THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch11 – part 4

THE FALLING OUT – Sea of GalileeCG-book-cover-w

The next day was the Sabbath and as Cornelius predicted, Jesus’ open declaration was on everyone’s mouth. Cornelius sat among ten other non-Jews, all proselytes, on seven tiered steps against the western wall of the synagogue. There were another set of steps at the opposite wall. Capernaum’s synagogue was large and able to hold hundreds at a time. The whole assembly faced the south wall mainly because that was the direction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. At that wall, on a raised platform, Elan, the synagogue leader, had reverently brought out The Torah, the holy scrolls, from an ornately decorated cabinet also called the Ark built into an alcove. John, the brother of James, was called to read from the scrolls. With his shawl over his head, he read a passage from the Prophet Jeremiah after which Elan lead the congregation in a chant-like prayer.

The synagogue was filled to capacity. The main floor area with its row upon row of wooden benches was occupied only by the men sitting shoulder to shoulder. The women and children were always relegated in the upper galleries in the back. Cornelius finally spotted Jesus seated near the front row surrounded by the Twelve and other disciples. Seated on the opposite side were a group of men in more elegant clothing. He knew some of them to be local Pharisees but there were a number of new faces that Cornelius did not know.

When the prayer finished, Elan, the synagogue leader, returned the Talmud back into the Ark and then opened the floor for discussion. At once, one of the local Pharisees stood up and called out to Jesus challengingly, “Rabbi, we have heard that you claim to be our promised messiah! And that you are the bread of life and we have to believe in you! What is this talk? If what you say is true, what then do you do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform?”

Others stood calling out, “Yes! Give us a sign!”

“After all, our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness,” the same Pharisee said somewhat mockingly, “as it written, ‘MOSES GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.’ “

Jesus then stood and calmly said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven…” [John 6:31-32 NASB]

Against Peter’s whispered objections, Jesus walked out of the protective circle of his disciples to the front and sat down on the raised platform. Elan seeing that he had taken the posture of the teacher called for the house to be silent and gestured them to sit.

“Truly, I say again, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”

From the back of the synagogue, some called out, “Lord, always give us this bread.” From among the Pharisees, there were a few chuckles.

Jesus again repeated to them that he was the bread of life, then he said, “he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

Then, he stood and walked to where his disciples were and said, “This is the will of Him who sent me, that of all that He has given me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I myself will raise him up on the last day.” [John 6:34-… NASB]

Cornelius noted that the Pharisees were agitated and were talking among themselves. Elan, who was seated on his customary bench at the front, was visibly and uncomfortably worried.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch11 – part 3

THE FALLING OUT – Sea of GalileeCG-book-cover-w

An hour just before sunrise, the boats were broached securely on the beach with everyone sound asleep in their blankets. By sunrise, a passing herdsman recognized Jesus and went and spread the news. Two hours into the morning, a crowd of a hundred people with many that were sick and impaired were gathered around the encampment. Jesus and the disciples ministered to them for four hours after which they got back into the boats and sailed back to Capernaum.

That night, a number of men sought out Jesus after they arrived from where the multitude was fed. When they found out that Jesus was already at the house of Peter they rushed over and found him seated on the front porch teaching to a small crowd. Cornelius noted them approaching. They were about twenty of them. He noted that three of them were zealots, former companions of Simon. Simon also noticed them as well and whispered into Peter’s ear. Peter then moved ever so slowly and positioned himself slightly behind Jesus watching them. Cornelius and Cestus also subtlety positioned themselves so that they can intervene between Jesus and them if need be. But the men stopped at the edge of the seated crowd.

One of them asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus looked at them for a long while. Most of them started to look uncomfortable like they knew that he could see right through them. He slowly stood and took a couple of steps toward them. Then he answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” He started to look at everybody else and said, “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”

Then they asked Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”

He again sat and told them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

Jesus then spent about twenty minutes or so in a dissertation that even to Cornelius was both incredible and yet profoundly disturbing. For months, Jesus had not openly declared who he was except to his closest disciples; but even to them he mostly referred to himself in the third person. But now Jesus have openly declared, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst.” [John 6:25-29,35 NASB]

For Cornelius, this was an incredible statement of which he has no doubt will keep his mind busy through out the night. But what was foremost on his mind was ‘why now?’ He must know that his statement will spread like wildfire. But to what end? Cornelius scanned the faces around him. His disciples showed confusion and concern. To the group of twenty men including the zealots among them, what he saw was disgust. Some of them have left even before Jesus finished. Others including a number of followers have left as well murmuring among themselves.

When Jesus had finished, only the twelve, a few others and Cornelius were left. No other words were spoken. All that Jesus did was smile and then went into the house.
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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch11 – part 1

THE FALLING OUT – Sea of GalileeCG-book-cover-w

It seemed that Cornelius had just closed his eyes to sleep when he was awakened by Cestus. The sky was still very dark.

“Sir! I am sorry to wake you, sir! But the follower, Simon, needs to speak to you. There seem to be some urgency, sir.”

Cornelius noted that Jacob and Trax were up rolling their blankets. “What is going on?” he asked.

Cestus gestured to where Simon and Matthew were standing. As he got up, Cestus started to roll his blanket as well, prompting him to surmise that something was up. Simon and Matthew approached him.

“The master has called us to leave this place as soon as possible!” Matthew said.

“Why? What has happened?”

It was Simon who answered, “He told Peter that, in the morning, the people will come to take him and declare him king. I am afraid that my former companions have been busy arousing the populace.”

“We must get Jesus away from here! If they force the crown on him, the governor will have no choice. He will be a hunted man.”

“He is already gone. According to Peter, he alone went up the mountain for solitude. Only Peter, John and James know to which his direction went. He commanded that we must be away from here before the morning. He also felt that you should go as well. We will guide you down to the beach by another path away from the multitudes.”

Simon led the way. Fortunately, the moon was out and bright enough for them not to use torches. He led them down a fairly steep ravine that eventually reached the beach about two miles from where they originally landed. Cornelius thought that they were going to work their way back to the boats, when to his surprise, he noticed that there were two boats already waiting for them. As he came closer, he saw that one of the boats was his. Peter approached them.

“Greetings again, Cornelius!”

“How is it that you were able to convince my men to bring my boat here?” Cornelius had to ask, for his men would not have taken orders from anyone else.

Cestus, who went ahead to the boat, called back, “I found them, sir! They were both trussed up and gagged!”

Cornelius faced Peter questioningly.

“Forgive me, Cornelius?” Peter sheepishly explained, “We reasoned that your men would not listen to reason. So, we silently jumped them.” Rubbing his sore jaw, he continued, “Please do not reprimand them. Your men did put up a good fight. It took all ten of us to disarm and tie them up.”

Andrew came up leading two women. Cornelius noted that his left eye had some bruising around it.

“No harm done and the boats are here,” though he may have to talk to his men, to reassure them that no honor is lost and so that they will not act out on their own.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch6 – part 2

SERMON ON THE MOUNT – Hills South of CapernaumCG-book-cover-w

It was neither long nor difficult to find Simon Peter’s house. The house was not as large as that of Elan’s, the synagogue leader. There was one entry point and stairs that led up to the roof. The house and the narrow streets were literally wall to wall jammed packed with people most of which were crippled from disease and physical ailments. Cornelius and Jacob had to shove their way through the crowd until they reached a platform that overlooked the entrance. At the front entrance, a large man can be seen shuffling people in and out through the door. Cornelius recognized him to be the fisherman who allowed Jesus the use of his boat as a platform to teach people by the lake. He was also the one that bowed before Jesus after that miraculous catch of fish. Simon Peter was pleading for the people to not crowd the entrance and wait their turn. He was just letting a woman and her sons out when they started to praise God loudly. This added to the frenzy of the crowd. Gauging the size of the house, Cornelius calculated that it can only hold about forty people. For now, Simon Peter was only choosing those who were ambulatory. There were some exceptions though.

A group of six men all dressed in expensive robes easily walked through the crowd, especially since the crowd parted for them, came up to Simon Peter. Jacob told him they were Pharisees. Cornelius noticed that Simon Peter was not pleased they were here, but he called to his brother Andrew and whispered in his ear. The brother Andrew went back in and then about eight disappointed men were ejected and the Pharisees entered. Cornelius also spotted Simon the Zealot with three of his comrades and walked up to Simon Peter. They had a short conversation and Simon Peter allowed only Simon the Zealot in.

Then a determined group of men, who were carrying a crippled man on a pallet pleaded with Simon Peter to let them in. But he told them that there was just no more room. Eager to be inside himself, Simon Peter closed the door. But the dejected group would not give up, one of them pointed at the stairs that led up to the roof. Cornelius watched them carry the cripple up the stairs. He was curious to see what they were doing. So, he and Jacob climbed the stairs that led to roof of the house across the street. There was also a small crowd on that roof and they were calling out encouragement to that group of friends that started to dig up the roof by tearing at the dried mortar and thatch. Cornelius could hear the protest of a voice from inside. When the hole was big enough, the friends gently lowered the cripple in his palette. Then, there was silence for about five minutes. Then the friends who were peering in the hole started clapping and patting themselves in the back. It was not long when they started down the stairs. Then a man came out carrying a palette praising and crying out with joy. Cornelius almost did not recognize him and was not sure if he was the same man. But the friends knew and gathered around him. Then the whole crowd erupted in song and praise. From Cornelius’ vantage point on the roof top, he could hear the spreading of the singing and jubilation to the adjacent streets; though he was sure that many of the crowds were just caught up with the celebration not really knowing the reason. But if this spreads even farther, he feared that the nearby garrison may be called to quench what they may easily think is an uprising. But after a while, things were calming down a little. The atmosphere was still a little festive but not all were joyful. Midst the crowd the group of Pharisees walked out of the house frowning and did not seem pleased.

“There is no way we will be able to get in now!” He looked over at a teary eyed Jacob. “Come, my old friend. That is enough excitement for today.”

They made their way back down to the street and walked back to the house. Again, Cornelius’ mind was in conflict. It started when he realized that he was feeling an inexplicable sense of happiness. Did he get caught up with the festivities? The sober side of his mind needed to look over at the event logically. What did he really witness? Was that man, the cripple, healed magically? He had never seen the man before. The only proof he had was him being carried by his friends. Could it have been staged by the Nazarene? But then why deny them entry in the beginning? It does not fit. But then there were the Zealots to consider. Simon the Zealot was there with three others. Maybe more! Cornelius pursued this line of thoughts with a question. How will staging miraculous hoaxes help their cause? The answer was simple, mob mentality. He saw how easily a hopeful crowd got riled up. Get the people to fanatically declare that Jesus is the Messiah and crown him king which will unite them enough to push Roman rule out of Palestine. Another disturbing thought was that for the Zealots to this pull off, Jesus and his followers must be in collusion with them. When they finally got back to their house, though he had a hard time believing in it, he really hoped that what he saw was miraculous.
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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 024

SIMON THE LEPER
31 AD – Cleansed – Galileefaithful-encounters-cover-w

Then, the pounding stopped and he heard like a long roaring sound. When he opened his eyes, the first thing he saw were beefy legs. He looked up in wonder to find what he thought was a giant of a man swinging his staff in a wide circle driving the angry attackers back. Then, the angry voices quieted down.

He slowly and painfully stood up amazed as he watched the Nazarene calmly walking over to the giant and placed his hand on his arm. He looked up at him half-scoldingly and said, “Peter…” He didn’t have to finish the sentence. The big man returned a half grin and a shrug. He smiled shaking his head and then turned his attention to Simon.

Simon took two steps forward and then like he realized who he was facing threw himself on the ground and asked, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

“I am willing; be cleansed.”

Then the Nazarene started to reach down and was actually going to touch him. The crowd simultaneously gasped and Simon flinched back. But the Nazarene was quicker. Before Simon could back away, his right hand was on his back, his left was gently grasping his arm and helping him up.

Simon felt a warm sensation through out his body. Then the first thing he noticed was that he had feelings in his feet. He actually could feel the grass under his toes. Even his fingertips were tingling. He looked at his arms to find normal skin color rather than the expected sickly white flakes and bleeding sores.

“Look at his face!” exclaimed an awed voice from the crowd.

Simon hesitated for just a moment, then lifted trembling hands to his face. What his probing fingers revealed was a whole nose restored and no sign of sores.

Then, the valley was filled with celebratory singing and dancing. Lazarus, who had witnessed everything from among the crowd, went directly to his father and embrace him. They both wept.

“Come, follow me,” said the Nazarene.

Simon, still hugging his son, followed the rabbi to a nomad tent under the trees.

“Please, sit down,” the rabbi gestured to a matt on the ground. He went over to a low table and poured water into three clay bowls. He served the two bowls first to them, took the third bowl and joined them on the matt. “Drink first, then we talk.”

A woman brought in a large plate of flat breads, fruits, some meats and placed it in the middle of them. After they ate, the rabbi called for the men that were just outside the tent. Twelve men entered including the big man called Peter.

“Andrew, please take a couple of men and follow this young man to their camp and bring everything back here.”

“Yes, master.”

When they left, the rabbi gestured for the big man and two others to sit down with them while the others sat in other parts of the tent.

“Lord, what is your name? I only know of you as the Nazarene.”

“I am Jesus.”

 

In the morning, Simon came out of his tent feeling invigorated. They were planning to pull up stakes and make the return trip to Bethany.

“Well, father, when we get home, we have to tell as many people that we found the Messiah… and show them how you were healed… and then…”

“No, I will not.”

“What! What are you saying, father? People must be told.”

“I agree, but it will not come from me.”

“Why, father?”

“Because the master asked me,” Simon said solemnly. “His words to me last night were ‘Tell not anyone about this. Go, instead to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering as is according to the law passed down by Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. It is most important that this will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.’ ”

“We cannot even tell the girls?”

“Of course, we can.”

“Good. I cannot wait to see Mary’s face when you get home.”

 

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 24th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS. We will take a pause on Simon the Leper’s story and visit him again some 20 years later. Our next story is about young Mary, daughter of Simon the Leper.

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.

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 016

faithful-encounters-cover-w

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

They were just approaching their father’s house, both were carrying the long mast and the sail wrapped around it on their shoulders. Andrew, who was leading, saw Jesus sitting on the stoop of their house having a conversation with their father. When they saw them coming, the father excused himself and went inside. Jesus stood and waited for them.

They set the mast and sail against the side of the house. After which Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. But before he could make the introduction, Jesus went up to Simon, looked intently at Simon, and said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Peter.”

Before Simon can react, Jesus gave them a knowing smile and walked out the gate towards the town.

 

It was six hours before sunlight, when Simon Peter and Andrew rowed out unto the lake for some fishing. Four other boats went out with them, one of which was their partners, James and John.

Simon Peter casted the net into the cold water. As they started to pull in the nets, Simon Peter asked, “Where was your Messiah this early morn?”

“Oh, he went up to the hills. I followed him one night and asked him why does he come here? His answer was so that he could be alone with his father.”

Simon Peter mumbled to himself, “…be alone with his father! Ha! Who would his father be, I wonder?”

Andrew would not answer. He grew tired of arguing with him.

“Argh! Empty again!” Simon Peter said frustratingly. He looked over at where John and James were pulling up their nets. “Ho! James… any luck?”

“Not even one fish!”

“Come, let us set sail to the eastern end of the lake. We may have better luck there,” said Simon Peter.

But luck was not with them all night. Three hours after sunrise, both boats landed on the gravelly beach fronting the fish monger’s trading post. It was the only solid structure built right on the waterline where the fishermen’s catch are inspected and deals are made. As Simon Peter jumped out of the boat, he noticed a gathering crowd in and around the trading post.

“Why are there a lot of people here?” asked Simon Peter.

Andrew shrugged as he passed the nets to his brother who dipped them in the water and proceeded to wash them. And as he was doing so, 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. Andrew climbed back on the boat and stood on the gunwale of the boat to get a better look. He saw another crowd of people coming towards them and in the midst of them was Jesus.

“It’s the rabbi, Jesus!”

Andrew jumped down from the boat and ran to the approaching crowd. People were calling 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. Jesus 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. Then Jesus, with Andrew in tow, worked his way towards their beached boat. Simon Peter was still vigorously washing the nets clearly ignoring his approach. Jesus climbed unto his boat.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 16th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.
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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 015

faithful-encounters-cover-w

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.
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.

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Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.
Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility