THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch5 – part 2

A MOTHER’S TALE – Nazareth, GalileeCG-book-cover-w

“Is this the house of Joseph the carpenter?” asked Cornelius offhandedly.

“This is the house of Joseph, but he has long been dead for some years. My brothers and myself run the business now.”

“We seek your brother, the rabbi,” said Jacob. “We heard him speak at Bethsaida and we would like to hear more. Do you know where we can find him?”

“I know not where he went. Now, if you would excuse me, I have much work to do.”

As he returned to his work, Cornelius noticed the curtain in the window part just so slightly to reveal a hand of a woman.

“What of Miriam, your mother?”

“She… she is away in Cana.” Then he went back to sawing the plank. They then started to walk back.

When Cornelius and Jacob returned to the village square, they arrived in the middle of a commotion. One of the soldiers was dragging a screaming girl towards the wagon, while two others were holding off a desperately pleading father and a hysterical mother. Cornelius pulled out and blew his whistle twice. Then he shouted, “Enough!”

“What is going on here?” He demanded. Then pointing at the soldier holding the girl, he said, “Where do you think you are going with her?”

The optio in charge approached with a nervous Levi following behind. He pointed at the father, “this man could not pay his taxes. So, we are taking his daughter.” He pushed Levi up forward to confirm it.

“Ye… yes, Centurion.” He nervously said, “he… he was short by five drachmas.” Then he retreated back a few steps.

Cornelius could not interfere. As much as he hated this practice, these people are under Roman rule. This is the reality of their lives. The soldier continued to drag the girl towards the horses as the father and mother wailed even more loudly. He looked at the parents and then at the crying girl who will probably end up in the brothels.

“Stop!” he ordered. Then he called Levi to approach, he said, “I will pay their debt.” He handed Levi some coins. The optio was livid.

“What are you doing?” The optio demanded. “Are you out of your mind? They are in violation of the law!”

Cornelius looked at him with a challenging stare. “I believe the tax collector has something to say about that.”

Levi showing a little more confidence spoke out, “Ahem… As I am the official tax collector of this district, my records now show that their taxes are fully paid. There is no violation.”

“Optio… have your man release the girl.”

The optio was still livid. He placed his hand on the hilt of his sheath sword. Cornelius swept his cape to his back revealing his sword and his armor. When the optio noticed the emblems on Cornelius’ chest armor, he knew he was not facing an ordinary procurement official but a battle hardened centurion. He moved his hand away from his own sword took a step back and gave the order to release the girl. The girl flew to her mother’s side crying.

—————————————————————————————-

The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

If you want to support my writing, you can donate by clicking below…

DONATE TO MY PAYPAL

Thank you

Johann Q

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch5 – part 1

A MOTHER’S TALE – Nazareth, GalileeCG-book-cover-w

Cornelius had again seen the zealot a number of times at the synagogue mostly during the Sabbath worship. He had assigned Nacob to track his movements. Nacob had established his cover very well. Within the city, he is a smelly street beggar. Out in the countryside, he poses as an Arab shepherd. He had successfully followed the Zealot to a villa belonging to a rich merchant from Jerusalem. Though, this Simon is from Cana, a town west from here, up into the Galilean highlands, he frequently visits this villa. Nacob had also reported that this villa is frequently visited by numerous well-to-do young men some of which had recently arrived from Jerusalem. This interested Cornelius greatly. He had suspected that many of those in the Zealot faction came from there. He had arranged for them to be discreetly followed back to Jerusalem. At the same time, establish his network of spies there.

Meanwhile, his real interest is in the whereabouts of Jesus of Nazareth. He has not been in Capernaum since Cornelius acquired his house. When he heard that a tax official called Levi and six other soldiers were going to Nazareth to collect the taxes, he went with them in the hopes that this Jesus would be there. He brought Jacob along to ride with Levi in the wagon.

Nazareth is located in the heart of a valley surrounded by the highlands. It is a small farming village situated on the foot of a hill near what is known as the old King’s road which was built by an ancient Babylonian king.

When they got there, Jesus and his followers were not there. But he did find out that Jesus stirred up the men in the local Synagogue. He heard that they wanted to cast him off a cliff on the hill. Cornelius wondered what he would have said that stirred them like that. Jacob, after speaking with the synagogue leader, told him that Jesus was invited to read from the Scriptures.

“He read from the scroll of Isaiah.”

Cornelius was curiously interested.

“The passage he read went like this, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.’ What stirred the men was what he said after. He said, ‘Today, this has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ ” [Luke 4:18-21 NASB]

“Is he declaring himself openly, Jacob.”

“Yes, I believe he is… and it is incredible.”

“You said that he has family here. Let us find out where his house is.”

Jacob got directions from the rabbi. The house that they sought was at the bottom of the hill near the southern edge. It was not hard to find the house. Since they knew that Jesus was a carpenter, they followed the sound of sawing and hammering. At first, Cornelius thought the bearded man sawing on a large plank of wood was Jesus, but it turned out to be his brother, James. Two other brothers were working on some furniture just inside their workshop and a young woman, a sister maybe, was meticulously picking pebbles out of a basket filled with grain. It was she who saw Cornelius and Jacob approaching and then called the attention of the working men. They stopped their work. James put down his saw and walked over to them at the gate.

“Shalom,” Jacob greeted.

“Shalom,” James greeted back with a slight nod. “How may we be of service, masters?”

“Is this the house of Joseph the carpenter?” asked Cornelius offhandedly.

“This is the house of Joseph, but he has long been dead for some years. My brothers and myself run the business now.”

—————————————————————————————-

The story continues on in my next post a week from now.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

If you want to support my writing, you can donate by clicking below…

DONATE TO MY PAYPAL

Thank you

Johann Q

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 040

ZACCHAEUS THE LITTLE PUBLICAN
32 AD – Guess Who’s Coming For Lunch – Jericho, Jordan River Valleyfaithful-encounters-cover-w

Zacchaeus was always hated. Even as a child, he was the subject to ridicule and childish abuse because he was unusually short. They would call him, the Dwarf. By his appearance, he looked normal, just shorter. He is now a man. The ways of children had past but the hatred is still there.

“Yo, Dwarf!”, came a shout from the streets. “You have cheated me again!”

Zacchaeus again peered out the curtain of the carriage he was riding. He knew the man that was shouting. He laughed out loud enough for him in the streets to hear. When he peered again, he was gratified to see that the man moved away in a huff. He savored the thought that he achieved ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’ [Deuteronomy 19:21] Of course, he was pleased to take more than an eye.

“He deserved it, that big bully,” Zacchaeus said to himself remembering a childhood recollection of being tormented by him.

His satisfaction was short-lived. He sighed and looked out the carriage window to watch the people going about their business. The people were socializing and looked happy. A family came out of one of the public structures of the city. The father picked up his daughter, whispered something and the little girl was giggling happily. Zacchaeus smiled longingly. Then he noticed those that watched his carriage go by, they had utmost disdain written on their faces. He knew most of them and he remembered only too well how he cheated and profited from them over the years.

He may have been short in stature, lacking strength and skill to be any use in mostly an agrarian society, but he was quite good with numbers. He learned to keep books when he apprenticed under a shrewd merchantman and eventually became adept in the business of trading. He became rich and hoped that he would gain respect from those that treated him so badly. But the hatred was still there. So, Zacchaeus left Jericho for Jerusalem, where he befriended a man who also was ostracised by society because he was a tax collector.

Zacchaeus felt that since the people already hated him, he might as well profit from it. And there was much to profit from. He learned the ways of the publicans. This was done to take every opportunity by collecting more than required and kept the extra for themselves. The success of this practice was quite easy especially when you had a squad of Roman soldiers backing you. Zacchaeus quickly became rich and rose within the tight knit publican circle. But when he was noticed by the Romans, they made him a chief tax collector and gave him a choice for his own posting. He chose to pack up his lavish lifestyle, servants, his wife and moved back to the city that hated him. The people of Jericho were shocked to see him riding at the head of an extended wagon train that rolled through the rolling city streets. It was not long after, during tax collection that the people especially those that picked on him before felt his avenging ire. This happened year after year. He was the richest man in the district and yet, he was not happy.

Loneliness was not the problem, his money had always attracted a number of sycophants. No, Zacchaeus was unhappy because he was not liking what he had become. He had become like those who treated him badly because he was different. He had become a bully. He made some effort to change by showing some mercy to the poorest in the district, but true happiness eluded him until the Baptist came.

———————————————–

Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 40th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

PS… If you want to support my writing, please purchase my ebook, THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL, in Amazon.com for only $1.99. The Centurion’s Gospel is the story of Cornelius Metellus, the Roman Centurion who almost saved Jesus Christ from the cross. Just click the link below.