FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 064

SIMON THE LEPER
33 AD – The Day of the Lord – Mount of Olives, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

For Simon, the past three days of the Passover was a blur of intense tug-of-war between the Jewish leadership and Jesus. Everyday he came into the Temple court and taught the people on the steps of Solomon’s Columns. He taught much and soon even the elites of the city came to hear him teach. Of course, as expected, his lessons were always interrupted by those who sought to discredit him, mostly the priesthood lackies trying to catch him in either blasphemy or reasons to betray him to the Romans. To the relief of his followers and the delight of the crowd, he brilliantly thwarted their attempts to no avail. Simon felt though that they will come at Jesus with such greater endeavor before the Passover day tomorrow.

Jesus was finishing the latest parable he was imparting to the crowd, when Simon saw an exceptional group of scribes and Pharisees, many of whom were of the Sanhedrin, were approaching for another bout. Jesus saw them too. Then he stood up like he was about to orate. He turned first to Peter and the others. He smiled and Simon knew that Jesus is going to say something controversial.

Then he turned to the crowd and said, “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.

“They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.

“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” [Matthew 23:1-12]

Angry murmurs were coming from the Pharisees and scribes, while confusion was coming from his own group. They were caught off guard. They didn’t expect and understand why he was attacking them. Jesus criticized them for taking the place of honor at banquets, for wearing such ostentatious clothing, for encouraging people to call them Rabbi. For this he reminded the people that it was not them who are their true leader but only Christ. He was telling people that the true servants of God are not them who exalt themselves but those that humbles himself.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 063

NAHAN THE PRIEST
33 AD – Enter the King – Kidron Valley, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

Jesus and his entourage were still some distance away but slowly getting closer. And he could now make out what the people were calling out to him as being the Messiah.

Below the platform where he stood were a group of minor officials of the Sanhedrin. They, being Pharisees, were grumbling obviously because of the ‘Son of David’ reference. They being strict obedients to Jewish laws and traditions were appalled to the idea that this man from the northern provinces where they believe Jews were culturally contaminated by strong gentile influences can ever be the chosen Messiah. Their idea of a Messiah is a Joshua, who conquered the Canaanites … a Samson who was endowed with supernatural strength… a wise and successful Solomon… a strong and feared David… all in one. But then, what Nahan found amusing was that even with the Pharisees who considered themselves holier than most, they forget about the humbling beginnings of David being a lowly shepherd boy. Then, there is Solomon’s heritage of being the product of the heinous act of his father, David, who murdered his mother’s first husband to get her. As to Samson, he was a common womanizer.

The parade was closer. Jesus was smiling, waving to the people and shaking the hands of those that came near. Young people and children ran before him yelling in loud voices, ‘Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!’ [Matthew 21:9]

Their shouts echoed off the cliff walls of the Temple Mount. Nahan again looked up at the battlements and could clearly see a lot faces were looking down. He could just imagine the High Priest peering down and seething under him turban.

Some of the Pharisees tried to unsuccessfully quiet those shouting out their praise. One of them went to Jesus, finally pleaded with Jesus saying, “Teacher, rebuke them.”

But Jesus joyously laughed and said, “I tell you, if these become silent, the very stones on the ground will cry out!” [Luke 19:40]

Nahan hastily clambered down from the guard’s platform as Jesus and the crowd of people crossed the bridge. He pushed his way closer to them. When they reached the East entryway gate, Jesus got off the animals and entered followed by his disciples and the crowd. It was about sixty feet from the entry gate, up several flights of stairs, to another gate through Solomon’s columns onto the temple courts.

The court was cluttered with traders’ stall and money changers. He observed Jesus pulling up his sleeves and picking a coil of rope. He approached the nearest money changer’s table and started to tip it over. Coins scattered everywhere and the money-changer screeching like an old woman scrambled after them. He went next to a peddler of birds and tore into the soft baskets releasing the birds that took flight. He turned over more tables then turned his attention on breaking the pens that held the animals and using the cord of rope like a whip drove them and the corrupt merchants away.

“It is written… My House shall be a House of Prayer,’ but you have made it a Den of Thieves.”

From the colonnade’s vantage point which was slightly elevated, he saw, as expected, a squad of Temple guards dispatched to arrest Jesus but were thwarted by an excited and ever so growing crowds that surrounded Jesus hailing him the son of David. As the dust settled, Jesus went back up the steps of the colonnade and sat down to teach the people.

When Nahan entered his office, he thought to himself that this will be an interesting week.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 062

NAHAN THE PRIEST
33 AD – Enter the King – Kidron Valley, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

Nahan had been visiting a rich friend who had set up an encampment on the north side of the Kidron Valley just at the foot of the Mount of Olives. The campsite was situated higher on the slope overlooking the entire valley which was packed with multicolored tents, hazy from thousands of cook fires. Even the Kidron river which flowed down the center of the valley was hardly distinguishable. The valley was a sloped shallow crevasse between the Mount of Olives in the east, the towering Temple Mount and the City of David in the west.

He had spent a profitable night with his friend, whom he only gets to see once or twice a year. Besides being a priest, Nahan is also a vineyard owner of which his friend is managing for him. As he was making his way back to the Temple, he was quite happy that his business was doing quite well. Then, he noticed that there was a crescendo in the general ambiance sound of thousands of people in the valley below. He paused in his stride just upon entering the eastern lower gate at the base of the mount. Curious, he took one step back to see what was in the air.

The people below the ledge where he stood were also aware that there was something happening but were confused of what. But then others coming from the midst of the city of tents started to point to the east. From where he stood, Nahan looked east and saw where the road from Jericho wound over the south-lower ridge of the Mount of Olives. The road itself could not be seen because of all the people there. Then he saw the waving of the palms and he knew who was coming. He smiled.

Nahan checked himself to see if he was wearing anything that might reveal he was a priest. He then took the short flight of steps down unto the bridge that span over the ravine. He worked his way through the crowd to the end of the bridge where the Jericho road ends. Temple guards posted there recognized him. He told them to pretend that they do not see him. But he took advantage of the two-level platform that they usually use. From there, he could clearly see throngs of palm-waving people lining the road. Then the cheers got louder and he saw him riding on a led donkey followed by a colt that skittishly hugged it’s mother. It almost looked like the Nazarene was astride on both animal.

Nahan almost laughed out loud in amusement. He knew that Jesus of Nazareth have not made any claim of kingship but there he is riding into the city from the east like the kings of old. He knew this was clearly a statement. He turned around and craned his head up to look up the sheer cliff and walls of the Temple Mount. He peered against the glare of the sky at the battlements and saw no one yet looking down.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 061

ANDREW THE FIRST DISCIPLE
33 AD – Enter the King – Jericho Road, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

It was a celebratory day. As soon as they went through the gates of Bethany, they were surrounded by a crowd of pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem for the annual Passover Feast. The people were singing a Psalm.

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
[Psalm 95:1-7]

Andrew recognized it as one of the psalms of Moses traditionally sung by pilgrims.

When many recognized Jesus they began clapping their hands and calling out praise. About a mile from the city, Jesus halted his approach. The people were wondering why he stopped. Some surmised that maybe he may not enter the city after all because they knew the leadership wanted him arrested.

Jesus called Andrew to him.

“Andrew, take a companion and go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” [Matthew 21:2-3]

So, Andrew and Philip went down a track just off the main road. They followed the narrow winding foot path through a grove of olive trees until they came upon a small walled-in village. They spotted the donkey and it’s frolicking colt tied to a tree just outside a shack.

With no hesitation, Andrew started to untie the donkey. He noticed that Philip was fidgeting.

“What is bothering you, Philip?”

“Well… when I saw this donkey and it’s foal, something jumped to mind but I cannot recall exactly what. This is going to drive me crazy.”

“Stop!” called a man who came from behind the shack. “Why are you untying my animals?”

“The Lord needs them,” Andrew said.

The man was about to say something but paused with his mouth still open. Then, he nodded his assent and followed them back to the main road where Jesus waited patiently.

Andrew anticipated what Jesus intended. He unrolled the cloth material that was slung over his shoulder and wrapped around his waist which he usually utilized it as a blanket or veil to protect him from the sun. He then spread it on the back of the donkey. Peter and James also placed their robes on the animal and helped Jesus to get on. They then took the reigns and led the donkey back on the road. The people roared in approval. The men in the crowd took their own robes off and laid them on the road while the women and children tore fronds of palm branches off and waved them at him as he rode by. They called out to him and called him king.

Andrew felt a tug on his sleeve. It was Philip saying excitedly, “Andrew, I now know what this all means. It is prophecy coming to life. I remember now the Scripture that was quoted to be by my Rabbi when I was a boy. It is from the words of Zecharia the prophet. ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ” [Zecharia 9:9]

Andrew’s mind raced with the thought that Jesus will, this day, usher in his kingdom and claim kingship. He felt elated, yet still a little apprehensive, but he wasn’t sure why.

It was not long until they crested a ridge and looked upon the city of Jerusalem. Just below was the Kidron Valley where there was a massive encampment. Then they were greeted with an uproar of thousands of voice.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 049

NAHAN THE PRIEST
32 AD – Confrontation – Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

Then the crowd again surged forward most with exaltation and belief written on their faces. Nahan saw that Jesus’ 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 calmed down the chief priests and the leadership came back out.

So Jesus spoke loudly to those that surrounded him, many were of the Pharisees, Nahan noted.

“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.” [John 8:31,32]

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’? ” [v33]

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. [v34-36]

“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.” [v37,38]

Then a number of them exclaimed loudly to Him, “Abraham is our father.” [v39a]

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.” [v39b-41a]

“We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: The Lord.” [v41b]

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. [v42,43]

“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.” [v44]

Nahan should have been angry but what this man have said so far disturbed him deeply.

“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.” [v45-47]

One of the priests answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” [v48]

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.” [v49]

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?” [v50-53]

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.” [v54-56]

So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” [v57]

“Truly, truly, I say to you,” Jesus paused for just a moment, then said, “before Abraham was born… I… AM.” [v58]

The whole court went deathly silent. Nahan was struck dumb. Deep in the recess of his mind he heard echo the words of the Prophet Isaiah, ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ [Isaiah 9:6]

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. Nahan lost sight of him. As angry as he should be, he was unusually happy that Jesus got away. Besides, he knew somehow that he will see the Son of man again.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 49th 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, there are two options:

1. Donate $2-$5 to my PAYPAL account [click below]

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2. 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 048

NAHAN THE PRIEST
32 AD – Confrontation – Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

Then Nahan saw about twenty temple guards shoving their way through the crowd towards them, led by two of the chief priests. Nahan was wondering why are the guards being sent now. But the guards 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 7:28-29 NASB]

The priests leading the guards were coaxing them to move in, but the guards feared what the crowd will do to them. Meanwhile, the crowd was elated on how Jesus’ voice stopped them.

“I am the light of the world,” said Jesus. “He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.” [John 8:12]

“You are testifying about yourself,” cried Nahan taking advantage that Jesus had contradicted himself. “Your testimony is not true.” [v13]

Jesus answered and said, “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.” [v14-18]

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.” [v19]

The crowd started to surge toward him making it even more difficult for the Temple guards to approach.

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.” [v21]

Nahan, the temple guards, the 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’?” [v22]

“You are from below,” Jesus declared loudly. “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.” [v23-25]

They asked him, “Who are you?” [v26]

“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.” [v27-29]

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 48th 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, there are two options:

1. Donate $2-$5 to my PAYPAL account [click below]

DONATE TO MY PAYPAL

2. 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 047

NAHAN THE PRIEST
32 AD – Confrontation – Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

Nahan then noticed the expressions of the crowd and saw that most were frowning and not happy with his words. He was losing the crowd and looked nervously back at his superiors. At the same instance, he saw that Jesus on the other hand was a picture of calm and serenity still sitting on the top of the steps politely allowing the other to make his point.

Nahan needed to illustrate that Jesus is a false teacher, so he brought up one of Jesus’ controversial lessons that he gave some months back in the synagogue of Capernaum.

“Was it not you who declared, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’ What nonsense is this?”

“Then you continued on by outragiously saying that, ‘…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” [John 6:34-58 NASB]

“The nerve of this man!” Nahan 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 quite calmly. Somehow, though this Jesus did not seem impressive, Nahan suddenly felt a sense of dread.

“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.” [John 7:16-18]
Jesus then directly points at him 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?” [John 7:19]

There were angry murmurs coming from the crowd.

“You have a demon! Who seeks to kill you?” cried Nahan.

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.” [John 7:22-24]

The High Priest and a number of the leadership angrily walked back into the temple. Nahan would have followed but he was instructed to stay.

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.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 47th 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, there are two options:

1. Donate $2-$5 to my PAYPAL account [click below]

DONATE TO MY PAYPAL

2. 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.