THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch17 – part 2

REVELATIONS – Emmaus, BethanyCG-book-cover-w

Later, in Arturos’ quarters, General Alto gave them their orders. “Tribune, your cohorts will be relieved in two weeks. They have earned some rest at Caesarea. However, Arturos, you will be stationed in Jerusalem with at least ten squads of your cohort.”

“Yes sir. Thank you.”

“Centurion, the governor wants you back at what you were doing, as soon as possible. He is giving you a squad of Equites Legati*. This is my suggestion. Tighten up your network of informants. With the light cavalrymen, you are to report more frequently, even if you have nothing to report. The governor demands it. He feels that with the biggest Jewish festival coming in a month or so that something significant is going to happen. He does not want to be caught unaware again.”

* Equites Legati were actually lightly armored cavalry men used mostly for reconnaissance and as messengers.

“Yes sir. I will leave in a couple of days.”

“Oh yes, I almost forgot. He wants you to be closer but not necessarily in Jerusalem. There is a supply outpost in Emmaus. It is only seven miles from the city. Establish yourself there within the week.”

“But, sir?”

“I know you want to closely follow this Jesus fellow, Centurion. You need not fret. He seems to have moved his operation to Judea and around the Perean Basin since last week. Apparently, this Jesus wanted you to know where he will be. One of his closest followers approached Centurion Porcius in Capernaum and gave him this note. I was at the Bethsaida fort when he reported to me. Since, we were already coming here I figured I will give it to you myself.” He handed the folded parchment to him.

“Thank you, sir.”

When he opened the note, what was written was a single Hebrew word, ‘Bethany’.

After a good nights rest, Cornelius opted to leave that day for Judea. He dispatched Nacob and Lyca, two of his best men as well as three of the light cavalrymen to Capernaum. They will hand over written orders to Porcius. The three cavalrymen will be stationed there. Nacob and Lyca will then bring whatever personal gear left there to Emmaus.

Flavius came up to him as he mounted. “Well, it looks like I will be in Jerusalem with the Tribune. I will see you there in two weeks.”

“Until then,” he said with hand raised in farewell as he led his contingent of fifteen men who rode on two wagons and the remaining four cavalrymen out the fort.

They actually did good timing. At the end of the second day, they rolled into the outpost about a mile outside of Emmaus. It was actually a small fort manned by only forty men. It was extensive mainly because the animal pens and grain storage were within. The fort’s commander was an aging veteran who lost his arm. His name was Verinius. Not wanting to quit the Legion, the only position open to him was procurement. He was jovial and quite accommodating. His men were easily billeted in the barracks. Verinius offered his quarters since Cornelius outranked him, but he declined telling him that he is not there to take command of the fort and its operation. So, they set up his campaign tent.

That night, he could not sleep. He went over to his desks and lit several oil lamps. He stared a long time at the top sheet of a stack of parchments. It was the passages of the suffering servant that he translated. Since the battle, his mind kept returning to that nagging desire for understanding ‘why the Messiah had to suffer so and die?’

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 071

DEMACLI THE LEGION DEMONIAC
33 AD – The Last Supper – Jerusalem, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

As they entered, Demacli and his companions were also greeted by the rest of the Twelve. From what he saw, he estimated that there were about forty people there. The large room was set up with twelve low round tables already laden with food and beverage.

“Demacli, you and your companions will join my family,” said Simon of Bethany who happily led them to the middle of the room. On a raised platform at the center, two laden tables were reserved for Jesus, the Twelve and selected few. Simon and his household occupied three tables adjacent to the platform. The Greeks decided to split up among the three tables. Demacli and Elpida sat with an aged man named Imraam who was a close friend of Simon.

Imraam was quite jovial. They discovered that the reason for his joviality was that for thirty eight years he was once an invalid but then miraculously cured. To emphasize it, he quickly got to his feet with the agility of a teenager. The others around the table were clapping and laughing with him. After which he proceeded to tell them his tale.

Imraam was once a sprite young man. At an early age, he became successful in his business. He became one of the riches men in Jerusalem, but then tragedy hit. His neighborhood was struck with pestilence and many died. As for Imraam, he survived the sickness but it left him paralyzed for over three decades. In desperation, he heard of a story of an angel that stirred the water of a pool under north east wall of the Temple Mount where the sacrificial sheep were gathered. It was called the pool of Bethesda which was surrounded by five covered colonnades. The story was that when the water was stirred and the first person to jump in would be healed. Several times, the water rippled and a stampede of the blind, the lame and other cripples would clamber over each other to get into the pool first. Usually Imraam never had a chance without help.

One day, he was lying on his mat away from the crowd of waiting sick people, when he saw his friend Simon walking with a group of men whom by their clothing he surmised were from the northern province of Galilee. They were at the other end of the pool walking toward the entrance of the Sheep Gate. He wished he could hail his friend but he felt particularly weaker that day. Then, one of the Galileans paused in his stride and looked toward him. At first, he thought the stranger was looking not at him directly but at something else beyond. Simon who noticed that the stranger had paused, also peered at his direction. Simon recognized Imraam right away, raised his hand in greeting, at the same time was whispering in the stranger’s ear.

Imraam was imagining what Simon was divulging and was a little upset. But then Simon and four of the men started to work their way through the crowd toward him. When they were about ten feet from him, that stranger, who seem to be the leader, gestured for them to wait. He approached, crouched down and asked, “Do you want to get well?”

Imraam was a little surprised by the question. He wanted to scream a resounding ‘of course’ but instead mumbled something about him unable to get help so he can get into the pool when the water is stirred. Then the stranger smiled and in a gentle but yet commanding voice, he said, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

Then Imraam felt a heating sensation going from his lower back down to his toes. When he looked at his legs, his eyes widened to find not his shriveled legs but a pair of healthy limbs. The stranger stood and held out a hand. Imraam was even more surprised that he had strength to reach up and grasp his hand. The stranger pulled him up onto his legs. He felt dizzy for a quick moment and his legs were a little wobbly as he stood there looking down at his toes wiggling. Then, he turned, took several steps and looked at the invalids around the pool, some of whom had the look of astonishment as they watched him. It was then that the realization finally hit him that he jumped in the air and whooped. After several minutes, he quieted down and remembered something. He went back to his mat, rolled it up and picked it up. He looked around for the stranger to ask him who he was, but he was nowhere to be seen. He decided to walk home and shock his relatives. [John 5:1-15]

Imraam burst into laughter and jovially told them on how he got into trouble for carrying his mat on the Sabbath. It was then that he re-met with the stranger and found out who he really was. Then he plopped down feigning exhaustion and looked at Demacli asking, “So, what is your story?”

So, Demacli told him about his own experiences and how Jesus freed him. Wide eyed, Imraam was esctatic again.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 070

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

Recap Part 68 & 69

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

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

“Who’s house is this?”

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

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

They all started to ascend the broad stairs case.

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

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

“Oh, I have,” Simon said.

Demacli turned to look at him.

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

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

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

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

“Thank you, Lord.”

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

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

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

“Come! Let us all enter.”

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch15 – part 6

GOING HEAD TO HEAD – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

So Jesus spoke loudly to those that surrounded him, “If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

One of the elder priests called out to Jesus, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

The crowd quieted down and Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 

“I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill me, because my word has no place in you. I speak the things which I have seen with my Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”

Then a number of them exclaimed loudly to Him, “Abraham is our father.”

Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father.”

We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.”

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on my own initiative, but He sent me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear my word.

“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Cornelius cringed and braced for violence. He scanned their faces. Most looked at him with daggers coming from their eyes. A few though looked disturbed.

“But because I speak the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”

One of the priests answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. But I do not seek my glory; there is One who seeks and judges. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word he will never see death.”

Pharisees in the crowd called out to Him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste of death.’ Surely you are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do you make yourself out to be?”

Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing; it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.”

So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”

“Truly, truly, I say to you,” Jesus paused for just a moment, then said, “before Abraham was born…

“I… Am.”        [John 8:31-58 NASB]

The whole court went deathly silent. Cornelius understood way to well on the implications to what Jesus had openly declared. He just claimed himself to be God. Like a bell ringing in his head the words of Isaiah came to him, ‘And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father…’

Cornelius suddenly felt very exposed. Then the crowd erupted. There were men shouting to stone him but the bulk of the crowd were those who believed and they again surged forward in loud exultation. Altercations broke out as a group of men with stones in their hands tried to force their way to Jesus. This gave Cornelius and the others the chance to pull Jesus into the columns.

Leading the way, Cornelius quickly headed to the nearest exit which was the eastern portico. They followed a panic group of people, who did not know what had happened, through the gates. The guards were overwhelmed to try to stop them. Going down several flights of stairs, they eventually emerged through the lower gates unto the Kidron Valley, east of the Temple Mount. They crossed a stream to the opposite side of the valley and walked up a path that led that will bring them to the top of the Mount of Olives.

Jesus looked up the towering wall of the Temple Mount for a long moment, then he looked at the disciples and said, “It is done! Let us return to Galilee.”
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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch15 – part 5

GOING HEAD TO HEAD – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

Jesus then stood up and gave him his answer! Cornelius whispered to himself, “Here we go!”

“My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me,” Jesus said. “If anyone is willing to do his will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from myself. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but he who is seeking the glory of the one who sent him, he is true, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”

Jesus then directly points at the orator but shifts his gaze towards the leaderships.

“Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill me?”

“You have a demon! Who seeks to kill you?” cried out the orator.

Jesus answered, “I did one deed, and you all marvel. For this reason Moses has given you circumcision not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers, and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

The high priest and a number of the leadership angrily walked back into the temple. Meanwhile, the crowd was busily debating among themselves on whether Jesus is the Messiah or not. Some of the people therefore, were shouting, ‘This certainly is the Prophet.’ Others were saying, ‘This is the Christ.’ Still others were saying, ‘Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was from?’

So a division occurred in the crowd because of him. Cornelius saw about twenty temple guards shoving their way through the crowd towards them, led by two of the chief priests. But they stopped at their tracks when Jesus spoke again.

“You all know me and know where I am from; and I have not come of myself, but he who sent me is true, whom you do not know. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” [John 7:15-29 NASB]

The priests leading the guards were coaxing them to move in, but the guards feared what the crowd will do to them. The crowd was elated.

“I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.”

“You are testifying about yourself,” cried the orator who accompanied the temple guards. “Your testimony is not true.”

Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone. But even if I do judge, my judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent me. Even in your law it has been written that the testimony of two men is true. I am he who testifies about myself, and the father who sent me testifies about me.” 

Someone in the crowd then called out, “Where is your father?”

Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my father; if you knew me, you would know my father also.”

Then he said again to them, “I go away, and you will seek me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.” 

The temple guards, the orator, the chief priests and the Pharisees who were there to take Jesus looked at each other questioningly. One of them asked, “Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since He says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?”

“You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.”

They asked him, “Who are you?”

“What have I been saying to you from the beginning? I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but he who sent me is true; and the things which I heard from him, these I speak to the world. When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak these things as the father taught me. And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” [John 8:12-29 NASB]

Then the crowd surged forward most with exaltation and belief written on their faces. Cornelius and the other disciples were hard pressed to keep the crowd back from swamping him. Meanwhile, the guards and the Pharisees retreated back into the temple. Several minutes later as the crowd calm down the chief priest and the leadership came back out. The orator too went to confer with the chief priests.
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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch15 – part 4

GOING HEAD TO HEAD – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

At his usual spot, on the steps of Solomon’s colonnade, just across from the steps that led into the Temple, Jesus was again teaching the people. But this time, there was a greater number of the ruling class occupying the platform and steps just across from him. It was John who spread the word among the disciples that Annas, the former High Priest and unspoken leader of the ruling class, and his son, Caiaphas, the current High Priest were among them. As he taught, the people and many who were there to oppose him were astonished with his words. Cornelius who kept his eyes on the leadership noted that the High Priest was showing concern that even his people were being swayed. He turned to someone just below him and gave a single nod, like it was a prearranged signal.

Then a teacher of the law stepped up to the edge of the platform wearing a rich robe of purple with gold trimmings. Cornelius surmised that probably he was their best orator. But instead of talking to the crowd, he loudly addressed himself to the leadership.

“My Lords! This man here is no teacher of the law; for he has never been among us who have spent everyday of our lives studying under the great rabbis of our time. He is uncouth and lacks the sophistication of anyone of our learned teachers. He is, after all, just from Nazareth and a carpenter’s son at that.” The men around him laughed. “How can this man be the Messiah? He openly consorts with sinners! Even one of his closest followers is a notorious tax collector.” There was more laughter. The orator continued on maligning the character of Jesus, but this time he was talking to the crowd. For fifteen minutes he twisted the teachings of Jesus and mocked them as nonsense. “It is better that you return to Galilee and teach to the sheep and goats.”

Cornelius scanned the faces of the crowd and saw that most were frowning and not happy with the orator’s words. The orator too noticed that he was losing the crowd and looked nervously back at his superiors. Jesus on the other hand was of picture of calm and serenity still sitting on the top of the steps politely allowing the other to make his point. Somehow, it had occurred to Cornelius that Jesus was waiting for this moment. Jesus made the decision to a stay a week longer beyond the festival; teaching everyday at the temple courts. Now the leadership of the ruling class was there standing across the court yard from them. This was what Jesus was waiting for. He knew he was going to go head to head with them.

The orator, needing to illustrate that Jesus is a false teacher, brought up one of Jesus’ controversial lessons that he gave some months back in the synagogue of Capernaum. This was the hard lesson when Jesus openly declared unless they ate his body, they can never enter eternal life.

“The nerve of this man!” the orator exclaimed quite dramatically. “Do you not see how ridiculous the things that this man teaches? Again I ask you all, how has this man become learned, having never been educated?”

Jesus then stood up and gave him his answer! Cornelius whispered to himself, “Here we go!”

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch15 – part 3

GOING HEAD TO HEAD – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

Nicodemus chuckled, “This boy stood there confused when Gamaliel said you were a sinner. He answered him, ‘Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.’ So again Gamaliel demanded that he repeat what you did to him and how you opened his eyes. The scene was somewhat comical. There stood Gamaliel, looking so self-righteous, blustering away, while this young man just stood there somewhat amused about this room filled with the wisest of men and yet they could not comprehend the simplicity of what you did.

“He answered them, ‘I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again?’ And then he asked of the whole room with such sincerity, ‘You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?’

“I tell you the room erupted and they reviled him saying that he was your disciple, and they were disciples of Moses. Gamaliel started to angrily point at him and say out loud, ‘We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from.’

“Do you know what he finally said to them?”

The disciples nodded their heads expectantly while Jesus just smiled. But Cornelius was sure that he saw a gleam in his eyes.

Not able to hold it in any longer, Nicodemus blurted it out laughingly, “Well, this young man answered and said to them, ‘Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.’

“Gamaliel was about to rip his coat but instead he screamed angrily, ‘You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?’ Two of us had to escort him out lest they all fall upon him. I am afraid that young man will not be welcomed into any of the synagogues within a twenty mile radius.” [John 9: 1-34 NASB]

An hour later, Jesus and the disciples were walking the streets of the city. He was determined to find that young man. Interestingly enough to Cornelius, he did not inquire of anybody of his whereabouts. From the upper city, they followed him down the narrow streets of the lower city, across one of the bridges then up into the walled in City of David. They found the young man standing in the very same spot where he was healed. He seems to be waiting expectantly. Cornelius realized that he did not know what Jesus looked like.

Jesus told most of the disciples to wait at a distance, as he with Peter, James and John approached the young man. They both talked for awhile. Cornelius knew not of what. Then the young man fell to the ground before Jesus and kissed his feet. Jesus bent down to help him up and the young hugged Jesus in gratitude. He followed Jesus and the others back to the waiting disciples. By then, a small crowd gathered and Cornelius noted there were Pharisees among them. Jesus seem to have noticed them too for he addressed them and said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”

Sure enough, the Pharisees responded, “We are not blind too, are we?”

Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” But before they could respond again, Jesus was already climbing the stairs to the temple. [John 9: 35-41 NASB]
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