SIMON THE LEPER part 5

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

“You… have… leprosy…” These words kept echoing in Simon’s head throughout the long night. As the sun broke the horizon, Simon refused to get out of the cot, but he was wide awake.

Before the priests left him, which was two days ago, Nadab asked him, “What have you done, Simon, to incur God’s ire so? A man of your standing… falling lower below the level of a… common sinner. What have you done?”

“I… I don’t know!”

To this day, his mind was still in turmoil wondering how he got leprosy but more so on the why. He always thought he was in God’ good graces. His business was doing very well. His children are healthy. He did all that was required of him according to the law. Even when he lost his wife, he still brought the proper sacrifices. So, why did God allow this harshest of punishment on him? Unless, he was truly unworthy. For why else did he get leprosy? His mind went around and around with these thoughts like a vicious circle.

At end of the fourth day, hunger won out against depression. His brother, Tahan, was the one who brought the food.

“Simon,” Tahan said as he placed the basket of food on the floor then retreated back to the top of the stairs. “What is the plan, brother? You have not come out for days. This is not like you.”

“Well, brother, there is this thing in me called Leprosy,” he said sarcastically. He picked up the basket and went to sit in the shade. “Did you talk to Nadab?”

“Yes. He gave us instructions.”

“Did he mention about me going to the leper colony?”

“He still think you should go there. But from what I hear from our relatives, you don’t deserve to live the rest of your life in luxury and in safety.”

“How about you, Tahan? Do you agree?”

“You should know me better than that, brother. I am not our cousin.”

“Yes, I know that. Forgive me. There is such bitterness in me. And I am not talking against our dear cousin.”

“Simon, it is not yours or even my place to lay blame on our Lord. Do you remember our late father’s lesson from Job?”

Simon blinked with realization, for he was just thinking about Job. He and Job did share similar spiritual dilemma. Job was a rich man that lived his life to please the Lord. Somehow, the devil convinced Him to withdraw His protection from Job as a test. First, Job lost his business. Then, his children died in a freakish accident. Finally, Job himself was struck with terrible boils from head to foot. In despair, he sought the reason first among his friends who were not very helpful. Then, he cried out his frustration in a very long prose to Heaven. He probably didn’t expect Heaven to respond but, then in God-like manner, from the midst of a dramatic whirlwind, God answered him. In the long run, Job was humbled and repentant. At the end, God restored his health, increased his wealth and even his family increased by giving him more children.

Simon propped up his head, showing a little sign of hope. “Tahan, do you think I am being tested?”

“Being tested?” Tahan asked with a slight frown.

“Yes… like the way Job was tested.” Simon, not waiting for him to answer, exclaimed some more. “It makes sense, Tahan! By the life of me, I just don’t understand how the Lord could just punish me like this. For am I not like Job?”

Tahan nodded quietly but not showing any signs of conviction. But Simon was elated by the concept. When Tahan left him, he could hear Simon busily moving around on the roof humming to himself.

To be continued…

PREV


Author’s note:
Though my story is basically fiction, the character of Simon the Leper is an actual Bible personality who actually lived in Bethany, a village in Judaea on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. He is only mentioned in two verses in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark. There is no other reference of him in the Bible. So, I asked myself, ‘what was his story? How did he catch leprosy? And how was he cured?’ There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them had no names at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic license, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.

SIMON THE LEPER part 3

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

In the days of King David to the Judean exile to Babylon, this city was both the legendary king’s 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 in-front 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 renovations 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 adjoining room where a millstone can be seen 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 exasperation.

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 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 renovations?”

“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.”

To be continued…

PREV


Author’s note:
Though my story is basically fiction, the character of Simon the Leper is an actual Bible personality who actually lived in Bethany, a village in Judaea on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. He is only mentioned in two verses in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark. There is no other reference of him in the Bible. So, I asked myself, ‘what was his story? How did he catch leprosy? And how was he cured?’ There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them had no names at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic liscence, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.

SIMON THE LEPER part 2

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

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 prominent 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 use 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 bossom of my fathers.” He chuckled loudly. “But as you could see,” he raised himself up on his pallet 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 am 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.’* And trust me, I have seen many racers fall, both of our people and foreigners.”

[ * Proverbs 16:18 ]

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 that 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 the stall merchant who worked for him, he and his son drove their wagon into the old City of David.

To be continued…

PREV


Author’s note:
Though my story is basically fiction, the character of Simon the Leper is an actual Bible personality who actually lived in Bethany, a village in Judaea on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. He is only mentioned in two verses in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark. There is no other reference of him in the Bible. So, I asked myself, ‘what was his story? How did he catch leprosy? And how was he cured?’ There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them had no names at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic license, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.

Note: the character of Imraam (again fictional) is based on the 38 year invalid whom Jesus cured at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-15).

SIMON THE LEPER part 1

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

The winter was in its last days in the village of Bethany just 2 miles from the busy city of Jerusalem. The last remnants of snow had disappeared around the hillsides surrounding the village. Warmer days will again bring back the greenery.

Simon, a successful and quite wealthy tradesman of barley and wheat, came out of his house just in time to meet with an incoming caravan of two dozen or so donkeys loaded with merchandise from the fields of Gilead.

He welcomed the head drover from the distant free cities up north.

Grasping his forearm in greetings, he asked, “Did you have any trouble on the route?”

“There were a couple of attempts to rob us, but your suggestion to stay close with the Roman patrol was to our advantage,” his friend exclaimed cheerfully.

“You see?” Simon chided, “the Romans are good for some things!” They both laughed together. They were discussing more business when suddenly Simon hears a delightful glee coming from the gates of his house. He turns just in time to catch the embrace of his six year old daughter who came out in excitement pointing at the packed donkeys milling around not too far away.

“Yes, yes Mary,” Simon was laughing. “You and your sister, Martha, have surprises hidden in the packs somewhere.”

“Oh, Abba! Can I see it now?” Mary asks eagerly.

“No no… My little sweet cherub. You and Martha will get your gifts later tonight. Meanwhile, did you leave your sister to do all the kitchen chores by herself again?”

Mary looks guiltily down, her sandalled foot fidgeting the dust on the ground.

Simon chuckled loudly then turns her towards the gate and said, “now, go help your sister and later after supper you can see the gift I have for you.” As Mary neared the gate, he looked around and asked her, “where is Lazarus? He was supposed to be here with me learning about the business.”

Mary stopped short and turned around looking guilty.

“Mary? Where is your brother?”

Mary quickly broke down under his continuous stare and cried out, “oh, Abba… He told me not to tell!”

“Mary? Tell me now.”

Looking down at her feet, she confessed in a quiet voice, “He went to the quarry with his friends.”

“Go along and help your sister,” he said smiling. “I promise I will not tell your brother.”

Simon spoke to the head drover for another 15 minutes while his servants unpacked two of the packed donkeys. Then he instructed him to bring the caravan to his warehouse in Jerusalem. He watched the caravan moved away, then he turned and walked towards the southern gate of his village.

Bethany is a fair sized village with many large homes belonging to wealthy people some of which were not all Jews. As Simon walked through the busy street into the marketplace near the southern gate, he was fondly greeted by his neighbors.

Simon walked through the southern gate, turned right on a gravel path then proceeded to follow it for several minutes. It was not long until he heard laughing voices of young people just below him. He walked to the edge of the pathway which looked down into the quarry pit which is also the burial sites of his family and the people in his village. There he saw his son showing off to a young girl and six other young people laughing away at his waving arms and balancing act on a loose boulder.

Simon then called out, “Lazarus!”

A young lad of about twelve years looks up then waves his hand in greeting. Simon gestures to him to come up. The young lad says goodbye to his friends and quickly worked his way up the hill to where his father was waiting.

Heaving heavily, Lazarus reached his father with a big grin on his face.

“Well, my son, did you forget that you were supposed to be with me today and learn the business that feeds you and clothe you and give you shelter over your head?”

“I am sorry, father.”

“You are coming of age. You are not an apprentice anymore. You will one day take over the business and I can retire to a ripe old age,” he said chuckling. “Come. Let us return to the village then we go to the city.”

To be continued…


Author’s note:
Though my story is basically fiction, the character of Simon the Leper is an actual Bible personality who actually lived in Bethany, a village in Judaea on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. He is only mentioned in two verses in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark. There is no other reference of him in the Bible. So, I asked myself, ‘what was his story? How did he catch leprosy? And how was he cured?’ There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them had no names at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic license, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch24 – part 3

THE PROMISE OF LIFE – Site of the Tomb, Emmaus, Galilee

“Sir, I am not one to cast doubt, but some might say that all of this may have been staged.”

“I do not believe so, Cestus. However, it is important to have proof even if it is for posterity sake.”

“Sir, I suggest witnesses.”

“Ah yes, the guards… Where do you think they would have gone?”

“They dare not report back to barracks. That would mean instant execution for deserting their guard duty.”

“So, what do you think, Cestus?”

“I think, sir, they will run. And some will head South for Egypt.”

“Right! You take my horse and get some of our men. Go to En Gedi. I am certain they will go there first. Go capture them. We will go to Bethany. They will have news there.”

By the afternoon, they arrived at the house of Simon the leper. The old man was there with his son and two daughters.

Cornelius asked, “Is there news of the Lord?”

Old man Simon said, “Mostly rumors. However, we have a woman here who says she had seen and talked to him.”

The woman was Mary of Magdala. She was one of the women who helped bury Jesus. When she saw Cornelius, she smiled and said, “I have seen the Lord. He has risen!”

“I know Mary. Tell me all.”

The Sabbath was over. It was very early in the morning when Mary of Magdala, and another Mary, the mother of James, and Salome were bringing more spices to complete the burial process that was not finished because of the Sabbath. They were discussing on how they were going to roll the heavy cover stone when an abrupt earthquake shook the ground under them. Not long after, soldiers were frantically running past them. One was hysterically shouting that they saw ‘ghosts’. When they came upon the tomb, the stone was rolled far away. When they looked into the tomb, the body was gone. So, they panicked and went to where they knew some of the disciples were staying in the old city. It was Mary that told Peter and John. They in turn ran to the tomb themselves. When Mary returned to the tomb by herself. For awhile she wept out loud outside then she entered the tomb again and to her surprise, two men were there.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

Then she heard a call. She turned around and saw another man standing there. She thought she recognized him but could not put her finger on it.

The man said, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”

She wondered if he was the gardener. So, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

Then he softly said to her, “Mary! Do you not know Me?”

As she looked closer, it was the face of Jesus as she remembered him but yet different. Mary then fell on her knees and hugged his legs, crying “Rabboni!”

Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’”

[Italics – John 20:11-17]

Then Jesus helped her to her feet, turned her and said, “Now, go Mary…”

When she turned around, he was gone. But she knew it was no dream. She went again to the disciples and told them what he told her. She went to every house of the Lord’s followers until she arrived here in Bethany.


The story continues on in my next post.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch18 – part 4

THE ANNOINTING ANSWER – Emmaus, BethanyCG-book-cover-w

They returned to the table. Jesus was lounging on his side talking to old man Simon and Lazarus, when young Mary, sister of Martha came in followed by the other women. She paused just at the threshold. In her hands was a slender white alabaster jar with a golden stopper. She then walked over to Jesus caressing the jar over her heart. She looks down and no words were exchanged. Jesus nodded ever so slightly to her. With a smile in her face, she gracefully knelt and unstoppered the jar. Cornelius smelled perfume. She then poured some on his head and her fingers gently combed it into his hair. The other women then sounded wavering, high-pitched tongue sound which they do as a sign of honor. Mary then poured some on Jesus’ feet and used her long hair to gently wipe them.
Abruptly, Judas Iscariot stood up quite indignantly speaking out loud.
“What is this waste? We could have sold this perfume for three hundred denarii and used the money to feed a multitude of poor.”
“Let her alone. Why do you bother her so?” Jesus said calmly. “You will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. Mary has done a good deed to me. For when she poured this perfume on me, she was preparing me for burial. I tell you all the truth that wherever this gospel is preached in the world, what she did for me will be spoken of in memory of her.”

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The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch18 – part 3

THE ANNOINTING ANSWER – Emmaus, BethanyCG-book-cover-w

It was the night before the beginning of the Passover Festival. The city is overflowing with Jewish pilgrims. The Kidron Valley, just under the gaze of the Eastern battlements of the Temple Mount, was startingly packed with multicolored tents. Smoke from thousands of camp fires formed a hazy blanket that rose as high as the controversial aqueduct that crossed the valley from the Mount of Olives. Cornelius, again with Jacob, Trax and Cestus were invited to the house of Simon the Leper in Bethany. When they arrived from Emmaus, Cornelius was happy to find Jesus and the Twelve, the women who always provided support to the group, and a few other followers like young John Mark. Also present were a few Pharisees friendly to Jesus. Nicodemus was there talking to one that Cornelius didn’t recognize. He was a little taller than Nicodemus and brawny but not like Peter. When he saw him, they approached.

“Centurion, allow me to introduce you to a colleague and friend of mine, Joseph of Arimathea.”

“Oh, yes!” He said as Cornelius grasped his forearm with a smile, “We have common acquaintances. I believe you know the Lady Procula and her hand maiden, Lady Pheobe.”

“Most interesting ladies,” chuckled Joseph. “They have such a zeal to learn. I also have heard that you yourself is a student of the Law and a proselyte. Wonderful!”

Then Simon the former leper called for everyone to the pavilion.

“My brethren, we have come unto miraculous times. Even more so, here in this household. Just a week ago, my son was buried four long days, but now, see my son!”

Old man Simon hugged his son, Lazarus. There was clapping and hugging until the men broke out in celebratory music and Jewish line dancing. Cornelius and Cestus decided not to join in the dance, however Jacob could not keep hold of an excited Trax who jumped right in. They were clearly enjoying the show and was clapping away with the rhythm. This went on for several minutes until Martha came from another part of the pavilion and rang a gong like bell to announce the evening meal. Some of the men moved a number of low tables to the center of the pavilion. Cushions were quickly strewn around the tables and the men started to lounge on them.

Cornelius was content to take the furthest table when Jesus came and led him to the main table. It was the largest there and that it could accommodate about twenty or so people. Jesus led him to a place next to him. Cornelius looked at the faces around the table. Jesus was on his right with old man Simon, Lazarus and a few men he didn’t know sitting next. To his left, the Twelve, Simon, Andrew, Peter, Judas, John, Philip, Matthew, James, Matthew, Thomas, Nathanael and Thaddeus. Before him were bowls of flat breads, salt and a pale yellowish paste that tasted tangy. Simon said before they bring out the main meal, they start with this. Simon broke off some flat bread then dunked it first on the paste then in the salt. He waited for Cornelius to follow suit before they ate it. Cornelius enjoyed it. He was in his fourth serving when Martha and an army of women brought in the rest of the hot food to all the tables.

As the dinner progressed and conversations got more busier, Jesus leans over to Cornelius and said, “Come, I’ve sensed you wanted to talk to me all night. Let us retreat over there for awhile.”

They went over to an adjacent courtyard and sat on opposite benches. Peter and Simon probably figured out that they needed privacy, so they stationed themselves to the entry way of the courtyard.

“I see you have found the passages I told you to find in Isaiah,” Jesus knowingly said. “But you feel you are at a lost.”

“Yes, very much so,” Cornelius said. Then he started telling him everything what he felt and shared his frustration to Jesus who had that silent power to just listen, encouraging him to speak with no reservations.

After what seem a long while, he finally asked, “Lord, I am still unclear on what I am suppose to do?”

“My Father had shown those things for you as a way of understanding and preparation, but it is for you to act or not act. Do not despair, Cornelius, you will do what is right in the long run. Let us return, for you must witness what comes next.”

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The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch17 – part 8

REVELATIONS – Emmaus, BethanyCG-book-cover-w

So, Peter and Andrew positioned themselves on the right side of the stone. The round stone was resting in the bottom of an inclined groove carved into the rock. Grunting profusely, they rolled the heavy stone up the slight incline, revealing the small opening into the dark chamber. Except for Jesus, those on the ledge and steps as well as those gathered below the ledge covered their noses and mouths from the obvious smell of decay. They quickly retreated down the steps leaving Jesus alone on the ledge.

Then Jesus raised his eyes, and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that you sent me.”

Then he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.”

The crowd was silent. When after awhile nothing seem to be happening, some in the crowd started snickering. But then a woman gasped and with a trembling hand pointing, she said, “Look!”

Cornelius had to take a few steps back to get a better look inside of the tomb. At first, all he saw was pitch darkness. Then he could just make out some slight grayish movement deep inside. He felt the hairs on his back stand up. The crowd was startled with a few women screaming out loud as a bound hand came out of the darkness grasping the entrance wall. Jesus reached in, grasped the other hand and helped the struggling bound man out. It was Lazarus alive after four days in the tomb. He was wrapped from head to foot with linen wrappings. The bound wrappings were hardened and stiff from the herbal ointments applied when he was buried.

No one moved. Jesus, who was holding him up, called out to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

It was the sisters that reacted first as they both rushed up the steps and embraced Lazarus. Other men rushed up to the ledge and started to tear at the hardened wrappers. His father handed his robe to cover his nakedness. He was still pretty weak, so they had to carry him down.

The people were amazed and were calling loud praises to God. Those Jews whom Cornelius noted who had laughed at him bowed their heads in respect when Jesus and his disciples walked by following the happy family. There were a few, however, who were concerned about this event. They did not cheer nor praise. Some of them went ahead of the crowd, probably to report what they just witnessed.

When they finally reached their house in the village, Jacob was there waiting for them with the others. Cornelius filled him in on the incredible event. Jacob was no less astounded.

That night, they received word from Nicodemus, that the religious leaders wanted Jesus dead.
[note: quotes in italics are from John 11]
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The story continues on in my next post.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch17 – part 7

REVELATIONS – Emmaus, BethanyCG-book-cover-w

They spoke privately while Cornelius and the disciple kept the crowd away. Then she hurried back to the village with her servant in tow. About fifteen minutes later, a sizable crowd was seen coming out. They were following Mary, the youngest sister of Lazarus, who was walking fast ahead of them. Martha and her father were just behind her. When Mary spotted Jesus, she sprinted the last twenty yards to him. Then she threw herself on the ground at his feet weeping loudly.

Her tear streaked face lifted to look imploringly at him and she said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Jesus helped her up on her feet and she fiercely embraced him, burying her face unto his chest weeping loudly. As Jesus returned her embrace, Cornelius saw anguish in his face. The women among the crowd were also weeping loudly.

Then he looked at Simon the Leper and his daughter, Martha and asked, “Where have you laid him?”

“Lord, come and see.”

They led him south of the village into a small canyon. The canyon walls only rose about fifteen to twenty feet up. It was narrow with only enough room for four men to walk abreast of each other. As they followed a well worn winding trail, Cornelius saw signs of excavations into the recesses of the walls. A number of them had carved circular stones about three feet in diameter covering the openings. They were burial chambers for the rich families of the nearby villages. They reached the end of the trail that opened up into a wider enclosure where Simon the Leper’s clan maintained a garden. The garden which was fenced in by a short rock wall about three feet high, fronted several burial chambers some of which were carved out halfway up the canyon walls. Rough steps were carved into the rock that led up to several ledges. Lazarus’ father told Jesus that he was entombed inside the chamber of the first ledge about five feet above the canyon floor. The ledge was only wide enough for about five to six people.

Jesus climbed the steps to the ledge followed closely by Simon the Leper, Peter and Andrew. The sobbing sisters also climbed the steps but stopped part way. Jesus placed his hand on the round stone and wept openly.

There were a number of Pharisees among the crowd and Cornelius could hear one of them whisper, “See how He loved him!”

But someone else also said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind, have kept this man also from dying?”

Jesus took a step back and spoke to Peter and Andrew, “Roll the stone away.”

Martha gasped and said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Mary’s head came up and looked on him with a desperate hope.

Jesus said to Martha, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

[note: quotes in italics are from John 11]

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch17 – part 5

REVELATIONS – Emmaus, BethanyCG-book-cover-w

Jacob stood up and started to slowly pace the floor. “There is much to absorb on what you said. The traditional Jew in me is cringing on some of your concept but I do find it intriguing, maybe because I have lived for so long away from the local prejudices. If Jesus is going to offer himself as the guilt offering then there can only be two questions to ask, how and when?”

“For the when, it may be a long way off, for Jesus may still have much to do to usher in the kingdom. I pray he will be an old man by then. As to the how, I believe I may know how. But I would rather not discuss it now. I have to find Jesus. You and two of our men take one of the smaller wagons and meet me at Bethany at the house of Simon the Leper. I will take Cestus with me and ride ahead. Bring enough supplies for three days and if the lad wants to come, bring him along.”

On the rode halfway to Bethany, they slowed their horses down to a canter. Cornelius was not paying too much attention to his surroundings. He had been thinking on the how question. He is convinced that sometime in Jesus’ future he will be crucified. He recalled him mentioning how the Son of Man would be lifted up and even specified the cross to his disciples. Crucifixions are Rome’s answer to dissension. It is not just an instrument of death but agonizing torture. He had seen hundreds of crucifixions in Spain so much so that he does not pay too much attention to them nor the crying pleas for a quick death. He had reasoned that they all deserved it.

When they sighted Jerusalem, they were on the road that led to the North West gate of the city. About a quarter of a mile from the gate was a fork on the road. Just off the road was a large rocky knoll the shape of which looked like a sunken skull. Cornelius looked at the top of the knoll and saw two roughly hewn poles sticking up from the ground. This would be an ideal location to execute punishment, he thought. It was high up and in sight from the city and the busy traffic on this road. As he looked at the empty poles, he shook his head thinking that this was no kind of execution for Jesus. In the back of his mind, he would not allow it. He would rather plunge his sword into him, in honor, rather than see him tortured on the cross.

They took the left fork which led them to another road that skirted the north city wall. Cornelius noted signs of the city expanding. There were already a number of structures built on the wide plain north of the city as well as an army of workers building sections of a new perimeter wall. They soon reached the other side of the city and took the road that went to Bethany. When they arrived, Simon the leper was there to greet them. There was sadness in his eyes and Cornelius noted that his robe was ripped from the neck down. Then he can hear wailing cries from inside.

“What has happened, Simon?”

“My son, Lazarus, succumbed to his illness four days ago.”

“He is dead?! I grieve for you, my friend. He will be sorely missed,” Cornelius said as he placed his hand on Simon’s shoulder. “Where was Jesus?”

“We heard he was in the area of the Jordan River Valley. Probably still is, I think. We sent messengers to him but the master had not come. I just do not understand why.”

“I will go seek him out.” He and Cestus mounted their horses. “Jacob and some others will arrive here soon. Would you tell him to await for us here?”

“Of course.”

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