THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch3 – part 6

THE PLAN – Sea of Galilee shoreline, BethsaidaCG-book-cover-w

While the boat was being launched to deeper water, Cornelius was already walking briskly on the bank of the beach heading back to the fort with Jacob and Cestus trying to catch up. When they were farther down the shore, Cestus was attracted by an excited commotion out on the water.

“Look!” Cestus was pointing.

Cornelius saw that the same boat the rabbi was on was listing heavily with all three occupants straining to pull the nets in. Another boat frantically rowed up to give them a hand. Soon there was whooping and cheering as both boats started to scoop in a great many fish. Then Cornelius could just make out the big fisherman bowing to the rabbi. He then turned away and continued his brisk walk. His mind was racing with what he thinks is a dangerous implication hidden in the last parable.

“Tell me again about how these parables work?” Cestus asked Jacob.

“Well, the teacher is using parables as a way of imparting important and meaningful truths on a simple minded people by using everyday stories that they can relate to. For instant, the rabbi gave a story about sowing and planting to a crowd of people made up mostly of farmers. They understand what happens to seed that are casted unto a hard packed path, rocky soil or even among weeds. What they have to reason out is, what is the lesson that the teacher was imparting? Even now, the actual meaning of this parable still eludes even me, a scholar and teacher. But I will figure it out sooner or later.”

“But why teach with parables? Why not tell them straight on what to do?”

“Well, it’s not a new way of teaching. Many rabbis have used parables in the past. But I believe our young rabbi want people to think for themselves. Do you recall what he said after he ends a parable? He said,’He who has ears, let him hear.’ This tells me that everyone is capable of figuring this parables out.”

“So, how do I work it out?”

“Very well, Cestus,” Jacob said. “Let us look at the first parable of the sower. The main focus of the story are the seeds. The seeds have to represent something important in our lives that we want to multiply a hundredfold.”

“What would that be? …wealth, treasure, money?”

Jacob chuckled. “No, I don’t think that was what the teacher meant. I believe that the teacher’s intent is more spiritual than on the things of this world. Let us assume first that the sower represents my people’s God. So, what would He sow? …impart that He would want to be very fruitful? If I was to venture a guess, I would say that the seeds must represent God’s wisdom. In this case, the four different type of soils represents four types of recipients. The first part is the hard pathway representing those with very closed ears. Knowledge goes in one ear then out the other. The second one is the rocky soil representing those who have shallow values. That would mean they like what they heard but do not take it seriously enough for God’s wisdom to bear fruit in their lives. The third, the soil with thorns can only be those who hear the word of God but the thorns may represent the worries of this world which would choke the value of its wisdom so there is no fruit. Finally, we come to the good soil which was prepared to receive the seeds. Clearly, these are the ones who are really ready to receive God’s word and apply it to fruitfulness. There! What do you think, Cestus?”

“I don’t rightly know. I’m just a simple soldier. What you say is a little too deep for me.”

“Of course, Cestus, fret not. These things take time and a great deal of personal meditation. Besides, I could be wrong with my impressions. But again, I have hopes.”

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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

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

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch3 – part 4

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

“But because he is from Nazareth, you do not believe that this young rabbi is him.”

“Well, I’m not so sure. I have been hearing incredible stories of him transforming water into wine, healing of a demon possessed woman, and of a boy who was lame but can now walk. Then, my brother told me of a commotion he caused in the Temple last Passover.” Jacob chuckled and said, “Apparently, he was not very pleased with the corrupt practices of the money changers of the Temple.”

“Money changers?”

“Oh, of course, you don’t know of their scrupulous practices of cheating Temple worshipers who come to purchase animals for sacrifice but find out that their money have to be exchanged for Temple coinage. Added to the exchange rates and the cost of the sacrificial animals is the questionable Temple taxes. So, my brother said that this Jesus came and turned over their tables almost causing a riot. But it is what he said is what caught my attention. He said, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations. Take these things away. Stop making My Father’s house into a den of thieves.’ He spoke with such authority and zeal, I had to wonder. So, it is clear to me that you and I need to get closer to him. Fortunately for us, the young rabbi will be at Bethsaida tomorrow morning.”
Early the next day, Cestus knocks on Cornelius’ door. He was dressed like a local.

“Sir? Do we take horses?” he asked.

“No. We’ll walk.” Cornelius said. He too was dressed in nondescript clothing. “How about Trax?”

“No problem, sir. I’ve got him on stable duty. That should keep him busy until we return. Jacob is down below waiting.”

“Cestus, make sure you cover your face when we get there. Your clean shaven face is a dead give away. You’ll have to grow your beard. I’m thinking we’ll be doing more of these excursions.”

“Ay sir,” Cestus said as he left the room. Cornelius heard him mumbling as he walked the hallway to the stairs. “But them things will just make my chin itch for weeks.”

As the three of them left the fort, Cornelius decided not to go down the road but instead followed a goat track that led to the lake. When they reached the shoreline, they saw a lot of people on the beach heading for the fishing village part of Bethsaida. They discretely tagged along with a family group with children. It was not long until they approached the crude shacks of the fishing folk about a mile or so outside Bethsaida’s walls. They were built in loose clusters about a hundred feet from the lake shoreline. There was one solid structure built right on the waterline. Jacob said that was where the fish mongers would inspect the fisherman’s catch and deals are made. A fair size crowd had already gathered in and around the building. Nearby, four long boats were beached and the fishermen busy doing a variety of chores.

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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

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch3 – part 2

THE PLAN – Roman Fort 2 miles east of BethsaidaCG-book-cover-w

For the next three weeks, Cornelius and Jacob poured over the Scriptures. As agreed upon, Cornelius would breakdown the scroll of Isaiah into chapters and sub-sections as he meticulously read through it. When he identified a section of the Isaiah scroll as a chapter, he would carefully tag the margins of the Isaiah scroll by pasting a small piece of parchment paper written with the sequential chapter number. Then, with the help of Jacob, he’d write in the codex the chapter number with the appropriate chapter title and any commentary notes. He especially noted any scriptures that identified any messianic references. So far, they both collated thirteen chapters with more than three quarters of the large scroll to go.

Meanwhile, through the information that Jacob gleaned from family and friends, he found out about a young rabbi roaming the Galilee district, preaching in the villages and gaining popularity. Cornelius asked him to find out more about him and see if he was the one that he overheard Herod talking about. Jacob left two days ago to interview someone in the nearby city of Capernaum about a strange story he heard that is related to this wandering rabbi.

As to his special assignment, he is finding it difficult to organizing a network of local spies while he is based at the fort. He was hoping for friendlier relations with the local Jews since he provided funds to rebuild their demolished synagogue. But because he resided in the fort, no Jew, with the exception of Jacob, will ever step on what they consider is unclean soil. Cestus, on the other hand, who always manage to anticipate his needs, brought to him, two Legionaries who can pass as locals. One of them, Nacob, was of Syrian descent. His brown skin, short stature and short beard made him look like the Asiatics of this region. The other, Lyca, is Cypran. He can easily pass as the many Eastern Europeans trading between the free Greek cities and Galilee. He gave them extensive instructions to reconnoiter the Jewish sector of Capernaum and gather information on the leadership structure. They especially were to report on any leads to any hidden members of the Zealots. At the same time, they are to keep their eyes open for any criminal elements that he can turn into informants. Unfortunately, all they could do was still observe from the outside. Except for business, the Jews are fairly tight knit people. He needs someone inside. He thought of Jacob but knew he would make a bad spy.

Cornelius put down the report he was reading and went up the stairs to top level of his building to get some air. It was late in the afternoon and the clashing sounds around the fort had lessened significantly. As he got onto the third level of his building, he walked over to the western side and leaned onto the railings to casually check out what was happening around the fort. Soldiers were meandering back to their tents after a full day of drills. A group of them wearing just their red tunics and leggings were laughing and joking among themselves as they eagerly walked towards the north gate which would lead them to the camp-followers’ camp who were about half a mile north. He then looks up and beyond the walls and see a few field-workers among a nearby field of wheat. On the road that led to Bethsaida, he noticed an old man walking as fast as he could towards the fort. Though he could not see a face, he knew it was Jacob rushing back with news.
By the time Jacob returned, Cornelius was back at his desk writing his reports for the governor and the general.

“I have news,” his old tutor said tiredly.

“Jacob, sit down and rest.” Cornelius poured him a drink.

“Ah, thank you.” Jacob gulped down the whole glass. “I did walk a long way but anyway, I said I had news about the young rabbi. At first, I did not think he was the Messiah.”

“Why do you say that?”

“His name is Jesus, son of Joseph. He is from… Nazareth!”

“Nazareth? I’m not sure I get you. Where is Nazareth?”

Jacob pulled out the map from under a pile of scrolls and laid it out. He pointed on a spot west of the Sea of Galilee. Cornelius then realized what he meant.

“Ah good, by the way you look, you remember where the Messiah is supposed to be born.”

“Yes… according to the Prophet Micah, the Messiah is supposed to be born in Bethlehem.”

“No, not suppose,” Jacob said quietly. “Now, I know that the Messiah is truly walking amongst us. Some thirty years or so ago, I was a young scribe when from the East came a caravan of Persian magi to the palace of the old Herod. They sought the newly born, King of the Jews. Herod called for my master. I was there when he told them of Micah’s prophecy. Three days later, I heard from the other scribes and priests of the senseless slaughter of all male infants of the Bethlehem and the surrounding district. I was so disillusioned then, that I took an assignment to bring a complete copy set of Scriptures to the Synagogue leader of Athens and left Judea for good. Of course, my faith, at that time, was very low. I thought the Messiah was killed but I should have known that nothing can thwart the will of the Almighty God.”

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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 031

DEMACLI, THE LEGION DEMONIAC
31 AD – Hippus, Decapolis (Southeast shore of the Sea of Galilee)faithful-encounters-cover-w

Demacli abruptly shouted a language that was unrecognizable to him. He started to dash down the slope, insanely screaming, towards the glowing person. As he came closer, the glowing one and the others turned toward him when they heard his maniacal tirade. Some of them were about to protect the glowing one, but he held them off. He took two steps forward and in a commanding voice, Demacli was commanded to stop. It was so commanding that he stopped like he was thunderstruck and fell to ground. The voices in his head were screaming in excruciating pain so much so, he was screaming out loud.

Then, the glowing one approached even closer. He spoke again in a language that he didnot know. It was the language of the Jews but yet older. Though he didnot know what he said, the effect on the voices sounded like they were being tortured.

Then he spoke but it was not his voice. “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg you, don’t torture me!” [Luke 8:28]

Then, Demacli’s vision clears. The man standing before him was no longer glowing. He was of average height. He had the dark hair that was about shoulder length and short beard and mustache. His appearance was plain and ordinary. To Demacli, he would not look twice at him, but yet the voice was clearly afraid of him and he called him the Son of the Most High God. Then, there was his eyes, which were deeply penetrating. He looked at Demacli for some time.

“What is your name?” he commanded with such authority and in Greek.

Then all the voices in him spoke out in a desperate shriek, “Legion!” The sound was so ominous that the man’s companions stepped back.

But the man, Jesus, stood his ground and said, “Legion, I command you to come out of this man!”

Demacli inadvertently doubled over in intense pain and screamed, “It hurts!” But this time it was in his own voice. Then again, the voices took over and pleaded, “Lord! We beseeched Thee! Do not cast us into the bottomless pit.”

Demacli painfully got up on his haunches and gestured to the distant herd of pigs feeding on the hill. He cried out, “Let us, instead, enter into those pigs on the hill.”

“Go!” Jesus said.

Demacli convulsed one more time, then it stopped. For the first time in six years, there was peaceful silence in his head. It was so quiet, it was deafening. He stood up blinking in surprise. Then everybody’s attention were riveted to a commotion on the nearby hill. When he turned to look, he saw the swineherds chasing the large herd of pigs racing uncontrollably into the lake. They all watched in fascination as everyone of the pigs went into the lake and under water. Soon, there are hundreds of floating carcasses being washed ashore.

“I… ah… I am free,” Demacli said almost not believing. “You have healed me. Are you a God?”

The man Jesus smiled and said, “Come, let us get you all cleaned up.”

Demacli was helped to the water where some of Jesus’ companions washed the grime away. After which they clothe and fed him.

When Jesus approached him, Demacli bowed to the ground. Jesus reached down and helped him to get up. Then, they started to walk along the shore and talk. Demacli filled with emotion was telling him all that he experienced. The more he told his story, the more his heart lightened and felt more free. By that time they both returned to the camp there was a gathering of people that came from the city. Apparently, the men who were herding the drowned pigs panicked, fled to the city and reported the strange event to the city magistrate. They made such a ruckus that a lot more people came along with the city guard to see what was happening.

When the magistrate saw Demacli walking calmly with Jesus, he asked in amazement, “Is that you, Demacli? You look calm and sane! What has happened here?”

Demacli told him how Jesus commanded the demons in him to come out and they went into the pigs that drowned. The town people started to mubble among themselves and referred to Jesus as being some kind of sorcerer. They started to back away in fear.

Seeing his people backing away, the magistrate said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen or heard of. I know not how this really happened, but you have powers that we do not want around here! We beg you, sorcerer, take your magic elsewhere and leave us in peace.”

The magistrate and the people backed away and fled back to the city. Only a few stayed and watched from a distance. Jesus looked at his companion and nodded. They proceeded to break camp and load up the boats.

“Lord, may I come with you?” Asked Demacli. “I have so much to ask and to learn. The voices that were in me said you are the ‘Son of the Most High God’. For years, as a Greek I always believed in the many gods of our beliefs. Now, standing here before you, I have serious doubts. Please Lord.”

“No, Demacli, go back to your family,” Jesus said smiling. “And tell them everything God has done for you.”

Jesus then led him away from the disciples as they continued to load the boats. He quietly said, “I will come this way again and I shall speak of my Father on High. Look for me in a years time.”

Demacli watched Jesus climb into the boat and sail away. He climbed up the hill and watched for a long while as both boats faded in the distance. He sighed deeply. Then, he walked back to the city of Hippus; back to his father’s house and told a most fascinating story.
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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 31th 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 030

DEMACLI, THE LEGION DEMONIAC
31 AD – Hippus, Decapolis (Southeast shore of the Sea of Galilee)faithful-encounters-cover-w

For the past five years, Demacli had lived a nightmarish existence. For a time, he was blissfully unaware of those periods when his body was taken over by some entity and did things that were unspeakable. Lately though, the demon or demons in him, have kept him aware but helpless to act when his body is taken over and over. His father who was overwrought with worry have searched the land high and low for a cure. He even went to the Jews as Elpida the prophetess had advised. But a priest of their temple had said that his son must become a proselyte, a covert into their religion. Then, there might be the possibility of healing, though the priest did not sound convincing. So, they gave up and returned to Hippus, their home city by the Sea of Galilee, where they had to contend with Demacli’s erratic behavior.

“Aaaargh!” Demacli snarled at the bright light of the torch.

“Look… it is the maniac again!” It was the voice of a city watchman who patrolled the streets after dark.

“He is naked again,” said another guard.

“He must be the one that assaulted that merchant a block away. Go get the chain.”

Demacli can see them clearly. There were three of them. After a couple of minutes, a fourth came up carrying a long chain. Demacli looked at his surroundings. He was in an alley and they blocked his way. To the city watch, he looked like a scared dog looking left and right. But from his perspective, he was pretending to be scared. He wanted to talk to them but he was not in control. One of the watchmen grabbed his arms to pin him down. Demacli started to yelp and whine like a panicked animal. The other men fastened iron cufflings on his wrists. Then they dragged him out of the alley unto the street.

“Let’s bring him to the square and chain him to the post. His father can claim him in the morning.”

When they dragged him to a waiting cart, his body went limp like he fainted. But Demacli was very much aware and knew what was going to happen. It took two men to pick him up and was about to cast him in the cart when he suddenly grasped the ankle of one of the watchmen and flipped him. His legs wrapped around the other man’s neck and toppled him over as well. He quickly got on his feet and with super human strength, he grasped the chain and broke it. The other watchman was stunned and slowly backed away. Demacli started to run with dangling chains, laughing out maniacally. The rest, he did not remember.

Demacli heard birds chirping. He peeked his eyes open to find a bright blue sky. When he sat up, he was in the midst of several burial cairns, one of which was freshly dug up. He cringed at the thought that he was hiding in it. He heard sea gulls in the distance and looked out at the lake. Two fishing boats can be seen heading to this shoreline. He turned to his right attracted by the sounds of snorting and squealing. A large sow and some piglets were nuzzling and feeding around the stone mounds of the dead. He stood and saw a larger herd of pigs higher up on the nearby hill being watched by a couple of swineherds.

He hungrily eyed a piglet that was nearby. Voices in his head were teasing him to catch it and tear into its flesh. Then, he saw that both boats had already made landfall and the people of the boats were setting up camp. Demacli suddenly felt both anger and fear deep down. For a brief instance, he almost had control of his faculties but then, he could not help but stare intensely at the people on the beach. His vision darkened, like the sun went behind a dense cloud cover, but the sky was clear. There was something odd with his perception of the people at the beach. Most of them were quite dim but one. That one person was glowing brighter than the others.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 30th 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 – Ch2 – part 7

City of Tiberius, GalileeCG-book-cover-w

Then he sat down. Cornelius was not exactly fond of prose, poetry or the songs of Scriptures. He preferred the historical aspects. And it showed on his face of which the Baptist picked up on.

“The word can be cryptic if you are only hearing but not really listening. Think about it closely and the right questions will come out.”

Cornelius wished he had parchment and quill. Instead, he gazed blankly at the far wall and mentally laid out the words in line segments the way it was sung. In his mind’s eye, the words jumped out at him and his analytical mind went to work.

Clearly, he knew that John the Baptist is a prophet… a messenger from God… a voice of God… in the ‘wilderness’? Herod’s chamberlain did tell him that the Baptist was preaching and baptizing in the wilderness region of the Jordan. He was thinking that part of Isaiah’s was literal enough, however the next lines were a little harder to take literally. If John is the prophesied messenger, then he will have the supernatural powers to smoothen desert dunes into highways, fill in sunken-in valleys into plains and even flatten both hills and mountains. That would be a sight to see. As a child, he fantasized of being there with Moses when the Red Sea miraculously parted. But somehow he felt that this prophecy had a much more deeper meaning.

So, he asked, “Have you completed your task?”

The Baptist smiled, “Almost.”

If that is so, Cornelius thought then, the making clear of deserts, valleys, hills and mountains for the LORD were metaphors. Like a hunting dog in hot pursuit, his analytical mind went back to work. A prophet’s work is to communicate… to be the mouth of God… ‘a voice calling in the wilderness’… So…

“So, the question is, ‘What is the message from God and to whom?’ ”

The Baptist looked at Cornelius with bright eyes, as if he was debating whether to reveal the message of God to him maybe because he was a Roman… A Gentile. Then he nodded.

“In your studies of the Scriptures, do you recall the coming of a Messiah?”

“My mentor and teacher, since I was a child, did tell me of a legend that God will send the Prophet and Redeemer to set Israel free.”

“For you I shall make the picture clear. What you heard is just partially true and incomplete. Do you wish to journey down the road which will significantly change your life?”

Cornelius hesitated for just a moment. Then he went to the door and called out to Cestus.

“Cestus… get us some food and drink. I will be here all night. You and the men enjoy yourselves in the city.”

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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

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch2 – part 6

City of Tiberius, Galilee

CG-book-cover-w

It was twilight when Cornelius entered the cellar below the stables. There were three guards and two other men in ragged tunics sitting on the floor next to a bolted door with a small grilled window. The two men were followers of the Baptist that the Tetrarch allowed to serve his need. An oil lamp was handed to him by one of the guards. Cornelius then handed to Cestus his sword and dagger.

“Sir! You must not go in there unarmed. According to some of these blokes, it took seven of them to subdue him when they arrested him.”

“I’ll be alright.”

He walked to the door. The two followers stood up and backed up out of the way. He unlatched the door and swung it in. Not knowing what to expect, he braced himself for violence. He entered with the oil lamp held high. It took a short while for his eyes to adjust to the dark. Then he saw him standing calmly with hands at his side palms out; to show that he was unarmed. Cornelius beheld not a bulky warrior that held off seven soldiers nor did he see what he’d always imagined was the chosen mouth piece of God. The Baptist was somewhat shorter than he was. He was muscular but not bulky. He had extremely long hair and his beard went all the way to his navel. It was long but not disheveled. His hair and beard were unexpectedly cleaned, oiled and tightly braided into tied bundles. As he scrutinized his camel’s hair clothing with a leather belt around his waist and his hair, he recalled another desert prophet from the book of the Kings of Israel. Elijah was his name and it was he who singlehandedly confronted four hundred fifty Baal prophets on a contest on whose god is the strongest. It was a favorite of his. One man versus four hundred fifty and he prevailed against them. It was written that he did not die but was taken up into the heaven on a fiery chariot. When he asked Jacob why? He said that God would send Elijah back one day to fulfill a task. ‘Could it be true?’ he thought, ‘is this him?’

He broke the silence. “You have questions, I see,” he said in Greek. He gestured to a bench, while he sat on the floor.

“Yes, I do.” Cornelius sat, “Shalom,” he greets in Hebrew. “Peace be with you. I am Cornelius Metellus, Senior Centurion of the Italian Regiment of the 9th Legion. ”

The Baptist smiled. “Greetings, Centurion”, he returns. “Blessings be upon you.”

“Forgive me for staring… May I ask who are you? It is said that a prophet of old shall return. Are you Elijah?”

He started to chuckle. “I am pleased that you know about one of my people’s greatest legends. That is unusual for a Roman.” He peered closely at him like he saw something. “But I see that you had some education.”

“My name is John, son of Zacharias, also known as the Baptist. To answer your second question,” he continued, “it is not for me to say but this… ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.‘”. [Mark 1:1-3 NASB]

Cornelius blinked. He remembered reading those words… just recently, in fact. “Is that from Isaiah?” Cornelius asked in amazement.

The Baptist was pleased. He took his sash and ceremoniously draped it over his head. Cornelius have seen Jacob do this when he ritually sings from the Scriptures. Then the Baptist sang in Hebrew.

“A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’” [Isaiah 40:3-5 NASB]

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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

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch2 – part 4

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Tiberius was somewhat a surprise to Cornelius and his mounted men. As soon as they rode through the northern gate, it was like they entered into a Roman city in Italy. From the gate, they followed the traffic of wagons and a lot of pedestrians on a wide boulevard of cobblestone, lined with tall palm trees and in interval, statues of Greek gods in their divine poses. The city sat on a graded slope from a high rocky mount all the way to the shoreline of the lake. It was lined with a fortified wall with battlements with two main gates, north and south. On the lip of the mount, overlooking the city, is an amphitheater, the size of which can be seen from any part of the city. The population of it is close to eighty thousand people the majority of which… obviously observed by the Centurion… seem to be made up of non-Jews.

“It’s almost like home, sir,” commented Cestus who rode next to him. He and the cavalrymen had grins on their faces and were looking around everywhere.

Asking direction from the city guard, Herod’s palace was about midway down the wide boulevard, then turned left on another avenue which would take them close to the waterfront. Riding in two columns, they entered through the gates into a fairly impressive palace complex. They were greeted by Herod’s chamberlain. Cornelius and Cestus were led to an antechamber to wait on Herod who was having a heated discussion in the next chamber. His discussion were with two other men and a woman whom Cornelius surmised was Herodias, his wife. Originally, he stole her from his brother. The story goes that Herod Antipas divorced his Nabataean wife, the daughter of Aretas IV, king of the desert kingdom adjoining his own, to marry Herodias, formerly the wife of his half brother. The marriage, of course, offended his former father-in-law and alienated many Jewish subjects.

The discussion was loud and agitated, but Herod was probably not worried about the Romans overhearing their conversation because they were talking in the common tongue. However, Cornelius understood what was said for he grew up learning Aramaic. Jacob taught him the languages of the land. Hebrew is the exclusive language of the Jews; Greek is the trade language used among the foreigners; and then Aramaic, the most used language in the entire region.

“Why did you have to bring him with us? “You should have left him at Machaerus,” wailed the woman.

“Herodias, my dear,” Herod spoke melodiously, “He is a prophet like of old. The words that come out of his mouth are the very words of God himself.”

Cornelius picked up on it quickly. His ears were burning.

“Do you not hear what he says about us? …about ME?!” She was screeching.

“He cannot help saying it. He is the mouth of God after all.”

“I do not care! I want him DEAD!”

“NO!” He lifts his voice angrily. After a moment of silence, he goes to her sweetly and said, “I cannot kill him, my dear. He is the very messenger of God. If I had him killed, I’d hate what would happen to you. …to me. My father was a great king, but when he crossed God… he died a terrible death. Do not pout, my love. I promise you… as long as he is locked up, he cannot say another word against us.”

“You do not fool me, Antipas,” she said. “I know you send for him to your private chamber at night. I know you listen to him. You are a fool. He is even more dangerous now. This is not over.” She walked away still angry.

“My king, there is another matter that we must discuss.,” said one of the men with him. “There is another fanatic out there. We thought it was one of the Baptist’s followers but they seem to have dwindled and gone to this new one.”

“Who is he?”

“We don’t know. He seems to move from one place or another preaching. And the people are protecting him.”

“Is he arousing the populace?” He gave Cornelius a quick glance.

Cornelius had to maintain a straight face but his mind was racing. He has to talk to what he hope is a genuine prophet. He also have to investigate this elusive teacher and magician who may potentially move the people to revolt.

“He seem to only limit himself here in Galilee. Also, there are some reports of miraculous healings but nothing substantiating.”

“Really?! I must know more.” Herod glanced toward the Roman. “Are we set to leave for Perea tomorrow.”

“Yes, your majesty.”

“Make sure the Baptist travels with my caravan. Now, leave me while I meet with our guests.”

The two men bowed and left, while Herod gestured for Cornelius and Cestus to join 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 015

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ANDREW THE FIRST DISCIPLE
30 AD – Capernaum, Sea of Galilee

The next day, Andrew took the boat by himself and sailed to Capernaum. When he landed at the city, he went to the house of his brother, Simon.

“Andrew! At last,” said Simon. “I thought you and John were going to stay down south following that desert fanatic all through winter time. I’m glad you are back.” Simon was a large bulk of a man with brawn sholders and thick neck. He stood about four inches taller than Andrew. His head of hair and thick beard were curly and was somewhat redish brown. He was sometimes mistaken for a foreigner.

Simon hastily came out of the house, picked up a large bundle of nets and rested them on his shoulders and started to head for the shoreline.

“It is a good thing you came along today,” said Simon. “If I had to stay with the in-laws a day longer, I think I’d tear my beard off.”

Meanwhile, while trying to keep up with his brother, he was trying to say something to him. “Simon… Ah Simon… I need to tell you… something… important.”

“Later! Let us get into the boat first,” Simon ordered.

When they reached the boat, Simon easily unburdened himself of the bundled nets which was quite heavy then jumped in. Andrew untied the anchor line, took hold of the bow of the boat and pushed it out on the water while Simon was in the process of erecting the mast. As soon as Andrew was waist deep, he climbed in and took up the oars. He didn’t have to row too far, for Simon had the sail up.

A mile out on the lake, Andrew tried again to talk to him.

“Simon… I have news!”

“Mmmm? What, what?”

“Simon, we found him!”

“Who?”

“We have found the Messiah!”

Simon was staring at him for awhile, then he broke out into hilarious laughter.

“Simon, listen!” Andrew said a little intensely. “We really have found the Messiah! He awaits to meet you at our father’s house.”

Simon was still laughing as they sailed back to their hometown of Bethsaida.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 15th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.
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Johann Q.
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