FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 058

MARY, THE FAITHFUL ONE
33 AD – Sabbath Anointment – Bethany, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

Mary was awakened by a light rap at the door. Out the window, it was still dark. She quietly got up, careful not to wake her companions who shared her room. When she opened the door, flickering light streamed in from an oil lamp held by Joanne. Mary smiled at Joanne and another woman who came with Miriam, Jesus’ mother.

They went down to the back of the house, crossed the courtyard to the single story structure used as the kitchen. There was light showing in the windows. Mary smelled roasting meat in the air which she knew was started in the wee hours. Entering the kitchen, they found Martha and a servant working.

When Martha raised her eyes, she was surprised to see her sister. Mary went to her and kissed her in greeting. Martha looked at her. No words were exchanged. She smiled.

Mary and the others washed their hands. Then, they went to the work table to mix and knead dough. Joanne was forming rows of long rolls of dough. Mary would take two rolls and meticulously weave them into a braided loaf. As a little girl, her father had told her that the braided loaf was to remind them how God provided a double portion of manna that miraculously appeared to their ancestors during their 40 years in the wilderness. Every morning for five days each family would go out to gather the wafer bread befitting each family’s needs. But on the sixth day, they were instructed to gather a double portion. God did this so that the people would not violate the Law that during the Sabbath no Israelite would labor.

Then the loaves would go into one of the three stone ovens outside the kitchen. Mary and the women labored throughout the morning preparing the food for over thirty people. By the time the sun reached it zenith, Martha gave warning that the Sabbath was almost upon them. All the food had to be laid out on the tables and to help them out, Jesus with twelve others came to the kitchen and started to carry platters full of food into the house. This gave Mary and the others to rush up to their rooms to tidy up.

As Mary was tying up her into a bun, she espied at the far end of her vanity among a variety of bottles, a tiny alabaster cylindrical bottle with an intricate carving of a cluster of grapes hanging off a vine. She recognized it as the perfume vial that her father gave as a surprise gift just before he had to exile himself from them because of leprosy. That was ten years ago.

She reached for it. It was still sealed with beeswax. She shook it and was delighted that the aromatic contents did not dry out. She was about to break the seal, but then she hesitated for some reason. In her mind, she imagined a voice telling her, ‘not just yet’. She shrugged her shoulders and placed the bottle back on her vanity.

The Sabbath was celebrated on the seventh day starting with the evening meal of the sixth. Her father started it with the traditional uttering of the blessing. He gave a blessing of thanksgiving for the land and its bounty, and for Lord’s goodness in feeding of family, the guests and all creatures.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 057

JOANNE THE HONORABLE WIFE
33 AD – Sabbath Anointment – Bethany, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

It had been a month since they all had witnessed Lazarus, dead for four days, being brought back to life by Jesus. The great city and the surrounding environs are still talking about it. Joanne who had been staying in the house of young Mary’s family in Bethany is standing on the front stoop expectantly waiting for her husband who had sent a message of his arrival from Herod’s palace in Perea.

Then, the gate bell was rung and a servant goes to open the gates. Chuza enters followed by two porters. Joanne went to him and greeted him.

“Is he here?” asked Chuza

“No… not yet,” said Joanne. “What is wrong?”

” I have news concerning him.”

Then she heard the front doors open. She glanced back to find Simon coming out followed by Martha and Lazarus.

“Welcome to our home, Chuza, high chamberlain of Herod Antipas.”

“Peace be upon this house,” said Chuza, giving the traditional greeting.

“And peace be upon you.” Simon returned.

“I have been an admirer of your business exploits for sometime now,” said Chuza. “When I heard that my wife Joanne was here staying with you, I was delighted.”

“The Lord had been generous,” Simon said contemplatively. “Please… come inside.”

Just inside the antechamber, a servant waited holding a towel, a jar of water and an empty basin. Chuza ritually removed his sandals while the servant laid the basin before him. Chuza hiked up his robe and hovered his right foot over the basin. The servant was about to pour water but Joanne stopped him. He passed the towel and jar to her. She gets down to her knees and pours water on his foot. She wiped his foot with the towel and then repeated the process on his other foot. When she stood up, she found Chuza looking at her with a surprised look.
An hour later, Jesus and his entourage arrived. When they were all settled, Joanne went to Simon Peter and asked if she can meet with Jesus. After the evening meal, they gathered privately. In the room was Simon, Jesus, Simon Peter, Andrew, John, Chuza and herself.

“Rabbi, several members of the Sanhedrin and from the priesthood arrived at the fortress of Machaerus some days ago. They met with Antipas with a message from the High Priest. I was not there on the initial meeting but when I was summoned, I came upon in the middle of them plotting to have you seized and put to death.

“They fear of your influence on the people… losing their place of respect and honor among them. They spoke of the people declaring you king and there would be outright revolt against the Romans and even themselves.

“They have set watch for you at the upcoming Passover Festival. They dare not arrest you in the open. So, they seek an opportune time. They have even placed out a reward for your betrayal.”

After the meeting, Simon Peter had sent John and another disciple to Jerusalem. John was related to the family of the High Priest. It was hoped that he could gather more news of their plot. Joanne did note that though Simon Peter and the others showed a deep concern, Jesus reflected a calm demeanor.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 056

JORAM THE THIEF
33 AD – Miraculous Sight – Bethany, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

They led him south of the village into the same small canyon where Joram hid from the Romans. They followed the well worn winding track passing several fenced out grave sites, a number of which had carved circular stones about three feet in diameter covering the openings. They reached the end of the trail that opened up into a wider enclosure where Simon’s clan maintained a garden. The garden was fenced in by a short rock wall about three feet high. There were several burial chambers carved out halfway up the canyon wall. Simon told Jesus that Lazarus was entombed inside the chamber of the first ledge about five feet above the canyon floor.

Jesus climbed the steps to the ledge followed closely by Simon and Jesus followers.. The sobbing sisters also climbed the steps but stopped part way. Jesus placed his hand on the round stone and wept openly.

“See how He loved him!” Joram heard one of the Pharisees saying. But someone else also said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind, have kept this man also from dying?” [v36,37]

Jesus took a step back and spoke to Peter and Andrew, “Roll the stone away.”

Martha gasped and said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” [v40] Mary’s head came up and looked on him with a desperate hope.

Jesus said to Martha, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” [v41]

So, the two men positioned themselves on the right side of the stone. The round stone was resting in the bottom of its inclined groove carved into the rock. Grunting profusely, they rolled the heavy stone up the slight incline, revealing the small opening into the dark chamber. Except for Jesus, those on the ledge and steps as well as those gathered below the ledge covered the nose and mouth from the obvious smell of decay. They quickly retreated down the steps leaving Jesus alone on the ledge.

Then Jesus raised his eyes, and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that you sent me.”

Then he called out in a commanding voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” [v41-43]

The crowd was silent. When after a while nothing seem to be happening, some in the crowd started snickering. But then a woman gasped and with a trembling hand pointing, she said, “Look!”

Joram climbed the stone wall to look over everyone’s shoulder and get a better look inside of the tomb. At first, all he saw was pitch darkness until he could just make out some slight grayish movement deep inside. He felt the hairs on his back stand up and eyes grew wide. The crowd was startled with a few women screaming out loud as a bound hand came out of the darkness grasping the entrance wall. Jesus reached in, grasped the other hand and helped the struggling bound man out. It was Lazarus alive after four days in the tomb. He was wrapped from head to foot with linen wrappings. The bound wrappings were hardened and stiff from the herbal ointments applied when he was buried.

No one moved. Jesus, who was holding him up, called out to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” [v44]

It was the sisters that reacted first as they both rushed up the steps and embraced Lazarus. Other men rushed up to the ledge and started to tear at the hardened wrappers. His father handed his robe to cover his nakedness. He was still pretty weak, so they had to carry him down.

The people were amazed and were calling loud praises to God. Even those Jews who had laughed at him bowed their heads in respect when Jesus and his disciples walked by following the happy family.

Joram’s mind was reeling. He heard the stories but to witness what he just witnessed was mind boggling. He had to get to know Jesus more. Fortunately, he knew the exact person to make the introduction. He was in such in a light mood that he did not notice a squad of Roman soldiers waiting outside the canyon. When they spotted him, they pounced on him. He tried to struggle free but one of the soldiers hit his head and knocked him out.

When Joram woke up, his head was pounding. It was very dark. When he tried to stand he realized he had a heavy iron cufflinks on his ankle and he was chained to the floor. He heard a moan nearby.

“Who is there? Where am I?” He asked desperately in the dark.

“Stop your wailing! No one will come to help.”

“Where are we?”

“Where else! We are deep in the dungeons of the Praetorium.”

Joram’s mind reeled. The Praetorium is the Roman fortress that overlooks the Temple itself. There is only one way out from here for the likes of him; crucifixion.

Even in his dire situation, he only had one thought, ‘I will never see him again.’
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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 055

JORAM THE THIEF
33 AD – Miraculous Sight – Bethany, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

On the fourth day, he was lounging on the steps that overlooked the front courtyard and gate of Simon’s house. He was enjoying a bowl full of dates when from inside the house Martha, Simon’s older sister, emerged followed by Simon and some servants. In a quick pace, they went out the gate. Curious, Joram quickly descended the stairs, crossed to the gate and dashed after them. He followed them through the village but he was careful to hug the sides of houses and made sure he had sharp eyes for patrolling Romans.

He followed Martha and Simon out the village gate. They went down the road about a quarter of a mile to a crowd of people milling at the side of the road. They both approached a man who was sitting on a hewn log. The man stood to greet Simon with a hug. Joram realized that that man had to be the one who healed Simon, Jesus.

Martha who looked angry stood at a distance. The man Jesus took a step towards her and said, “Martha.”

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Martha said in an angry and trembling voice. Then she bowed her head and sobbingly said, “Even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” [John 11:21,22]

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” [v23]

Sighing deeply she said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” [v24]

Then Jesus approached her and stood before her. Her face was bowed and downcast. “Martha, look into my eyes,” he softly said to her. She slowly raised her teary eyes to meet his. Then he gave her a reassuring smile and said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” She cast her face down again in shame. Jesus ever so gently lifted her chin and asked, “Do you believe this?” [v25,26]

She sobbed loudly and Jesus drew her closer to him so that her face cried on his shoulder. Martha said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that you are the Christ, the Son of God, even he who comes into the world.” [v27]

Then Martha hurried back to the village with her servant in tow. Meanwhile, Joram wrestled with the words that Jesus incredibly uttered, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’ Joram was flabbergasted. He was thinking to himself on how anyone can make such a claim.

About fifteen minutes later, a sizable crowd was seen coming out, a number of them were Jewish leaders from the city paying their respect. They were following Mary, the youngest sister of Lazarus, who was walking fast ahead of them. Martha was just behind her. When Mary spotted Jesus, she sprinted the last twenty yards to him. Then she threw herself on the ground at his feet weeping loudly.

Her tear streaked face lifted to look imploringly at him and she said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” [v32]

Jesus helped her up on her feet and she fiercely embraced him, burying her face unto his chest weeping loudly. As Jesus returned her embrace, he was openly weeping. The women among the crowd were also weeping loudly.

Then he looked at Simon and his daughter, Martha and asked, “Where have you laid him?”

“Lord, come and see.” [v34]
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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 053

JORAM THE THIEF
33 AD – Miraculous Sight – Bethany, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

The next day, he was awakened by murmurings just below him. His first thought was that the soldiers had discovered his hideaway. Then he heard women crying. He slowly stuck his head out the hole and peered over the ledge. It was a funeral procession.

It was a large procession of more than a hundred people from Bethany. By the finery of the clothes of the mourners, the person that was being buried must have been very rich. They were just passing by under him, carrying the body on an open liter. The body, surrounded by flowers, was tightly wound by linen wrappings coated with a concoction of spices. Following it were the immediate family. One of them may have been someone he knew. But that was impossible, for the one he was thinking of was a leper and was probably long dead.

He watched the procession go to the far end of the quarry into one of the fenced-in garden. From his high vantage, he had a clear sight of the garden which was fenced in by a short rock wall about three feet high. This family was very rich for there were four burial chambers some of which were carved out halfway up the canyon walls. There were rough steps carved into the rock that led up to several ledges. Those carrying the liter climbed to the first ledge about five feet above the canyon floor. The ledge was only wide enough for about five to six people. A large heavy circular stone was rolled away to reveal the tomb. Two men carried the body in. After a minute, they came out and rolled the stone back to cover the chamber.

Then, another man, a much older one, went up to stand by the tomb. He reluctantly placed his hand on the stone to say goodbye. He turned to the mourners and spoke. Joram could not hear what was spoken but that was not what surprised him. The old man speaking was not only a man he knew, but one he thought was long dead. As he peered closely at the speaker, his eyes widened in disbelief. The man he is now seeing is his friend of fifteen years, Simon the Leper. But this man, clearly, had no trace of the disease. When last he saw Simon, his nose had rotten away and his face was bleeding from multiple sores. His back was hunched low and he was in constant pain. That was three years ago, when his friend asked him to leave him to die.

He was about to crawl out of his hideaway to see his friend, when he noticed two Romans lazing around near the entrance watching the funeral. He was wondering if they were posted there to keep an eye out for him. He was flattered but his pouch of food is only good for one more day, maybe two. He has to find a way to sneak past them. He thought of going out with the funeral mourners but his dirty clothes would not blend with their finery. Besides, he may have robbed some of them one time or another. So, he’ll go out when it gets dark.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 051

MARY THE FAITHFUL
33 AD – Death of Lazarus – Bethany, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

One afternoon, Lazarus woke up in the midst of a fever and in a low hoarse voice, he said, “Mary, I do not think I will make it.”

“What talk is this, Lazarus?” Mary said a little scoldingly. “Jesus will not let you die. He will come.”

“Comfort my heart. Tell me a secret like you used to when you were little.”

Mary knew a secret and she was going to share it with him when he gets better.

“I did discover something,” she whispered. “It was when the disciples were talking amongst themselves when Jesus said ‘The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.’ [Mark 9:30-32]

“I was shocked to hear it but the disciples showed very little in emotion. Joanne later told me the he had said this a number of times before. The disciples are having a hard time trying to comprehend it and fear asking him about it. Some of them believe that it was more figurative. I believe otherwise… from the things I learned so far.”

Mary was given a great privilege. When Jesus saw that she had great capacity to learn, he gave instructions to his disciples to give her tutelage of the Scriptures which were traditionally reserved only for Jewish boys. Matthew took it upon himself to instruct her. Using the holy scrolls of a friendly Synagogue leader, Mary’s eyes opened to God’s written word. In the course of a few months, she saw a repeated pattern weaved within the stories of Moses and the books of the prophets. It was a pattern of sacrificial substitution provided divinely to temporarily pay for the original sin of Adam, the first man. But those sacrifices only benefited just a few. Mankind is still eternally in danger.

Mary, however, had also gleaned a promised hope in that pattern. She saw this promise float to the surface from within the literature like pieces in a puzzle starting with a voiced certainty that the future offspring of Abraham would be a great blessing to the nations. Those pieces came together in the prophecies of the coming Messiah. The question in her mind though was what would the Messiah do? The Jews have it in their minds that the Messiah would be a returning victorious king from the line of David freeing them from the tyranny of the Romans. But Mary believed that that prophecy will not come about the way her people expected. In her mind, their way of thinking only serves their nation. But prophecy says that the Messiah would be a great blessing to the nations… to all mankind. And that blessing will come in the form of a sacrifice to top all other sacrifices. She put it all together.

“Lazarus,” she whispered into his ear, “Jesus is going to die for all of us. I don’t know how yet, but I believe it is going to happen soon… very soon. I know this because of the way he had been talking to us lately. I think I am the only one who believes this. Lazarus? Lazarus, did you hear me?”

Mary thought he was asleep. When she placed her palm on his forehead, it was cold. She expected it to be feverishly hot. She sighed a breath of relief thinking that maybe his fever broke, but then to her dismay, she realized he was not breathing.

“Abba!” She called out as loud as she could.

Simon came rushing in followed by Martha and some of the servants. As Martha wailed loudly, he calmly assessed the situation. Going to a countertop, he retrieved his daughter’s hand mirror and gently held it under his nostrils trying to detect even a slight puff of air. He looked at Mary and shook his head. Then he pulled his son’s bed covers over his head.

The activity around the house was solemn. Mary was tired and walking around in a daze. She walked into the room where Lazarus was being prepared for burial. His body was almost wrapped with linen soaked in aromatic spices. Two women were solemnly wrapping his right arm and shoulder. Mary went to the other side of the table and rolled up her sleeve.

“Mary, you should not. You will be unclean,” said one of the women. “We can finish this.”

But Mary had already picked up the soaked strips and started to delicately wrap his other arm. When only his head was left unwrapped, the two women respectfully left the room to let Mary finish up.

Mary’s tears started to fall and she started to stroke her brother’s hair. When she turns toward the open window, she says, “If only you have come…”
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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 050

MARY THE FAITHFUL
33 AD – Death of Lazarus – Bethany, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

The winter again was not as harsh than last year and spring seem to have sprung up a little early in Judea. But the air was still a bit cold when Mary returned home with her two companions from Galilee. She had spent three wonderful months with Mariam, the mother of Jesus.

Mariam had taken Mary under her wing. From her, Mary was told an incredible story of how she was visited by an angel of the Lord. From that meeting, Mariam was told what the Lord God had intended and as intended, she became pregnant. The incredible part was that she was a virgin.

Jesus had been focusing his ministry in and around Nazareth and Capernaum. Whenever, Jesus was there, Mary had taken every opportunity learn more about him, the kingdom and eternal life. She even learned of things that Jesus only reserved to his closest disciples. For her, it was heaven.

When she alighted from the wagon, her father emerged from the house.

“Abba,” she hugged him. “It is good to be home.”

The two women approached them.

“Abba, you remember Mary of Magdala. And this is Joanne. Her husband is Chuza…”

“Oh yes… he is Antipas’ finance manager, I recall,” Simon said. “Ladies… please enter our home. I must talk to my daughter.” He led her to the side as her companions entered.

“Mary, I miss you so much. I almost regretted sending you to Galilee… almost.” Simon smiled then he hugged her again. “Before we go into the house, I have to tell you that your brother is very… very ill.”

Mary rushed into the house with her father not too far behind. She passed her two companions who clearly sensed something was wrong. She went up to the third level to her brother’s room. She paused before his door, took a breath and then entered.

Lazarus was covered from neck to foot with bed covers and blankets. His hair was flattened down in sweat. His glistening face was incredibly pallored to the point that he already resembled a corpse. It was only by his shallow breathing that Mary knew he was still alive. Martha was there laying a damp towel on his head.

“He has been asking for you, Mary,” Martha said.

“I wish I knew he was ill, or else I would have come earlier,” she said as they hugged each other. “How is he?”

“I feel much better, now that you are here,” Lazarus said as he smiled weakly. Then he fell back to sleep.

Martha took Mary to the far end of the room and whispers, “He is not getting better. I fear the worse. Where is the Master? Father had been sending messengers far and wide.”

“He and the Twelve are somewhere in the Perean region.”

“Then, I must inform Father, so he can send messengers. You stay and keep him cool.”

“Of course, sister.”

Martha quietly left the room.

“Mary?”

“I am here, brother.”

Mary went to his bed and replaced the the damp cloth on his head. He asked her for some news and she told him of the happenings of Capernaum, Cana and at Nazareth, mostly places where she was. Throughout the night and several other nights, she and her companions took turns in caring for him. However, Lazarus did not get any better and there were no signs of Jesus.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 045

MARY, THE FAITHFUL ONE
32 AD – Meaning of True Love – Bethany, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

Jesus taught more on things that the disciples need to be followers, but Mary heard very little of it. In her mind’s eye, her finger was tracing his face from his moving lips up his manly snub nose much like her father’s (except that the bridge of his is slightly longer) to his eyebrows which were slightly curved and not too bushy. His forehead was taller than most. She imagined running her fingers in his bluish-black shoulder length hair. All in all, he was not really handsome. By most he would be almost considered ordinary. But for Mary, he was heavenly.

When he finished his lesson, Mary asked, “Lord? Tell me about love.”

Mary can almost feel the amusement of the men behind her. Jesus smiled encouragingly. He looked to the others and gave a nod. She heard them get up and left the garden to just the both of them.

Jesus knew what was in Mary’s heart… Romance. He knew that she was romantically infatuated with him. He spoke to her gently and with understanding. He told her that first and foremost, he must complete the task that was set by his Father above. A task that will become known to her and his followers soon. A task that only he can undergo singly and alone.

Mary understood. She asked, “Was it wrong for me to… to love like this?”

“Oh Mary!” Jesus lightly laughed out loud. “Of course, it is not wrong. In the beginning, your Father in heaven had always intended that people should not be alone. The way a man and a woman are attracted to each other was the way the Creator had always intended. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So, they are no longer two, but one flesh.’ ” [Matthew 19:5-6]

“What you feel, though, you will feel many times but they are always short-lived as they were meant to be.”

“Meant to be? What do you mean, Lord?”

“True Love goes beyond the passion of romance and infatuation. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

“Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. Knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! When the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. But love will last forever!” [1 Corinthians 13:4-10]

“Lord, I think I understand but I so wanted to go where you go,” she sobbed. “Can I not go wherever you go?”

“That time will come,” Jesus said as he looked at her penetratingly and smiled. “For now, I think it best that that time would be best spent with my mother. Would you like that?”

She nodded.

“I’ll speak to your father.”

Then, Martha came into the garden and she did not look happy. She looked at her. Mary expected a earful but instead Martha approached Jesus.

“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” She was almost pleading.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” [Luke 10:40-42]

Mary thought that she probably was free forever from helping out in the kitchen, but then Jesus’ words on love, selflessness and sacrifice convicted her heart. As Martha walked back inside, looking a little dejected, Mary said, “Wait for me, Martha.”

They hugged and the both went in. Jesus was pleased.

At the evening meal, as Mary was helping serve, John and Andrew arrived from the city. They reported that the priesthood had given orders to arrest Jesus when he shows up at the festival. But they gave up looking out for him, thinking he was still in Galilee.

Mary’s father, Simon asks, “What is the plan, Master?”

Jesus stood. He looked at them all, then he stops to look at Mary.

“Tomorrow, I will go up to the festival and the son of man will make his appearance. Tomorrow, the Son of man will pick a fight.”

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 45th 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.

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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 044

MARY, THE FAITHFUL ONE
32 AD – Meaning of True Love – Bethany, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

Mary had managed to escape again from Martha. Martha had given her much to do again. She was preparing the house for, what Mary considered another frivolous party for another unknown visitor who had sent word the day before of their arrival. Martha loves to play hostess to many of their father’s business acquaintances and even to quite a few of her suitors. Traditionally, husbands were already chosen by the parents even when their daughters were young. But since Mary’s mother had passed away when she was very young, her father, Simon, had forwent tradition and told that they are free to choose a partner for themselves. Martha is closed to eighteen but no man had interest her yet. Mary suspects that her father may have to secure her a husband soon if he ever want to see grandchildren. Lazarus who is about twenty would be expected to wed when he reach his thirties. As for herself, her father had not spoken to her about love or marriage at all. She thinks that her father is trying to keep her as his little girl for as long it took. But Mary had her own ideas about romance and escaping from Martha gave her opportunity to daydream more about it under her favorite tree.

She went to her tree about two hours after the noon meal living out her romantic fantasy until sleep took her into slumber land. In her dreams, she was looking up to the man of her dreams except that she could not make out his face which was in dark deep shadows because the sun was at his back. Then he extended his hand down to help her up when she noticed that his wrist had a cruel scar on it. Then an echoey voice was calling her name repeatedly.

“Ma… ry… Ma… ry… Mary… Mary!”

Suddenly, her eyes snapped open and there before her was a hand just like her dream except there was no scar.

“Mary, wake up!” It was the laughing voice of her brother. When her eyes focused, she realized that it was nearly dusk. She saw her grinning brother and a group of men looking up from the road. She looked at the hand that awaited to help her up. She followed the arm up to a smiling face of someone she did not recognize. He had a short beard and his hair came down to his shoulders. But it was his eyes that fascinated her. It’s like they can see deep into her very soul. As he helped her to her feet, she felt herself blush.

When they joined her brother and the others on the road, Lazarus introduced her to the man.

“Mary, this is Jesus. He was the one that healed father.”

Mary did not hesitate to gleefully throw her arms around Jesus’ neck which caused the disciples to laugh in approval.
The next day, Jesus was teaching in an enclosed garden. The Twelve disciples were there with Simon and his son, Lazarus. Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet. One or two of the disciples probably noticed that as she attentively looked up at Jesus she was obviously glassy eyed. Even Lazarus was amused with the wideness of her eyes. But as to Mary, she was joyously oblivious to her surrounding. All she saw and heard was only him.

“If anyone wishes to follow me as my disciple,” Jesus teaches. “He must deny himself. That is, set aside selfish interests, and take up your cross.”

“Master?” asked Simon Peter. “What did you mean ‘take up our cross’?”

“A time will soon come when all these things will become clear. For now, you must learn to develop the willingness to endure whatever may come and follow me. This mean believing in me, conforming to my example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in me.

“For whoever wishes to save his life in this world will eventually lose it through death, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find life with me for all eternity. Consider this, for what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world… wealth, fame, success, but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory and majesty of His Father with His angels, and then He will repay each one in accordance with what he has done. And I assure you and most solemnly say to you, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” [Matthew 16:24-28 Amplified Bible]

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 44th 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 028

NAHAN THE PRIEST
31 AD – Temple Mount, Jerusalemfaithful-encounters-cover-w

On the appointed eighth day, Nahan amusingly watched Simon enter the Temple complex with the entire clan and a crowd of friends. The source of his amusement was that Simon had shaved his head and his beard, as required. The mirth on the faces of all three of Simon’s children testify that they too were trying not to breakout laughing themselves. Then he noticed the animals the family handed over to the priests who already started to examine them for any blemishes. Nahan knew that the final part of the purifiction ceremony only required two male lambs and a one-year-old female lamb, all with no defects, along with a grain offering of choice flour and pressed oil extracted from olives. Instead, Simon took from his herd, two young bulls and a heifer cow that has yet to borne a calf. The women separated from the men and stayed at an elevated floor area designated just for them. The men, being prompted by the priests, moved forward up to the steps of the elevated columned portico that separated the Court of the Priests from the Court of Israel where only those men of Hebrew descent can gather.

Nahan watched them approach with a little apprehension. The men were festive and the women were singing a Psalm of rejoice. But that may change as soon as he makes his announcement. Seeing that he could not delay any longer, he took a step forward and raised his hand up to signal for everyone’s silence. When everyone went quiet, he took a deep breath.

“My friends and family, I must announce that the priesthood no longer consider this as a purification ceremony.” Mumbling voices rose in crescendo. “Please allow me to explain. Ten years ago, I and two others diagnosed Simon to have signs of unusual and spreading whitening of the skin. But I must confess that we were too hasty to declare leprosy. It is quite apparent that by Simon’s healing, the priesthood believes that it was just a skin ailment that lasted so long.”

Simon’s son, Lazarus, was about to protest but Simon held him back by calmly shaking his head.

“Simon?” asked Nahan. “Since you have been away from worship for so long, would you offer your animal and grain sacrifice as a freewill offering of thanksgiving.”

Simon nodded his ascent which was a relief to Nahan. He proceeded through the portico into the inner court or the Court of the Priests. Since he was the presiding priest, he went to the Brazen Sea. It was a massive bronze basin constantly filled with thousands of gallons of water which sat on the southeastern corner of the court. The basin itself sat on the hind quarters of twelve lifesize bronze oxens. Also known as the Laver, it stood taller than two men. Nahan went to a smaller basin that stood waste high, where another priest waited. He rolled up his sleeves and extended his hands and forearms over the basin. The other priest reached up to turn a valve, on the side of the mouth of one of the bronze oxen. Then water poured out of a spout ingeniously hidden in the mouth. After ritually washing his hands, he solemnly crossed to the massive altar on the eastern side. He went up the twelve steps to the top of the platform where he felt the heat from the coals that were just stoked by a priest. Hearing distressed animal sounds, he moved to the edge of the platform to observe the slaughter. The two bulls were already down and the cow was frantically mooing as it was led to the already bloody slaughter area. A priest was calmly stroking it head to help it quiet down. Another brought a clean basin and positioned it under the cow’s neck. He held a knife behind his back waiting for the animal to calm down. And when it did, the priest had adeptly cut into the cow’s jugular. The animal didn’t even feel the slice. Blood poured into the basin held by a priest and was quickly taken away as the cow collapse on the ground. Then, the animals were strung up and other priests start to cut into them.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 28th 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, a Roman Centurion who almost saved Jesus Christ from the cross. Just click the link below.