A Circle of Witnesses

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Everyone has a story

 

 

A Circle of Witnesses

Copyright © 2018 by O. A. M. George

 

CONTENTS

Introduction

No Way Through

First Account

One of Two

A Trip to Sh’khem

Ancient Words

Fallout

Delayed Creation

Tamar Heard a Story

The Big Fisherman

Some Answers

Confession

A Threat

Fear of Betrayal

The Talmidim

Kefa’s Commission

Doubts

Abigail’s Turn

Son, Your Sins Are Forgiven

The Assignment

Abba

Two of Two

One from the Past

Aethiops

A Man of Sorrows

In the Name of the Messiah, Yeshua of Natzeret

 

Introduction

 

Everything God has given to us, He expects us to use. Of course, we’re at liberty to choose who gets the glory for whatever we do with them. But for all, and in all, that we do, God should be the One who is glorified. It is no mere suggestion that “… whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” (1 Cor 10:31) – it’s an instruction.

I believe our ability to imagine is one of the greatest blessings we have from God. Our imagination opens up to us a whole new world of possibilities that are almost limitless. With it, we find solutions to our problems; we get creative in doing and producing things that make living exciting. And maybe, the best part of it is that we can’t outgrow the use of our imagination.

Therefore, imagine what it’d be like to animate the events in the Scriptures with our imagination. I’m of the opinion that we can only truly appreciate the individuals whose lives are recorded in the Bible stories for us, by using our imagination to relive their experiences with God. It is only with our imagination that we can know how the people felt and also understand how they reasoned – even though, we’ve come a long way since their time.

Now, I must admit that I’m yet to come across a portion of God’s word where we’re warned not to employ our imagination in stepping, as much as we can, into the sandals of those who were with His Son when he was here on earth. Therefore, this work was done with the mind that you, the readers, will see those accounts recorded in God’s word in a new light. And that while you’re at it, and afterwards especially, God will be glorified in and with your lives.

I’m fascinated with the Hebrew language but I should also confess that I never studied it – at least, nothing beyond the researches I had to do in the course of this work and also a few words and phrases I get from Charles R. Swindoll while I read the daily devotional on the Insight for Living website. Therefore, any error in spelling, translation and/or misrepresentation of cultures and history that you might find would be entirely mine. I beg your forgiveness for those.

Now, you’ll also notice that events were not presented chronologically. This is because the aim is to inspire, first. The order of how things happened, or were recorded, in the Bible was secondary to the purpose of writing. Also, let’s not miss the fact that while most of this work is based on the truth – a number of characters and events were lifted from the Biblical accounts, the work itself is a fiction. For this reason, I’d appreciate that it’s not taken beyond what it is – a work of fiction.

There are two other points I’d like to make. First, in chapter one there was the mention of Evolution as a subject taught to the charaters in their school. This was impossible because the idea of Evolution is relatively recent. However, putting it there addresses the topic while it also prepares the ground for some other events later in the story. Second, this work has nothing to do with any organization, congregation, sect or denomination. It is entirely by the author and it’s produced neither to promote nor otherwise, any individual or group. My intention is to help readers in appreciating the individuals who were in the pages of the Scriptures, by speculating on what could and might have been then. While doing that, I did raise and answer some question too.

Also, you’ll find the endnotes at the end of each chapter. This is to encourage you to consult them. Please, consider them as part of the story and not distractions from the flow.

At this point, this one challenge I give you. Go beyond what you’ve read and heard about God and His Son, Jesus the Christ. Seek to know the Father and His Son, through His Spirit, by yourself, and for yourself. Since you only need to ask for you to receive (Luke 11:9-13); therefore, ask for a personal revelation of God. However, you should request for one that’ll take the whole of your lifetime to receive.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:14-21).

 

 

1

No Way Through

 

“Is anyone going to come?” It was eleven year old Ammiel who asked the question.

“Sure. He’ll be here before you can walk ten paces,” Moshe replied. He was ten, full of energy and he was interested in almost everything. At the moment, a side of his face was to the ground as he was following a trail of ants that were carrying, back to their colony, pieces of lechem, fruits and parts of a bigger, dead insect from wherever they found them.

“How can you be sure?”

“We prayed about it, so Elohim will surely bring someone to us.”

The two were not alone. There were three others with them. Abigail and Gad, both of them were twelve years old, then Keziah who was eleven. Keziah was styling Abigail’s hair, while Gad sat with his back against the wall. He was either dozing or just keeping his peace.

“I was asking about how you sure it’s going to be a he.”

“I don’t know. Maybe I added that part to the prayer when I got home,” Moshe turned briefly to grin at his friend.

“You – ”

Ammiel was interrupted by the clattering of a plank as it crashed onto the flagged street just as a boy stumbled into their midst. He almost tripped on Ammiel where he was seated, but he didn’t.

“Here he is,” Abigail declared. As if her words were orders, Gad and Ammiel got up right away.

The boy was frightened. He was not expecting that they’d be anyone in the corner. All he wanted was either a place to hide or a way through for him to escape those pursuing him. He gritted his teeth when he realised that there was no way through for him. He didn’t have the time to waste. He scrambled off the ground and was ready to make a run for it but for Gad and Ammiel who were already on him. They helped him up, as if they’d been waiting for him to fall so that they could act out what they had rehearsed prior.

“It’s okay,” Ammiel said.

“Are you hungry?” Keziah asked.

The boy blinked. The question sounded good to him. Things couldn’t be more different. One moment he was running from bullies who wanted more than his lunch which he had to throw at them for him to escape, the next he was with another group where two were getting the dust off of him while another was offering him food.

“Are you?” Keziah repeated.

“Hm. Yes – I am.”

“Good. We’ve been waiting for you.”

“For me?” The boy frowned.

“Please, sit down. I’ll join you in a minute,” Moshe said, as if he was in charge. But he was still following the ant-trail, now up a wall.

“How?” The boy hesitated. He looked back, towards the street. He was confused. He wasn’t sure he should sit with a group he did not know and who was saying they’ve been waiting for him. But then, the bullies could still be anywhere out there. With no lunch to throw at them so that he could make a run for it again, hiding for a while was the safer option.

“We asked Adonai Elohim to send you and here you are.” Abigail replied. “Now, take a seat. We’ll talk as we eat.”

The boy looked at the street one more time. He wondered if he was able to lose those after him but he was not sure. He sighed, and then he squatted on the ground with the two boys who had helped him up.

“You mean the LORD God?”

“Yes – Elohim,” Moshe replied. “And would you mind making just a little bit of space so that I can sit beside you?”

“Not in the least.” The boy moved to the side where he’d be better hidden from the streetview.

“What’s your name?” Moshe asked.

“Nathanael.”

“I’m Moshe. Gad is next to me and Ammiel is after him. Then Abigail – the one who announced your arrival, and Keziah is the one who asked if you’re hungry.”

“I saw you in school today. And Gad is in my class,” Nathanael replied.

“Yes, you’re the new boy,” Gad replied.

“And you’re the one who gave a funny answer in class.” Nathanael held a hand to his mouth to hide a smile but a laugh came through.

“He did?” Keziah asked.

Nathanael misconstrued both the question and the intention behind it. “The teacher was teaching Evolution and he was showing us some images to prove how life-forms evolved. But Gad here that said Elohim created all things. It was very funny, we all laughed.”

He expected the others to smile, at least. Not one expression changed – no one looked either amused or offended.

“I’m sorry. I forgot he’s your friend,” Nathanael apologized sheepishly.

“It’s not because Gad is our friend that we don’t find that funny. It’s because there’s nothing in it to laugh about,” Abigail explained as she began to hand out some lechem, each with a piece of grilled fish.

“Thanks,” Nathanael accepted his fish-burger from Abigail. “But what are you saying?”

“You believe because you saw the pictures the teacher showed. And because of the fascinating ways he explains everything. Then the frequent mention of the names of people who seemed so intelligent also helped, right?” Gad asked.

“The whole thing makes senses,” Nathanael returned.

“It sure does,” Keziah agreed.

“But what you could see also helped, right?” Abigail asked.

“Yes.”

“Evolution tells you – it even shows – what is there. It even speculates on how it got there. But it demands that you make do with the what as if it is the same things as the who,” Gad said before he took the first bite on his lunch. “Deny the existence of a creator, if you want or substitute the what for the who, if you like. Either way, evolution doesn’t care.”

“You lost me,” Nathanael confessed.

“Evolution presents evidences, no doubt. However, its argument on how those things were created in the first place is a failure,” Moshe explained.

“What are you saying?”

“If Abigail, or Moshe, tells you that they found a piece of scroll in a pot while digging in their yard, and they could show it to you – would that be the same as telling you who buried the scroll in the first place?” Gad explained.

“No, it’s not.”

“And you’ll agree that it’s only natural to wonder who owned and buried the scroll in the first place. Each of us would even have some fantastic ideas that we think should explain everything about the scroll. But then, would you argue that the parchment somehow created itself, wrote on itself, rolled itself up and also buried itself?”

“No, I wouldn’t.”

“Have you ever looked at the night sky?” Keziah gave Nathanael a moment after she knew Gad had made his point, before she asked her question.

“I do. We spent many days on the road from Egypt to Yerushalayim. Whenever we stopped for the night, I’d look at the stars for hours before I slept off. It’s always beautiful.”

“Yes, the heavens are a beauty to behold,” Keziah agreed. “But think about it, if there’s no creator why is it so beautiful?”

“I don’t know,” Nathanael shrugged. “Some say it’s filled with chaos.”

“Brilliant chaos that would be – a master piece,” Ammiel commented.

“But then, let’s not even go so far or so high,” Keziah counseled. “Let’s stay on the ground and think about something common – like a flower.”

“Okay,” Nathanael agreed.

“Imagine a flower in wilderness. No one might see it from when it blossomed till it withered. But would that keep the flower from being beautiful or from letting out its fragrance?”

“No, it won’t,” Nathanael replied. “Flowers will do what they’re supposed to do with or without an admirer.”

“Why should you assume that it doesn’t have an admirer?” Abigail inquired.

“If no one sees and stops to look at it, then it has no admirer,” Nathanael responded.

“Wrong,” Ammiel stated.

“How?”

“If anyone sees the flower and stops to admire its beauty, they’re only joining Elohim, momentarily, to do, with Him what He’s been doing all along,” Keziah took back the argument.

“Evolution can be proven. No one can prove that Elohim created everything – or even anything,” Nathanael returned the discussion to where it started and which he was familier with. He had been fascinated with the arguments but he was far from willing to give up what appealed to reason for what demanded faith of him.

“Nathanael, you know about energy transformation, right?” Gad queried.

“Sure,” he replied. “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only be converted from one form to another.”

“Exactly,” Gad said. “So tell me, is science still making discoveries everyday, or not?”

“Of course it is. But I don’t understand your point.”

“Right at the start in B’resheet we’re told that God said so many things and each thing came to be, you remember?”

“Yes,” Nathanael answered. Then, he quoted the third verse of the chapter to prove his knowledge of the first book of the Torah. “Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light1. That was the first thing Adonai Elohim said.”

“You’re right,” Gad said.

“So, what’s your point?”

“Adonai Elohim did not create anything by making one form of mass from another. He used one form of energy to create all the mass and enegry we feel and work with,” Gad explained.

“What?” Nathanael was incredulous.

“It’s not so difficult to understand. Al though, science is yet to discover how that was done,” Keziah said. “But all the LORD God did at the beginning, was to convert the energy in the words He spoke into the mass, energy, space and time in the universe in which we are.”

“Simple – isn’t it?” Abigail smiled.

Nathanael could only gawk back at her. It took a couple of awkward minutes of silence for him to find his voice. “But we can’t prove that Adonai Elohim created the universe.”

“You know that is as good as saying that He doesn’t exist. Or that He’s only claiming to be the creator of all things. A claim that’ll only last until we can prove that He didn’t,” Keziah replied.

“Has anyone asked Adonai Elohim to prove that He created the universe?” Gad asked casually as he dusted his hands after finishing his lechem and fish, just before he reached for his water skin. Intentionally or otherwise, he had saved Nathanael from responding to Keziah’s challenge.

“Will He? He won’t,” Nathanael concluded.

“You’re so big on assumptions,” Abigail said.

“The truth is,” Moshe started, “before anyone would even think of asking Elohim to prove that He’s the creator of all things, He’s offered to prove it by doing it again. But because He’s in charge, you know – Adonai Elohim is not soliciting for our patronage, He’s going to show us the proof in His own time.”

“Really?”

“You can be sure, He will,” Ammiel asserted.

“Before the lesson on Evolution, we studied the Prophet Yesha’yahu, remember?” Gad said. “Are you even hungry? Or you need help with that?”

“Yes.”

“I’m almost done with mine,” Moshe threw the last lechem-wrapped piece of fish into his mouth. “Now, I can help you with it.”

“No. I mean I remembered what we studied in Prophet Yesha’yahu,” Nathanael held his yet to be touch food away from Moshe. He started to recite the verse, “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth 2 –”

“With your own mouth, you’ve just declared Elohim’s promise of the proof He’d give that He’s the creator of all things,” Ammiel interrupted. “In His own way and at the right time, Adonai Elohim will take those who dared to believe His word here and now, not just to see the proof, but to live in it.”

“Nathanael, how big is your vision of Elohim?” Gad asked.

“How big – like?”

“If you’re an ant and Moshe here were to be your creator, do you think you could capture all of him in your field of vision?”

“I’m not so sure about that. Distance is a factor I’d have to consider.”

“The details will be distorted if it’s either too far way or too close to you,” Abigail added.

“Yes. I agree with that.”

“So, think of the universe – how big do you think the One who made it must be?” Keziah asked. “Do you think our field of vision can contain Him?”

Nathanael didn’t reply. And it was not because he was busy eating. Actually, he hadn’t even touched the food.

“Nathanael, your family just came to Yerushalayim, right?” Moshe asked.

Nathanael nodded. But his more pressing concern was right before him.

“Everything you’ve been saying is contrary to the school curriculum. How do you pass your tests and exams?”

Yeshua said, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.’3” Ammiel replied.

“Yeah!” Nathanael threw his hands up. “Yeshua – that’s another name I’ve been hearing almost everywhere. I don’t know who he is or what to make of him. Some seem to be for him, some are against him. Who is he?”

“He’s a friend,” Keziah answered.

“Tomorrow, we’ll tell you about him,” Gad promised.

“Now, we have to go. But tomorrow – same time, same place – we’ll tell you more,” Abigail added.

“You can walk with us from school so those boys won’t bother you,” Moshe offered.

“They won’t?”

“Nope. They won’t come near you,” Ammiel and Gad replied.

“Okay. I’ll come with you tomorrow,” Nathanael was relieved. It was then that he took the first bite of his lunch.

 

 

Endnotes

  1. Genesis 1:3
  2. Isaiah 65:17, NIV
  3. Matthew 22:21

 

 

2

First Account

 

When the bullies saw Nathanael with Ammiel, Moshe and Gad, they kept their distance from him, as his new friends had promised. The three walked confidently and with each step, Nathanael adopted their poise as he saw the disarmed look on the bullies’ faces. Their school was for boys only, so they were on their way to meet Abigail and Keziah who attended another school for girls. Their routine was to meet at a point just before the entrance to the market.

He wouldn’t say that they were his friends yet, since it was just the second day he’d with them but he gave them points for being nice to him. They were unlike those who snubbed him in school because he was new or the bullies who were out to pick on him. Something about them appealed to him; regardless of the fact that sitting in a corner of the market to talk was not his idea of having fun with friends. He didn’t mind however, for now. There might be more to them or some changes could be made, he reasoned.

He couldn’t say that he understood most of the things he’d heard from them the previous day, as hard as he had thought about them later. The points they presented were fascinating but weird too. They were what he’d expect truth to be, if he was indeed yet to discover it. He was willing to hang out with the group, not only because they were the sort he’d like to make friends with, but also because he’d become curious and wanted to know everything they knew – about Elohim, about creation and about the man, Yeshua.

Nathanael was mostly walking with Gad and Ammiel. Moshe was with them but he could anywhere from behind, beside or ahead of them. His own movement depended on the flight-pattern of a butterfly he was following. He had been after the winged-creature from right outside the school’s main entrance. Surprisingly, the butterfly was even going their way so Moshe was after it, weaving through the crowd and wares without as much as touching either people or goods. While at it, he responded to greetings, as he was hailed by almost everyone yet, he was after the butterfly.

Moshe got to the entrance of their corner before the others. His butterfly-buddy was going farther, so he had to say his goodbye. Then, he slipped into the corner where Keziah and Abigail were already seated.

The group met right in the middle of the market in Yerushalayim. Gad’s father owned two shops, each at the end of two adjacent rows of shops. By right, he also owned the space between the two shops. Of course, he didn’t mind that his son met with his friends there. Apart from Nathanael, who was a newcomer, he knew their parents.

A narrow path ran the breadth of the two shops and ended in a rectangular space that’s a little longer than a cot. The back wall was high and on the other side of it, in a big compound, was a huge building in which the prestigious training academy for the teachers of the Torah was located. Between the wall and the back of the shops were a stack of empty crates that formed the side walls. There, they met to talk about Yeshua and his teachings, and to pray for one another. Particularly, they prayed that Adonai Elohim would bring along someone with whom they could share their testimonies so that the one might see Yeshua as His Mashiach.

Since they started, three people had come their way so far. Nathanael was the fourth. The first one was an old woman who they had to help with her purchases back to her house. Yeshua was still knocking at the door of her heart1 as she still coming up with reasons for shelving her decision to allow Him in. But the group was not giving up on her. The woman was only in their corner once. They had been the ones going to visit her as often as they could. The other two people were servants. One came before the old woman and the other came after her. Both of them had accepted Yeshua as their savior the very day they walked into the group. However, only the first one was able to come back a couple more times when she was sent to the market alone and at a time the group was in their corner.

Somehow, everyone that came to the group had missed the deadend alley for a path that could lead someplace. But whenever the five friends were there, they were always waiting with the message of Yeshua for them. Before Nathanael came, the group had prayed for almost a month after the last person to whom they witnessed. They were already wondering whether Adonai wanted them to change their tactic – to go out to witness to people, instead of praying and waiting for Him to bring along someone. But then, Nathanael came.

At their corner, Gad, Nathanael and Ammiel squatted on the ground while the two girls sat on old crates. Moshe knelt to a side where he was trying to get at eyelevel with a beetle. Everyone would have ignored him as usual but Nathanael couldn’t. Everything he saw had only increased his confusion about him.

Earlier in school, he had seen Moshe crawling after something in the flower garden during their break time. Then throughout their walk from school to the corner, he had watched him although, he kept quiet. Truth be told, however, it was getting increasingly difficult for him to keep mum.

Their custom was to put whatever everyone brought together and then re-share it so that each person would get to eat of what the others had brought. Today, Ammiel volunteered to share, so each placed their lunch pack on a crate before him.

“I have some grapes, figs, with lechem and chicken,” Nathanael said as he placed his lunch pack on the crate. He had specially packed the food, and more of it than he could eat by himself. He wanted to repay them for what they shared with him the previous day when he had nothing to give. But he wanted to also make an impression too.

“Thank you,” the others replied. They were grateful but unimpressed.

“Nathanael, we promised to tell you about Yeshua,” Gad said.

“Yes, you did.”

“Each of us has at least a story to tell you about Yeshua,” Gad said. “Where do we start?”

“Anyone. Maybe yours, since you asked me.”

“Okay. But I have two stories and we won’t have time for both,” Gad replied. “So, I’ll tell you one today and the other next time.”

“That’s fine,” Nathanael agreed. “But before you start, please – what’s it with Moshe? Why is he so playful with everything?”

Only Moshe who probably didn’t care, and Nathanael who asked the question because he was confused, didn’t chuckle.

“Since you’ve asked, then I think Moshe should tell you his story today,” Abigail said.

“Why he’s so playful?” Nathanael repeated.

Surprisingly, Moshe was off his knees immediately and he came to join the group.

“Would you mind making just a little bit of space so that I can sit beside you?” he requested. “I’ll tell you my story as we eat.”

“My childhood began late, so I’m just trying to catch up on it.” Moshe actually didn’t wait for the food before he started. “I was born different from other kids. My mother died after giving birth to me. I was raised by my father and my grandparents.

“I can’t remember anything of my early childhood. Most of the time, my mind was fuzzy. I was also, always too weak to do anything by myself. And I can’t ever forget the different tastes I used to have in my mouth from the syrups and other liquids my father forced down my throat. Those tastes were awful – yuck!”

Moshe held his tongue out and made a face as if the tastes were back in his mouth. Nathanael and the others smiled.

“The first thing I can say I really have in my memory from then, was the rope I found around my ankle one day. It was like I just woke up and I was alone in the room. I was thirsty. I tried to get to the water jar on the table to drink but I was stopped before I could reach the table. It was strange and it even took a while before I realised that there was a rope tied around my left ankle.

I sat down to untie it, but I couldn’t. I was sad. I didn’t know why I was tied or who tied me. And I was very thirsty too. I wanted to shout, to call for help but I couldn’t hear my own voice. It was bad. I huddled up in a corner and I cried.

That was how I’d wake up everyday to find myself. Food and water were kept close to me after that first day. Sometimes, I’d somehow break the water pitcher without remembering how I did it, so I’d still go thirsty before my father would come back to check on me. Later, he told me that he sometimes found me bleeding from cuts I got from the shards. Maybe I fell on them somehow but I never remembered anything.

One day, my father rushed into the house. He untied and bundled me up. Then he ran out of the house and he just kept running. It was one of the few times I’ve ever been outside and it was the farthest I’ve been from our house till that time. Through the street in our village, up and down some hills, and through some fields of grain, my father ran.

He was soaked in sweat. I could feel his hot breath on my face and his heart was thumping enough for me to feel it, even though I was wrapped up in a blanket.

Up to that time, I had never lived pain-free, not even for a day. Many times a day, the pain would wrack my body from my head downwards. There was never anything I could do to fight it. I was always helpless when it came. It was uncomfortable for me in my father’s arms but I could see something in his eyes as he was running. It was like he had found something that he wanted for me – something that would be good for me, so I bore with the discomfort. But then, if I had wanted to complain, I couldn’t even talk. They said I didn’t say anything all those years. I only grunted and pointed at times.

Eventually, we arrived. There were a lot of people at the place. I had no idea what they were doing? But my father pushed through to the front and laid me on the ground at the feet of some men. As I was told, almost everyone there knew me or has heard about me, at least. Yeshua was not there, and some of his talmidim. But the other talmidim were there with the crowd. There were some teachers of the Torah there too.

My father begged the talmidim to heal me as their Rabbi Yeshua did to sick people. Everyone joined my father in begging but not the teachers of the Torah. They only stood by and watched.

I don’t know what really happened. At that point the pain had left me a bit but I was still swaddled up in the blanket and too weak to move from where I was. Later, I was told that the talmidim were pushing it to one another. No one really knew what to say or do. A few people even offered to pay them any amount they wanted, just for them to heal me. It was becoming embarrassing for the talmidim.

I heard one of them say that the people should wait till Yeshua arrived. Then, I think Phillip – or another one of the talmidim, knelt beside me. He placed his hands on me and commanded that I should be healed but nothing happened. Another one of them joined him. Still, there was no result.

My father was desperate. Especially, when the talmidim didn’t know when Yeshua would be coming back and they also couldn’t heal me. And the people were getting angry. They started insisting that all the talmidim of Yeshua there should try it. I guess they believed that Yeshua should have shown his secret to them so that they could perform miracles in his absence.

“The teachers of the Torah were still watching?”

“They were not just watching. It was the perfect opportunity and they wouldn’t miss it for the breath in their own nostrils. They led the argument with the talmidim,” Moshe said. “My hearing was bad but I could remember that they described, from B’midbar, how some of the Spirit upon Moshe was given to the seventy elders with him. They said that if Yeshua was truly a prophet from Adonai Elohim then his Spirit should be enough to go around his talmidim, since the Spirit on Moshe could fill seventy elders from among the people.2

Moshe stopped. He uncorked his waterskin and took a drink.

The others knew the story, they had heard it countless times before, but they were still listening as they were eating their shared lunch of mixed fruits, lechem and meat. Only Moshe who was telling his story, and Nathanael who was fascinated by it, had not touched their food but for different reasons. But even the required break Moshe took was too much for Nathanael,

“What did the talmidim say?” he asked.

“Well,” Moshe said but took the time to wipe his mouth with the back of his hand and to recork the skin before he continued. “They were mostly uneducated. They couldn’t argue with the teachers of the Torah in any way. I think they were probably overwhelmed by the disappointment of not being able to heal me, and the many references the teachers of the Torah were making to the Torah to prove that they were deceiving the people.”

“Wow!” Nathanael exclaimed.

“But at just that moment, Yeshua arrived.”

“He was as educated as the teachers of the Torah, right?”

“Sorry,” Ammiel replied. “Yeshua was just a carpenter.”

“A carpenter?”

“I can show you some of the houses he helped built around,” Gad offered.

“Your father was running with you to see a carpenter? Why?” Nathanael cried. “What can a carpenter do?”

“You should hear the rest of the story,” Keziah counseled.

“He’s just getting to the best part,” Ammiel promised.

“The moment Yeshua came around, the pain started again and it was worse than ever before. It was like whatever was attacking me couldn’t stand His voice and it had to take its anger out on me. I felt like a hammer was racking me all over. It was all over me, from my head all the way down to my feet.

Usually I’d go rigid when the pain comes. I wouldn’t be able to do anything. I even fell into the fireplace in the house many times, I fell on people’s ware in the market and my father had to pay for the damaged goods. I was told I even fell into the well once. It was the reason my father started tying me to a post in the house. It was to keep me from harm.

But this time, the pain was worse than terrible. I fell to the ground and people told me later that they thought I had died. But I could hear them. When Yeshua saw me like I was, he asked my father how long I had been suffering from whatever it was. My father told him that it was from my childhood and he pleaded – I’m sure he was even crying, that if Yeshua could do anything to help he should have compassion on us and do it.”

“So what did Yeshua say?” Nathanael asked. “Did he agree to help?”

If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes3 – that was what Yeshua told my father.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You’ll get to know soon,” Abigail replied. Then Moshe continued.

“My father replied, with tears, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!4” Moshe said.

“Ok,” Nathanael was blinking rapidly in anticipation of what would happen next. He had been holding Moshe by tunic sleeve without being aware of it. But of course, Moshe didn’t mind.

Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!5 – that was how Yeshua rebuked the unclean spirit.

Immediately, I gave a loud cry but it was not me. It was like something used my voice to cry out. It was very terrible and the pain I felt was like I think a bug would feel when it’s trampled underfoot. But then, I was free. I was so much at peace in myself for the first time ever. I was just there on the ground enjoying the feeling of being alive.

It must’ve seemed like I was dead because I heard people saying that I was dead. But then, Yeshua took me by the hand and lifted me up. The first face I saw was that of my Deliverer, Yeshua.”

 

Endnotes

  1. Revelation 3:20
  2. Numbers 11
  3. Mark 9:23
  4. Mark 9:24
  5. Mark 9:25

*Chapter Two is based on the account in Mark 9:14-27. The event is also recorded in Matthew 17:14-18 and Luke 9:37-42.

 

 

3

One of Two

 

“Two straight days, and those boys are still avoiding me!” Nathanael commented. “I could almost read the terrible things they’d want to do to me on their faces, but it’s like something is keeping them from coming near me.”

It was not just because of the bullies that Nathanael was with Moshe, Ammiel and Gad, he had enjoyed Moshe’s story about how Yeshua healed him, so his plan was stick around till he’d heard everyone’s story about the Rabbi.

“It’s because they know that we hang out with Peter and the other talmidim,” Moshe replied. “You know Kefa – the big fisherman?”

Today, Moshe was walking with the others but he still distracted. He had some grubs he’d gathered and put in a bottle which he kept holding up to look at as if the helpless creatures could have found a way out of the entrapment. However, he was still managing to pay some attention to what the others were saying.

“But he’s no longer a fisherman,” Gad added. “He’s now a fisher of men.”

“Isn’t that something horrible?” Nathanael responded. “Fishing for men – with hooks and net? And what does he do with them afterwards? He must be working for the Romans, I guess.”

“Fishing for men is the sweetest and most blessed thing to do. And it’s not with hooks and net. It’s with the word of Adonai Elohim,” Gad explained.

“He was a disciple of Yeshua, you know?” Ammiel said. “And so are we.”

“Yes, we are,” Gad affirmed.

Moshe put the bottle in his satchel just before they got to their destination. He knew the girls wouldn’t like it and they’d force him to throw everything away. Today, he did not follow a trail of ants or try to look a beetle in its eyes. Rather, he went to sit just as the other boys did.

“Moshe, it’s your turn to share the food,” Abigail announced.

“Hmm!” Moshe was shocked. Immediately, he hid his hands behind his back.

“You haven’t been digging in the dirt, have you?”

“It depends on whether you consider the fertile, lush grounds of a garden in which flowers grow to be dirt.”

“Let me see you hands,” Keziah demanded.

“I have ten fingers like you do, so if you look at your own hands it’d be the same as looking at mine,” Moshe defended.

“I’ll share today,” Nathanael offered.

“Let Nathanael share,” Gad and Ammiel agreed. There was no objection, everyone pushed their lunch packs towards him.

“Gad, you were supposed to tell me your story yesterday. So, will you tell me today?”

“Sure. I’ll tell you one today, as I said. Then I’ll tell you the other next time.”

“It’s fine by me.”

“My story starts with how my father met Yeshua.”

“Okay,” Nathanael said.

“My father, Yosef Bar-Nabba1, was at a wedding at Kanah in Galil. He said it was at the wedding that he had the best wine he ever tasted in his life. He enjoyed himself with the other guests but as a businessman, he also wanted to know who the vintner was. His mind was to make plans with the winemaker on how he could be buying from them and bring for sale here in Yerushalayim.

The groom had no idea where the wine had come from. He even confessed that the wine was different from the one he bought. So my father asked the head-servant at the ceremony. He had to insist that the man should tell him how they got the wine because the head-servant kept saying that he wouldn’t believe if he knew how the wine came.

Eventually, the man told him how Yeshua had turned water into wine without touching or even moving anywhere close to the pots he had instructed them to fill with water.”

“What was turned into wine?” Nathanael asked.

“You heard me right,” Gad replied. “Water was turned into wine.”

“But water can’t be turned into wine,” Nathanael insisted.

“Yes, by an ordinary person. But this is Yeshua,” Keziah returned.

“Yeshua turned water to wine?” Nathanael asked again.

“That wouldn’t be too much from the One who opened the eyes of a man born blind,” Ammiel replied.

“Or who walked on water, and also raised the dead?” Keziah added.

“Or who made me whole?” Moshe said with a mouthful of fig.

“Guys, stop it!” Abigail ordered. “You’ll confuse him. One at a time.”

“Who walked on water?”

“Nathanael, just listen to Gad’s story. We’ll get to the others – I promise,” Abigail pleaded.

“Ok,” Nathanael agreed but he was already skeptical. To him, Moshe’s story seemed more plausible than this one. He had reasoned that Moshe could have just become better with time, but this water-turned-to-wine thing was too much a stretch of his imagination and it’s a sudden one too.

Gad resumed his narration. “According to my father, he’s heard about Yeshua and he had wanted to meet him. So when the head-servant pointed the Rabbi out to him, amidst his talmidim, my father went over to introduce himself. He told Yeshua that if he ever came to Yerushalayim, he would be honoured to having him in our house.”

“What did Yeshua say?” Nathanael asked.

“Yeshua said he’d be here shortly and that he’d be happy to stay under my father’s roof,” Gad replied.

“So, Yeshua stayed in your house,” Nathanael stated.

“Everytime Yeshua was in Yerushalayim, he either passed the night, with his talmidim, in our house or they all spent the night in the grove of olives that’s across the Vadi Kidron.”

“Okay,” Nathanael said.

“My father had told us about the water turned to wine but of course, I was more concerned with how it was possible than believing that it was possible. And when I met Yeshua, he looked just like any other man to me. However, Yeshua was always nice to me and my brother so I liked him,” Gad stated.

“So, it’s not like he healed you or something?”

“Not like Moshe, yes. But hear me out, you’ll soon find out that he did much more.”

“Alright, let’s have it,” Nathanael replied.

“One day, before Yeshua came with his talmidim, my younger had said some mean things to me because I didn’t allow him to play with some of my stuffs. After dinner however, I was eating a cake of raisins dipped in honey and my brother asked me to give him some, but I refused. So he went over to tell Yeshua to tell me to share with him because he knew I’d obey whatever Yeshua says.”

“What did Yeshua tell you to do?”

“He drew my brother closer and looked into his eyes. Then he said, ‘it is not what another gives to you that will bring you an abundance and it is not what they didn’t share with you that’ll make you poor.’”*

“How old is your brother?” Nathanael asked even as he was thinking about the words Yeshua said.

“Amram is eight, right?” Keziah asked.

“Yes, he is eight. He’ll be nine in a few days,” Gad replied then he added for Nathanael’s sake, “Amram is my brother.”

“So Yeshua didn’t ask you to share your cake with Amram?” Nathanael queried.

“No, not directly,” Gad replied. “He called me over and he looked into my eyes too. Then he said, ‘You won’t have enough for yourself by refusing to share what you have with another. And you won’t have too little because you gave out of the little you have.’*

Then, I took out of my cake and gave it to my brother. I knew Yeshua was right, he’s wise and always right.”

“Okay,” Nathanael said as he filed what Yeshua had said to Gad and his brother, away in his mind.

“Yeshua looked at me and smiled,” Gad continued. “And then I asked him to tell us more about the kingdom of Heaven.”

“How was he supposed to know about the kingdom of Heaven? Has he been there?” Nathanael inquired. His voice was louder than usual as he was incredulous.

“Yeshua came from heaven,” Abigail said.

“Yeah. That idea about Adonai’s faithfulness, right?” Nathanael returned.

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Nathanael, you’ll get it soon – it’s in the part that Gad will tell you soon,” Ammiel said.

“Ok, I’m listening.”

“Before Yeshua would say anything, one of his talmidim came to announce that he had a visitor. Yeshua said that the person should be shown in to where we were. And when the visitor arrived, I was surprised by who it was. I wanted to leave but Yeshua held me and Amram by our arms. He urged us to sit and remain with him and his talmidim.”

“Who was the visitor?” Nathanael asked.

“Nakdimon,” Gad replied. “He’s one of the P’rushim. He’s an old man, very well respected by everyone in the city. He’s one of the elders. He’s also a professor at the university.”

“What did he want?” Nathanael couldn’t keep himself from interrupting again.

“Nakdimon didn’t say what he came for,” Gad explained. “He only said that the P’rushim have, secretly, concluded that Yeshua was a rabbi sent from Elohim. He said that they had investigated the miracles Yeshua had been performing and they realised that it was only because Elohim was with him that he could do such mighty acts.

But Yeshua didn’t say anything about what Nakdimon had just said. Instead, Yeshua said that, ‘most assuredly…unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’2

“Born again – how?”

“I tell you,” Gad confessed, “I was sad when I heard Yeshua say that. Remember that I was just asking him to tell me about the kingdom, and now he was saying that no one can see the kingdom unless they’re born again.”

“It’s impossible. How can anyone go back into their mother’s womb so that they can be born again?”

“That was almost exactly what Nakdimon said,” Gad said. “It’s what anyone would think until they hear Yeshua’s explanation.”

“And what was the explanation Yeshua gave?” Nathanael inquired.

“Yeshua said that two births are required for one to be able to enter the kingdom of God. First, one must be born like everyone person is – he called it born of water. Second, one must be born again – that is, by Ruach. The first birth is flesh producing flesh but it is not enough to make anyone enter the kingdom of God. The second birth, however, is the Ruach HaKodesh of Elohim producing life in us. That is what qualifies us for the kingdom.”

“And how is this done – this Ruach HaKodesh producing life in us?”

“Yeshua used the example of the wind to explain this,” Gad replied. “He said that as wind itself is not seen but it can be heard and its effect seen; as no one can say that the wind is coming from this place and heading to that place – so it is with being born again by the Ruach HaKodesh of Elohim. Just as they cannot see the wind, people cannot be looking out to see how it is done but they can see the changes that come about in the person when they are born again.”

“It’s still a little too hard for me to understand,” Nathanael complained.

“It was for me. It was for Nakdimon too,” Gad accepted.

“But you said that Nakdimon was a professor, how could it be hard for him?”

“Believe me, the old man didn’t have a clue of what Yeshua was talking about. He looked as confused as every one of us in the room was.”

“So, what did Yeshua say?” Nathanael asked.

“Yeshua said that he’d used an example of something around us because if he talked about things in heaven from where he came, there’d be no way we’d understand it. But he also said that it was not what he was saying that was difficult to understand but that Nakdimon – and I know he also meant every one of us that was listening to their conversation too – was just not ready to accept that it was either possible or that it could be that easy.”

“But is that easy? It’s not.”

“Do you know the story of how Moshe lifted up the serpent on a stake when the children of Isra’el were in the desert? When they had sinned against Adonai Elohim and their camp was filled with deadly snakes which were striking the people and many were dying?3” Gad asked.

“That was another Moshe, not me,” Moshe announced with a grin.

“Moshe, don’t start,” Keziah chided.

“I read about it,” Nathanael replied.

“Would it have been such a difficult thing for the dying to look up at the serpent?” Gad asked.

“No, I don’t think so,” Nathanel answered.

“Still, think about it. Was it because the people understood how looking up at a bronze serpent could heal them that they were healed when they looked up at it as Adonai had commanded them?”

“No, I don’t so,” Nathanael repeated.

“I’m not smart enough to come up with that example – it was the one Yeshua gave to Nakdimon,” Gad confessed.

“So what has the serpent Moshe raised got to do with being born again by the Ruach HaKodesh of Elohim?” Nathanael queried.

“Yeshua said everyone is dying because sin is in them – like snake venom was in the people who had to look up at the raised serpent so that they wouldn’t die. Unlike that time in the desert however, Yeshua said he’d be the one raised up for people to look to for life, not a bronze serpent or anything else.”

“How?” Nathanael didn’t mask his confusion.

Gad had reached for the cup of water before him and while he was busy quenching his thirst, Abigail explained.

“Yeshua was nailed to the cross where he died. It was like the serpent that Moshe raised on a stake in the desert.”

“Exactly,” Gad commented. Then he resumed his narration.

“Yeshua said, ‘for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.4’ ”

 

Endnotes

  1. Acts 4:36
  2. John 3:3
  3. Numbers 21:4-9
  4. John 3:16-18, NIV

*The event and Jesus’ words in Luke 12:13-15 was paraphrased to create the case between Gad and Amram.

**Chapter Three is based on two events in the Gospel of John. The first is the account in John 2:1-11. The second is in John 3:1-21.

 

 

4

A Trip to Sh’khem

 

Nathanael didn’t like the way Gad had ended his story the day before so much that he had been worried about it since. Initially, his problem was just about accepting that water was turned into wine. At the end, however, he discovered that a bigger problem awaited him. What Gad told him Yeshua said about condemnation was more troubling. From experience, he knew that no one was too young to be condemned and for that reason, he feared every form and variation of the word.

 

It was back in Alexandria, about two years before they left for Yerushalayim. Nathanael had gone out with his two brothers that day and they were going through the arena. It happened to be at the time the magistrate was passing judgement on criminals the guards had caught. Nathanael had heard about the sentencing before but it was the first time he’d be witnessing it.

One of the accused was sentenced to the stocks for two days because he was slow to bow before the high priest of Ra’s temple. Another, a merchant, was to get ten lashes from the whip because his scale was found to be fault and it was to his advantage. Nathanael agreed with the merchant’s punishment, but he believed that punishing a man because he was slow to bow before another man was unreasonable.

His family was Jewish but their life was in Egypt. Nathanael and his sister were even born there, but they had been warned, of course, by their parents never to meddle – either with words or in action, with the customs of their neighbours. Standing to watch the judgment was something that their father must not know that they had done, but boys couldn’t help being boys when they had the opportunity.

They were about to leave the arena when Nathanael caught sight of a boy about his own age. He was an accused too. The boy was too thin for shackles to stay on him, instead his wrists and ankles were tied, and he was held on both arms by guards who were practically dragging him towards the magistrate.

Nathanael and his brothers knew the boy; even though, he looked thinner and dirtier than they last saw him. Just two days prior, the three of them were in the market when the boy stole a bronze figurine from a number of them displayed in front of a shop. Nathanael was the one that saw the boy when he took the image and he had raised the alarm before the boy could pass it to his accomplices.

Unfortunately for the boy, he didn’t know that a guard was standing right at the corner he was round to escape. He was caught with the figurine now in a hidden pocket inside his tattered garment. The merchant was happy and thanked Nathanael profusely; he even forced a copper coin into his hands as a sign of his appreciation.

But Nathanael was not happy with what he had done. He knew the boy was one of the many urchins in the streets of the city. Many of them were homeless orphans. Sometimes, they got menial jobs from people for which they were given something to eat and a few coins that would way below what their wage should be. But because most of them steal while at the works, most people were not eager to employ them.

Nathanael knew the boy had stolen because he was hungry – he definitely looked it. The only use he could have for a figurine would be to sell it so that he could buy some food with the money. In spite of the reason for thte action, Nathanael still believed that it was wrong for the boy to have stolen. It didn’t matter that it was a graven image that he’d personally want destroyed.

Nathanael’s brothers decided that they should stay to know what the boy’s punishment would be. The magistrate did not waste time on the boy’s case. He merely scanned the report on the papyrus before him and without even taking a second look at the boy, he pronounced his judgement,

“You’re found guilty and condemned to death by decapitation.”

There was no second chance for the boy. The law required that judgement be carried out immediately the magistrate signed to his pronouncement. The only hope anyone condemned to death could have was if a substitute could be found to take their place.

The crowd dispersed just as the boy was being hurled away. Some went back to their businesses for the day and others to watch the execution. Nathanael knew it was nothing to them – it was just another vermin that was to be rid of.

The boy was pleading for mercy as loud as his lungs could manage. His cries were so loud that they were probably heard in almost all of Alexandria. But Nathanael knew the boy could never get such; his fate had been signed and sealed.

 

“Keziah, tell me you story.”

“Sure,” Keziah readily agreed.

“We’re listening,” Moshe said. “Nathanael, let me sit between you and Ammiel, please.”

Both boys scooted aside a bit for him to sit.

“Here’s my story,” Keziah started. “I was born in Sh’khem. I lost my parents when I was just a baby. I was too young to even remember either of them.”

“So who raised you?” Nathanael asked.

“My aunt,” Keziah answered. “She was my father’s sister. It was just the two of them that my grandparents had. But as I was told, my grandparents too had died so my father and his sister lived by themselves. My father tend olive trees and make olive oil too while his sister would go every day to help Grandma Na‘omi out.

My mother died a few weeks after I was born and my aunt told me that my father also died just a few weeks to her own wedding. He was the only family she had, and he would have given her hand away in marriage in place of their late father but then, he didn’t live to do it.

For a long time, it was just me and my aunt. She worked doing other people’s laundry for us to have money for food. But she also sang dirges too. Actually, people said that she sang dirges better than anyone they knew and they always paid for her to sing when someone died. Grandma Na‘omi, our neighbour in Sh’khem, said it was because my aunt had been heartbroken that she sang dirges so well. She said those who had themselves suffered sing dirges the best, and I think so too. The songs were sorrowful but with each passing year my aunt Miryam sang them better and better.”

“Why did you say that?” Nathanael frowned.

“My aunt suffered a lot. Most nights when she felt I had slept off, she’d sit by the window and cry. When she was out in the yard doing laundry, she’d also be singing and crying. Actually, neighbours said they could never hear my aunt sing without getting tears in their eyes – they even called her, Miryam the Sorrowful. So, most times she only sang to herself.”

“She was always singing dirges to herself?” Nathanael asked.

“No. aunty Miryam’s songs, when she’s alone, were always about longing for something new. Longing to rise above everything and soar to where life is bright and full,” Keziah explained.

Nathanael didn’t know what that could be or if there was sure a place. He asked, “So what happened?”

“Aunty Miryam had been married like four times to men I can’t even remember because I was too young then. But when I was eight, she got married to the village tanner. I never liked him because he always smelled like wet leather. But I was happy that my aunt seemed to be happy, so I didn’t mind the smell. I avoided him as much as I could, though.

Problem started when the laundry my aunt was to deliver to her customers started getting stained because the tanner was careless around them. He’d come home at anytime for almost nothing and without washing off first. Then, he’d be moving around and handling the clothes my aunty had washed.

It meant that my aunt had to do some laundry twice, some thrice, and she could not deliver on time to her customers as she used to do. When she told her husband about it; he told her that she was saying that he was being sloppy. He suggested that she stopped doing laundry. My aunt would’ve obeyed him but then, she disagreed when she found out that he was trying to sell the house she inherited from her parents after my father died which was also mine by inheritance too. He said he needed the money to expand his business.

Aunty Miryam complained to the village elders where they sit at the village gate. They decided that the tanner, even with his marriage to my aunt, doesn’t have the right to over her inheritance because it also belonged to me. They said that only my aunt, with approval from the elders, has the right to sell the house and save my own share of the proceeds for me till I’m of age.”

“The tanner must be really disappointed,” Nathanael commented.

“He was, Keziah replied. “Actually, he had taken a loan against the house without telling my aunt. When the passed their judgment, he was angry and lost. He even tried to threaten my aunty to sell the house so that he could use her own share of the money but unfortunately for him, some of the village elders were friends with my late grandparents. They disagreed with the idea.

Later, my aunt had to go back to the elders to report him. He had started drinking, coming home late at night – and then, he’d beat her almost every night. She wanted a divorce and they were reluctant about it. Eventually, they had no choice.”

“What a cruel man,” Nathanael said. “But I thought you knew Yeshua too.”

“I’ve not really started my story,” Keziah replied as she took her share of the lunch Gad held out to her. “Thanks.”

“You’ve not?” Nathanael asked.

“She hasn’t,” Gad replied.

“She’s just getting to the best part,” Abigail confirmed.

Moshe said something which sounded like – let her continue, but the others were not sure because he spoke with his mouth overflowing with pancake and honey.

“Aunty Miryam needed a lot of water for her laundry, so she had to make a number of trips to the well which was outside the village. It would’ve been more comfortable for her to go in the morning when the sun is not yet too hot but then she’d have to endure being with other women in the village. Most of them had started talking about and even jeering at her since she divorced the tanner and she had another man again.

Remember that the tanner was my aunty’s fifth husband and she had decided not to marry again. So, she was just living with this man as if she was his wife but she refused to be married to him.”

“But what happened to all the other husbands your aunty has had?” Nathanael asked. He hadn’t touched his share of the lunch. He was hungry but he didn’t want to be distracted from what he was being told.

“Hmm,” Keziah sighed.

“They died?” Nathanael asked.

“No, they didn’t,” Keziah replied. “They are all live. They all divorced her.”

“Divorced? Why? She didn’t have children?”

“No, she didn’t have a child with any of them. And I also don’t really know why they divorced her. I didn’t ask,” Keziah explained. “But the village rabbi – he said he grew up with my grandparents. He told me that I shouldn’t grow up asking too many questions about Adonai Elohim, like my aunt; so that I could stay with the first man I marry, all my life.”

“What does that mean?”

“I wish I knew,” Keziah confessed. “But Grandma Na‘omi also told me that the village would have asked my aunty to leave because she’d been married too many times but they couldn’t because she belonged and there’d be no one to sing the dirges when they need to.”

“So how did your aunt meet Yeshua?”

“One afternoon, I was just getting back home from Grandma Na‘omi’s where I go to learn embroidery. The sun was very hot and I was tired and very hungry. I was hoping that Aunty Miryam would have got lunch ready or that she’d be willing to leave her laundry and let’s get it started right away. But I met her at the door; she was on her way out to the well.

She said she’d be back soon and that we’ll make lunch once she got back.” Keziah explained. “I was disappointed but I knew she would be back soon, so I sat and nibbled on a handful of grapes I found in the house. But when she was taking too long, I decided to go after her. We go to the well together sometimes – it was the well Ya‘akov gave to his son, Yosef.

I was just outside the village gate when I saw Aunty Miryam running towards back towards the village, and without her water jar. I knew something was wrong. If it was that the jar had fallen and broken, she wouldn’t be running because of it. I couldn’t see anyone coming after her, still I was scared. My heart was already beating faster. I wondered what had happened at the well but there was no way I could know till she got to where I was so that I could ask her.

When Aunty Miryam got to me, she didn’t stop. Instead, she grabbed me by the hand and pulled me after herself. I had no choice but to start running too – even as frightened as I was. Those who saw us running were asking what was happening but Aunty Miryam was only pointing her other hand ahead while she kept on shouting –

Rabbi! Rabbi!

We didn’t stop. Or I should say, she didn’t stop and so, I couldn’t stop. We ran all the way to the house of the village rabbi which was just before the village square. There was no need for us to start calling people to come around – the rabbi was seated outside his door with some of the village elders, and those who saw us running had followed us to know what Aunty Miryam was going to report.”

“Who was after your aunt?” Nathanael asked.

“Nobody.” Keziah replied. “She had met Yeshua at the well and only wanted to tell everyone in the village to come and talk with him themselves.”

“Why? What did Yeshua tell her?”

“Yeshua had only asked her to give him some water to drink.”

“That’s no big deal.”

“It’s bigger than you can imagine,” Gad stated. “Jews don’t associate with people from Shomron. A Jew won’t even touch anything that someone from Shomron had touched.”

“Wait. But you’re from Sh’khem, right?” Nathanael asked.

“Yes, I am.”

“And Sh’khem is in Shomron, right?”

“I get your point,” Moshe said, “You’re wondering why we’re sitting with Keziah and also eating together with her, right?”

“Exactly,” Nathanael accepted.

“Yeshua ‘…himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.’1” Abigail explained.

“We are all the same,” Ammiel corroborated, “Yeshua loves us all and we all get to know Adonai Elohim only through him, so we have peace with one another. Yeshua is our peace.”

“Ow! Ok.” Nathanael didn’t really understand, but he was satisfied.

“As I was saying,” Keziah continued:

“Yeshua promised to give her the living water but first, she had to go and bring her husband,” Keziah continued. “When Aunty Miryam told Yeshua that she was not married; Yeshua told her everything about her life.”

“Wait,” Nathanael ordered again. “What kind of water is that – the living water?”

“It is not the real water we drink and bathe with,” Gad explained. “It is the just another name for the Ruach HaKodesh of Adonai Elohim.”

“Ow! Ok.” Again, Nathanael didn’t understand what he was told. However, for the moment, his fascination with the story was stronger than his desire for clarity of terms.

“Aunty Miryam also thought that Yeshua was talking about some ordinary sort of water,” Keziah said. “She said she even begged Yeshua to give her the living water so that she’d not have to be going to the well every time to fetch water.

Later that night, she told me that when Yeshua talked her marriages, she knew he was a prophet. So, she asked him about the right place to worship God: here in the temple in Yerushalayim, or on the mountain there at Shomron. She said she knew the answer he gave was the truth – that the true place to worship Adonai Elohim was in each person’s heart because the Ruach HaKodesh of Adonai Elohim is able to live in each person as the living water that brings everything alive to Adonai Elohim.

Anyone in whom the Ruach HaKodesh is, have everlasting life because the Ruach HaKodesh of Adonai Elohim makes Him known to that person and as Yeshua later told us – knowing Adonai Elohim, the one true God, and Yeshua Hamashiach whom He sent is eternal life2.”

“Hmm,” Nathanael sighed but no one noticed.

Keziah continued. “Aunty Miryam said that when Yeshua told her about worshiping Elohim by the Ruach HaKodesh, she replied that when the Mashiach comes, he’d explain everything to everyone.

But then, Yeshua said to her – I who speak to you am He.

“He’s what?”

“The Mashiach of Elohim!” The other chorused.

“Please continue,” Nathanael pleaded. Keziah did.

“So, Aunty Miryam told me she knew that Yeshua was the Mashiach but she couldn’t keep such good news to herself. She was in so much haste that she had to leave her water jar at the well so that she could run faster, back to the village to tell everyone to come and meet Yeshua.”

“Yeshua waited for them at the well?”

“Yes, he did,” Keziah answered.

“Did they go to him?”

“Everyone in the village,” Keziah replied. “But guess what?”

“Just tell me, please.”

“Yeshua stayed in the village for two days. He, and his talmidim, stayed in our house. He taught in the village square and he healed everyone that was sick in the village.”

“Everyone?”

“Nathanael – Yeshua healed everyone that was sick in Sh’khem,” Keziah affirmed.

“That’s incredible.”

“But I can tell you that it’s true because I knew everyone in the village. And it is also true because when he was leaving the whole village agreed that he was the Mashiach.”

“Because of what your aunty had told them?”

“No,” Keziah disagreed. “It was because of all we heard Yeshua say and saw him do that made us to say that. We believe that he is the Mashiach. I believe he is. Everyone in Sh’khem does. Yeshua Hamashiach – we believe.”

 

Endnotes

  1. Ephesians 2:14
  2. John 17:3

* Chapter Four is based on the account in John 4:1-42

 

 

5

Ancient Words

 

“Now, that’s a wonderful story. Wow!” Nathanael exclaimed.

“You think it’s just a story?” Abigail inquired. She had on what would pass for the onset of a frown.

“No – don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed all the stories you’ve told me so far. They are all good; I might even be willing to believe them but there’s just itsy-bitsy problem,” Nathanael held his right hand up, the tip of the thumb was pressed against that of the index finger as if there was actually something tiny in-between.

“What could that be?” Keziah asked. To her, whatever Nathanael had found wrong was either with her or with her story, and she didn’t like that.

“Mashiach – Hamaschiach. What does that even mean?”

“Seriously?” Moshe asked. “Where did you say you’re from again?”

“Moshe stop that,” Ammiel chided. The reprimand was not sharp but his voice was firm enough.

“Moshe, it’s not everyone that understands who the Mashiach is or why they need him,” Abigail expatiated.

“So we have to explain to Nathanael,” Gad concluded.

“Where do we start?” Keziah asked.

“Make it some place believable, please,” Nathanael requested.

“We’ll try,” Gad promised.

“You’ve read the Torah, the prophets and the Tehillim, right?” Ammiel asked.

“Not that much. Occasionally, and only at home when I was in Egypt. It’s here that I started studying them in school.”

“Generally, the Mashiach is the chosen One,” Abigail started. “The Jewish people believe he’d come to restore the people back to freedom by delivering them from their oppressors, and to sit upon the throne of David.1

“I get that,” Nathanael said. “My father told me about how the Romans are ruining the land and tormenting our people.”

“You’re right, they are ruining the land and tormenting our people” Abigail replied. “But they are not different from us.”

“We are not the same,” Nathanael countered. “We are Jews, the covenant people of Elohim. They are Goyim.”

“We are Jews, but does that mean we don’t sin against Adonai Elohim? Do we keep the law perfectly?” Ammiel queried.

“But we are descendants of Avraham who was friends with Elohim,” Nathanael maintained.

“You’re trying to say that we’re covered – no matter what we do – by our fathers’ friendship with Elohim, right?” Gad asked.

“Well, yes.”

“Have you forgotten the many times Yerushalayim was destroyed and the people were sent into captivity because they had sinned against Adonai Elohim?” Abigail asked.

Nathanael kept quiet.

“Also, remember that Avraham himself had to believe Elohim for himself – just as Yitz’chak and Ya‘akov did for themselves.”

“And what is the point of that?” Nathanael was defensive; he threw back.

“Each of us has to believe for themselves,” Abigail replied. “My father’s faith can’t save me.”

“In the Word of Adonai according to Yechezk’el the prophet, Adonai Elohim said, behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die,2” Ammiel explained. “So you see, salvation is a decision you have to make for yourself.”

“I get your point. But how are we not different from the gentiles?”

“If I steal and you lie, what are we?” Moshe asked.

“You’re a thief. I’m a liar,” Nathanael replied matter-of-factly.

“You’ve given me descriptions of what what we do. But the one thing that describes us both is that we’re sinners, right?”

“Yes.”

“All have sinned and we can’t reach Adonai the way we are3. So, if we ignore what each does – I mean, their individual wrongdoings; a gentile sinner and a Jewish sinner, both of them are still sinners.”

“I see what you mean now.”

“But the problem is that our people don’t understand who the Mashiach would be or what he’d actually do when he comes. They know what they want him to do, to restore their national freedom but they don’t know what he’d want to do,” Abigail explained. “They were thinking just about Isra’el but the purpose of Adonai Elohim for which his Mashich was sent is for the whole world.”

“We’re not making all this up by ourselves – the Torah, the prophets and the Tehillim all contain words about the Mashiach which we are going to show you,” Keziah explained. “But first, let me add this to all that’s been said so far.

Everything you want to know about the Mashiach – everything anyone could want to know about him, can be based upon three facts: Adonai Elohim’s existence; his love, and his faithfulness. If you remove or doubt any of this three, you can’t understand the coming and purpose of the Mashiach.”

“How?”

“If you don’t believe that Adonai Elohim exists then from whom would you say that the Mashiach has come?”

“Ok.”

“Think about Adonai Elohim’s love and his faithfulness too.” Keziah counseled. “His love tells you the reason the Mashiach came. And of course, his faithfulness tells you what he came for.”

“Good points,” Ammiel commented.

“Nathanael – do you believe that Adonai Elohim exists? That he was not made up in the minds of men? And that even with all the confusion and evil in the world, Elohim is still the holy Adonai-Tzva’ot, the Judge of all the earth?” Gad asked.

“I think so.”

“That’s good enough for me,” Gad accepted.

“Now let’s start from what the Ruach HaKodesh said through Prophet Yesha’yahu – ‘…the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel,’4” Gad said.

“I’ve read that before,” Nathanael replied.

“Good. So what if I tell you that it happened as the prophet said it would?”

“When?”

“Gavri’el, the arch-angel, was sent to Miryam, to tell her that she’d be with child,” Gad said. “Everything happened as the angel foretold that it would.5

“How did you know? And who’s Miryam?” Nathanael asked.

“Miryam was Yeshua’s mother and she told us herself,” Keziah answered. “You should meet her too.”

“But Yeshua was also born in Beit-Lechem according to what another prophet had said by the Ruach HaKodesh,6” Gad continued. “Now, remember – an angel came first; and then Yeshua was born in Beit-Lechem – was he lucky to be fulfilling two prophecies or this is the faithfulness of Elohim to the promises he’s made?”

“Nathanael, you know what Beit-Lechem means, right?” Moshe asked.

“House of Lechem.”

“And Yeshua said of himself that he’s the bread of life7,” Keziah state.

Nathanael was on the borderline between being confused and unimpressed.

“Is that all?” He asked. “You said something about Yeshua dying on a cross.”

“Yes, he died on the cross. He was betrayed to the high priests by Y’hudah from K’riot – one of his talmidim. But it was still to fulfill other prophecies,” Moshe answered.

“Is that a joke?”

“Nothing we’ve been telling you is a joke or a lie. It’s all true,” Abigail replied. “Yeshua died because it’s written that he had to. But he rose from the dead because it’s also written that he cannot stay dead. Sounds far-fetched, right?”

“Yeah, it does,” Nathanael acknowledged. “Where’s that written?”

“It’s in the Tehillim8. It’s written by David, the sweet Psalmist of Isra’el, himself.” Abigail replied.

“If he was the Mashiach and he could perform all those miracles, why couldn’t he save himself from dying?”

“Because we need the Mashiach to save us and because Elohim had to fulfill his promise of salvation to us,” Keziah replied.

“You’ve not really answered my question.”

“Let me put it this way,” Ammiel said. “The law requires a sacrifice for our sins. Each of us had to offer the life of an animal so that our sins can be forgiven. But there are four problems with the sacrifice.”

“Problems? How?”

“Have you offered a sacrifice before?”

“No. I’ve not.”

“Does that mean that you don’t sin so you don’t need a sacrifice?”

“Well.”

“I’m not trying to put you on the spot. I’m just making a point,” Ammiel pacified.

“Okay.”

“The first problem with the sacrifice is that it doesn’t cover all people – but Adonai loves everyone and wants them to be saved. His plan of salvation applies to both Jews and Goyim. Now, where can we raise enough lambs for everyone to sacrifice for their sins?

Also, consider those who had lived before the law was given – even those who walked with Adonai. They didn’t offer any sacrifice for their sins, so what would become of them?

But then, we know that the law demands the same things from everyone but we are not the same. Some are rich enough to afford a sacrifice everyday. Some can do it every week. Some can only do it every month. We have those who only manage to do it once a year; yet, there are some who can’t even afford it in a year. It’s not that they don’t want to offer the sacrifice but they just can’t afford it. Would it be fair of Elohim to be demanding the same thing from everyone when he knows that we can’t afford the same thing?

The second problem is that the animals are themselves not totally clean. They yearlings – yes, but can you be totally confident that the shepherd who raised and carried them was totally clean according to the Law? What about the grass the lambs ate – it is not possible that an unclean animal could have walked on it; eaten part of it? Or it is not possible that someone unclean had walked among the grass? The animals, as innocent as they are, they are not perfectly clean.

The third problem is that the animals we offer in sacrifice for our since are never willing to die. They struggle and they’d run if they have the chance to. But you know that when someone is condemned – ”

Nathanael stiffened at the word condemned, but no one noticed it. Ammiel didn’t stop,

“– to die, only a willing person can be an acceptable substitute. You can’t force someone to die in place of another.

The fourth problem with the sacrifice is that they are offered every year.”

“How is that a problem? It’s what the Law says.”

“Sure, it’s what the Law demands. But do you know that only the person who is guilty of a sin is required to offer a sacrifice?” Ammiel replied.

“Yes. I know that.”

“Which means that if someone can go through a year without a sin, they don’t have to offer sacrifice for that year, right?”

“I guess so.”

“In that case, it means that the sacrifices were not perfect. So, what we need is a sacrifice that’d be once and for all. Not just for all times – past, present and future – but for all people as well.

And also, we need a power that can free us from the power of sin so that we can live, truly free, for Adonai.”

 

Endnotes

  1. Isaiah 9:6-7
  2. Ezekiel 18:4
  3. Romans 3:23
  4. Isaiah 7:14
  5. Luke 1:26-38 & 2:4-21
  6. Micah 5:2
  7. John 6:35
  8. Psalm 16:10

 

 

6

Fallout

 

Nathanael sighed. Then he reached for his water skin and took a long drink. He’d not even touched his food at all. The others kept a steady gaze at him and waited.

Eventually, he asked, “So, what is the use of all the sacrifices and other requirements of the law?”

“Simple” Moshe was ready with a reply. “Elohim was giving us the opportunity to discover that it’s impossible for us to be righteous, perfect and holy on our own. The law cannot achieve the perfection required because, like the venom in those who were bitten by the snakes and were dying in the wilderness, sin is in us. It’s in all of us. The law cannot get sin out of man but at least Elohim allowed us to try it first so that we can know that for ourselves.”

“And how can we get sin out of ourselves?”

“In the wilderness, Moshe had to make a bronze serpent for the people to look at so that they could be healed,” Gad answered. “Now, Elohim made his own Son, Yeshua, the sin in all of us and he was nailed to the cross1. As the people looked up to that serpent which was the image of what had bitten them and they were healed; so also, now people need to believe that Yeshua became their sin and he was raised too, so that they can be healed of the venom of sin in them.”

“Is that enough?”

“Yes and no,” Keziah replied.

“Why no?”

“It’s not enough because Yeshua did much more,” she replied.

“And why yes?”

“Because Moshe made just one bronze serpent and it was enough for everyone to look at for healing. Yeshua is enough for the whole world.”

“And was the aim achieved? The world hasn’t changed for the better, in case you’ve been missing some headlines,” Nathanael intended a joke but nobody laughed.

“Let me tell you what happened the moment Yeshua died,” Ammiel offered, “At that moment the parokhet in the Temple was ripped in two from top to bottom; and there was an earthquake, with rocks splitting apart. Also the graves were opened, and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life; and after Yeshua rose, they came out of the graves and went into the holy city, where many people saw them. When the Roman officer and those with him who were keeping watch over Yeshua saw the earthquake and what was happening, they were awestruck and said, “He really was a son of God.”2

“What does that mean?”

“It means that Yeshua had done what he had to do. The way to Adonai Elohim has been open for everyone to come. It is now a matter of choice for us,” Keziah explained.

“Okay,” Nathanael replied. Actually, things were contrary. He was getting riled and unwilling to process any new information. “So, how does everything you’ve all said tie Yeshua and the Mashiach together?”

“Yeshua Hamashiach,” Moshe replied.

“Yes, Yeshua Hamashiach,” Gad and Abigail affirmed.

“I know. You’ve said that countless times. But how is Yeshua the Mashiach?”

“You should’ve seen him the day he was crucified – ”

“Good. That’s another point,” Nathanael interrupted Abigail. “Did you see him?”

“We did,” the others all replied.

“And he died?”

“He was very dead,” Moshe replied. “A soldier even thrust his long, sharp spear into his left side.3

“And?”

“He was buried. Nakdimon and Yosef of Ramatayim embalmed him. He was even buried in Yosef of Ramatayim’s tomb.

“And Yeshua didn’t wake up while they were doing all that?”

“How could a dead man do that?” Gad asked.

“Nope. As Yonah was in the belly of the fish for three days4, Yeshua stayed dead for three days,” Keziah said.

“Whatever,” Nathanael shrugged. “I need to cut to the chase here. You said Yeshua rose up from the dead. I assume that’d be after the three days for which you said he was dead. So my question is this, did you see Yeshua after he rose up from the dead?”

“We did,” the group replied.

“We even ate with him,” Moshe added.

The others knew Nathanael was going to do something but they didn’t know what – they couldn’t. First, he shifted where he was seating. Then he got up and knelt down.

“Okay – so I get the part about the prophecies, the sacrifices, and the whole Mashiach thing. But turning water into wine? Healing people? He didn’t do much for Keziah’s aunt and Nakdimon, I’d say. Nonetheless, how can a man do all you claim that Yeshua did? It’s impossible!” A lump had formed in Nathanael’s throat as he spoke and he only struggled to finish what he wanted to say before he forced it down in a gulp.

“Yeshua wasn’t just a man,” Abigail was genuinely puzzled. “He was born of a virgin, remember? And that was after the angel had visited Miryam.”

“But you said he was a carpenter,” Nathanael argued.

“Is that the same as saying that he was a man?” Abigail countered.

“Then what could he be?” Nathanael replied. “He had parents, didn’t he? And maybe brothers and sisters too, right?”

“Yeshua was a man – ”

“That is what I’ve been saying!” Nathanael supposed that Moshe was supporting him, so he interrupted. “He’s a man. He’s not even a doctor. He’s a carpenter.”

“But he’s actually Adonai,” Moshe concluded.

Nathanael frowned. Slowly, he cocked his head towards Moshe. He didn’t want to believe that he’d heard right.

“He’s the Son of Elohim,” Abigail said.

“Don’t compound things for me!” Nathanael’s voice rose, though it was unintended. “He’s Adonai. He’s the Son of Elohim – who is he?”

“Nathanael, who you believe Yeshua is will determine how you’ll relate with him. That’ll also determine other things in your life – now and in eternity,” Abigail explained.

“Who would you say he is – just a man? Or is he Adonai? And he could even been both,” Keziah added.

“How can he be Adonai?” Nathanael threw back.

“Would that be because it’s impossible for Adonai to become a man?” Gad asked.

“What do you mean?” Nathanael asked.

“Adonai is all-powerful, right?” Moshe asked in return.

“Sure, He is.”

“That means He has the power to become a human like us,” Ammiel stated.

“Why would Adonai want to become a human like us?”

“One step at a time,” Abigail advised. “Let’s not try to figure out why Adonai would want to be human yet, let’s first settle the point that He has the power to do it.”

“I still don’t see why Elohim would become a human,” Nathanael replied.

“Would that be because there’s a law that says He should not to do as he wants?” Keziah asked.

“I don’t understand that.”

“Nathanael, have you been in any school play before?” Moshe asked.

“No, I’ve not. Why do you ask?”

“But you do play with your friends – or maybe your brothers and sisters,” Moshe replied.

“Yes, I do. Why do you ask?” Nathanael suspected that Moshe’s question was a distraction.

“So you’ve played father, or friend or even a gruffy old ram or a tired camel before with your friends.”

“Hmm!” Nathanael grunted. He was suspicious of what Moshe was going to bring out, so he was reluctant to give a verbal response. He didn’t want to say something that could turn the argument against him.

“We all have. It’ll be surprising if you’ve never played that before,” Gad said when Nathanael’s reply was slow to come.

“Yes, I have.”

“Was it wrong for you to dress up and play any of those parts?” Moshe asked.

“No, it wasn’t. It was just a play.”

“If you play the part of father or a ram – does it mean you’re no longer Nathanael?”

“No, it doesn’t. I’m still Nathanael.”

“So, if Adonai became a human, is He no longer Adonai?”

“Why would Adonai become a human?” Nathanael maintained.

Apart from Nathanael, everyone loved Moshe’s explanation. Somehow they had started enjoying their talk with him. They knew he was still confused and full of questions – those were expected. Only that they were getting complacent, believing that they could handle everything, easily. Whether it was intentional or not, they ignored Nathanael’s question. Instead, Keziah presented another point –

“If Yeshua was just a man, then the world would have walked away from the cross on which he died like they had done with the others. Even his resurrection would’ve been a joke. But it’s all true.”

“Ok, where is Yeshua now?” Nathanael threw back

“Didn’t you hear anything about him?” Moshe asked.

“We just came to Yerushalayim and it’s almost the middle of the school term so my father got me registered right away,” Nathanael explained. “I’ve not heard much about anyone here – just what I overheard from our neighbours or people in the street.”

“After he appeared to his talmidim and other people; Yeshua ascended to heaven,” Gad replied.

“He’s alive forevermore!” Keziah added.

“Yes, he is!” the others chorused.

“I think I should go,” Nathanael dragged his satchel to himself. He was confused and he was getting angry too. He felt that he had found some good friends, now it didn’t seem so. Rather, it felt as if the group had been teasing him. Everything suddenly seemed like a setup, and he wasn’t sure that they were not making fun of him.

Nathanael was surprised by the tears in his own eyes. He blinked them out and he was not bothered that the others were watching. He was not going to stay to be made a fool of anymore.

He got to his feet and dusted his tunic. Then, it occurred to him that no one has said anything. It was strange that they were not trying to stop him. He did not even know what to make of their expressions – were they happy to see him go, or they were regretting what they’d done to him? He was not sure. But then he could not see clearly with the tears in his eyes.

“We really don’t have much, but would you believe us if you can get to meet some other people who knew Yeshua?” Ammiel asked.

“I’m not so sure,” Nathanael admitted. He hesitated. Then he added, “Maybe.”

“I’ll walk with you,” Ammiel rose too. “I’ll tell you about my cousin on the way and we’ll see him in their house.”

Nathanael still hesitated. He was not really sure of anything. It occurred to him that if he was wrong about this group, he’d be leaving himself without a protection from the bullies and he might get a beating to go along with his regrets, later. So, he relented.

“Ok,” Nathanael agreed.

“We’ll see you after the holiday, Nathanael,” Keziah called after the two.

Nathanael wasn’t really sure what to reply. He was not sure if he’d be coming back, so he only gave a reluctant wave.

“Did we push him too hard?” Keziah inquired of Moshe, Abigail and Gad once Ammiel and Nathanael had gone out of earshot.

“We sure did,” Moshe concluded.

“We have to trust Adonai,” Gad advised. “He brought Nathanael to us. He knows how to touch his heart.”

“We should pray,” Abigail said; her voice was so calm that it’s difficult to notice that it quivered a bit.

“Yes, we should pray,” Keziah and Gad agreed.

“Let’s pray.” Moshe started –

Abba, thank you for the love you’ve shown to all people by giving us your Son, Yeshua, to live and die and rise up again. We know He is with you and we know that we can ask you for whatever we want in His holy name.

Abba, we might have been a bit careless in our excitement; we’re afraid that we’ve pushed Nathanael away instead of drawing him to you. Therefore, as you have brought Nathanael to us so that we may share with him what we know of your Son, we pray that your Spirit will work in him so that he will know who Yeshua is and what you gave Him to be for the whole world.

Thank you Abba, this we pray in the name of Yeshua Hamashiach – your Holy Son.

“Amen,” the others chorused.

 

Endnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:21
  2. Matthew 27:51-54, CJB
  3. John 19:33-37
  4. Matthew 12:40

 

 

7

Delayed Creation

 

Ammiel led the way. Their route was through the nearest exit from the market but also the longest from their destination. He walked as briskly through the market as the crowd would allow, with Nathanael close behind him. They could not talk since the path was rarely wide enough for the two of them to walk abreast, but it was just what Ammiel wanted. He knew the others would be praying and he wanted to have a word of prayer too before he’d talk with Nathanael. So, even as they were dodging people and wares, some of whom were taking more than their fair share of the available space, Ammiel prayed for Nathanael – just as the others too did back at the corner.

“Ammiel, did you really meet Yeshua?” Nathanael asked when they were out of the market and he was able to walk beside him. He pronounced Yeshua’s name with emphasis, as if he could put quotation marks around it, orally.

“I did,” Ammiel replied.

“And the others too?”

Ammiel slowed down. “All of us. At different times and in different places but we all did.”

“How did you all meet?”

“After I met Yeshua, I started going with my cousin, to every place I heard that the Rabbi would be. So long as it was not when I should be in school and I was with Josiah, my parents didn’t mind since they knew what Yeshua did for Josiah and they had come to believe in Yeshua too.

The others too were doing they same thing. They followed Yeshua and his talmidim around as much as they could. Keziah and her aunt even left Sh’khem and moved to Yerushalayim just so that they could be closer. It’s only natural that we should become friends since we’re about the same age and each had a story to tell the others about our meeting with Yeshua.”

“What about sitting in that alley?”

“After Yeshua ascen – ,” Ammiel stopped mid-word to avoid saying ascended, “well, after he left. We tell people the good news about him anywhere we are. But we still meet to talk about Yeshua and we go to his talmidim to learn from them too.

A situation arose at a time where the talmidim declared that they’d give themselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word1. It was then that it occurred to us that we could always pray that Elohim will bring someone to us with whom we’ll all be able to share our stories so that the person could come to know him through the knowledge of his Son, Yeshua. Of course, we still talk to people individually when we have the opportunity but we know Elohim brings us specials ones that he’s prepared for his kingdom2.”

It felt nice to know that the group considered him as one of the specials ones; it took the sting from the dispointment that drove him from them. But he didn’t dwell on it,

“So you just sit in the corner and wait?” he asked.

“No. we sit in the corner. We pray till Adonai Elohim brings us the one he’s chosen.”

“Now, tell me about your cousin.”

“His name is Josiah,” Ammiel started, “and he tells the best stories in all of Jerusalem. I’d sit with him for hours just to listen to wonderful stories from far away. He’d tell stories about Rome, about the deserts of Arabia, about Egypt and Ethiopia and of a thousand other places too. He’d describe everything so well that you could imagine it clearly – if you’re not careful, you’d even dream about those places and things Josiah had told you about till you begin to wonder if you’d actually ever travelled to those places without remembering that you did.”

“Josiah travels a lot?” Nathanael asked.

“No. Joshiah didn’t travel. Even if he had wanted to, he couldn’t.”

“Why?”

“Josiah was a beggar. He was born blind and he used to stand on the way to the Temple to beg for alms.”

“If he was blind, how did he know about the places he told you of?”

“He was blind. He was not deaf,” Ammiel replied.

“Oh – ok.”

“People talk around him easily. And he listens to everything carefully. He told me that without eyes to see, he had to use his ears to learn about the world around him.” Ammiel explained.

“But you said that he was born blind.”

“Yes, he was.”

“How did you know?”

“Josiah is older than me by more than ten years but he is my cousin,” Ammiel replied.

“So what happened to him?”

“Where he sat near the Temple, he’s heard so much about Yeshua that he was convinced that He was the awaited Mashiach. Most mornings when I helped him to where he’d sit near the Temple and when I go to help him back home in the evening, he’d tell me all he’d heard about the miracles Yeshua was doing. I was always fascinated but I didn’t think that Yeshua could be the Mashiach. Many times, my father and my elder brothers even talked about it at home while we ate supper – they believe that Yeshua could be a prophet but they did not like that he was performing miracles everyday of the week. Yeshua never took the Sabbath day off; he was always available – teaching, and healing the sick everyday of the week.”

“Let’s sit on this fence here,” Nathanael requested.

“Okay,” Ammiel agreed. He followed Nathanael to a low fence. Discreetly, he glanced skyward and mouthed thank you, Abba, before he sat down.

“So, Josiah met Yeshua, right?”

“Yes, he did,” Ammiel replied.

“Okay.”

“I’ll get to that soon. First, let me tell you some thing that Josiah had always complained about.”

“Alright,” Nathanael agreed, “What’s that?”

“As you know, every problem in the world is caused by sin,” Ammiel continued. “There won’t be any suffering if there’s no sin in the world.”

“I agree.”

“Good,” Ammiel commented. “People also believe that when bad things happen to someone, it must be because the person has sinned and they were being punished for it. But for someone like Josiah, everyone believed that his parents must have sinned, or that he himself sinned while he was in the womb, for him to have been born blind.”

“How could anyone have sinned before they were born?”

“Well, people believe that Elohim is good and that He’d always do good things to His people so long as they keep the laws perfectly. But when there’s nothing that people could fault about the parents’ lives and their child is still born different from others; they’d say that the child must be the sinner. That the child had sinned while in the womb – just to avoid blaming Elohim for anything.”

“That’s terrible,” Nathanael concluded.

“Many times Josiah would tell me how people would stand before him and pray about him, as if he couldn’t hear them.” Ammiel continued. “He said that before some would give him alms, they’d first stand before him and they’d be thanking Elohim.”

“Thanking Elohim, what for?”

“That He had spared them from being sinners who sinned right from the womb and had to live with the punishment for their sins all their lives. That hurt Josiah a lot, but there was nothing he could’ve done about it.”

“That’s mean.”

“Well, that’s humanity,” Ammiel rejoined. Then, he continued –

“I was with Josiah the day Yeshua came to him. It was after school and I had finished my homework, so I went to him. Yeshua was coming from the Temple and we could hear the talmidim asking him whether it was my uncle and his wife, Josiah’s parents, who sinned; or Josiah himself that he was born blind.

“I wanted to rise and tell them that we could hear what they were saying, but Josiah pinched me. I understood him – if I angered those who gave him alms, they wouldn’t give him anymore; it could be worse it it were to be a member of the Sanhedrin, they could stop Josiah from sitting that close to the Temple. So I kept quiet.

“But then, Yeshua moved close to where we were. And he said –

Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.3

“What does that mean?” Nathanael asked.

“Then, I didn’t know either,” Ammiel replied. “I felt it was strange talk.”

“So what happened?”

“Yeshua spat on the dust then he stooped by it. He mixed it with his finger till it was some clayey goo. He then gathered and put it on his hand.”

“Why? What’s he going to do with that?” Nathanael frowned in disgust.

“I was surprised too,” Ammiel responded. “But then, Yeshua started putting the clay on Josiah’s eyes.”

“Ehew!” Nathanael exclaimed. But Ammiel only smiled, and then he continued –

“I was shocked myself. I didn’t know what to do. But everything Yeshua had said kept ringing in my head. At least, it was good to hear someone say that Josiah was not born blind because he or his parents had sinned. So, I just watched.”

“So what happened after Yeshua applied the clay to Josiah’s eyes?”

“Nothing,” Ammiel replied.

Nathanael’s frown went deeper.

“Yeshua said to Josiah, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.4

“Just that?”

“Yes.”

“Did Josiah go?”

“He said thank you, sir – to Yeshua. Then he pulled on my hand. I knew he wanted me to lead him to Siloam, so I helped him.”

“Then what happened?” Nathanael had since stopped disguising his enthusiasm.

“We squatted by the waters of Siloam. I took Josiah’s walking stick and alms bowl from him, then he started scooping the waters to wash the clay off his eyes.”

“So?”

“Josiah wiped the waters off his face, and then he opened his eyes and blinked. He looked up at the sky before he started shouting – The sky is blue! I can see! I can see!

“He could see?”

“Josiah toppled into the water and started splashing around in it. He was shouting at the top of his voice and a crowd was gathering to know what was happening. I didn’t know what to say or do. I stood and watched my cousin in the water. I just started crying. I didn’t even know when he came and pulled me into the waters with join him. I was so happy. We continued splashing and shouting in the water and people just kept looking at us.”

“Wow!” Nathanael exclaimed. “And you said Josiah was born blind?”

Ammiel smiled.

“Come, let’s go and meet Josiah and my uncle,” Ammiel got off the seat and pulled Nathanael after him. “They’d tell you more.”

Nathanael did not hesitate. He started running after Ammiel.

 

Endnotes

  1. Acts 6:4
  2. John 6:44
  3. John 9:3-5
  4. John 9:7

*Chapter Seven is based on the account in John 9:1-7.

 

 

 

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