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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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch15 – part 2

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

No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question. Cornelius noted as the Pharisees walked away that the one called Nicodemus kept looking back at Jesus, and he wondered if maybe Jesus reached him. Sure enough, he did.

That night, like all the nights that Jesus spent in Jerusalem since the festival, they were in the house of Simon the former leper. Cornelius remembered Simon as the leper that he witnessed healed when Jesus gave that Sermon on the Mount last year. Simon’s house was in the village of Bethany, a rich community two miles south of Jerusalem. He had a son, his name is Lazarus and two daughters, Martha and Mary. As they finished their evening meals, a servant of the house announced the arrival of a visitor who wanted to see Jesus. It was Nicodemus. Jesus then asked if they can use one of the upper rooms. Simon nodded his head in the assent. He and Nicodemus started for the stairs. He also called Peter, James and John to follow. It was a long while until they came back down. Cornelius wondered what went on up there, but Nicodemus had a perplexed look about, like he wasn’t so sure about himself.
It was the day after the Sabbath. They were in the home of a rich merchant who invited Jesus and his followers for a noon day meal. The rich merchant was a friend of Nicodemus who was also expected to join them. Nicodemus rushed in to where they were all lounging around the dining table. He went to Jesus and told him of an impromptu meeting of the Pharisees that was held yesterday regarding an incident of him healing a blind man on the Sabbath.

Cornelius recalled what happened yesterday. They were walking through the City of David towards the south entrance of the Temple Mount when the disciples came upon a blind man begging for alms at the bottom of the wide marble steps. Inquiring about him, they discovered that he was born blind.

Some of them asked, “Teacher, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?”

Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

As he said this, he bent down, spat on the dirt and made clay of the spittle; after which he applied it to the blind man’s eyes. Cornelius was intrigued for Jesus only had to speak and he would see but yet he was doing something different and unusual. Then Jesus told the blind man to go to the pool of Siloam and wash the mud away and he will see. That was the last time they saw him.

“The Sanhedrin was summoned to the hall of meeting, but we knew not why,” Nicodemus said. “As I entered and took my place, Gamaliel, the head of our section, was already questioning this man. He asked how he received his sight. The young man who was excitedly joyful spoke of how you applied clay to his eyes and told him to wash it away and then he can see.

“But a number of my colleagues started to protest, ‘This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.’ While others were saying, ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’ I tell you that there is division among us over you.

“Then Gamaliel called the assembly to order and asked the young man about what he says about you, since you opened his eyes. And he said, ‘You are a prophet.’ Now some in the gallery started to accuse him that he was never really blind and that this was a trick. So, they summoned his parents.

“So, when they entered the assembly room, they looked fearful; for the word had gone out that anyone who publicly support you as the Messiah will be put out of the synagogues.

Gamaliel questioned them, saying, ‘Is this your son, who you say was born blind? Then how does he now see?’ His parents answered that he was their son and that he was born blind. But at how he is able to see, they could not say.

“The assembly was divided and could not agree on what action they were to take against you. So, Gamaliel told the young man, ‘Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner.’

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch15 – part 1

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

Cornelius was concerned. The Pharisees, scribes, priests and even the Herodians have stepped up their confrontations with Jesus. The reason was quite obvious. Jesus’ popularity has increased in the city while theirs have waned due to the fact that his teachings lately had focused on their collective hypocrisies.

To the crowd he would say, “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 yet do not do them.” [Matthew 23:2 NASB]

So far, Cornelius saw that the religious hierarchy has only been sending their lackeys to try to trap Jesus. Two weeks after the festival, Jesus had continued to teach and work miracles in the Temple court, but yet no sign of the High Priest or any of the leadership to offer challenge. But Cornelius knew it was just a matter of time.

One day, as Jesus lounged in the shade of the columns and the crowd have dispersed, he noticed another group of men loudly debating among themselves not too far away. Jesus went over to listen. Cornelius saw that the men who heatedly argued among themselves actually belonged to separate factions in the ruling class. The distinction between them was quite obvious. One group was obviously Pharisees who tend to be long bearded and traditionally garbed. The other group was more cosmopolitan and younger. A number of them sported the Greek look; that is short hair and clean shaven. This group belongs to the faction called the Sadducees.

The Sadducees as Jacob at one time explained is actually a political group that have gained control of the priesthood at about a time of Rome’s conquest of Palestine. Their views are totally opposite of the Pharisees. Much of Scripture they believe has to be interpreted literally. One of their favorites is the literal interpretation of ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth’. They also do not believe in the resurrection, hence the source of the argument that Cornelius is watching right now.

One of the Sadducees, a young arrogant priest who did most of the talking saw that Jesus was watching them. In his excitement he called out to Jesus, asking, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, and raise up children for his brother.’ “

Cornelius again noticed that Jesus had an amused look. He nodded his ascent. Arrogantly, the young priest approached Jesus and the rest of the men gathered around them.

“Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother; so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh. Last of all, the woman died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her.”

The young priest strutted around like a proud rooster of the chicken coop thinking that he had the upper hand. The other Sadducees applauded him as the Pharisees jeered.

Jesus stood up and positioned himself in between the two factions. When they quieted down, he faced the young Sadducee and answered him, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

Astonishment was on the faces of both factions as Jesus calmly walked away. Even the young Sadducee appeared unsure of himself. The Pharisees who were pleased in Jesus’ answer talked among themselves, a few of which kept gazing towards Jesus. They all seem to come to an agreement and approach him again.

One of them, a Pharisee named Nicodemus, asked Him a question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 

And Jesus said to him, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

As they consulted among themselves, Jesus asks them a question: “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?”

Nicodemus was quick to answer him, “The son of David.” 

Then he said to them, “Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until i put your enemies beneath your feet’? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?”  [Matthew 22:23-45 NASB]

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The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q