THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch1 – part 2

Chapter 1 –¬†Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Palestine

“My inquiries have come back from the Senate,” he spoke in a conspirator voice. “The governor general position of Syria and Palestine had been given to Pontus Pilate.”

“I don’t know him,” Cornelius said.

“I met him once in Rome. He is a career politician who is also trying to impress Tiberius and the Senate. The talk is that with the volatility of that region… with its increasing insurgent problems and foreign intervergence, the eastern trade supply had been steadily strangled. For Pilate, this governorship may be a career maker or breaker. He is taking a real risk.”

“Father, what have you heard about my sudden promotion? I don’t think I am senior enough in the roster to merit the Primus Pilus position.”

“All I know is that a General Gaius had put in the request. I remember meeting him many many years ago. He was a Tribune then but quite popular among the public masses because he also rose through the ranks.”

“General Gaius is in command of my division. I don’t remember ever meeting him in Spain nor in Rome,” Cornelius sat down on a marble bench. “So, why would he petition for my promotion especially a rank usually reserved for men in their fifties.”

“Ah remember… this rank is also awarded to those who have special skills. I believe you have been chosen for a task that is unique only to you. This assignment may advance you or break you. Be wary.”

“Be wary,” Cornelius repeated to himself as he stared from the bow of the ship blankly looking out into a foggy sea.

 

“The wind!” A voice shouted from the stern which brought Cornelius out of his deep thoughts to the present. He looks around as several commands were shouted unseen from the stern and he watched the sailors run to their stations; a number of them climbed the rigging like monkeys. Then they would precariously crawl out to the ends of the yard arm with both ends extending out about thirty feet from the center. The massive sail unfurled which slowly expanded and fluttered in the wind. Things became clearer as the fog swirled away and steadily dissipated. Cornelius could now just make the other ships in the fleet. The galley started to roll on increasing swells. Another unseen command was given and sailors as well as loitering legionaries from his own command were mustered roughly into two line on opposite sides of the ship. One line faced the stern with each man grasping a thick rope. The other line was facing the bow also grasping a rope.

The command was given. “Heave!”

The two lines started to move in the respective direction with every hand pulling and grunting. Cornelius looked up as the yard arm ponderously pivoted to the port side in a more or less 45 degree angle allowing the fluttering sail to suddenly balloon as it caught the wind. Another command was given and the ropes were secured. Cornelius felt his balance shift as the ship picked up speed. The other sail smaller than the first was also set until it too billowed into the wind.

Cornelius turned again and looked out into a hazy horizon. He knew there is land there and sure enough a voice from above, a look-out on the crow’s nest, on top of main mast hailing, “Land ho!”

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The story continues 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 002

Simon the Leper – S1 – Jerusalem

Jerusalem is about two miles from Bethany. Simon and his son were on the Jericho road riding on a wagon. The ancient road went from the Jordan River valley city of Jericho up the Judean Highlands over the Mount of Olives to the southern gates of Jerusalem. As Simon rode through the gates, he looked up at the towering ramparts of the old city of David sitting on a prominant narrow ridge overlooking the Tyropoeon Valley to the west, the Hinnom Valley to the south, and the Kidron Valley on the east. In those walls is his destination. He owns an old government building that he uses as both storage and trading.

“Hello Imraam,” Simon hailed a crippled man being carried on a palette by two men across a crowded cobbled stone street. “I thought you would be at the north side of the city at this time?”

As the wagon slowed down by him, Imraam answered nonchalantly over his shoulder, “I was there, my old friend, but I was summoned to my relatives.”

“What for, Imraam?”

“What else, Simon? They are wondering why I have not gone to the bossoms of my fathers.” He chuckled loudly. “But as you could see,” he raised himself up on his palete showing a wide grin. “I may not be able to walk but I may live longer than them.” They both laughed out loud.

Well, I going back home and tomorrow… back to my spot at the pool of Bethesda. Maybe, that will be the day that the angel will stir the waters and I’ll be lucky.”

“Well, Imraam… I wish you luck.” Simon coaxed the mules to turn right. Imraam and his servants was soon disappeared amongst the heavy traffic of people and animals.

“Poor Imraam,” Simon shook his head as he chuckled himself.

“Father? Do you ever think that an angel of Lord would stir the water as the legend states? And do you think, Imraam can ever get into the water first ahead of the others?”

“He has been going to that pool for about thirty years now since he became crippled. Can you believe it? I really hope he does.”

They weaved their wagon up a noisy busy street. To their left rose the jam packed square houses of the lower city of Jerusalem. According to a trader friend of his, over three hundred thousand people live in squalor there based on the last census by the current Roman governor. To their right was the shored up canal creek the water of which ran down from the temple mount and was lined with chattering women doing their laundry. The creek then collected at the pool of Siloam before draining out under the city walls.

“Father, look!” Lazarus was pointing at a flapping banner hanging on the side of a long tall structure across the canal creek. “The chariot races are coming back in a week from now.”

“I know, son. I do have eyes.”

“I know father how you hate the sport. But surely, those of our people who race in the arena, do they not bolster the pride of our people?”

“Pride, you say. Be careful, my son, remember what the prophets says, ‘Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.’ (Proverbs 16:18 NLT) And trust me, I have seen many racers fall, both of our people and foreigners.”

Simon coaxed the mule to turn right. They went over a wide bridge that crossed over the canal and started up a gentle incline with the arena to their right. And as his habit, Simon looked to his left and his eyes followed up a grand staircase the went up about 40 feet then it dramatically turned right as it bridged over empty space and went up another 30 feet to the Temple Mount. This architectural feat have never failed to impress him. The mount itself took up most of the view of the sky. They rode unto the landing of a vast plaza with the massive southern walls of the Temple Mount rising over 90 feet tall looking down upon them. They rode by a busy market place then stopped by one of the stall which he own. After Simon spoke with a the stall merchant who worked for him, he and his son drove their wagon into the old City of David.

In the days of King David to the Judean exile to Babylon, the city was both his residence and government buildings. Most of the palaces were torn down by the invading Babylonians. Only a few government buildings were still standing. Then, when the exiles returned, the old city was rebuilt but remnants of David’s line did not rebuild the palaces. By the time the Romans came, the City of David was mostly made up of the residences of the rising middle class.

They rode through the old city’s porticos, then Simon stopped the wagon infront of one of the surviving 3-story government building which he had taken over. A servant came out to tie the mule to a hitching pole. Both Simon and Lazarus alighted off the wagon and entered the building.

“Master?” said a stout man slowly getting up from behind a wide desk. “We were not expecting you for a couple of days.”

“I know, I know Joral,” Simon said. “Lazarus and I are here in the city to see my cousin at the Temple. Since we were in the neighborhood, I thought I’d check on the rennovations upstairs.”

Joral trailed behind them as they crossed the lower floor where laborers were busy unpacking bundles of processed wheat husks. Some of them carried several bundle to an adjoing room where a millstone can be see moving in circle.

“How many bags of flour produced today?” Simon asked Joral as they ascended a grand staircase.

“Only about 9 bags. One of our asses became ill. We had to wait for a replacement.”

“You see, my son,” Simon said to Lazarus. “This business requires constant overseeing. If Joral was not here, there could have been a longer delay in fulfilling the order. This is why you must pay more attention and remember that the clothing you wear and everything else comes from this business.”

“Yes father,” he said with a slight hint of exaspiration.

Simon was smiling inside when they reached the second floor. The went down a hallway a little to where they can hear hammering. Jorel pushed open ornately carved double doors to reveal a vast room.

“As you can see, Master. They took down the walls of 3 large rooms to form this large room. I believe this room can hold over a hundred people.”

“Excellent, Jorel. This large room should bring in some extra revenue. When will they finish the rennovations?”

“In 3 months or so, Master.”

“Good… just in time for the summer festivals. Very well, we must go. It will be a long climb to the top of the Temple Mount.”

 


 

Hello readers,

Again, I would like to invite your comments with constructive inputs which I’ll look forward to put into good use as I direct my creative thoughts.

I hope you enjoy what I hope will be the product of my Spirit sanctified imagination.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch1 – part 1

Chapter 1 –¬†Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Palestine

There was no wind and the fog was thick upon a calm sea. Then from the midst of the fog, a ship emerges like a ghostly apparition. The ship was a Roman galley, a long warship propelled by three rows of oars along the length of its beaten up hull. It had two masts but the sails were furled because of the lack of wind. Protruding from the bow just inches above the waterline is a bronze-sheathed battering ram. The ship was silent except for the usual background sounds made by almost 200 rowers and the vibrating taut ropes that holds the masts up. Then from the stern, a loud horn sounded with two short burst and a long steady blow until it faded down. From a distance another horn blew, then another even farther, several more but fainter. There were other ships out there in the fog communicating their location. As the sun rose higher, the dense fog dissipated and more ships became visible. It was a fleet of twenty ships of varied sizes three of which were of the heavy trireme galley warships.

On the prow of the first galley, stood a man in his late thirties. He was clearly a military man. His armor with its chain-link suit and six intricate molded circlets embedded on his leather-strap vest indicates that he was not a low ranked legionary but an officer. Point of fact, his helmet with its white horse-hair plume arcing left to right says that he is a Centurion of senior standing which elevates him to be in command of three cohorts which makes up of 900 men. In the Roman Legion, a regular Centurion whose helmet would have either a red horse-hair plume or red feathers would only command of about 100 men. To this soldier, it also means his elevated rank points to a special assignment. And it is to this special assignment that he was focused on, deep in thought… in the past.

It was 2 months ago, in the garden of his father’s estate some 30 miles south of Rome overlooking the sea, that a modest ceremony is being held for him.

“It has been bequeath to Centurion Cornelius Metellus the advance rank of Primus Pilus for his successful and long service with the 9th Legion who vanquished the Basque marauders in northern Spain,” his father read the scroll with his chest puffed up high in pride. “No father can be so proud.” He held up the scroll again and sighed.

As the family and relatives retreated back into the coolness of the house, his father led Cornelius to a corner of the pavilion next to a babbling fountain.

“Well, my son, you have gotten your wish after all.” Cornelius’ father said quietly. “Palestine!” He said regretfully.

“Originally, father, it is called Judea. Palestine which means the land of the Philistines was the name originally given by the early Roman conquerors to mock the Judeans some forty years ago.”

“You sound like Jacob your ol’ tutor,” his father chuckled quietly. “Speaking of which…” His father then turns towards a large column engulfed with clinging vines. “You can come out now, Jacob, from behind that pillar where I know you were hiding.”

A short gray-haired bearded man dressed in a long brown homespun tunic gingerly stepped away from the ivy covered pillar and slowly approached them then bowed before them. “Forgive me, master, but I felt that I should be close by…”

“Yes, yes Jacob,” his father said, laughing out loud. “I was about to tell him.”

“Cornelius? It was strongly suggested to me…”, he gestured to Jacob whose head is still bowed on the ground. “…that you must not journey to the most eastern edge of our vast empire lacking knowledge of what you’ll need to be successful in your venture there. Your esteem teacher of many years felt that since he is a Jew after all that you would need his vast…,” he gestured with hands spread far apart rolling his eyes up. “…wisdom.”

“Frankly, Cornelius, If I were you…”, winking at him. “I wouldn’t take him at all!”

“Oh Master!” Jumps up on his feet.

His father laughed out teasingly, “It’s true. When I first rescued you from the debtor’s prison in Athens some 30 odd years ago, even after I paid for your debts, you had the audacity to ask if I would also purchase back all your books as well. You were not a very good slave. To this day, I still wonder if I invested wrong.”

Jacob’s face had that dramatic expression of dejection. Of course, Cornelius heard this same story repeated so many times.

“It was your good fortune that you were classically trained in Greek. For if it were not so, I would never have kept you and trusted you to the education of all my children.”

Cornelius remembered too well how Jacob would teach them Greek history, literature and the language itself, but he would also regaled them with fantastic stories of his people and their relationship with their one God. Though his siblings were entertained by his stories, it was Cornelius who wanted to learn more. So, after gaining his father’s permission, Jacob started to teach him first Hebrew so that he can delve into very same books that his father had purchased back from the debtors. The books were actually a cherished and revered collection of holy script of the Israelites that dated back thousands of years. These Scriptures were usually restricted to the priesthood. When Cornelius asked him, how was it that Jacob had a copy for himself. Jacob told him that the he was once a scribe, a member of the priesthood charged with the copying of the Scriptures. Since there was no more Synagogue in Athens back then, he kept them.

His father placed his hand on Jacob’s frail shoulder. “I will truly miss you around here.” He then turns to his son. “Cornelius. The paperwork is complete. Jacob, as requested, is now legally your bond servant.”

“Father… thank you”, Cornelius was not altogether surprised. He and Jacob often spoke of it. When Cornelius found out about 2 Legions being formed to bolster the already exhausted and dwindled 12th Legion at the region of Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. He put in his papers to join them. Jacob, on the other hand, wheedled and cajoled his father to accompany him back to his homeland.

“Come now, Jacob. Leave us alone for awhile. We have much to discuss.”

Jacob smiled and bowed. Then he shuffled back to the house.

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Author’s Note:

Every week, I will post short segments of my ebook, The Centurion’s Gospel, in sequel. 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

Ebook in Amazon

CG-book-cover-wCornelius Metellus is a Roman Centurion who is a veteran of the conflicts in Spain. He had been in countless battles and the experience had caused him to search for deeper meaning in life. That search will lead him to arrive in First Century Palestine with several cohorts of legionaries under the command of Governor Pontus Pilate. He is given a special assignment to establish a spy network to gather intelligence on the insurgent activity in the region. Eventually, he will investige Jesus of Nazareth as a possible insurgent against Roman rule. As he closely follow this wandering rabbi and miracle worker, he is led down a spiritual path of Discovery and Faith.