be there every three months with supplies.”

“I hope you still remember how to get to the canyon. Well, I better be off.”

Simon untied the lead donkey and had to tug a little hard to get it going. As he led the animals away, he dared not look back. The few neighbors he saw hastily shut their doors and shutters as he passed their homes. He could not help but feel hurt for many of them were his friends. When he reached the village square, it was crowded with people. He covered his face. Then he pulled on the animals and headed for the main gate. There was one other thing he had to do whenever going through a crowd which he dreaded. It was a requirement from the priesthood.

In a loud voice, he called out, “Unclean! Make way. Unclean!” He had to repeat himself until he cleared the crowd.

Practically everyone in the square turned towards him in surprise and quickly made way. They were surprised because they didnot expect to find a leper in their village… in their very midst. Then the gossips began.

As Simon made a straight bee-line for the gate, mumbling voices trailed him. “You see… it is Simon!” “Simon the leper…” “Simon! But I thought he lived such a blessed life.” “What sin did he do?” “Some one as rich as him has to have done somethin’ wrong.” “I heard he cheated his partners.” “His poor children…” And it went on and on. Simon quickened his pace.

He breathed a sigh of relief as he went through the main gate unto the Jericho road. He paused to look right. That dusty road zig-zagged down the Judean Highlands to the city of Jericho and the Jordan River Valley. He would have trekked south along the west bank of the sunken salten sea for two days until he reached an area in the vast wilderness his father showed him decades before. Then he looked left where the road led to the big city. He decided to go left.

 

About two hours later, he was on the crest of the Mount of Olives with a spectacular panoramic view of Jerusalem. But most importantly, he had a clear vantage point of the Temple. The sun was still very high in the sky and it’s glare was reflecting off the gilded moldings on the crown of the tall majestic edifice which housed the most sacred place in the entire world, the Holy of Holies. Grayish smoke rose from within the temple complex. Simon could picture his usual place in the only area where Israelite males were allowed to congregate in the Temple complex, the Court of Israel. From his former place, he had a clear view of the large burning altar which sat to the right of the Temple’s golden double doors about thirty feet away. The altar rose about four feet off the ground. Twenty priests could stand around the platform around the large fire pit. During the annual festivals, a continious thick black smoke would fill the skies for a whole week from the tens of thousands of animal sacrifices offered. On the Passover, the most important of the festivals, the priests of the altar would pass a bowl of the collected blood to the High Priest. He would then carry it through those double doors to seek forgiveness for the entire nation.

Tears came to his eyes. As a practice, he used to give his offerings for his family once every week before the Sabbath. As he watched his offering being put on the fire, he would get down and bow low to the ground and worship. Because of leprosy, he had not worshipped in weeks. Because of his unclensed condition, the thought of not being again part of the most holy of festivals had wrenched his heart. Simon went down on his knees and gave a curdling cry of despair. After an hour of crying, he got up and headed south.

 

About three hours from the city, he came upon the path that he remembered led to the leper colony. He decided to swing by for a quick look see. When he was younger, he used to accompany his father a few times to bring food supplies to this colony. He would say that the rich should always show compassion to the needy. Simon had continued the tradition with his own son.

The leper colony was actually located in a wide ravine that had extended caves where the residences take refuge from the elements. Simon followed the track that went up a rocky knoll. When he reached the top, he saw the ravine below him. Smoke from several campfires rose from the ravine opening. As Simon came close to the edge of the ravine, he saw on the other side, men unloading food supplies off a cart. They are Levites from a nearby village vowed to serve the priesthood and the people. They loaded the food on a wide basket that was strung on wooden crane built on a rock ledge. When the first load was full, they then swung the crane over the edge and lowered it down about twenty feet to an eager group of shabbily dressed lepers that could still walk.

From what Simon could assess, the number of lepers have doubled since he was here last. Rickety make-shift tents lined the far wall. He could see a number of them going in and out of the cave entrance. Where once a stream fed a pool that was in the middle of the ravine, now a stinking greenish stagnant pool is left and the stream dried up. There were bodies lying around the pool, some moving, some not. Simon turned away feeling a sense of pity and helplessness. He continued north, traveling on rarely used paths mostly avoiding the villages on his route. Four arduous days later, he reached his destination in the Judean wilderness.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 5th segment of my 2nd 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

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 004

S2 – Simon the Leper – The Hard Decision – Bethany

“You… have… leprosy…” These words kept echoing in Simon’s head through out the long night. As the sun broke the horizon, Simon refused to get out of the cot, but he was wide awake.

Before the priests left him, which was two days ago, Nadab asked him, “What have you done, Simon, to incurr God’s ire so? A man of your standing… falling lower below the level of a… common sinner. What have you done?”

“I… I don’t know!”

To this day, his mind was still in turmoil wondering how he got leprosy but more so on the why. He always thought he was in God’ good graces. His business was doing very well. His children are healthy. He did all that was required of him according to the law. Even when he lost his wife, he still brought the proper sacrifices. So, why did God allow this harshest of punishment on him? Unless, he was truly unworthy. For why else did he get leprosy? His mind went around and around with these thoughts like a vicious circle.

At end of the fourth day, hunger won out against depression. His brother, Tahan, was the one who brought the food.

“Simon,” Tahan said as he placed the basket of food on the floor then retreated back to the top of the stairs. “What is the plan, brother? You have not come out for days. This is not like you.”

“Well, brother, there is this thing in me called Leprosy,” he said sarcastically. He picked up the basket and went to sit in the shade. “Did you talk to Nadab?”

“Yes. He gave us instructions.”

“Did he mention about me going to the leper colony?”

“He still think you should go there. But from what I hear from our relatives, you don’t deserve to live the rest of your life in luxury and in safety.”

“How about you, Tahan? Do you agree?”

“You should know me better than that, brother. I am not our cousin.”

“Yes, I know that. Forgive me. There is such bitterness in me. And I am not talking against our dear cousin.”

“Simon, it is not yours or even my place to lay blame on our Lord. Do you remember our late father’s lesson from Job?”

Simon blinked with realization, for he was just thinking about Job. He and Job did share similar spiritual dilemna. Job was a rich man that lived his life to please the Lord. Somehow, the devil convinced Him to withdraw His protection from Job as a test. First, Job lost his business. Then, his children died in a freakish accident. Finally, Job himself was struck with terrible boils from head to foot. In despair, he sought the reason first among his friends who were not very helpful. Then, he cried out his frustration in a very long prose to Heaven. He probably didn’t expect Heaven to respond but, then in God-like manner, from the midst of a dramatic whirlwind, God answered him. In the long run, Job was humbled and repentant. At the end, God restored his health, increased his wealth and even his family increased by giving him more children.

Simon propped up his head, showing a little sign of hope. “Tahan, do you think I am being tested?”

“Being tested?” Tahan asked with a slight frown.

“Yes… like the way Job was tested.” Simon, not waiting for him to answer, exclaimed some more. “It makes sense, Tahan! By the life of me, I just don’t understand how the Lord could just punish me like this. For am I not like Job?”

Tahan nodded quietly but not showing any signs of conviction. But Simon was elated by the concept. When Tahan left him, he could here Simon busily moving around on the roof humming to himself.

*** *** ***

Three weeks went by and Simon continued life by conducting the matters of business from his upper room. He was quite content to live out his exile up there until one startling day, he heard the happy voice of his youngest child. Quickly turning around, he saw her running to him hands spread wide to hug him.

He shouts angrily, “Mary, stop!” …as he backed away from her.

Mary suddenly stopped at her tracks. She was shocked for she had never heard her father use such an angry voice on her. Then, the tears came.

Simon, so wanted to console her but he had to keep her safe. So, he angrily shouted out for Lazarus. Then Lazarus came running up and quickly assessed the situation. He grabbed up a crying Mary and slowly backed up to the stairs. That night, he made a crucial decision.

In the morning, he called for Tahan and his son.

“I am going away. I cannot stay and risk the chance that Mary may sneak up here again.”

“Are you thinking about going to the leper colony afterall?” asked Tahan.

“No. I was thinking about where our father took us hunting. Where I took you, Lazarus, two years ago. Tahan, you have to run the business and as for you, my son, learn from your uncle. Also when I go, you must have the servant carefully cleanse the upper room. Now, I am going to need some supplies.”


 

Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 4th segment of my 2nd 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

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 003

Simon the Leper – S1 – Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Bethany

It didn’t take them long to get back down to the ground level. They left the wagon with Jorel and walked back toward the large plaza. At the base of the southern wall was a large gate guarded by some Roman soldiers. Inside was a tall chamber with two sets of steep stair cases left and right off the entrance. Simon and his son went up an indeterminate number of high steps to a landing before taking another set. Simon counted six landings, he thought, before emerging again into the sunlight. As their eyes adjusted to the light, they were facing the wonderous Temple complex where Simon would bring a young bull to offer as sacrifice for his family. Just inside the complex was the court of Israel, where only Jewish males were allowed to pray. Simon always felt awed whenever he saw the bright golden doors of the Holy of holies.

But the Temple was not their destination. They both solumnly bowed their heads to the Temple, then turned around. Built on the southern end of the Temple Mount was a long three story building with a red tiled roof. In there were the offices of the priests where they minister directly to the public. The lower levels are usually left to the minor priest who deal with the masses. The upper levels cater more to the upper class. It was to a second level office that they went to.

“Simon!” said a priest getting up from behind a large desk filled scrolls. He was of his same age but wider in girth.

“Nadab,” Simon said as he ritually bowed to him. “You would think that a high priest like yourself would not be so stout. What if the Lord calls us back to the wilderness? Will you survive?”

“Probably not. So, what brings you to my office?”

“Lazarus, my son. Why don’t you wait for me outside?” Lazarus bowed to the priest and quietly stepped out.

“What ails you my old friend? I don’t think you’ve ever visited me here at this office. At that matter, I don’t ever remember you being so ill that you would end up here.”

“I must show you something,” he said as he began to disrobe.

When he pealed off his tunic, he lifted his left arm up and said, “After my bath, I felt some itchiness right under here.” He pointed to an area about a hand’s length below his armpit.

“Come to the light, Simon.”

Simon moved to the window. Nadab took a step closer and peered a little closer but he kept his hands behind his back.

“Mmm… I see some whiteness but it seems to be only skin deep. I wouldn’t worry too much, however, the priesthood does have procedures handed down to us by Moses to follow. We have to separate you from any contact for about a week. You must isolate yourself in your upper room away from your family. After seven days, I and two others will come and make another examination.”

 

The ride back to Bethany was a little somber. Simon had told Lazarus what had transpired.

“Father, Nadab had said not to worry.”

“Still, my son, we must take all precautions especially with Mary. It is up to you to keep her away. She will not understand.”

When they got back to their house, instructions were given to move some of his personal things to the upper room on the roof while he waited on the wagon. Transfer to the roof went well except for a close call when Mary gleefully ran to Simon with arms wide open. But Lazarus caught her at mid stride before she could reach him. For seven days, Simon stayed in isolation. Food and water was usually left at the top of the stairs three times a day. Then Nadab came with two other priests.

All three priests stood two arms length from Simon as they circled around to examine him closely. They had told him to strip naked and had his ams raised. They slowly circled him at least three times. Then, they told him to dress and stepped away from him to confer quietly among themselves. Simon was not liking that they were whispering together for such a long time. Then, Nadab approached him.

“I’m afraid, my dear cousin, you have leprosy.”

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 3rd segment of my 2nd 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.

I’m still working out the kinks of the Patreon website. For now, if you so desire 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

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

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

 

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch1 – part 1

Chapter 1 – Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Palestine

There was no wind and the fog was thick upon a calm sea. Then from the midst of the fog, a ship emerges like a ghostly apparition. The ship was a Roman galley, a long warship propelled by three rows of oars along the length of its beaten up hull. It had two masts but the sails were furled because of the lack of wind. Protruding from the bow just inches above the waterline is a bronze-sheathed battering ram. The ship was silent except for the usual background sounds made by almost 200 rowers and the vibrating taut ropes that holds the masts up. Then from the stern, a loud horn sounded with two short burst and a long steady blow until it faded down. From a distance another horn blew, then another even farther, several more but fainter. There were other ships out there in the fog communicating their location. As the sun rose higher, the dense fog dissipated and more ships became visible. It was a fleet of twenty ships of varied sizes three of which were of the heavy trireme galley warships.

On the prow of the first galley, stood a man in his late thirties. He was clearly a military man. His armor with its chain-link suit and six intricate molded circlets embedded on his leather-strap vest indicates that he was not a low ranked legionary but an officer. Point of fact, his helmet with its white horse-hair plume arcing left to right says that he is a Centurion of senior standing which elevates him to be in command of three cohorts which makes up of 900 men. In the Roman Legion, a regular Centurion whose helmet would have either a red horse-hair plume or red feathers would only command of about 100 men. To this soldier, it also means his elevated rank points to a special assignment. And it is to this special assignment that he was focused on, deep in thought… in the past.

It was 2 months ago, in the garden of his father’s estate some 30 miles south of Rome overlooking the sea, that a modest ceremony is being held for him.

“It has been bequeath to Centurion Cornelius Metellus the advance rank of Primus Pilus for his successful and long service with the 9th Legion who vanquished the Basque marauders in northern Spain,” his father read the scroll with his chest puffed up high in pride. “No father can be so proud.” He held up the scroll again and sighed.

As the family and relatives retreated back into the coolness of the house, his father led Cornelius to a corner of the pavilion next to a babbling fountain.

“Well, my son, you have gotten your wish after all.” Cornelius’ father said quietly. “Palestine!” He said regretfully.

“Originally, father, it is called Judea. Palestine which means the land of the Philistines was the name originally given by the early Roman conquerors to mock the Judeans some forty years ago.”

“You sound like Jacob your ol’ tutor,” his father chuckled quietly. “Speaking of which…” His father then turns towards a large column engulfed with clinging vines. “You can come out now, Jacob, from behind that pillar where I know you were hiding.”

A short gray-haired bearded man dressed in a long brown homespun tunic gingerly stepped away from the ivy covered pillar and slowly approached them then bowed before them. “Forgive me, master, but I felt that I should be close by…”

“Yes, yes Jacob,” his father said, laughing out loud. “I was about to tell him.”

“Cornelius? It was strongly suggested to me…”, he gestured to Jacob whose head is still bowed on the ground. “…that you must not journey to the most eastern edge of our vast empire lacking knowledge of what you’ll need to be successful in your venture there. Your esteem teacher of many years felt that since he is a Jew after all that you would need his vast…,” he gestured with hands spread far apart rolling his eyes up. “…wisdom.”

“Frankly, Cornelius, If I were you…”, winking at him. “I wouldn’t take him at all!”

“Oh Master!” Jumps up on his feet.

His father laughed out teasingly, “It’s true. When I first rescued you from the debtor’s prison in Athens some 30 odd years ago, even after I paid for your debts, you had the audacity to ask if I would also purchase back all your books as well. You were not a very good slave. To this day, I still wonder if I invested wrong.”

Jacob’s face had that dramatic expression of dejection. Of course, Cornelius heard this same story repeated so many times.

“It was your good fortune that you were classically trained in Greek. For if it were not so, I would never have kept you and trusted you to the education of all my children.”

Cornelius remembered too well how Jacob would teach them Greek history, literature and the language itself, but he would also regaled them with fantastic stories of his people and their relationship with their one God. Though his siblings were entertained by his stories, it was Cornelius who wanted to learn more. So, after gaining his father’s permission, Jacob started to teach him first Hebrew so that he can delve into very same books that his father had purchased back from the debtors. The books were actually a cherished and revered collection of holy script of the Israelites that dated back thousands of years. These Scriptures were usually restricted to the priesthood. When Cornelius asked him, how was it that Jacob had a copy for himself. Jacob told him that the he was once a scribe, a member of the priesthood charged with the copying of the Scriptures. Since there was no more Synagogue in Athens back then, he kept them.

His father placed his hand on Jacob’s frail shoulder. “I will truly miss you around here.” He then turns to his son. “Cornelius. The paperwork is complete. Jacob, as requested, is now legally your bond servant.”

“Father… thank you”, Cornelius was not altogether surprised. He and Jacob often spoke of it. When Cornelius found out about 2 Legions being formed to bolster the already exhausted and dwindled 12th Legion at the region of Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. He put in his papers to join them. Jacob, on the other hand, wheedled and cajoled his father to accompany him back to his homeland.

“Come now, Jacob. Leave us alone for awhile. We have much to discuss.”

Jacob smiled and bowed. Then he shuffled back to the house.

—————————————————–

Author’s Note:

Every week, I will post short segments of my ebook, The Centurion’s Gospel, in sequel. 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

Jesus 101 – That you may know God

If there is a goal in my life, it is that I help people get to know God the same way I got to know Him. For the next several weeks, I am going to be both teacher and storyteller. We will delve in the Bible stories of Jesus. We’re going to start with the concept of how to know God through Jesus.

But why Jesus? In John 14, one of His disciples more or less asked him, ‘Lord, show us the Father?’ If you don’t mind, I’m going to paraphrase what Jesus said. “You’ve been with me this whole time, yet you still don’t know me. Well, stick with me kid and watch me closely!” In essence, getting to know Jesus is getting to know God… and getting to know Him intimately.

In John 17:3, Jesus made this statement within His long prayer, “And this is the way to have eternal life–to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” The words seem clear enough. The key to eternal life is to know God. Allow me to clarify that ‘to know of God’ is just not enough. It is too superficial. What Jesus meant was to go deeper. I am reminded of the time when a rich man came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16 NLT) Jesus’ response to him was somewhat more different than the revelation of John 17:3. He first cited that he should obey the last 6 parts of the Ten Commandments. “You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 19:18,19 NLT)

When the rich man boastfully told him that he did obey them all. Then, Jesus dropped the bomb (so to speak) on him. Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:21,22 NLT)

Believe it or not, Jesus’ final response to the rich man actually coincides with what he instructed to his disciples. Why was his approach different? Jesus knew the rich man’s heart and gave his answer on how the rich man asked it. You see, the rich man’s error was both fundamental and spiritual. The fundamental truth is this: Eternal Life can never be earned or bought because of our sin problem. Jesus gave him a spiritual solution but the rich man did not go for it.

His disciples asked, “Then who in the world can be saved?” I wonder if their question ‘miffed’ Jesus a little. For in this same chapter of Matthew 19, just before the rich man, there were a group of children that was brought to Him. And when his disciples tried to shoo them away, Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” (Matthew 19:14 NLT)

Jesus’ declaration of children shouldn’t have been new to their ears because he had also recently told them similar things when they asked him who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. His answer was when he referred to a child and said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3,4 NLT)

I don’t want to annoy parents all over, especially since I have no children of my own (except for being a pseudo-parent to my many nephews and nieces). But with what I have observed of kids when they start to talk and reason all the way to the legal age, it is rare for me to use humility to describe them. Even in Scripture, it says, ‘A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness…’ (Proverbs 22:15 NLT) So, how are being like children a key to getting into the Kingdom of Heaven? And how does this match with John 17:3 on how we should know the only true God and Jesus?

To answer this might need a whole extensive Bible Study and probably many weeks of your time to provide adequate fundamental truths. But for this blog, I have to keep it short. So, here is the nutshell version.

Whenever, I tell good stories to my nephews, nieces and to many kids at Sunday School, I always saw and read the same expression of awe and belief on their faces. So, this is what I believe what Jesus meant that we should become like little children. I found that all children have a great capacity to be awed and to express faith. When I, in my late 30s, started to read about God and Jesus with childlike fascination, I felt like I was reaquainting with a long lost friend (except that I was the one who was lost). So, I encourage you to listen more to biblical stories by humbling yourself; by not being so skeptical even before the telling of the story. I have been walking with the Lord for over 25 years and I can testify that I got to believe in Him because I knew Him and I am still knowing Him today. But don’t take my word for it. Open your Bible to know Him and see for yourself.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

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NLT – New Living Translation

‘miffed’ – put into an irritable mood