FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 053

JORAM THE THIEF
33 AD – Miraculous Sight – Bethany, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

The next day, he was awakened by murmurings just below him. His first thought was that the soldiers had discovered his hideaway. Then he heard women crying. He slowly stuck his head out the hole and peered over the ledge. It was a funeral procession.

It was a large procession of more than a hundred people from Bethany. By the finery of the clothes of the mourners, the person that was being buried must have been very rich. They were just passing by under him, carrying the body on an open liter. The body, surrounded by flowers, was tightly wound by linen wrappings coated with a concoction of spices. Following it were the immediate family. One of them may have been someone he knew. But that was impossible, for the one he was thinking of was a leper and was probably long dead.

He watched the procession go to the far end of the quarry into one of the fenced-in garden. From his high vantage, he had a clear sight of the garden which was fenced in by a short rock wall about three feet high. This family was very rich for there were four burial chambers some of which were carved out halfway up the canyon walls. There were rough steps carved into the rock that led up to several ledges. Those carrying the liter climbed to the first ledge about five feet above the canyon floor. The ledge was only wide enough for about five to six people. A large heavy circular stone was rolled away to reveal the tomb. Two men carried the body in. After a minute, they came out and rolled the stone back to cover the chamber.

Then, another man, a much older one, went up to stand by the tomb. He reluctantly placed his hand on the stone to say goodbye. He turned to the mourners and spoke. Joram could not hear what was spoken but that was not what surprised him. The old man speaking was not only a man he knew, but one he thought was long dead. As he peered closely at the speaker, his eyes widened in disbelief. The man he is now seeing is his friend of fifteen years, Simon the Leper. But this man, clearly, had no trace of the disease. When last he saw Simon, his nose had rotten away and his face was bleeding from multiple sores. His back was hunched low and he was in constant pain. That was three years ago, when his friend asked him to leave him to die.

He was about to crawl out of his hideaway to see his friend, when he noticed two Romans lazing around near the entrance watching the funeral. He was wondering if they were posted there to keep an eye out for him. He was flattered but his pouch of food is only good for one more day, maybe two. He has to find a way to sneak past them. He thought of going out with the funeral mourners but his dirty clothes would not blend with their finery. Besides, he may have robbed some of them one time or another. So, he’ll go out when it gets dark.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 052

JORAM THE THIEF
33 AD – Miraculous Sight – Bethany, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

Thieving had always been Joram’s way of life since he was a small boy in the streets of lower Jerusalem. If he was not pocketing fruit from a vendor’s stall, he would be climbing through a third floor window pilfering someone’s valuables. In whatever situation he was in, he could always count on being chased.

Joram was on the run again.

He was spotted pilfering through the packs of some sleeping Roman legionaries in an encampment in the Jordan River valley just north of Jericho. He decided to evacuate the area most haste. He was about six miles from Jerusalem on the Jericho road, when he was recognized by a Roman patrol and he had to desperately flee into the ragged surroundings of the Judean highlands. When he got to the edge of Bethany, he thought he lost the pursuit, when he heard a shout, “There he is!” from behind him. Rather than hiding in the village, Joram high-tailed it down a narrow track that jotted back into the trees. The track wound it’s way to the south-east side of the village then it went about another mile until it went down into a quarry which is utilized by the wealthy dwellers of Bethany as burial places. He also knew of a well hidden spot.

The quarry is situated in a box-canyon with only one entry way. From behind the bushes he was hiding in, Joram had to dash across out in the open through the entryway. Most thieves normally would not get caught dead in a place with only one entrance, but he was not concerned for he knew of a couple ways out of this canyon. The craggly limestone walls of the quarry rose up about thirty feet on both sides of the path until it widens up. The grave sites that he walked by were fenced in by three foot-high rock walls. Some of the enclosures had flowery gardens in them, a sure sign they belong to the rich.

Joram followed the path further in until it went right by a pile of old rock-fall against a sheer roughly hewn wall. He got on the top of the rock pile then finding hand and foot holds on the wall, he began to climb. He went up about fifteen feet where there was a ledge and a hole in the wall. As he squeezed through it, he found the chamber exactly the way he left it. He had used this hole before. And he went in just in time, for he heard voices below him.

The voices he heard were talking in the Roman tongue. Apparently, from what he could make out was one of the soldiers thought he saw him run into the quarry. They spread out and searched. Fortunately, they will not be able to see the hole from the ground nor will they even notice the ledge since it is not easily distinguishable against the ragged wall.

Joram heard a whistle blow twice. A commanding guttural voice called out, probably a command to assemble. As the voices faded, he took a quick peek outside and sighted the tail-end of the line of soldiers leaving the quarry. He smiled to himself.

“That was a little too close,” he said to himself.

He backed back into the chamber. He waited for his eyes to adjust to the dark then took stock of his small hideaway. The chamber was not natural. It had a very low ceiling and had room enough for three large persons laying side by side. The far wall was stacked with some very old rusted tools and broken crates. He figured that this chamber was a supply cache when the quarry floor was still level to it. He imagined thousands of bedraggled Israelites digging away and mining it for limestone and marble slabs probably way back in the days of Solomon’s building boom hundred of years back. Joram went to one of the crates and tilted it up to reveal a number of items he left when last he was here. He picked out a small oil lamp. Shook it a little to see if there was some oil left in it. Satisfied that it hadn’t dried out, he struck his flint to light the lamp. From his pouch he pulled out a half eaten roll of flat bread and took a bite. Unfortunately, he would have had a big chunk of a roasted fowl from the mess tent of the Roman soldiers, but the cook’s slave came in just as he was about to carve out a slice. The slave called out an alarm and all he got away with was a bit off piece of flatbread and an over ripe plum. That was his meal until the next day. At least, that was how long he had to stay hidden, he figured.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 051

MARY THE FAITHFUL
33 AD – Death of Lazarus – Bethany, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

One afternoon, Lazarus woke up in the midst of a fever and in a low hoarse voice, he said, “Mary, I do not think I will make it.”

“What talk is this, Lazarus?” Mary said a little scoldingly. “Jesus will not let you die. He will come.”

“Comfort my heart. Tell me a secret like you used to when you were little.”

Mary knew a secret and she was going to share it with him when he gets better.

“I did discover something,” she whispered. “It was when the disciples were talking amongst themselves when Jesus said ‘The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.’ [Mark 9:30-32]

“I was shocked to hear it but the disciples showed very little in emotion. Joanne later told me the he had said this a number of times before. The disciples are having a hard time trying to comprehend it and fear asking him about it. Some of them believe that it was more figurative. I believe otherwise… from the things I learned so far.”

Mary was given a great privilege. When Jesus saw that she had great capacity to learn, he gave instructions to his disciples to give her tutelage of the Scriptures which were traditionally reserved only for Jewish boys. Matthew took it upon himself to instruct her. Using the holy scrolls of a friendly Synagogue leader, Mary’s eyes opened to God’s written word. In the course of a few months, she saw a repeated pattern weaved within the stories of Moses and the books of the prophets. It was a pattern of sacrificial substitution provided divinely to temporarily pay for the original sin of Adam, the first man. But those sacrifices only benefited just a few. Mankind is still eternally in danger.

Mary, however, had also gleaned a promised hope in that pattern. She saw this promise float to the surface from within the literature like pieces in a puzzle starting with a voiced certainty that the future offspring of Abraham would be a great blessing to the nations. Those pieces came together in the prophecies of the coming Messiah. The question in her mind though was what would the Messiah do? The Jews have it in their minds that the Messiah would be a returning victorious king from the line of David freeing them from the tyranny of the Romans. But Mary believed that that prophecy will not come about the way her people expected. In her mind, their way of thinking only serves their nation. But prophecy says that the Messiah would be a great blessing to the nations… to all mankind. And that blessing will come in the form of a sacrifice to top all other sacrifices. She put it all together.

“Lazarus,” she whispered into his ear, “Jesus is going to die for all of us. I don’t know how yet, but I believe it is going to happen soon… very soon. I know this because of the way he had been talking to us lately. I think I am the only one who believes this. Lazarus? Lazarus, did you hear me?”

Mary thought he was asleep. When she placed her palm on his forehead, it was cold. She expected it to be feverishly hot. She sighed a breath of relief thinking that maybe his fever broke, but then to her dismay, she realized he was not breathing.

“Abba!” She called out as loud as she could.

Simon came rushing in followed by Martha and some of the servants. As Martha wailed loudly, he calmly assessed the situation. Going to a countertop, he retrieved his daughter’s hand mirror and gently held it under his nostrils trying to detect even a slight puff of air. He looked at Mary and shook his head. Then he pulled his son’s bed covers over his head.

The activity around the house was solemn. Mary was tired and walking around in a daze. She walked into the room where Lazarus was being prepared for burial. His body was almost wrapped with linen soaked in aromatic spices. Two women were solemnly wrapping his right arm and shoulder. Mary went to the other side of the table and rolled up her sleeve.

“Mary, you should not. You will be unclean,” said one of the women. “We can finish this.”

But Mary had already picked up the soaked strips and started to delicately wrap his other arm. When only his head was left unwrapped, the two women respectfully left the room to let Mary finish up.

Mary’s tears started to fall and she started to stroke her brother’s hair. When she turns toward the open window, she says, “If only you have come…”
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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 050

MARY THE FAITHFUL
33 AD – Death of Lazarus – Bethany, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

The winter again was not as harsh than last year and spring seem to have sprung up a little early in Judea. But the air was still a bit cold when Mary returned home with her two companions from Galilee. She had spent three wonderful months with Mariam, the mother of Jesus.

Mariam had taken Mary under her wing. From her, Mary was told an incredible story of how she was visited by an angel of the Lord. From that meeting, Mariam was told what the Lord God had intended and as intended, she became pregnant. The incredible part was that she was a virgin.

Jesus had been focusing his ministry in and around Nazareth and Capernaum. Whenever, Jesus was there, Mary had taken every opportunity learn more about him, the kingdom and eternal life. She even learned of things that Jesus only reserved to his closest disciples. For her, it was heaven.

When she alighted from the wagon, her father emerged from the house.

“Abba,” she hugged him. “It is good to be home.”

The two women approached them.

“Abba, you remember Mary of Magdala. And this is Joanne. Her husband is Chuza…”

“Oh yes… he is Antipas’ finance manager, I recall,” Simon said. “Ladies… please enter our home. I must talk to my daughter.” He led her to the side as her companions entered.

“Mary, I miss you so much. I almost regretted sending you to Galilee… almost.” Simon smiled then he hugged her again. “Before we go into the house, I have to tell you that your brother is very… very ill.”

Mary rushed into the house with her father not too far behind. She passed her two companions who clearly sensed something was wrong. She went up to the third level to her brother’s room. She paused before his door, took a breath and then entered.

Lazarus was covered from neck to foot with bed covers and blankets. His hair was flattened down in sweat. His glistening face was incredibly pallored to the point that he already resembled a corpse. It was only by his shallow breathing that Mary knew he was still alive. Martha was there laying a damp towel on his head.

“He has been asking for you, Mary,” Martha said.

“I wish I knew he was ill, or else I would have come earlier,” she said as they hugged each other. “How is he?”

“I feel much better, now that you are here,” Lazarus said as he smiled weakly. Then he fell back to sleep.

Martha took Mary to the far end of the room and whispers, “He is not getting better. I fear the worse. Where is the Master? Father had been sending messengers far and wide.”

“He and the Twelve are somewhere in the Perean region.”

“Then, I must inform Father, so he can send messengers. You stay and keep him cool.”

“Of course, sister.”

Martha quietly left the room.

“Mary?”

“I am here, brother.”

Mary went to his bed and replaced the the damp cloth on his head. He asked her for some news and she told him of the happenings of Capernaum, Cana and at Nazareth, mostly places where she was. Throughout the night and several other nights, she and her companions took turns in caring for him. However, Lazarus did not get any better and there were no signs of Jesus.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 045

MARY, THE FAITHFUL ONE
32 AD – Meaning of True Love – Bethany, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

Jesus taught more on things that the disciples need to be followers, but Mary heard very little of it. In her mind’s eye, her finger was tracing his face from his moving lips up his manly snub nose much like her father’s (except that the bridge of his is slightly longer) to his eyebrows which were slightly curved and not too bushy. His forehead was taller than most. She imagined running her fingers in his bluish-black shoulder length hair. All in all, he was not really handsome. By most he would be almost considered ordinary. But for Mary, he was heavenly.

When he finished his lesson, Mary asked, “Lord? Tell me about love.”

Mary can almost feel the amusement of the men behind her. Jesus smiled encouragingly. He looked to the others and gave a nod. She heard them get up and left the garden to just the both of them.

Jesus knew what was in Mary’s heart… Romance. He knew that she was romantically infatuated with him. He spoke to her gently and with understanding. He told her that first and foremost, he must complete the task that was set by his Father above. A task that will become known to her and his followers soon. A task that only he can undergo singly and alone.

Mary understood. She asked, “Was it wrong for me to… to love like this?”

“Oh Mary!” Jesus lightly laughed out loud. “Of course, it is not wrong. In the beginning, your Father in heaven had always intended that people should not be alone. The way a man and a woman are attracted to each other was the way the Creator had always intended. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So, they are no longer two, but one flesh.’ ” [Matthew 19:5-6]

“What you feel, though, you will feel many times but they are always short-lived as they were meant to be.”

“Meant to be? What do you mean, Lord?”

“True Love goes beyond the passion of romance and infatuation. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

“Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. Knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! When the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless. But love will last forever!” [1 Corinthians 13:4-10]

“Lord, I think I understand but I so wanted to go where you go,” she sobbed. “Can I not go wherever you go?”

“That time will come,” Jesus said as he looked at her penetratingly and smiled. “For now, I think it best that that time would be best spent with my mother. Would you like that?”

She nodded.

“I’ll speak to your father.”

Then, Martha came into the garden and she did not look happy. She looked at her. Mary expected a earful but instead Martha approached Jesus.

“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” She was almost pleading.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” [Luke 10:40-42]

Mary thought that she probably was free forever from helping out in the kitchen, but then Jesus’ words on love, selflessness and sacrifice convicted her heart. As Martha walked back inside, looking a little dejected, Mary said, “Wait for me, Martha.”

They hugged and the both went in. Jesus was pleased.

At the evening meal, as Mary was helping serve, John and Andrew arrived from the city. They reported that the priesthood had given orders to arrest Jesus when he shows up at the festival. But they gave up looking out for him, thinking he was still in Galilee.

Mary’s father, Simon asks, “What is the plan, Master?”

Jesus stood. He looked at them all, then he stops to look at Mary.

“Tomorrow, I will go up to the festival and the son of man will make his appearance. Tomorrow, the Son of man will pick a fight.”

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 45th 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, there are two options:

1. Donate $2-$5 to my PAYPAL account [click below]

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2. 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 044

MARY, THE FAITHFUL ONE
32 AD – Meaning of True Love – Bethany, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

Mary had managed to escape again from Martha. Martha had given her much to do again. She was preparing the house for, what Mary considered another frivolous party for another unknown visitor who had sent word the day before of their arrival. Martha loves to play hostess to many of their father’s business acquaintances and even to quite a few of her suitors. Traditionally, husbands were already chosen by the parents even when their daughters were young. But since Mary’s mother had passed away when she was very young, her father, Simon, had forwent tradition and told that they are free to choose a partner for themselves. Martha is closed to eighteen but no man had interest her yet. Mary suspects that her father may have to secure her a husband soon if he ever want to see grandchildren. Lazarus who is about twenty would be expected to wed when he reach his thirties. As for herself, her father had not spoken to her about love or marriage at all. She thinks that her father is trying to keep her as his little girl for as long it took. But Mary had her own ideas about romance and escaping from Martha gave her opportunity to daydream more about it under her favorite tree.

She went to her tree about two hours after the noon meal living out her romantic fantasy until sleep took her into slumber land. In her dreams, she was looking up to the man of her dreams except that she could not make out his face which was in dark deep shadows because the sun was at his back. Then he extended his hand down to help her up when she noticed that his wrist had a cruel scar on it. Then an echoey voice was calling her name repeatedly.

“Ma… ry… Ma… ry… Mary… Mary!”

Suddenly, her eyes snapped open and there before her was a hand just like her dream except there was no scar.

“Mary, wake up!” It was the laughing voice of her brother. When her eyes focused, she realized that it was nearly dusk. She saw her grinning brother and a group of men looking up from the road. She looked at the hand that awaited to help her up. She followed the arm up to a smiling face of someone she did not recognize. He had a short beard and his hair came down to his shoulders. But it was his eyes that fascinated her. It’s like they can see deep into her very soul. As he helped her to her feet, she felt herself blush.

When they joined her brother and the others on the road, Lazarus introduced her to the man.

“Mary, this is Jesus. He was the one that healed father.”

Mary did not hesitate to gleefully throw her arms around Jesus’ neck which caused the disciples to laugh in approval.
The next day, Jesus was teaching in an enclosed garden. The Twelve disciples were there with Simon and his son, Lazarus. Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet. One or two of the disciples probably noticed that as she attentively looked up at Jesus she was obviously glassy eyed. Even Lazarus was amused with the wideness of her eyes. But as to Mary, she was joyously oblivious to her surrounding. All she saw and heard was only him.

“If anyone wishes to follow me as my disciple,” Jesus teaches. “He must deny himself. That is, set aside selfish interests, and take up your cross.”

“Master?” asked Simon Peter. “What did you mean ‘take up our cross’?”

“A time will soon come when all these things will become clear. For now, you must learn to develop the willingness to endure whatever may come and follow me. This mean believing in me, conforming to my example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in me.

“For whoever wishes to save his life in this world will eventually lose it through death, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find life with me for all eternity. Consider this, for what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world… wealth, fame, success, but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory and majesty of His Father with His angels, and then He will repay each one in accordance with what he has done. And I assure you and most solemnly say to you, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” [Matthew 16:24-28 Amplified Bible]

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 44th 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, there are two options:

1. Donate $2-$5 to my PAYPAL account [click below]

DONATE TO MY PAYPAL

2. 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 029

NAHAN THE PRIEST
31 AD – Temple Mount, Jerusalemfaithful-encounters-cover-w

The fat portions and the blood were brought to Nahan. He directed a priest to first splatter blood against all sides of the altar. With that done, the fat portion was placed on the hot grill of the altar. Flames shot up as the fat drippings hit the coals. Then he descended the steps and a tray of unleavened loaves that Simon brought as a peace offering was handed over to him. Nahan took a quick glance at Simon and the other men. Simon smiled and nodded. He started singing a psalm and was joined in by everyone else.

Nahan slowly approached the porch of the Temple a little apprehensively. It was a feeling he always felt. Afterall, he was about to enter the most holiest place on Earth. And he knew that his heart was not as pure as it should. His final task is to enter The Holy Place and place the unleaven loaves on the golden table for the Bread of Presence. He looked up at the two tall bronze pillars that flanked the golden double doors. The pillars were named Jachin and Boaz. Jachin was of the line of the priesthood. Boaz represented the line of David. The pillar were as tall as six men standing on each other. The gilded folding doors were almost as tall. Two minor priests stood before the doors waiting. As soon as he was inches from the doors, they slowly opened it, keeping their eyes downcast so that they would not look in. Nahan entered.

Inside was dark in contrast to the bright sunlight outside. He paused just inside the portico. As the tall folding doors closed, his gaze was greeted with a yellowish glowing shimmer reflecting on the golden walls. The Holy Place was a long enclosed hall with no windows. The walls were laid out with fine gold panels decored with palm tree and chain designs. The shimmering effect were caused by ten tall golden lampstands, five on the south side and five on the north. At the end of the hall, was a deep violet curtain called the Veil. By the dim light, he could just make out the silhouettes of the cherubim designs on the Veil. The Veil which is almost five inches thick, covers the entrance to the inner chamber, The Most Holy Place. In there houses the holiest object in all the world, the Ark of the Covenant, which he knew he will never see for only the High Priest can ever enter there.

Sitting before the Veil are two objects, the golden altar of Inscense and the table also plated in gold which is his objective. He goes towards it in a slow paced gait quietly chanting a Hebraic psalm of God’s goodness, holiness and sovereignty. When he got to table still chanting, he solemnly replaced the loaves of bread. When done, he bowed to the Veil and slowly back stepped to the doors which opened just as he came to it. Once outside, he handed the tray with the bread to a waiting priest. He then proceeded back to where Simon and the family was waiting for him where he gave a final benediction. As the family left, Nahan took Simon to one of the alcoves.

“Simon, I know you went to that self-proclaimed prophet,” he said.

“Well, Nahan, I know that you know and by the way, he never publically proclaimed anything.”

“But he is making himself very visible for the people to see and to follow. The leadership is concerned of the kind of trouble this man can bring, especially when the Romans hear of it.”

“Oh, I think he nor the Romans are the problem.”

“What are you saying?”

“You knew I was a leper. I come back after 10 years totally healed but yet, instead of praising with me, you were more interested to wring out of me any information of him… for them.” Simon left.

Nahan was about to return to his quarters, when he was summoned by Caiaphas.

Upon entering the High Priest’s chambers, Caiaphas angrily handed a scroll to Nahan.

“He did it again! He miraculously fed five thousand men with only a handful of fish and some loaves!”

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 29th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.  We will take a pause in the story of Nahan the priest and return when face off with the Nazarine. We go back to Demacli, the legion demoniac four years later.

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 028

NAHAN THE PRIEST
31 AD – Temple Mount, Jerusalemfaithful-encounters-cover-w

On the appointed eighth day, Nahan amusingly watched Simon enter the Temple complex with the entire clan and a crowd of friends. The source of his amusement was that Simon had shaved his head and his beard, as required. The mirth on the faces of all three of Simon’s children testify that they too were trying not to breakout laughing themselves. Then he noticed the animals the family handed over to the priests who already started to examine them for any blemishes. Nahan knew that the final part of the purifiction ceremony only required two male lambs and a one-year-old female lamb, all with no defects, along with a grain offering of choice flour and pressed oil extracted from olives. Instead, Simon took from his herd, two young bulls and a heifer cow that has yet to borne a calf. The women separated from the men and stayed at an elevated floor area designated just for them. The men, being prompted by the priests, moved forward up to the steps of the elevated columned portico that separated the Court of the Priests from the Court of Israel where only those men of Hebrew descent can gather.

Nahan watched them approach with a little apprehension. The men were festive and the women were singing a Psalm of rejoice. But that may change as soon as he makes his announcement. Seeing that he could not delay any longer, he took a step forward and raised his hand up to signal for everyone’s silence. When everyone went quiet, he took a deep breath.

“My friends and family, I must announce that the priesthood no longer consider this as a purification ceremony.” Mumbling voices rose in crescendo. “Please allow me to explain. Ten years ago, I and two others diagnosed Simon to have signs of unusual and spreading whitening of the skin. But I must confess that we were too hasty to declare leprosy. It is quite apparent that by Simon’s healing, the priesthood believes that it was just a skin ailment that lasted so long.”

Simon’s son, Lazarus, was about to protest but Simon held him back by calmly shaking his head.

“Simon?” asked Nahan. “Since you have been away from worship for so long, would you offer your animal and grain sacrifice as a freewill offering of thanksgiving.”

Simon nodded his ascent which was a relief to Nahan. He proceeded through the portico into the inner court or the Court of the Priests. Since he was the presiding priest, he went to the Brazen Sea. It was a massive bronze basin constantly filled with thousands of gallons of water which sat on the southeastern corner of the court. The basin itself sat on the hind quarters of twelve lifesize bronze oxens. Also known as the Laver, it stood taller than two men. Nahan went to a smaller basin that stood waste high, where another priest waited. He rolled up his sleeves and extended his hands and forearms over the basin. The other priest reached up to turn a valve, on the side of the mouth of one of the bronze oxen. Then water poured out of a spout ingeniously hidden in the mouth. After ritually washing his hands, he solemnly crossed to the massive altar on the eastern side. He went up the twelve steps to the top of the platform where he felt the heat from the coals that were just stoked by a priest. Hearing distressed animal sounds, he moved to the edge of the platform to observe the slaughter. The two bulls were already down and the cow was frantically mooing as it was led to the already bloody slaughter area. A priest was calmly stroking it head to help it quiet down. Another brought a clean basin and positioned it under the cow’s neck. He held a knife behind his back waiting for the animal to calm down. And when it did, the priest had adeptly cut into the cow’s jugular. The animal didn’t even feel the slice. Blood poured into the basin held by a priest and was quickly taken away as the cow collapse on the ground. Then, the animals were strung up and other priests start to cut into them.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 28th 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, a Roman Centurion who almost saved Jesus Christ from the cross. Just click the link below.

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 027

NAHAN THE PRIEST
31 AD – Temple Mount, Jerusalemfaithful-encounters-cover-w

The doors to the office of the High Priest are as tall as two men and carved with intricate geometric designs. Standing watch were two Temple guardsmen.

Nahan was summoned. He suspects it has something to do with the wandering rabbi in the Galilee area. Ever since he caused such a raucous on the Temple court just a few months ago, Nahan was tasked to investigate. One of the doors swang open and a minor priest let him. The room was long with narrow slit windows on one side.

“Father, your time as High Priest is over. I cannot do the same things that you used to do,” said Caiaphas.

“Herod is a fool,” cranked Annas. “He imprisoned the Baptist instead of having him killed. The Baptist goes around declaring the great sin of him marrying Herodias, his own brother’s wife, but all he does is put him in a cell. I have even heard that the Baptist is taken to his room every night so they can talk. It is like he is keeping him like a pet. We can’t even get our hands on him for as long as he is held at Machaerus in Perea.”

Caiaphas saw Nahan approaching. “Wait, father,” he said. “Nahan. It is good that you have come.”

“Anointed one,” Nahan said bowing. Then, he bowed to Annas. “Your emminence.”

“Last week, you performed a purification ceremony in the valley of Kidron,” said Caiaphas.

“Yes, holy one. Ten years ago, a relative came to me and he was declared unclean for leprosy. All the signs were there. More than a week ago, his brother came to me and requested me to perform this ceremony for a kin. He didn’t tell me who it was. So, I followed protocol. Since the ceremony was suppose to take place outside the Temple, I instructed them to set up camp in the Kidron Valley. Three days later, I and two other priests descended the eastern stairs to find a fairly large encampment. It looked like the entire clan was assembled including that of my own family. It seem I was the only one kept in the dark. Though I admit, I was a little intrigued to see who it was that needed ceremonial purification. When I came into the camp, my family and relatives were all clustered together watching me. They all had this mirthful expression and a few almost brokeout laughing. I suspected I was the butt of a family jest. I was about to harshly rebuke them for sinning when they parted and out walked, to my surprise, someone I didnot expect. It was Simon, my cousin, the very same one I declared unclean many years back.

“I asked him how was it that he was not a leper anymore. He would not say except that he was here in accordance to the Law. And he had prepared everything needed for the ceremony. So, we took him to a tent and we examined every inch of his body and no trace of the leprosy can be found. After, he dressed, we went out and I declared to the family he was free of the disease. Then, they brought two birds needed. I commanded that one of the two birds be slaughtered over a clay pot filled with water. As the blood mixed, I took the other bird and tied the scarlet yarn on its leg. Then, I tied the hyssop branch to the cedar stick. One of the priest both dipped the bird and the hyssop branch in the blood in the clay pot. Then I took the hyssop branch and sprinkled Simon with the blood seven times as is ascribed. After that, we released the other bird.

“It had to be the Nazarene!” blurted Annas.

“It was,” said Nahan. “I got it out of my niece during the celebration. Apparently, my nephew brought him to Galilee and this Jesus supposedly healed him in public.”

“We also knew it,” said Caiaphas. “Some of our people returned from up north and confirmed the event. They recognized your cousin. Anyway, what is the latest with your cousin?” .

“He is suppose to return tomorrow and bring his offerings to complete his purifiction.”

“Very well,” said Caiaphas. “You will make an announcement that you made a mistake ten years ago. That this Simon was not really leprous but was inflicted with a skin condition that healed itself after ten years.”

Noticing the baffled look on Nahan’s face, Annas explained, “Nahan, it is important that we discourage and cut off every information of that Galilean troublemaker.”

“I see, Holy one.” Though at the back of his mind, he was not liking it.
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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 27th 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.

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 026

MARY, THE FAITHFUL ONE
31AD – Bethanyfaithful-encounters-cover-w

Content she had done her devotional duty, Mary returns to her favorite spot to watch the comings and goings of the people on the road. Her favorite pastime was to randomly choose anyone on the road and imagined what exotic country they came from or what adventure awaited them. She looks up the road, still not much traffic. The lone wagon was out of sight. So, she turns her gaze downwards, tracing the winding road down the highland until she again spots the two men riding donkeys. They were a lot closer now, maybe about three miles. She closed her eyes and imagined that they were merchants from the ancient mountains of Moab from that secret stronghold called Petra. But they are not just merchants, they are actually Nabatean assasins heading for the city. They were sent by the Nabatean king to take revenge on Herod Antipas for divorcing his wife, the daughter of the Nabatean king. Mary smiled on what her imagination conjured up. The part of the story where Herod Antipas divorced his Nabatean wife for Herodias, his brother’s wife, is true. She heard it said by the Baptist before he was arrested by Herod.

For a good forty five minutes, she creatively weave her tale of other villains, heroes and heroines, including an unrequited love affair. But then in the midst of her reverie, she heard a distant whistling sound. At first, she paid it no mind, but then she heard the whistling sound again and it sounded a lot closer. She took a squinty peek out one eye, but everything was blurry. So, she opened her eyes wide, had to blink twice to clear her vision. What she saw were the two men riding donkeys who she playfully imagined were assasins, were actually her brother on the lead donkey and an older man riding the other ass.

“Lazarus!” She gleefully stood up and waved at him. Then her eyes widen in disbelief. The old man got off his ride, pulled off his head cover and veil that hid his face and slowly walked toward her.

“Hello my sweet cherub,” said the old man.

“Abba?” Mary asked, not believing her eyes. Then, as he came closer, she recognized his smile. “Abba… Abba!” She dashed down the short hill to the road but stopped dead at her tracks as she remembered that she could not come close.

“It is fine, Mary,” said Lazarus as he put a hand on his shoulder. “Father is well and healthy.”

Mary then jumped into her father’s embrace.
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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 23rd segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS. We will comeback to the short story of Mary months later when she first meets Jesus. Our next story is about Nahan the Priest.

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.