THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch14 – part 1

THE OPPOSITION – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

As soon as Jesus revealed himself and started to teach, many quickly recognized him and they flocked to listen to him. Cornelius and the disciples struggled to keep the excited crowd from overwhelming him. It was a good thirty minutes before the priests realized what was happening. It was not long until Cornelius and the other disciples noted a delegate of priests and scribes making their way through the crowd towards them. They paused at the edge of the crowd and listened to what Jesus had to teach for another twenty minutes.

“Teacher,” called out one of the scribes somewhat disdainfully. “Tell us by what authority do you do these things, or who gave you this authority?”

“I shall also ask you a question, and you tell me what your answer is. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?”

The delegation started whispering among themselves. Cornelius almost laughed out loud. He knew that they were caught in their own trap. If they answered, ‘from heaven’ then Jesus could ask them, ‘why did you not believe him?’ But if they say, ‘from men’, then all the people around them who believe that John was a prophet could raise up against them and even stone them.

Then the same scribe who was not so smug anymore, answered him, “We do not know!”

Then Jesus said, “So, neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Some in the crowd started to laugh but quieted down as some of the scribes scowled at them. So, Jesus addressed the crowd with a parable about a rich man who planted a vineyard and rented it out to a group of vine-growers. This rich man then went off on a long journey leaving the tenants a long time thinking that they were the sole owners. When the rich man returned he sent his servants to the tenants to receive some of the produce of the vineyard that was due him. The tenants refused and beaten the servant and sent him away empty handed. They did the same thing to every servant he sent. Finally the rich man decided to send his own beloved son in the hopes that they may respect him. When the tenants heard that he was sending his son they reasoned among themselves that if they killed the heir then the inheritance would be theirs. So, when the son arrived they killed him.

Then Jesus looked at the scribes and the priests and loudly asked, “What, therefore, will the owner of the vineyard do to them?”

Some of the scribes started to nervously look around. Someone from the crowd boldly called out and said, “He will rightly destroy the vine-growers!”

Jesus looked at the delegation again and said, “What then is this that is written, ‘the stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone?’ Everyone who falls on that stone will the broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” [Matthew 21:42-44 NASB]

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch13 – part 6

TO JERUSALEM – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

The main Temple complex was built on a four foot height base platform about the same height of the platform that the columns were sitting on. This gave Cornelius a chance to see above the crowd’s heads all the way into the complex. The Temple itself, sitting on another raised platform, was flanked by two battlement walls with three watch along both sides. The main entrance of the complex were three arches; two small ones flanking a larger one. His eyes can only see as far as what Jacob explained to be the Court of Israel. Clearly he saw that only the men of Israel were allowed there. However, he can see women in a sectioned part of the Court of Israel which is referred to the Court of Women.

At the far end of the men’s courtyard was a line of columns and three doors; two single doors flanking a much larger double doors, which were all open. He could just make out another courtyard in the other side. Jacob pointing said that inner courtyard was called the Court of the Priests. Cornelius could just make out two prominent large objects which dwarf the priests near them. One of them was a giant bronze bowl sitting on twelve bronze oxen. It was called the Sea. Water is said to be piped in to keep it filled to the brim which the priests would use for ritualistic cleansing. The other was the bronze altar where the priests have to climb seven steps to offer the butchered animal for sacrifice; laying the meat pieces on a grill over the fire which is kept alive by the priests through out the year. Because today was also considered the Feast of First Fruits, priests can be seen casting baskets of grain into the fire. Behind the working priests, up twelve marble steps is the temple foyer with its beautifully carved doors inlaid with gold trimmings. The doors were closed for only the High Priest and other high ranking are allowed to see the inside.

Cornelius was experiencing mixed feelings. Since he was a child, this temple was just stories to him and yet every one of those stories told him that this temple represented a promise of closeness to their God; a closeness that was not offered in any of the temples back in Rome. Cornelius then realized that he was standing here, a stone’s throw away, he too desperately wanted to get close to God. But then seeing the many signs along the balustrade in both Greek and Latin that no Gentiles are allowed to go further than the entrance, he felt cheated and even more longing. His eyes began to water but he quickly wiped it away as he felt that there were eyes upon him. Then he noticed that Jesus was looking at him.

John, the brother of James, came to Jesus from the crowd. They all retreated deeper into the columns to talk.

“I spoke to a relative of mine who is a priest. He said that the High Priest and the chief priests were looking for you since yesterday. They gave orders to the temple guards to separate you from the crowd and bring you to them. They now think that you are not in Jerusalem.”

Peter pleaded, “Master, it is as you said. Our religious leaders have plans to do you harm. We must be away from here.”

Jesus listened to all the other disciples’ arguments silently then nodded his ascent. So, they started to walk towards the nearest exit. As Jesus came out of the columns into the sunlight, he paused and looked around at the milling crowd. Cornelius knew that he had a change of heart. To the visible dismay written on Peter’s face, Jesus removes his prayer shawl that hid his face then stood at the top of the steps of Solomon’s Colonnades and started to teach to the crowd.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch13 – part 5

TO JERUSALEM – Temple MountCG-book-cover-w

As Jesus led them northward along the ridge of the Mount of Olives, keeping his eyes on that incredible structure Cornelius recalled many things that he had read but one particular story stood out. The mount that the temple was built on was the very same mount that God tested Abraham’s faith. God commanded Abraham to bring his son, Isaac – the son of promise, to this place and offer him up as a sacrifice. With no hesitation, Abraham brought Isaac here and just as he was about to plunge his knife, the Lord stayed his hand. Isaac’s life was spared and Abraham saw that God had provided a big horn ram with its horns tangled in a thicket as a substitute offering. After God blessed him, he named this mount ‘The Lord Will Provide.’

They followed a track that went through an extensive olive grove. When they emerged they could see that the bottom side of the mount into the whole Kidron Valley was blanketed with thousands of tents. This was the second day of the Festival of the Tabernacles or Booths as it was better known because those who had houses in the city built make shift tents out of palm branches on their roofs and they lived in it for seven days. The reason of which was to commemorate the time when the Israelites lived in tents out in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land.

There were people everywhere feasting and obviously getting drunk. The more pious were bringing their grain offerings through the east gate.

Before they go among the crowd, Jesus, who had covered his face from being recognized said, “The religious leaders would be looking for me. We will enter the Temple on the north side.”

Because of the crowd, it took about an hour to get to the north side. When they turned the corner, Cornelius saw the walls of a tall fortress that was adjacent to the Temple Mount; its towers rising even higher than the temple. It was called the Fortress Antonias, so named after Mark Anthony. To the Romans, it was the Praetorium which can garrison a whole cohort*. It was also the official residence of the Governor General when he was in the city.

“Look, sir.” Cestus was pointing at the waving banner on one of the towers. “It is the banner of the Twenty-fifth Praetorian cohort.”

“Yes. The Governor is in residence.”

“Will you report, sir?”

“No. Not just yet.”
The gate on the north side was called the Sheep Gate. During the spring festival of the Passover, hundreds of flocks of sheep are driven to waiting pens outside this gate. Then a chosen group of Levites would separate those sheep that were considered unblemished. They would then drive them through this gate and up through a maze of corridors that led up to the Temple complex. Because this autumn festival is dedicated to grain offerings the pens held few sheep for regular sacrifice. The narrow corridors however were packed with people inching their way up the sloped passage ways. It was another two hours when they finally reached the top.

From the dark corridor, they went through a tall silver plated gate into a high ceiling portico. Cornelius had to squint his eyes against the glare for a few moments. As his eyes adjusted, they emerged unto an open plaza known as the Court of the Gentiles. Though he knew that the plaza was going to be big, he still could not help being awed by the sight. Along the sides of the whole plaza were long corridors with two rows of tall white columns supporting high ceilings. The columns on the north, south and western sides supported two enclosed levels with red brightly tiled roofs. Cornelius surmised that they were mostly used as sleeping chambers and offices by the priests. The columns along the east side supported an open platform. There were visible Temple guards patrolling along the battlements.

Avoiding the majority of the crowd on the plaza floor, they skirted the milling mass of people by moving in between the columns which were not as crowded. They moved along the eastern side until they were across from the front of temple.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 066

SIMON THE LEPER
33 AD – The Day of the Lord – Mount of Olives, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

Simon thought they were going to follow the road back to Bethany, but then Jesus led them off the road unto a path that went even higher up the mountain. The path led them through a large orchard of olive trees and an out-building where olives are pressed for its oil. When they reached the top of the Mount of Olives, one of the disciples gestured towards the city. From their vantage point, they can see above Eastern ramparts of the Temple Mount into the Court of Nations and the Temple Complex in the center. The Temple itself rose high up with its massive doors overlaid with gold flanked by two tall bronze pillars were very visible from where they stood. A thick column of smoke rose from within the Temple complex.

“Master, see how magnificent the Temple and the other buildings are.”

When Simon looked at Jesus to see his reaction, he was weeping.

Jesus cried out, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’ ” [Matthew 23:37-39]

“If only you had known on this day what would bring you peace! But now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” [Luke 19:42-44]

Simon heard stories from his grand father that were handed down by generations of how the Babylonians encircled this ancient city and eventually subdued it and then stone by stone, tore it down. And now he was disturbed to think this will happen again. He wondered when this will happen. He was about to ask but Philip beat him to it.

Philip asked, “Master, tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

Seeing a granite rock sticking out of a patch of grass, Jesus went to it and sat down. He invited everyone to sit before him.

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”                  [Matthew 24:4-8]
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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 062

NAHAN THE PRIEST
33 AD – Enter the King – Kidron Valley, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

Nahan had been visiting a rich friend who had set up an encampment on the north side of the Kidron Valley just at the foot of the Mount of Olives. The campsite was situated higher on the slope overlooking the entire valley which was packed with multicolored tents, hazy from thousands of cook fires. Even the Kidron river which flowed down the center of the valley was hardly distinguishable. The valley was a sloped shallow crevasse between the Mount of Olives in the east, the towering Temple Mount and the City of David in the west.

He had spent a profitable night with his friend, whom he only gets to see once or twice a year. Besides being a priest, Nahan is also a vineyard owner of which his friend is managing for him. As he was making his way back to the Temple, he was quite happy that his business was doing quite well. Then, he noticed that there was a crescendo in the general ambiance sound of thousands of people in the valley below. He paused in his stride just upon entering the eastern lower gate at the base of the mount. Curious, he took one step back to see what was in the air.

The people below the ledge where he stood were also aware that there was something happening but were confused of what. But then others coming from the midst of the city of tents started to point to the east. From where he stood, Nahan looked east and saw where the road from Jericho wound over the south-lower ridge of the Mount of Olives. The road itself could not be seen because of all the people there. Then he saw the waving of the palms and he knew who was coming. He smiled.

Nahan checked himself to see if he was wearing anything that might reveal he was a priest. He then took the short flight of steps down unto the bridge that span over the ravine. He worked his way through the crowd to the end of the bridge where the Jericho road ends. Temple guards posted there recognized him. He told them to pretend that they do not see him. But he took advantage of the two-level platform that they usually use. From there, he could clearly see throngs of palm-waving people lining the road. Then the cheers got louder and he saw him riding on a led donkey followed by a colt that skittishly hugged it’s mother. It almost looked like the Nazarene was astride on both animal.

Nahan almost laughed out loud in amusement. He knew that Jesus of Nazareth have not made any claim of kingship but there he is riding into the city from the east like the kings of old. He knew this was clearly a statement. He turned around and craned his head up to look up the sheer cliff and walls of the Temple Mount. He peered against the glare of the sky at the battlements and saw no one yet looking down.

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 049

NAHAN THE PRIEST
32 AD – Confrontation – Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

Then the crowd again surged forward most with exaltation and belief written on their faces. Nahan saw that Jesus’ disciples were hard pressed to keep the crowd back from swamping him. Meanwhile, the guards and the Pharisees retreated back into the temple. Several minutes later as the crowd calmed down the chief priests and the leadership came back out.

So Jesus spoke loudly to those that surrounded him, many were of the Pharisees, Nahan noted.

“If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” [John 8:31,32]

One of the elder priests called out to Jesus, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that you say, ‘You will become free’? ” [v33]

The crowd quieted down and Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. [v34-36]

“I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill me, because my word has no place in you. I speak the things which I have seen with my Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.” [v37,38]

Then a number of them exclaimed loudly to Him, “Abraham is our father.” [v39a]

Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father.” [v39b-41a]

“We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: The Lord.” [v41b]

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on my own initiative, but He sent me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear my word. [v42,43]

“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” [v44]

Nahan should have been angry but what this man have said so far disturbed him deeply.

“But because I speak the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” [v45-47]

One of the priests answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” [v48]

Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. But I do not seek my glory; there is One who seeks and judges. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word he will never see death.” [v49]

Pharisees in the crowd called out to Him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste of death.’ Surely you are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do you make yourself out to be?” [v50-53]

Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing; it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” [v54-56]

So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” [v57]

“Truly, truly, I say to you,” Jesus paused for just a moment, then said, “before Abraham was born… I… AM.” [v58]

The whole court went deathly silent. Nahan was struck dumb. Deep in the recess of his mind he heard echo the words of the Prophet Isaiah, ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ [Isaiah 9:6]

Then the crowd erupted. There were men shouting to stone him but the bulk of the crowd were those who believed and they again surged forward in loud exultation. Altercations broke out as a group of men with stones in their hands tried to force their way to Jesus. Nahan lost sight of him. As angry as he should be, he was unusually happy that Jesus got away. Besides, he knew somehow that he will see the Son of man again.

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 49th 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:

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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 048

NAHAN THE PRIEST
32 AD – Confrontation – Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Judeafaithful-encounters-cover-w

Then Nahan saw about twenty temple guards shoving their way through the crowd towards them, led by two of the chief priests. Nahan was wondering why are the guards being sent now. But the guards stopped at their tracks when Jesus spoke again.

“You all know me and know where I am from; and I have not come of myself, but he who sent me is true, whom you do not know. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” [John 7:28-29 NASB]

The priests leading the guards were coaxing them to move in, but the guards feared what the crowd will do to them. Meanwhile, the crowd was elated on how Jesus’ voice stopped them.

“I am the light of the world,” said Jesus. “He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.” [John 8:12]

“You are testifying about yourself,” cried Nahan taking advantage that Jesus had contradicted himself. “Your testimony is not true.” [v13]

Jesus answered and said, “Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone. But even if I do judge, my judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent me. Even in your law it has been written that the testimony of two men is true. I am he who testifies about myself, and the father who sent me testifies about me.” [v14-18]

Someone in the crowd then called out, “Where is your father?”

Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my father; if you knew me, you would know my father also.” [v19]

The crowd started to surge toward him making it even more difficult for the Temple guards to approach.

Then he said again to them, “I go away, and you will seek me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.” [v21]

Nahan, the temple guards, the priests and the Pharisees who were there to take Jesus looked at each other questioningly. One of them asked, “Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since He says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” [v22]

“You are from below,” Jesus declared loudly. “I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.” [v23-25]

They asked him, “Who are you?” [v26]

“What have I been saying to you from the beginning? I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but he who sent me is true; and the things which I heard from him, these I speak to the world. When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak these things as the father taught me. And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” [v27-29]

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 48th 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.