FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 039

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

They arrived at Cadasa just before the sunset. Elpida hopped off the cart she was riding on at the outskirts of the town. Saying a fond farewell to the old cart driver, she headed for a pathway that skirted the town’s perimeter wall. She came to a cluster of farm houses and went straight to the farthest house. As she came close, she can hear a little girl’s screaming. Elpida quickened her pace. Not hesitating, she didn’t bother knocking and pushed open the door to find a woman, her cousin, and a young lad struggling to calm a smaller child girl shaking and thrashing on the floor.

“I expected you four days ago,” said her cousin calmly and like she expected her. “I hope you were successful this time.

“No. I just missed him in Galilee. But now he is nowhere to be seen.”

“So, what is your next plan, cousin?”

“I intend to search for him closer to the source. You remember my friend, Demacli, the one who wrote and told me about the man of Nazareth who is performing God-like miracles throughout the lands of the Jews. He convinced me to move to his city at Hippus… the free cities of the Greeks. He said that this healer will again stop by to his city.”

“How does he know this and why would this Jew go there… a city not of his own?”

“Demacli was just like my Yllana, in fact, he was a lot worse. I would know, he came to me once, but I could not help him. This man…” she paused in thought and then said, “This God-man freed him from not just one or two evil spirits, but a legion of them. He is the one I have been searching for. Yllana and I will leave the end of the week.”
A few days later, Elpida had picked up some produce from the marketplace, when she spotted four men who were clearly Galileans by their clothing and their accents. This was not as unusual, for many Jews have dealings in this region, but she recognised one of them. Demacli had pointed him out to her once. The older of them was clearly the disciple called Matthew, a former tax collector. They purchased food and started to walk away. She decided to follow them.

They went to a neighborhood near the center of the town where the rich tradesmen have their homes. They headed to a tall house with a stone wall surrounding it. The double gates were open and the four men entered it. Elpida lingered outside looking through the gates. Inside was an courtyard and an overhanging pavillion that lead into the house. The four were greeted by another group of eleven who were lounging on the pavilion’s steps. One of them stood up to greet them. Somehow, she knew that this man was him. It is Jesus of Nazareth. With no hesitation, she rushed through the gates calling out, “Lord! Lord!”

The men stood, startled by the entry of this strange woman. She went to the man who she believed is Jesus of Nazareth. She pushed her way through some of them then fell on the ground at his feet. When some of the men tried to pull her away, she cried out, “Lord, Lord… have mercy on me!” When she felt them pulling her away even more, she looked up to find that he was not looking her way. She had to think quickly on what would make him look. Then she got it. She desperately called out, “Son of David!” When he turned to face her, there was a slight twinkle in his eye and hope sprang up in her. She felt the tugging stop.

“Son of David have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

Jesus stepped forward and his disciples stepped back. Some of them were whispering and visibly showing their disapproval. One of them said, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” Jesus came closer and pulled her up to stand. He gave just a slight smile, then he turned and faced the men.

“Let the children be satisfied first,” Jesus announced in a loud voice. “It is not good to take the children’s bread…” He paused, then said, “and throw it to the dogs.”

In a blink of an eye, she realized that Jesus’ proclamation was not more for her but for his disciples. But an answer from her was needed. She believed who he is and that he is kind and loving. She also realized that he is also just. “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

Jesus turned around with a big smile. “Woman, you have great faith! Because of this answer go home, for the demon has gone out of your daughter.” [Matthew 15:21-28]

Jesus asked one of his followers, a foreigner, by the look of him, to escort her home. Twenty minutes later, they were just a stone’s throw away from her cousin’s house, she could hear the giggling voice of her daughter, sounding quite normal. She was about to sprint to the door, but the foreign man put his hand gently on her arm.

“The master wanted you to know that the one whom you sought for years since Greece is He.”

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 39th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

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

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch3 – part 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

Thank you

Johann Q

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 035

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

“My sisters, what shall we discuss tonight?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What of those that did not look?”

“Died!” They all answered.

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

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

Joanna shook her head.

“Who here think that it does?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 35th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

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

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 034

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

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

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

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

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

“How did your mission go?” asked Joanna.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 34th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

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