FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 037

ELPIDA THE SYROPHOENICIAN
32 AD – Village of Cadasa, Sidon, Phoeniciafaithful-encounters-cover-w

The priests told her that some three generations or so, 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 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 that he was in the Capernaum area. 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.”

“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.”
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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 37th 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.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

PS… If you want to support my writing, please purchase my ebook, THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL, in Amazon.com for only $1.99. The Centurion’s Gospel is the story of Cornelius Metellus, the Roman Centurion who almost saved Jesus Christ from the cross. Just click the link below.

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 036

ELPIDA THE SYROPHOENICIAN
32 AD – Village of Cadasa, Sidon, Phoeniciafaithful-encounters-cover-w

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, mesmerized 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 godesses 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”. 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.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 36th 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.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

PS… If you want to support my writing, please purchase my ebook, THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL, in Amazon.com for only $1.99. The Centurion’s Gospel is the story of Cornelius Metellus, the Roman Centurion who almost saved Jesus Christ from the cross. Just click the link below.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch3 – part 6

THE PLAN – Sea of Galilee shoreline, BethsaidaCG-book-cover-w

While the boat was being launched to deeper water, Cornelius was already walking briskly on the bank of the beach heading back to the fort with Jacob and Cestus trying to catch up. When they were farther down the shore, Cestus was attracted by an excited commotion out on the water.

“Look!” Cestus was pointing.

Cornelius saw that the same boat the rabbi was on was listing heavily with all three occupants straining to pull the nets in. Another boat frantically rowed up to give them a hand. Soon there was whooping and cheering as both boats started to scoop in a great many fish. Then Cornelius could just make out the big fisherman bowing to the rabbi. He then turned away and continued his brisk walk. His mind was racing with what he thinks is a dangerous implication hidden in the last parable.

“Tell me again about how these parables work?” Cestus asked Jacob.

“Well, the teacher is using parables as a way of imparting important and meaningful truths on a simple minded people by using everyday stories that they can relate to. For instant, the rabbi gave a story about sowing and planting to a crowd of people made up mostly of farmers. They understand what happens to seed that are casted unto a hard packed path, rocky soil or even among weeds. What they have to reason out is, what is the lesson that the teacher was imparting? Even now, the actual meaning of this parable still eludes even me, a scholar and teacher. But I will figure it out sooner or later.”

“But why teach with parables? Why not tell them straight on what to do?”

“Well, it’s not a new way of teaching. Many rabbis have used parables in the past. But I believe our young rabbi want people to think for themselves. Do you recall what he said after he ends a parable? He said,’He who has ears, let him hear.’ This tells me that everyone is capable of figuring this parables out.”

“So, how do I work it out?”

“Very well, Cestus,” Jacob said. “Let us look at the first parable of the sower. The main focus of the story are the seeds. The seeds have to represent something important in our lives that we want to multiply a hundredfold.”

“What would that be? …wealth, treasure, money?”

Jacob chuckled. “No, I don’t think that was what the teacher meant. I believe that the teacher’s intent is more spiritual than on the things of this world. Let us assume first that the sower represents my people’s God. So, what would He sow? …impart that He would want to be very fruitful? If I was to venture a guess, I would say that the seeds must represent God’s wisdom. In this case, the four different type of soils represents four types of recipients. The first part is the hard pathway representing those with very closed ears. Knowledge goes in one ear then out the other. The second one is the rocky soil representing those who have shallow values. That would mean they like what they heard but do not take it seriously enough for God’s wisdom to bear fruit in their lives. The third, the soil with thorns can only be those who hear the word of God but the thorns may represent the worries of this world which would choke the value of its wisdom so there is no fruit. Finally, we come to the good soil which was prepared to receive the seeds. Clearly, these are the ones who are really ready to receive God’s word and apply it to fruitfulness. There! What do you think, Cestus?”

“I don’t rightly know. I’m just a simple soldier. What you say is a little too deep for me.”

“Of course, Cestus, fret not. These things take time and a great deal of personal meditation. Besides, I could be wrong with my impressions. But again, I have hopes.”

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The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

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

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch3 – part 5

THE PLAN – Roman Fort 2 miles east of Bethsaida
– Sea of Galilee shoreline, BethsaidaCG-book-cover-w

Then the crowd started looking down the shoreline attracted by the sound of celebratory clapping and the high pitch ululating sound that women make with their tongues. They could not make out what was happening from their spot on the beach. So, they moved through the crowd up the bank and worked their way to the building. There they climbed up unto an already crowded platform. From that vantage point, Cornelius could just make out a circle of men surrounding a single man keeping the crowd from overwhelming him. The rabbi was not too tall. His hair was brownish and shoulder length. He sported a short clean cut beard and mustache. His face was a little long and his nose was a little aquiline. At first impression, Cornelius was disappointingly not impressed. He looked ordinary. If the crowd did not cheer for him, he would walk by him paying him no heed.

Then people started to call out to him. There were a mixture of supplications from the crowd. They wanted to be healed. They wanted their lives to be good. Some asked if he was the one. Cornelius could not tell if he could not hear them or he was ignoring them. He continued on smiling, shaking their hands and occasionally picking up a child, laughing with them. The crowd started to press around some more until he could not progress further. The rabbi then worked his way toward one of the beached boats. Next to it was a burly fisherman washing his nets.

The rabbi asked something of him gesturing to his boat. The large fisherman nodded his ascent, put down his nets and walked over to the bow of his boat. As the rabbi climbed aboard alone, the fisherman pushed the boat out onto the water and let it float out about ten feet. Then he tied it off. The rabbi called for the people to quiet down and gestured those in the front to sit down on the beach. Then he sat at the edge of the bow and in a very clear voice, he began to teach. The first thing that Cornelius noticed was the clarity of his words. The boat was ten feet from the shore. His own vantage point was at least another hundred feet with a score of people between them.

“Behold, a sower went out to sow and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” [Luke 8:4-8 NASB]

The crowd was mumbling. It was clear that there was confusion. Cornelius himself was not sure what he meant.

“He is speaking in a parable.” It was Jacob whispering to Cestus. “Oh, I wish I had parchment and pen.”

The rabbi gave two other parables about how the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man finding treasure in a field and a valuable pearl. Cornelius figured he can analyze them with Jacob later since he deemed them unimportant for the moment.

Then the rabbi spoke again. “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ” [Matthew 13:24-31 NASB]

The mumbling in the crowd became louder. The rabbi stood and called to the burly fisherman. The fisherman waded over and whispered to his ear while gesturing out onto the lake. The fisherman spoke back shaking his head but then he ended up shrugging his shoulder. He called to his fishing partner and together they gathered their nets. They climbed into the boat and they started to row out onto deeper water. They were not too far out when they casted their nets. Cornelius was sure that they will not be successful fishing at midday. But that was not what concerned him.
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The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

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

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch3 – part 4

THE PLAN – Roman Fort 2 miles east of Bethsaida
                     – Sea of Galilee shoreline, BethsaidaCG-book-cover-w

“But because he is from Nazareth, you do not believe that this young rabbi is him.”

“Well, I’m not so sure. I have been hearing incredible stories of him transforming water into wine, healing of a demon possessed woman, and of a boy who was lame but can now walk. Then, my brother told me of a commotion he caused in the Temple last Passover.” Jacob chuckled and said, “Apparently, he was not very pleased with the corrupt practices of the money changers of the Temple.”

“Money changers?”

“Oh, of course, you don’t know of their scrupulous practices of cheating Temple worshipers who come to purchase animals for sacrifice but find out that their money have to be exchanged for Temple coinage. Added to the exchange rates and the cost of the sacrificial animals is the questionable Temple taxes. So, my brother said that this Jesus came and turned over their tables almost causing a riot. But it is what he said is what caught my attention. He said, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations. Take these things away. Stop making My Father’s house into a den of thieves.’ He spoke with such authority and zeal, I had to wonder. So, it is clear to me that you and I need to get closer to him. Fortunately for us, the young rabbi will be at Bethsaida tomorrow morning.”
Early the next day, Cestus knocks on Cornelius’ door. He was dressed like a local.

“Sir? Do we take horses?” he asked.

“No. We’ll walk.” Cornelius said. He too was dressed in nondescript clothing. “How about Trax?”

“No problem, sir. I’ve got him on stable duty. That should keep him busy until we return. Jacob is down below waiting.”

“Cestus, make sure you cover your face when we get there. Your clean shaven face is a dead give away. You’ll have to grow your beard. I’m thinking we’ll be doing more of these excursions.”

“Ay sir,” Cestus said as he left the room. Cornelius heard him mumbling as he walked the hallway to the stairs. “But them things will just make my chin itch for weeks.”

As the three of them left the fort, Cornelius decided not to go down the road but instead followed a goat track that led to the lake. When they reached the shoreline, they saw a lot of people on the beach heading for the fishing village part of Bethsaida. They discretely tagged along with a family group with children. It was not long until they approached the crude shacks of the fishing folk about a mile or so outside Bethsaida’s walls. They were built in loose clusters about a hundred feet from the lake shoreline. There was one solid structure built right on the waterline. Jacob said that was where the fish mongers would inspect the fisherman’s catch and deals are made. A fair size crowd had already gathered in and around the building. Nearby, four long boats were beached and the fishermen busy doing a variety of chores.

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The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

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

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch3 – part 2

THE PLAN – Roman Fort 2 miles east of BethsaidaCG-book-cover-w

For the next three weeks, Cornelius and Jacob poured over the Scriptures. As agreed upon, Cornelius would breakdown the scroll of Isaiah into chapters and sub-sections as he meticulously read through it. When he identified a section of the Isaiah scroll as a chapter, he would carefully tag the margins of the Isaiah scroll by pasting a small piece of parchment paper written with the sequential chapter number. Then, with the help of Jacob, he’d write in the codex the chapter number with the appropriate chapter title and any commentary notes. He especially noted any scriptures that identified any messianic references. So far, they both collated thirteen chapters with more than three quarters of the large scroll to go.

Meanwhile, through the information that Jacob gleaned from family and friends, he found out about a young rabbi roaming the Galilee district, preaching in the villages and gaining popularity. Cornelius asked him to find out more about him and see if he was the one that he overheard Herod talking about. Jacob left two days ago to interview someone in the nearby city of Capernaum about a strange story he heard that is related to this wandering rabbi.

As to his special assignment, he is finding it difficult to organizing a network of local spies while he is based at the fort. He was hoping for friendlier relations with the local Jews since he provided funds to rebuild their demolished synagogue. But because he resided in the fort, no Jew, with the exception of Jacob, will ever step on what they consider is unclean soil. Cestus, on the other hand, who always manage to anticipate his needs, brought to him, two Legionaries who can pass as locals. One of them, Nacob, was of Syrian descent. His brown skin, short stature and short beard made him look like the Asiatics of this region. The other, Lyca, is Cypran. He can easily pass as the many Eastern Europeans trading between the free Greek cities and Galilee. He gave them extensive instructions to reconnoiter the Jewish sector of Capernaum and gather information on the leadership structure. They especially were to report on any leads to any hidden members of the Zealots. At the same time, they are to keep their eyes open for any criminal elements that he can turn into informants. Unfortunately, all they could do was still observe from the outside. Except for business, the Jews are fairly tight knit people. He needs someone inside. He thought of Jacob but knew he would make a bad spy.

Cornelius put down the report he was reading and went up the stairs to top level of his building to get some air. It was late in the afternoon and the clashing sounds around the fort had lessened significantly. As he got onto the third level of his building, he walked over to the western side and leaned onto the railings to casually check out what was happening around the fort. Soldiers were meandering back to their tents after a full day of drills. A group of them wearing just their red tunics and leggings were laughing and joking among themselves as they eagerly walked towards the north gate which would lead them to the camp-followers’ camp who were about half a mile north. He then looks up and beyond the walls and see a few field-workers among a nearby field of wheat. On the road that led to Bethsaida, he noticed an old man walking as fast as he could towards the fort. Though he could not see a face, he knew it was Jacob rushing back with news.
By the time Jacob returned, Cornelius was back at his desk writing his reports for the governor and the general.

“I have news,” his old tutor said tiredly.

“Jacob, sit down and rest.” Cornelius poured him a drink.

“Ah, thank you.” Jacob gulped down the whole glass. “I did walk a long way but anyway, I said I had news about the young rabbi. At first, I did not think he was the Messiah.”

“Why do you say that?”

“His name is Jesus, son of Joseph. He is from… Nazareth!”

“Nazareth? I’m not sure I get you. Where is Nazareth?”

Jacob pulled out the map from under a pile of scrolls and laid it out. He pointed on a spot west of the Sea of Galilee. Cornelius then realized what he meant.

“Ah good, by the way you look, you remember where the Messiah is supposed to be born.”

“Yes… according to the Prophet Micah, the Messiah is supposed to be born in Bethlehem.”

“No, not suppose,” Jacob said quietly. “Now, I know that the Messiah is truly walking amongst us. Some thirty years or so ago, I was a young scribe when from the East came a caravan of Persian magi to the palace of the old Herod. They sought the newly born, King of the Jews. Herod called for my master. I was there when he told them of Micah’s prophecy. Three days later, I heard from the other scribes and priests of the senseless slaughter of all male infants of the Bethlehem and the surrounding district. I was so disillusioned then, that I took an assignment to bring a complete copy set of Scriptures to the Synagogue leader of Athens and left Judea for good. Of course, my faith, at that time, was very low. I thought the Messiah was killed but I should have known that nothing can thwart the will of the Almighty God.”

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The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

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

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 035

JOANNA THE HONORABLE WIFE
32 AD – A lesson of faith – South of Capernaum, Galileefaithful-encounters-cover-w

“My sisters, what shall we discuss tonight?”

“Master,” Joanna said. “Veronica had been telling us about how you healed her after twelve years of embarrassing bleeding. You said that it was her faith that made her whole. I have also heard you say the same thing to a blind beggar, to lepers and others that you have healed. What did you mean, Lord?”

“Veronica, please describe what your thoughts were before you reached out to touch the hem of my garment?” asked Jesus.

“Well, rabbi, I so wanted to get healed for I desired to be cleansed. I have been banned for so long from the Synagogue and the Holy Festivals of Jerusalem. I was desperate to be able to commune again with the Holy One in His Temple. So, when I heard you were going to be at Magdala, I raced there to implore you to heal me. But the crowd surrounded you and was too loud for me to plead for your attention. Then, when you started to walk near me, I knew this was my chance though at that time I did not really know what I was going to do. All I wanted to do was just reach out and touch you but all I touched was your hem.”

“Veronica, what did you hope for when you reached out?” asked Jesus.

“I, ah… don’t know. My healing was such a surprise. I was not expecting it. In fact, I was ashamed of myself because I was unclean and yet I touched you.”

“Fret not, Veronica,” smiled Jesus. “Your healing is proof that my Father in heaven did not hold it against you.” Looking at each of them, he laughed out humorously and said, “I can see by your faces that you do not understand what I am trying to impart. How many of you recall what the Scriptures said about the idol of the bronze snake?”

The women were silent and a few looked at each other shaking their heads. Joanna recalled the story very well but chose not want to speak out.

Jesus gestured for Matthew to relate the story. The women were enthralled as Matthew skillfully carried their imaginations through the sands of time, back when their forefathers wandered the wilderness for forty years. In a particular time when the Israelites were having a hard time on the road, the people grew impatient with the long journey, so they grumbled and spoke against God and Moses. So the LORD sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. Then the people came to Moses and cried out for him to plead for the Lord’s mercy. Moses was instructed to fashion a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then, the Lord told them that anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed.

“What do you think happened after that?” asked Jesus.

“Many who were bitten looked and were saved,” answered one of the women.

“What of those that did not look?”

“Died!” They all answered.

“Master, was the idol magical? Did it have healing power like… like your clothes?” asked one of them.

“It gladdens me that this was asked,” Jesus said smiling. “Joanna, do you believe that my robe, that is, this robe holds any power?”

Joanna shook her head.

“Who here think that it does?”

Two women hesitatingly raised their hands. “Come! Both of you lay hold on the hem of my robe.” They came, sat by his side and each took hold. “Good. Now, close your eyes and think of something that you so desire. Veronica touched my hem and she was instantly healed. Wish for it right now.”

Except for Joanna, the other women leaned forward curious and expectantly. After a few minutes, nothing happened.

“Disappointed?” There were some nodding. “You should be. And you should have remembered what the Scriptures say about idols. “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.” [Psalms 135:15-18] Seeing confusion in some of their faces, he explained.

“As soon as you believed that my robe had more power than to keep me warm, you turned it into an idol.” Reading their frowns, he chuckled, raised his hand and said, “Fear not. You are still learning. Now, let us go back to the lesson of the bronze snake. You have heard me say often that the truth shall set you free. So, here is the truth. Since, the snake was made by the hands of man, it held no power at all. So, the question is, how was it that those that were bitten were healed by just looking at it?”

Silence filled the room. “Joanna? Your ancestor gets bitten then he went to the snake blindfolded. What would happen?” asked Jesus.

Joanna’s eyes widened with understanding. “He would die!”

“Why?”

“Because he did not exactly obey what the Lord on High commanded.”

“Exactly right, Joanna! You see… The power that healed your forefathers was not the idol but the power of the One who commanded. So, when your forefathers that were bitten by the snakes looked at the bronze snake, what were they actually doing?”

“They believed and then they obeyed!” Joanna answered excitedly.

Jesus nodded his assent. “Veronica, you were healed not because you touched my clothing but because you believed who I was.”

Joanna looked at the other faces of the women and saw them nod in understanding.
Just as the group was leaving the tent of meeting, Jesus asked Joanna to stay for a moment.

“Joanna, thank you again for the generous supply you and your husband had provided for us. There will be much to do in the morning and so, I wanted to inform you of the plan tonight. Tomorrow, I will give instructions to the many disciples that have gathered here already. They will be sent out in pairs throughout this entire region in a similar mission that I sent out the Twelve last week. After which, you and the other women can go home for now. In two weeks time, the Twelve and I will meet you again in Capernaum at the house of Simon Peter’s mother in law.”

“Very well, master. May I ask, master, where will you go?”

“First, the rest of the Twelve will join me at Nazareth. Then we will go north to the land of the Gentiles.”

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 35th 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.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

PS… If you want to support my writing, please purchase my ebook, THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL, in Amazon.com for only $1.99. The Centurion’s Gospel is the story of Cornelius Metellus, the Roman Centurion who almost saved Jesus Christ from the cross. Just click the link below.

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 034

JOANNA THE HONORABLE WIFE
32 AD – A lesson of faith – South of Capernaum, Galileefaithful-encounters-cover-w

A day later, just as the sun sets, Joanna and six other women came into the campsite of Jesus of Nazareth some three miles south of Capernaum. It was located in a copse of trees in a valley between three hills one of which Joanna remembered Jesus gave an incredible sermon. She saw a large number of campfires throughout the valley.

“Joanna, it is good to see you.” It was Simon of Cana, one of the Twelve. Joanna is still amazed in the change in his personality. Back before he became a close follower of Jesus, she remembered him to be a hot head and a secret member of the Zealot movement whose goal is to eventually push out the Roman rule by any means.

“Simon, where are Peter and the others?” Joanna asked as Simon helped her down from the wagon she came in.

“Most of them have not returned from the mission,” said Simon. “Matthew and I came back just last night.”

“How did your mission go?” asked Joanna.

“Matthew and I went to Magdala first then to four small villages west of Tiberius. It was a wondrous time for us. People received us with open arms. When I preached about the Kingdom of Heaven like the way the master taught us, the reception I got was of awe. I have spoken to a crowd before, trying to get them to rise against Roman rule, but had never moved people like those that heard me preach of the spiritual. Then, we were surprised when two demoniacs were brought before us. The demons in them were afraid of us. Matthew was the first to try to cast the demon out of a young boy. He started with a little doubt and the demon laughed at him. Then Matthew commanded it to come out but this time evoking the master’s name. The boy covered his ears, screamed out once and then he was himself again. The woman brought to me had at least four demons in her but they were easily dispatched. It was a good time.”

Simon told Joanna more of his mission until she was called away by the other women at the tent set up for them.

As she walked to the tent, Simon stopped her and said, “I almost forgot. The master said that he will talk with all of you tonight at the tent of meeting.”

That evening, the six women gathered together in the tent that Jesus used to teach his closest disciples. For months, he had been personally teaching lessons to the women that had faithfully followed and ministered to him and his entourage. At first, the idea that the rabbi would do this was appalling to the Twelve for the traditional way to teach Jewish women was done by the fathers, husbands or by other learned female relations. But the disciples had soon learned that Jesus follow not traditions on its face value alone. The women were busy talking among themselves, they did not notice Jesus entering with Matthew in tow.

“Ahem…” It was Matthew clearing his throat loudly that finally called their attention. When the women turned around, they found Jesus amused and smiling at them. He gestured for them to sit near him.

Joanna remembered Matthew when he was still a tax collector. He was known as Levi then. Levi was good at managing finance and became rich by it. But he was not happy for the people hated him for it because tax collectors worked for the Romans. During the time of collection, he would travel to the villages of Sepphoris, Nazareth and the surrounding villages. Joanna heard Peter’s story of how Jesus approached him as he was counting money in the marketplace. When Levi looked up from his counting table, Jesus was smiling and said only two words, ‘Follow me.’ To Levi’s amazement, he stood up and with no hesitation, left his counting table still with coins on it. He became one of the Twelve and his name changed to Matthew.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 34th 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.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

PS… If you want to support my writing, please purchase my ebook, THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL, in Amazon.com for only $1.99. The Centurion’s Gospel is the story of Cornelius Metellus, the Roman Centurion who almost saved Jesus Christ from the cross. Just click the link below.

 

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 033

JOANNA THE HONORABLE WIFE
32 AD – The Messiah’s Proof – Sepphoris, Galileefaithful-encounters-cover-w

Joanna paused to look out the window and stare at the distant horizon. “Chuza,” she turn to face him. “I do not want to be one of the foolish ones. I believe he is the Messiah.”

“How can he be the Messiah? The Messiah is supposed to be an invincible conquering King that will free us from all our enemies. He is not even organizing an army to force the Romans out. In fact, you were the one that told me that he preaches ‘love thine enemy’. Also, the Messiah is supposed to be from the line of David and born in Bethlehem… not in Nazareth!”

“Chuza, he was born in Bethlehem and he is of the line of David, ” Joanna said.

“What?! How can that be? This Jesus must be about thirty. If he was born there, he would have been slaughtered with the other infants by Herod.”

“He is was born there.” Seeing the question on his face, she continues, “I had a long talk with his mother.”

Joanna told him an incredible tale of how Mariam, the mother of Jesus, gave birth to him. She told him of how and when Mariam reached the age of fourteen she was engaged to Joseph who happened to be a direct descendent of David. But before they were formally married, she was visited by an angel of the Lord and was told that she was to give birth to the Son of the Most High. She was also told that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and the power of the Most High will overshadow her. Mariam was still a virgin when she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Wait! This is too incredible for me to believe. But let’s say that what you said is true. How can the offspring in her be of the line of David if she had no relations with Joseph?”

“Mariam’s family line is also from David’s line through Nathan his son. I checked with the Synagogue leader of Nazareth. He was kind enough to show me the family’s genealogy. Now Chuza, stop interrupting me.”

Joanna continued on with the story of how Joseph did not want to disgrace her publicly and put her in danger of being stoned to death. He was about to break the engagement quietly when he again turned up the next day and declared the marriage is on. When asked what changed his mind, he said an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him that Mariam’s child was conceived by the Holy Spirit and that he will save his people from their sins. Months later, Joseph and Mariam left Nazareth for Bethlehem in compliance of the census command by the Roman emperor to return to their place of birth. Mariam gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem. About a year later, magi from the east came in search of a new born king. They arrived in Bethlehem following a star. They came before the infant bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Then, Herod the king sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under. Being warned by an angel in a dream, Joseph took his family away from pending danger and escaped to Egypt. They stayed there until Herod died and returned to Judea. But when they heard that the new ruler of Judea was Herod’s son Archelaus, they left Judea and returned to Galilee.

“So, the line of David, the promised One, the Messiah ends up here… away from the heart of true Israel, the holy city of Jerusalem… to this Gentile infested land?” Chuza asked sarcastically.

“Think about it, Chuza. Remember back, when you were a boy taught by the rabbi? It makes sense for the Messiah to be up here.”

“What are you talking about, Joanna?”

“The prophecy of Isaiah that says, ‘Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.’ ” [Isaiah 9:1,2]

Joanna knew that Chuza was deep in thought. Inside, she was elated because he was showing signs that he was considering the possibility. This is a beginning.

“Chuza, I must go. The master had summoned for the disciples to gather at the hills north of Capernaum. I have to meet up with Mary and the women there.”

“Very well, Joanna,” said Chuza softly. “You have given me much to think about. Maybe one of these days, I will accompany you. Please be careful. Meanwhile, as usual, I will set Herod’s trackers to go another way.”

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 33rd 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.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

PS… If you want to support my writing, please purchase my ebook, THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL, in Amazon.com for only $1.99. The Centurion’s Gospel is the story of Cornelius Metellus, the Roman Centurion who almost saved Jesus Christ from the cross. Just click the link below.

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 032

JOANNA THE HONORABLE WIFE
32 AD – The Messiah’s Proof – Sepphoris, Galileefaithful-encounters-cover-w

“Chuza, I am going,” Joanna exasperatedly said.

“Joanna, did you not understand what I said? The king is seeking him. If they find him, they will arrest anyone who is with him. And if they take you, the king will wonder how is it that the wife of his household’s chamberlain is among a man he has been trying to track down since he had served the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter to the Lady Salome?”

“Let’s get this right, Chuza,” she said pointing at him. “He is no king!”

“Yes, yes! I know that. The whole court knows that, but none of us don’t want to end up nailed to a cross, so we bow down to him.”

“Oh, why did you take the post as his chamberlain? We could have been back home in Gath-hepher.”

“Because I did not want to spend the rest of my days pressing cheap wine. I wanted something better for us! Besides, it was your own father that arranged it with the king’s head steward. The king is so rich and he reward those of his household.”

“Yes. And at times, he is like his father, the old king.”

“No, he is just half like him… like that mad king. I was just a lad when the old king ordered the senseless slaughter of all those infants in the Bethlehem District. That was about thirty years ago. I really thought Antipas was not like his father until what happened to the Baptist. But then, he does fear some kind of divine reprisal. After the slaughter of those children, the old Herod suddenly died a very painful death. Antipas is rightly convinced that it was divine retribution. Yet, I think he does not fear the Lord enough. I just don’t know anymore. I’m afraid for you, Joanna.”

“I know you are, my sweet. But I am still going.”

“Joanna, what is it about this carpenter’s son that makes you traipse around the district following him?”

“I have seen such wonders, Chuza. For months, I have followed him visiting one village after another throughout the countryside. Wherever he went, the lame walks, the blind sees, the lepers are cleansed and the possessed are freed. Even my own cousin from Magdala, Mary, was set freed of seven demons that tormented her. But it is not just the miracles. It’s his teachings!. He gave a lesson that he taught a number of times about a wedding feast and ten virgins.

“He started with ‘the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.’ The five who were foolish did not take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight they were roused by the shout that the bridegroom is coming. The bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. But the five foolish ones’ oil had ran out . They asked the others to share some of their extra oil. The wise ones refused because there were not enough oil for them. So, the foolish ones went off to buy all. Unfortunately for them, while they were off buying oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ But he called back said, ‘Believe me, I do not know you!’

“Then the rabbi finished his lesson with these words, ‘So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.’ ” [Matthew 25:1-13]
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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 32nd 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.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

PS… If you want to support my writing, please purchase my ebook, THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL, in Amazon.com for only $1.99. The Centurion’s Gospel is the story of Cornelius Metellus, the Roman Centurion who almost saved Jesus Christ from the cross. Just click the link below.