A Walk with Jesus
Jesus had suggested that I dream of my white horse again. This was my plan as I drifted off to sleep. I was confident that once again I would be riding somewhere on my faithful steed, my cape fluttering in the wind, the landscape streaming passed me as I galloped toward the unknown. Quite often, of course, I wound up riding right into a nightmare or prophetic scene. This time, however, when I found myself in my dream world, I was on foot. I was running swiftly, frightened out of my wits. This struck me that moment as especially bad. I could hear men shouting, “There he is. He’s one of them. We got him now!” I could hear the clanking of armor and clang of swords against shields, indicating that they were soldiers. At first, I assumed they were Romans, but I dare not look back and break my stride. All I could think of was to keep on running. Somehow I must escape my pursuers. Unfortunately, I found myself running up a sharp rise, which grew steeper as they approached. My legs grew heavy with fatigue, my lungs burned for lack of air, and I continued to stumble on the rocky path, until, finally, I lost my balance completely, falling backward down the trail.
Into the arms of shadowy forms, who looked nothing like the Romans guarding our town, I fell. On each side of me, rude, burly hands reached out to grip my arms, legs, and hair. A bearded face with a strange, peaked helmet on his grinning face loomed over me, grinning fiendishly as his cohorts hauled me down the hill. I remember thinking, as times before, that this must be a dream, but in previous dreamscapes, I hadn’t been running for my life. This troubled me greatly. The nightmarish images had always been reference points I observed calmly before awakening and seeking an interpretation for my dream. Always, I had been concerned about the message, not the dilemma I was in. This time there was no message in my nightmare and the plot was centered upon me, which made me forget that it was a dream. Times before, as I rode my trusty stead through my dreamscape, I felt no pain. During such lucid dreams, I felt only alarm—a dread of things to come. In my current dreamscape, my body ached and my lungs felt like they might burst. The breath had been knocked out of me. My vocal chords were frozen in terror. When I tried to call for help, all I could muster was a muted scream. This time I was being dragged to a place of doom by strange-looking soldiers, who treated me like a criminal, . . . until finally, as in previous dreams, the scene faded to black, and I awakened moaning, clawing at my blanket, with Jesus looking down into my face.
“Jude, wake up,” he whispered discreetly, “you’re having a nightmare. Sit up, drink this water. Everyone else is asleep.”
As I sipped the cold well water, I looked around the dimly lit room and realized I had awakened at what Papa called the “crack of dawn,” a time when only Jesus, who never seemed to sleep, was roaming about. It was, Jesus once told us, a holy time—the best time to pray.
“Jesus, Jesus, I had a terrible dream,” I sputtered, as he clamped his hand over my mouth.
Releasing his hand and placing his index finger on his lips, he helped me to my feet and led me toward the door.
“Come, walk with me,” he said, as we slipped out of the house.
“Tell me about your dream,” he murmured, guiding me into the garden, which was ablaze with the first brush of dawn. The rising sun, peeking as a shy maiden over the eastern hills, cast a special glow over my oldest brother, whose shadow, stretching those moments across the yard, would one day encompass the world. Motioning for me to sit on the garden bench, he looked down at me, his tanned face and white raiment pure in the light, and chatted a moment about the bounty of Mama’s many vegetables and herbs. I knew he was going to make a point. Though I was impatient to tell him about my dream, I waited patiently as he lifted up a handful of dirt, brought it up to his nostrils, smelled it, then let it drop back to the ground.
“What is the most important thing about a garden?” He asked, inclining his head thoughtfully.
“The vegetables,” I answered promptly, “the fruit, and herbs.”
“No, that’s incorrect,” he said, lifting up a turnip root and then lovingly placing it back in the ground. “It’s the soil in which it’s planted. Our family is the soil in which we, the sons of Joseph, have grown up. Mama has tended her garden, and the soil reflects her care. Her children’s roots have likewise been nurtured by the parents, but it’s been the Lord who’s tended to the family of Joseph, which is the soil from which the children have grown.”
“So, we can’t fail?” I replied obligingly.
“I didn’t say that.” Jesus shook his head. “I haven’t finished. Occasionally, weeds will grow in perfectly good ground, so the gardener must pick the weeds and sometimes add fertilizer to make the soil richer. In the same way, raising a family requires such care. Once Michael was such a weed. My point is, Jude, you’re soil is good and you’ve been raised righteously by Mama and taught by Papa, but, because you have freewill, you can become a weed too.” “You are blessed by this soil—the seed of David,” he added, raising a pinch of dirt then blowing it from his palm. “Remember this fact when people like Michael or Adam lead you astray.”
I nodded gravely, deeply moved by Jesus gentle rebuke, almost forgetting about my silly dream. He had waited patiently until this perfect moment. The gist of it all was that ‘I came from a good family, but I could, even with my parents supervision and the Lord’s guidance, go astray.’ The only thing I could think of saying was, “I’m sorry. I’ll try to do better.”
“I know you will.” Jesus placed his hand on my head, as if in blessing. “You must know this too. I can see, from your sway over your friends, that you’re a leader Jude, not a follower, but you must also lead yourself—from temptation and foolish pursuits.”
At that point, I realized he was not merely talking about me being influenced by youths like Adam, but my own lapse of judgment and greed. To make matters worse, I mislead my brother and my friends. This time I gave Jesus a half-hearted nod but said nothing. It would be very difficult for me to give up my desire for gold. I was still not convinced that there wasn’t more gold in the hills. Jesus studied me a moment before looking squarely into my eyes.
“Jude, do you want to be a weed?” A smile played on his lips, as I vigorously shook my head. “I want you to pray very hard about this matter.” He placed a hand on my shoulder. “You don’t have to wait until we’re sitting down for dinner or we have a circle of prayer. You can do it on your own, anytime of day. It’ll make you feel better—bodily, mentally, and spiritually. I’m not experienced with wine, but, like wine, a heartfelt talk with God is stimulating, especially when you can feel His very presence in your head.”
“It can make you drunk?” I wrinkled my nose.
Jesus chuckled softly, shaking his head gently and tousling my hair. Reaching around deftly as I sat pondering my sins, he picked us a couple of figs. After quickly peeling the fruit, he handed me one and began munching on his fig as if he didn’t have a care in the world. I know now that this wasn’t true. Even as a youth of sixteen he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. That day, as morning broke in our garden, he carried me. Yet, in spite of my wayward spirit, I knew Jesus loved me very much. In many ways I should have felt honored that he took so much time with me. I don’t remember him ever spending as much time with James, Joseph, and Simon. One day, as a disciple, I would understand why. That morning, however, as I followed Jesus around the garden, into the backyard and onto the orchard trail, the notion that he would one day be the savior of the world would not have occurred to me. Romans watched over Nazareth and our home again, but Jesus was my protector and the spiritual guardian of the family of Joseph. With him around, I feared no one, not even the Romans, whom I learned, after watching them rough up James and Joseph’s friends, might turn on us if we gave them cause.
We stopped beside Jesus’ favorite rock where he often prayed. This time we sat on the smooth, white stone and he gave me a sermon on a familiar subject. He couldn’t have picked a more boring topic for me, and yet it was basic to the doctrines he would later give to the world.
“Everything,” he explained with a wave of his hand, “that we see, touch and hear is God’s creation. Nothing made by His hand is evil in itself. It’s men and women, who make things evil. Though we share, as others, a mother, father, brothers, and sisters, our first parent is the Lord. He’s the Father. We’re all a part of His family. In this way, though the non-believer is ignorant of it, we share with them His sacred blood. Everyone, everywhere in this world, are God’s children. Our people were given the first covenant with Him, but there will be a new covenant for everyone, Jew and Gentile alike. Our people believe that the Messiah shall come into the world in order to smite the Gentile and set us free. But freedom from death is the purpose of the Messiah. For this reason he shall come into the world to deliver all peoples from death if they believe.”
“Why are you telling me this?” I stifled a yawn. “I know about the Universal God. You told us often enough.”
“Then you must also know that everyone, including you, has freewill, and you can choose life or death.” “Right now, Jude, you are just old enough to be accountable for your sins.”
“So,” I said, suppressing a smile, “this isn’t just about the Universal God. . . It’s about the gold.”
Jesus reached out to brush the hair out of my eyes. “Both,” he murmured, inclining his head. “God is watching the Gentiles and Jews, and He’s watching you, little brother. We’re judged by our actions, but until the Messiah comes, we—the Jews—especially so. We’re the messengers of the first covenant. We know better. You’re old enough, Jude, to be accountable for your actions. Because of our legacy, we must set an example. This includes Judah bar Joseph, the treasure hunter. You have God-given gifts. You, more than your brothers and sisters, should understand God’s will.”
I wasn’t upset with Jesus friendly rebuke. I deserved much more. All this talk about God’s nature, freewill, and my God-given gifts made me nervous, but it had been covered before, just not so early in the morning. From such lofty thought, so often expounded by my oldest brother, he chatted with me a spell about down-to-earth matters, such as Michael’s health, our over-worked mother, and my fair-weather friends. I felt very close to Jesus those moments. My favorite brother had become my best friend. We must have been talking for over an hour. Papa and Mama were probably up and about wondering were we where. As we glanced up at the trail winding around our house, Falco and Priam, the daytime guards, arrived on the scene to relieve Malchus and Probus, who were probably asleep somewhere in the hills. Jesus had begun discussing the fruit trees growing on our property and in the hills, comparing the fruit to the various peoples of the world and the trees, themselves, to each land he visited, whose soil and climate helped shape the taste and nature of the fruit. The point Jesus was making would have to wait as Priam gave him a rude greeting.
“Ave Jesus, sorcerer of Nazareth. With your magic and Rome’s muscle Nazareth has nothing to fear! ”
Bringing his fist up to his chest, Priam grinned rakishly. Jesus dropped the pomegranate he was holding and, instead of being insulted, laughed heartily at his disrespect. I wondered if the uncouth guard might be a little tipsy. Falco chided him for this brazenness, yet giggled foolishly at the thought. Perhaps, I thought, he was drunk too.
“Keep your eye on that one.” He wagged a finger at me.
“So far,” bantered Jesus, “I’ve not been able talk much sense into him, let alone magic.”
“Oh, he’s a bold lad,” Priam ruffled my hair and pinched my cheek.
“The question is,” Falco snorted, giving me a stern look, “are your friends going to show us proper respect. You mustn’t associate with the likes of them.”
“They’re not my friends,” I replied truthfully. “They spread their poison to my brothers, but Papa won’t allow James and Joseph to be disrespectful to our guards.”
“Well spoken, little Jude!” Falco took his turn messing up my hair. “And you Jesus,” he added, cheerfully poking his arm, “teach him well. Keep him away from the troublemakers in town!”
In spite of his cheerful mood, Falco had made his point. The two guards laughed jovially, giving both of us playful cuffs before swaggering down the trail. Jesus turned to me, rolled his eyes, and placed a finger before his lips, waiting until they were out of earshot before commenting on their rudeness.
“They don’t know any better,” he explained, reaching down and picking up a stick. “We have to be careful with Falco. He reports everything he hears to Regulus. Priam is genuinely fond of us Jude. Unfortunately, they both think I used sorcery to save that bird, like all the other ‘miracles’ circulating in Nazareth. Falco made it clear he doesn’t like your friends.”
“When you made it rain, it was a great miracle!” I piped enthusiastically.
“That was a long time ago.” He sighed resignedly. “I wish I had been more prudent back then. I should never have reported those incidents at sea and Levi’s cure in Gaul. All that stuff has done is create problems for our family.”
“Uh-uh.” I shook my head stubbornly. “You’ve always protected our family from bad people. You made it rain and stopped those two storms. You cured the Pharisee’s son. Before the Romans returned, you made those bandits go away.”
“All that was because of the Lord’s will, Jude, not me,” he argued, squatting down and writing in the dirt. “If God had wanted Mariah’s house to burn down, it would be ashes. If he had wanted or our ship to sink at sea, all the praying in the world would not have saved us. We would be dead. The sparrow would be also be dead, and Levi would have died. The Lord decides what’s best for the world.”
“I don’t understand,” I said, giving him a bewildered look, “I thought you said that prayers could do anything.”
God wills it!” He said forcefully. “Remember that Jude. We can never know His inscrutable
At that point, before I had a chance to tell him about my dream, Jesus stood up, strolled down the trail a ways, and began talking strangely again.
“What I learned in all those countries I traveled in, after meeting so many different kinds of people, is that folks are basically the same everywhere you go. The point of difference, not always apparent, is their country’s beliefs. The tree gives character to its fruit. In some lands, men worship animals and in others they even sacrifice their children to their gods. The Roman and Greek gods are cold, stone carvings of men and women deities that have little effect on people’s lives. Our fellow Jews are divided into four religious groups: Pharisee, Sadducee, rabbi, and zealot, none of whom understand the great need in men.”
“And what’s that?” I asked, studying his scratches in the dirt.
“Salvation,” he murmured.
He had written the Chi character—the symbol for life. After rolling so many of them last night, I wouldn’t have been impressed if he hadn’t just reminded me what it really meant.
“There’s so much I can’t tell you,” he groaned, “and so much I’m learning still.”
“I don’t understand, Jesus.” I sat down next to him in the dust. “What does this symbol have to do with other peoples in the world?”
“Nothing yet,” he answered, rising slowly to his feet, “but someday everything!”
“Jesus,” I sighed heavily, shaking my head, “that doesn’t make sense. We were talking about miracles. Salvation for a pagan world? Do the Romans even believe in heaven? Until those things you wrote to us, I was told that only Jews go to paradise. That’s what James, Joseph, and even Papa once said. Did God really tell you these strange things? . . . You still haven’t listened to my dream.”
Jesus stood there, clutching the stick and staring down at the symbol in the dust. I took his hand and led him back up the trail. He was so very deep in thought, I decided I would let the subject drop. Jesus had said some silly things this morning, just like he did in his letters. My dream was silly too. But then, as was his nature, his mood as quickly changed from grim back to light-hearted. He uttered what sounded like a hysterical laugh, ran his hand through his shoulder length brown hair, and tossed his stick to the side of the trail.
“I’m sorry Jude,” he said apologetically, a smile twitching on his face, “please tell me about your dream. Soon it will be time for breakfast. Let us find a nice shady tree.”
Beneath a large, ancient olive tree, we sat down. I felt drowsy after such an early rising but Jesus’ mood was now perky and, as always, he seemed to listen with all of his heart. His only interruption came just before I spoke. “Wait,” he said, snapping his fingers, “was that white horse in your dream?”
“No,” I answered, shaking my head and yawning, “this time I was on foot. Men were chasing me up a hill, shouting, “There he is. He’s one of them. We got him now!”
“How dreadful.” Jesus gasped.
“It was awful,” I said with a shudder, “the worst dream I ever had. This time I wasn’t sure I was dreaming.”
He seemed to be holding his breath when he asked, “Who were chasing you. How were they dressed?”
“Well, I thought they might be Romans, until they caught me. I’ve never seen guards like that.”
“They didn’t look like our sentries?” Jesus gave me a puzzled look.
“No.” I shook my head. “The man looking down at me, as they dragged me away, had a beard, peaked helmet and funny-looking clothes.”
“That could be the temple guards in Jerusalem,” he replied, staring into space, “…and they said you were one of them?”
“Yes.” I frowned. “One of whom? What did my dream mean, Jesus? Am I going to be an outlaw like Reuben, Adam, and their friends? Like those men in my dreams, will I be nailed to a cross?”
“I don’t understand,” he muttered to himself, “this time it’s different than your other dreams; it’s about you!”
I know now that the men chasing me were Persian soldiers. They were the same men, who captured me and took me before the magistrates, who placed me in the prison in which I await my fate. That moment, however, I was a frightened child, fearful of the implications in my dream. To make matters worse, Jesus jumped up, highly agitated, and screamed to the heavens, “Why Lord? Take this gift from him—he’s just a child?”
I almost started bawling. As he turned back, tears gleaming in his blue eyes, I felt as if my future held great peril, until he smiled bravely and gave me a long, back-patting hug.
“How very strange,” he muttered aloud. “It doesn’t make sense—even to me…. It’s just a nightmare Jude. You’re mind is very creative. Perhaps you saw those men somewhere. Often nightmares are shadowy images of real-life events.” “Ask yourself this question,” he brightened, “if you were a bandit or insurrectionist, why wouldn’t it be Romans chasing you? Why would it be temple guards?”
“I’ve never seen those kind’ve men.” I answered, feeling his body shudder with a sigh. “…Why would I have such a terrible dream?”
Jesus didn’t answer this time. Breaking away gently, he wiped his eyes, brushed the hair off his forehead again and led me through the trees. As we walked beneath the branches, morning shadows and dawn’s light played upon his face as he thought about my dream. Perhaps, a portion of revelation, in which the temple priests did, in fact, arrive in Gethsemane to arrest him, flashed though his mind, but he remained silent. I was satisfied with his explanation, if not interpretation, for my nightmare. After all, I reasoned, Jesus couldn’t lie. Today, I know differently, but those moments, I trusted him.
“Next time,” I promised him, “I’ll concentrate on my horse. I’ll picture him my head like you told me to do. If I have another bad dream, I’ll remember what you said. Only Romans chase Jews, not those silly temple guards.”
Jesus smiled, placing his arm around my shoulders, as we approached the house.
“You have great gifts Jude,” he said, as we paused several paces from the door, “a memory that never fails and something else I don’t yet understand. I must trust God’s will, for its seems as though he has given a child the gift of prophecy. This last time, it might have to do with your conscience. For you see, Jude, dreams also teach. Perhaps God, using symbols, like the Chi sign, that means life, was using those men who were chasing you, to mean guilt.”
“And death,” I swallowed, shivering at the thought.
Gazing off momentarily before opening the door, he replied ominously, “The wages of sin are death.” “But you’re a child,” he added quickly, “and I know you’ll live righteously.” “Enough,” he whispered self-consciously, “this is a secret—for just you and me!”
“Did God tell you this?” I persisted as we entered the room. “How can you be so sure?”
“I’ve always known,” I thought I heard him say.
And yet, as I look back in time, I recall doubt on his face, which seems inappropriate for the Son of God. Could he have had a glimmer of his godhood then? When I asked him if God told him I would live righteously, what did he mean when he answered, “I’ve always known?” Would that not make him God? This question would not have dawned on me as a child, and yet even now in my cell, awaiting my fate, grappling with Jesus words and Paul’s writings, I still find this difficult to understand.
“Let’s not talk about this with the others,” his frown now said to me. Inside the awakening house, my brothers, who had just been shaken from their nests, stood scratching and grumbling amongst themselves. Uriah, wide awake, and waiting for his breakfast, jumped up from the table and ran to us, as my parents, in muted conversation glanced our way. With the exception of Uriah, who was without guile, looks of suspicion spread in the room, until my family were all standing in the dim morning light staring at Jesus and I, wondering why we had snuck out of the house at the crack of dawn.
“Jude and I had a nice walk,” Jesus announced promptly. “Priam and Falco are early risers. We met our guards on the trail.”
I was so stimulated by our conversation I couldn’t speak. When Uriah began prattling about Michael, I barely heard him. Would I have another revelation tonight? I wondered, my head swimming with Jesus’ words. I hoped it wouldn’t be like my dream last night. Papa was good-naturedly asking Jesus why we got up so early, while Mama was bending down to ask me what was wrong. I heard Papa tell Jesus that a short while ago Michael had screamed and awakened the entire house. Mama had checked in on him and found him sleeping peacefully. The terrible dreams and specter of Michael in our house seemed intolerable to me. What if he never awakened and stayed in his twilight sleep? What if Joachim died and Uriah became fixture in our house? Would he become a dreadful pest? Would Rhoda join our household too? What if Michael finally awakened, found Papa’s sword and murdered us all in our sleep?
Suddenly, as I tried to form a sentence for Mama, the room began to reel, as it had the previous day when I was overwhelmed by guilt and greed. I was still plagued by guilt and greed, but it was fear and anxiety that overwhelmed me then. Once again I fainted dead away. Mama and Uriah cried out as I tumbled down the dark tunnel to unconsciousness. After an unknown period of time, I opened my eyes to see the faces of my brothers and parents surrounding me. I was lying on the floor. Uriah was whimpering somewhere out of sight. After a brief moment, Jesus face loomed over my face, and a wet rag was pressed on my forehead. Mama was holding a small flask that I assumed were her smelling salts, and Papa held a mug of water or juice. As I was lifted up into a sitting position by James and Joseph, Papa pressed the mug to my lips. I slurped down the pomegranate juice—my favorite—and almost emptied the mug. I remember feeling a light-headed euphoria, similar perhaps to Papa’s wine in the effect my condition had on me. Jesus said a prayer of thanksgiving but also concern as I looked around through half-closed eyes, smiling crookedly at my family and friend.
“Jesus,” Mama’s voice quivered with emotion, “you know things we don’t know. What’s wrong with Jude? You talked to him this morning. Please tell me what’s troubling my youngest son?”
“The most important thing,” Jesus answered without hesitation, “is his dreams. Jude seems to have the gift of prophecy. His dreams foretell the future or so it seems. He’s told me about places that he couldn’t possibly know, but it’s the people, places, and events that haven’t happened yet that are troubling.” “Added to this,” Jesus included, giving me a gentle pat, “are the worries of growing up in our family. Just the other night bandits tried to break into our house. By the grace of God, we’ve provided refuge and care for two lost souls, whose presence has caused great problems in our dealing with neighbors and friends. At times, Jude can’t deal with the overload of dark information in his mind. Thanks to the explanation I gave him, he now feels responsible for these visions. Jude must understand that he can change, through freewill, even revelation, if it’s God’s will. The mere fact that such visions come so randomly, should tell us this.”
Jesus stopped short of telling them about my guilt and greed, and yet he managed to speak the truth. It was one of his many gifts that he could, without actually lying, dodge the truth. The wrinkles at the corner of Papa’s eyes, as he smiled, made me wonder if he already knew. Everyone else had popeyed, slack-jawed expressions after hearing Jesus’ words.
“What exactly did Jude’s prophecy foretell?” Joseph was skeptical. “Jude’s never even read the Torah or shown the least shred of piety. Why would the Lord use his head as a vessel for revelations?”
“That was two questions—neither of which can be answered like that.” Jesus snapped his fingers. “What do you think prophecy is, Joseph? Have you read Daniel, Isaiah, and Ezekiel? Much of their writing is in symbols and language, they themselves barely understood.”
“You compare him to Daniel or Isaiah?” James snarled. “Jude’s still a child.”
“I know,” Jesus said with a sigh, “I told him that. I’m going to pray, and let’s all pray to God that these dark visions leave Jude’s mind. He’s too young to be dreaming about distant and disturbing events even an adult such as Daniel or Isaiah couldn’t comprehend.”
“You use a lot of big words,” Uriah interrupted stupidly.
As Papa carried me to the table, I complained that I was hungry, which caused hysterical laughter from everyone in the room. “That’s a healthy sign,” he chortled, setting me on the bench. Uriah and Jesus sat on each side of me to hold me in place. Simon reached across uncharacteristically to pat my wrist, as James and Joseph seemed to be looking at me with newfound respect. The twins had been setting at the table during this entire episode and resumed their chore, as Mama portioned out chopped fruit, hot bread, and cheese. We listened impatiently to a short blessing by Papa at the head of the table, before attacking our food. Still muddle-headed from my ordeal, I could barely understand Papa’s blessing or the chatter around me. The imprint of Jesus explanation for my swoon was my mooring to reality. I heard him whisper into my ear the comforting words, “for now on, ignore your dark dreams. They’re nightmares, that’s all, like all bad dreams you’ve had, just more interesting. What’s worse, being chased by men or seeing a lot of strange, silly things?”
Though these seemed like two different things, this made desperate sense to me. I grabbed this mooring and held onto it. For now on, I would remember Jesus’ words, and dispel my visions with his logic. Unfortunately, of course, my visions, including my dream of being chased, would all one day come true.
As I had before when my head nearly exploded from too much thought, I recovered quickly. After breakfast, a circle prayer was said for me, each of us, including myself, praying that the nonsense leave my head, and Jesus, in splendid form, asking the Lord to channel his messages from my head into his head if it be His will. Papa, who was perplexed by the whole affair, seemed both angry and sympathetic. There was also a twinge of amusement in his voice. Of all of his sons, I was the most like him. Now this! While giving me a mug of juice, he muttered in frustration to himself. I couldn’t hear his words only see his mannerisms, as if he was silently crying out “not another visionary son!” Despite this, so characteristic of Papa when it came to me, he also chuckled under his breath. Mama, with a look of resignation, treated the matter very calmly after Jesus’ prayer. Considering everyone, especially Jesus’ support, I felt that I was in good hands, and, after eating heartily, ran off with Uriah and Simon to begin our chores.
We would have an eventful day, and I wanted to get my work done. Mama and Papa planned to pay a visit to Samuel and his secret guest during the noon rest. Because Uriah would want to tag along, I didn’t know if they would let my brothers and I accompany them. Coincidentally, as Uriah, Simon and I charged out the door, Regulus, optio for the southwestern sector of Nazareth, reigned in his horse, dismounting by our gate. Disarming us immediately with the explanation that he was going to visit his men, I ran in the house to get him a mug of juice with such spirit no one would have suspected I had been unconscious only a short while ago. Papa, who had returned to his work, had seen the optio, too, and anticipated my move. As I began exiting the back door, he was already bringing him a mug of wine. No matter, I thought, taking the mug of pomegranate juice into the shop to drink it at my leisure. Romans didn’t like fruit juice; they wanted wine. Hopefully it would put the high-strung Regulus at ease.
“Are you all right now?” Jesus asked, as I began my work.
I really had no desire to work in the carpenter’s shop, but to impress Jesus I nodded enthusiastically as I sanded a table leg. Not wanting another splinter, I had wedged my sleeve over the top of the sander to avoid contact with the wood.
“Thank you, Jesus,” I said, through gasps of air. “I hope my thoughts don’t explode your skull.”
“Slow down,” he said, laughing softly to himself. “Just brush the wood evenly like this,” he demonstrated moving his wrist gently over his palm. “That may be a clever way to protect yourself from splinters,” he explained, tying a string quickly around my sleeve, “but you’re losing control of the sander and damaging the wood.”
“Whoops!” I made a face. “Did I damage the leg?”
“No, not yet,” he said, placing the sander back in my hand. “Jude,” he changed the subject discreetly looking over at Uriah and Simon as they labored awkwardly at their chores. “I asked the Lord to transfer your visions into my head, but it was only a request. You do understand that I added ‘if it be your will’ to my prayer? You might still have dark visions, if it’s not His will.”
“I don’t understand why God’s picking on me,” I said petulantly. “I’m just a boy. Why doesn’t he pick on James and Joseph—they’re older than me? Why’s the Lord putting all that nonsense in my head? I scarcely get a decent night’s sleep!”
“Walk with me.” He motioned impatiently. “. . . . In the first place,” he said from the corner of his mouth as we settled on the garden bench, “God is not picking on you. For some reason He’s chosen you, perhaps because of your incredible memory to hold these revelations in your head.”
“No, no, that’s awful!” I held my hands over my ears.
“Jude,” Jesus scolded testily, “stop acting like a child!”
As I drummed my feet on the dirt and made la-la-la noises to drown out his words, he pulled my hands from my ears, clamped a hand over my mouth, and shouted angrily into my face “Listen to me, you ungrateful child. You can’t dispel me like that. I’m not one of your dream images. Open your eyes and stop scrunching up your face. I’m not going away!”
“You said I wouldn’t have anymore bad dreams,” I began blubbering uncontrollably. “You always add ‘it’s the Lord’s will’ whenever something goes wrong like Nehemiah’s death. What does that mean ‘it’s the Lord’s will?’ Why wouldn’t God pick you for those awful visions?”
“Pshaw!” Jesus uttered, waving his hand. “My minds filled with a constant stream of images. You have no idea. You were a mere observer in your dreams. I’ve seen and heard things in my head directly related to me.”
“What? Tell me what!” I leaned forward, disarmed by this admission.
“That’s just the point,” he exhaled raggedly. “I don’t know what it means. All this has come about after that fateful day with the bird. A gate opened in my head, like the Pandora’s box of Greek myth, letting out God’s mysteries and revelations. Though I recognize some people and places, most of the time I’m seeing things to come, not things that are. I’ve seen the same sort of dark symbols in the books of the prophets. For reasons I don’t understand Jude, God works in such mysterious ways. A monster rising out the sea, is not a monster at all but Satan, himself, in Daniel’s words. Just so are the scenes we see in our dreams that may have an entirely different meaning when compared to visions that follow.” “Think of this my brother,” his voice constricted. “I have these visions night and day, asleep or awake—always. . . as a constant stream.”
Not knowing that Jesus, in his youth, was struggling with his Godhood, I still sensed his divinity in what Samuel saw as being touched by God. Believing that this was a terrible albeit wondrous thing, I reached out to my oldest brother to steady his trembling hand only to find my entire body shaking progressively, “I’m sorry, Jesus,” I found myself saying, a feeling of weightlessness overtaking me as the words left my lips. “Your burden is much greater than mine. I’ll share God’s visions with you.”
I could tell that Jesus had been greatly moved. For a moment, I thought I felt myself falling into another swoon, and his expression turned to concern. In a latter day, I would know a similar experience as the Holy Ghost, but now the Lamb sat before me alive and well. He watched me for a moment, until he was satisfied I was all right. Mama had looked out the door a few times but had not interrupted our discussion until seeing my light-headed response to Jesus’ implications of his divinity. Perhaps he was silent those moments because he knew he had said too much.
“Is he all right?” She asked through cupped hands.
“Yes, Mama,” Jesus replied, gently helping me to my feet. “Jude and I were having a nice chat.”
“That didn’t sound nice to me,” she responded nervously. “You both were shouting. Is everything all right?”
“Yes, Mama,” I said, as Jesus gripped my shoulders to steady my walk. “We were talking about my bad dreams.”
“Say a prayer before you doze off,” she called airily. “That always works for me.”
Jesus suggested that I follow Mama’s advice, but couldn’t promise that I wouldn’t have another vision when I fell asleep. After hearing about Jesus non-stop revelations, I couldn’t complain. That moment I remembered Jesus familiar admonition “you mustn’t kick against the goads!” For the remainder of the work period, I sanded diligently, answering questions from Uriah and Simon about my state of mind with half-truths, but never telling them exactly what Jesus said.