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Chapter Thirty-Two






          That very hour on the road to Jericho, a man approached us with his demon-possessed son.  To test his disciples, Jesus turned the demoniac boy over to John and his brother James, who had been acting high and mighty.  Peter, trying to hide his smugness, then tried his hand at it.  When the three men failed and asked Jesus why, he rebuked them: “Because you have so little faith.  Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to a mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Though Jesus didn’t say so, it was, I believe, a lesson in humility.  The rest of us, particularly Judas, had to stifle our mirth.

          Not long after this episode, during the late afternoon, we approached the walled city of Jericho.  Recalling the story of Joshua, I tried to picture its one time glory before Joshua’s army breached its walls and laid waste to its inhabitants.  According to an unknown prophet who wrote about Joshua’s exploits, the conquest was made possible by the information the harlot Rehab supplied Joshua’s spies.  With this information, Joshua was able to conquer Jericho and put it to the torch.  I’ve often wondered why our ancestors had to kill all nonbelievers.  Every man, woman, child, and animal was slaughtered in Jericho—the first Canaanite city to be destroyed by Joshua and his men.  Why is it that a lowly harlot, who betrayed her people and is responsibility for their extermination, is honored by the prophets?  With these thoughts in my head, I was happy to see its ‘resurrection’ into the great and lavish city (second only to Jerusalem) it now was.  Unlike our entrance into Bethabara, where we were greeted by a proportionately larger groups of Jews, we found ourselves surrounded by a mixture of Gentile and Jewish citizens similar to the cities of Decapolis, who paid us little mind.  As we appeared on the main thoroughfare, we were just one more dusty band of travelers passing through Jericho’s east gate.

          There was, as in Hippo, Roman architecture in all quarters of the city, but on a greater and more numerous scale.  According to my own knowledge, which I shared with them, King Herod built his summer palace here during the reign of Emperor Augustus.  There were villas for rich merchants, both Gentile and Jew, scattered throughout the city, as well as temples to Roman and Greek gods.  Why Jesus would want to visit this city, none of us dared ask.  Added to its pagan artwork and shrines, which offended most of us, was the unfriendly attitude of its citizens we had encountered so far.  They weren’t actually rude, as Jesus pointed out.  They just didn’t care.

          As Jesus led us down the street, Peter exclaimed, “Master, this city is too big.  How are we going to manage this busy town?”

          “We managed Jerusalem.” Jesus shrugged. “We can manage Jericho as well.”

          “What is your plan?” asked the Rock.

          “Plan?” Jesus raised an eyebrow. “There you go again Peter, thinking like a Pharisee.  I have no plan, only God’s words in my head.”

          “Oh yes, I forgot.” He heaved a sigh. “Constant revelation.”

          “But master,” John ventured this time, “were shall we sleep tonight.  When shall we eat?”

          “You of little faith,” Jesus replied irritably. “Jericho is on the way to Judea.  We’re just passing through.  Like the wayfarer passing through an orchard—the fruit will be at hand.  What we glean here will come easily.  There will be no multitude or idling crowds.”

          “Uh Jesus,” Judas mumbled, tapping his shoulder, “what about food?”

          “Your packs are filled with bread and cheese,” he waved dismissively. “Tonight you shall have a proper feast.”

          “We will?” Philip wrinkled his nose. “Where?  We have little money.  Who will feed strangers in this town?”

          “Philip,” Jesus raised a finger. “Remember the mustard seed.  Have faith!”

          By the way he looked around now, it appeared as if Jesus was looking for someone.  It was encouraging to hear that we would eat well tonight, but where in this crowded, bustling town were we going to be fed?



          The disciples followed Jesus protectively—behind him and on each side of him in a half-circle,  as he wandered among the people.  Then suddenly, when were about midway through town, Jesus was accosted by another batch of Pharisees and scribes.  Twelve groans, including my own, were uttered that moment.  Not one of the towns we had visited was free of these self-righteous men.  Just when we expected another unpleasant series of insults from our adversaries, however, these religious men gave Jesus a friendly greeting, the friendliest reception we had receive so far in this town.  Jesus returned the greeting of peace.

          A young Pharisee from the crowd stepped forth and asked him a soul-jarring question: “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

There had been sarcasm in the Pharisee’s voice, but nothing like some of Jesus’ antagonists before.  Jesus turned to the speaker, pausing only a moment as he thought of a reply.  “In our scriptures,” he asked the Pharisee, “what is the essence of our belief.  Though a man of the law, how would you read this?”

“Do not sin, and obey the commandments,” the Pharisee answered quickly.

“Wrong.” Jesus shook his head.

“Love God and shun evil,” the Pharisee tried again.

“Wrong again.” He laughed softly.

“Your question is too general,” complained the Pharisee. “I could recite our laws and traditions.  I have even remembered scriptures word for word.  Teacher, what exactly do you mean?  What does this have to do with eternal life?”

Forbearingly Jesus replied, “It has everything to do with it.  Look around at your people, whom you serve.  Think about your loved ones.  What are your feelings toward God?  Your thoughts are lost in the law.  One word escapes you.  The answer is written in your heart, not in the law.”

The audience that had gathered, which had been mumbling amongst themselves, became deathly silent as the Pharisee responded.  His cynical tone had vanished entirely.  “I remember now,” his voice was filled with emotion.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.”

“And what else?” Jesus prodded him. “What is the second half?”

Without hesitation, the Pharisee declared, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus said with great conviction.  “Do this and you will have eternal life!”

The Pharisee stepped back, with bowed head as if in thought.   In his place, recognized by his clothes, a scribe asked in a mocking tone, “Who is my neighbor? We have many races in Jericho: Jews, Greeks, Syrians, Egyptians, and Romans.”

“All men and women are your neighbors,” Jesus explained, looking out at the crowd. “All people are children of God.” 

That very moment after this statement, which caused a collective gasp, he seemed to look over the heads of the listeners directly at someone in a tree.  I saw the little man immediately and silently pointed him out to Bartholomew, as he stood there by his mule.  How he climbed up that large oak I couldn’t imagine.  It was several cubits from the ground to the first large limb where he sat.  Looking back at the spectators gathering in the town square, I had shared my fellow disciples’ misgivings about this latest encounter with Pharisees and scribes, but now, after a brief introduction of preaching, he was doing what he did best: telling stories.  He was, I believe, a master story teller as well as preacher, and sometimes, as it happened now, the parable worked better than lecturing to such a crowd.

Instead of preaching the good news to the crowd this time, Jesus gave them a parable, one of the greatest given by our Lord.

Glancing up at the man in the tree again, he walked among the people, toward the oak, speaking to the crowd in a light-hearted conversational tone:

“A man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him, and then went away, thinking he was dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  And yet a Samaritan, whom the Jews considered unclean, happened to be traveling that way, arriving at the location where the man was.  Unlike the priest and Levite, who, like the victim, were Jews, the Samaritan took pity upon him when he saw him, and he went immediately to him, bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.  Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and left him in the care of the innkeeper.  The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Continue to look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’”

Turning to the scribe now, he asked, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The scribe remained silent, pondering the meaning of his story but said nothing.  The young Pharisee, however, looked up and said, in a solemn voice, “The one who had mercy on him—the Samarian.”

Reaching out to grip his shoulders, Jesus replied in a loud voice, “Go and do likewise!”



As he paused below the tree, we followed his gaze up to the first limb.  The little man sat up there, staring with illumination at the preacher.  At times, I noted, it was as if Jesus was speaking directly to him, not merely the Pharisee and scribe.   What made it directly and suddenly personal was when Jesus called up in a loud voice, “Zacchaeus, come down!”

“Teacher.” Zacchaeus broke into tears. “I’m a sinner—a publican.  What do you want of me?”

“You are rich man, Zacchaeus,” Jesus said, raising his arms as though he might just pluck him from his precarious position. “The Spirit of the Lord brought you here.  My disciples are weary.  I am weary. Would you give us supper and lodging tonight?

“Yes, Teacher, I am honored,” Zacchaeus sputtered. “My house is your house.  I’m your servant.  I shall run home and alert my cook, who’ll make you a fine feast!” 

The Pharisees and scribes in the crowd reacted as we expected.  At this point, many other people in the audience, who had been silent, were also outraged.  It had been the same reaction Jesus received for singling out Matthew.  The very thought that a Jew, let alone a religious teacher, would eat in the house of a tax collector, caused them to grumble and shake their heads.  Zacchaeus knew very well what this meant, but it didn’t matter to him.  The first Pharisee and first scribe we encountered had disappeared into the crowd, but there were many other men in religious raiment, including, for the first time, priests, who pushed forward to protest and shake their fists.  

“This Jesus is supposed to be a righteous man, and yet he will be the guest of a sinner!” exclaimed a priest.

“This man isn’t righteous,” a portly Pharisee shouted. “He consorts with Zacchaeus, a bloodsucking tax collector—an agent of Rome!”

“All people are sinners,” Jesus began preaching again. “All fall short as Adam.  They who rejected the Samaritan, are not righteous.  No one is saved by the law!”

This last insult to the old order rankled the Pharisees, scribes, and priests the most.   Zacchaeus must have been fearful of leaving the safety of his tree.  To make matters worse for us, Simon pointed out two temple agents standing in the background.  Right at that moment many of the disciples, including myself, wished we could join Zacchaeus on his limb.  Would they stone Jesus now?  We asked each other.  Once again Jesus had hit a religious nerve.

“You dare challenge our laws!” a third Pharisees cried out in a wounded voice.  “All of you heard it; he claims that no one is saved by the law. That’s heresy and blasphemy. You arrive off the desert with your unwashed band as if you’re a prophet and great teacher.  No prophet of our faith would say such a thing!”

The accusation having shifted from Jesus association with sinners to his attitude on the law, several other men shouted similar charges.  One man, we identified as a priest, even tore his raiment and shook his fists.  The disciples, as poor Zacchaeus, were encircled now by the crowd.  Most people in the crowd appeared to be simple folk—a mixed crowd of Jews and Gentiles of all ages, including young children. 

Rising above the noise of dissenters in the crowd, Jesus deep, resonant voice now drowned out the loudest critic.

“I haven’t come to abolish the Law or the Prophets,” he argued. ”I’ve come to fulfill them.  Until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.  Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

This rebuttal by Jesus seemed somewhat conciliatory, and yet it had little effect on the hardliners in the crowd.  Inspired by his tone, a second scribe called out spitefully, “You can’t fool us, teacher. Your honeyed words belie your intent to corrupt these good people.  Who are you to speak for God?”

“It’s doublespeak—that’s what it is!” A finely dressed merchant stepped forth. “In one breath he tears down our law and in the next, to regain our trust, he raises it up, but this can’t fool our people.  We love our tradition and the faith of our fathers.  In time, the people will see through this rogue!”

Today wasn’t the day Jesus would chastise the Pharisees and scribes.  Ignoring the last outbursts, he turned to the crowds and asked them what they thought.

“I agree with you, rabbi,” an old woman shouted, “you’re indeed a prophet.”

“Yes,” a young man agreed, “and one of us!”

“I’ve heard of this fellow.” An elder now came forward. “This is Jesus, the miracle worker from Nazareth, who restored sight and hearing, made bodies whole, and raised up the dead.  As you can see, Jesus is more than just a preacher, prophet or healer.  I’ve never heard such authority in a voice.  No one ever spoke like this man.  He’s the spokesman for our God!”

“Yes, he’s God’s voice.” A young woman nodded enthusiastically. “None but the Messiah could speak such words!”

Jesus’ supporters silenced the hardliners.  Inspired and appreciated as the elder’s observation was, the young woman’s claim outshone his words.  The number of critics here in Jericho was small for a city of this size.  Our fears for Jesus’ safety was replaced with joy.  Hands reached out to touch him and a few people stopped briefly to express their approval of him, but most passed by quietly with looks of respect and awe.  Finally, as the crowd dispersed, Peter and Andrew, with Jesus coaxing, reached up to Zacchaeus, who beamed down with relief.

“I’m Peter, a disciple of Jesus,” said the Rock. “We’re Jesus’ disciples.  Step on my shoulders and Andrew will lift you down.

Lowering himself down, clutching adjoining branches, trembling with expectation and fatigue, he stepped down upon Peter’s shoulders, and then found his small frame cradled in the arms of Andrew, who spoke gently to him, as if he was a child, “Come, join us.  We’re on our way to Jerusalem.  Don’t be afraid, Zacchaeus, we were all frightened once.  Jesus is guarded by the Most High…. He’s the Messiah and Son of God!”



That evening in the home of Zacchaeus, Jesus and his twelve disciples sat around a sumptuous table of lamb, lentils, savory soup, and sweet meats.  Looking around the table after the Shema had been spoken and the food blessed, Jesus focused upon his host, speaking to all, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, Zacchaeus, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

          I listened to Zacchaeus tell his story that night.  After following the trade of his father, he had grown rich as a publican but he had never felt close to God.  Tax collectors, by the definition of our people, were outside the fold—lost sheep beyond redemption.  So Zacchaeus lived like a Gentile, most of whom cared little for their gods.  Now he knew his life would never be the same, and yet he didn’t know what to make of the strange man at his table.  I understand his wonder.  Many converts, including myself, had found it hard to accept.  How could any mortal be the Messiah, let alone the Son of God?  How could anyone be God’s son?

As Jesus and his disciples slumbered in Zacchaeus’ house, I had trouble falling asleep.  Rising up from my pallet, I walked into Zacchaeus’ verdant garden and saw him staring up at the sky

Turning to me, he asked the question we all had asked. “Where will Jesus lead me now?”

“Jesus is going to pick seventy more followers,” I quickly answered. “I’m certain he’ll pick you.  Like his disciples, he plans to send them out to spread the word.  Your life will never be the same!”

“I know one thing for certain.” He looked up at me. “I must follow him.  His words gave me peace and a new purpose.  The magistrates in Jericho will have to find someone else to fleece the citizens.  In the morning I’ll ask Glaucus, the prefect, to dismiss my guards.  I’ll sell my house and goods and give a bag of gold to Jesus for the disciples and the poor.  This should please Jesus and help make up for all those years I served Rome.”

In the morning, as his guests rested up and Jesus chatted with a friendly delegation of townsmen, Zacchaeus excused himself quietly and left to take care of his affairs.  I would learn later from him that the prefect was quite upset with his decision to quit his post.  As Zacchaeus explained afterward while accompanying us on the road to Jerusalem, he told Glaucus that he must leave Jericho and return to Alexandria to care for his ailing mother.  It was, of course, an outright lie, he admitted, but he wouldn’t dare tell the prefect the truth.  The long checkered road leading to his role as a publican had ended when he climbed that tree and heard Jesus’ shout. Satisfied with himself, as he joined our procession, he looked back once more at Jericho, heaved a sigh, and stepped on the path to a new life. 




          We had in our company of followers after Zacchaeus joined the Way, two ex-publicans, an ex-prostitute, a onetime temple spy, and a disciple who was once a highwayman and thief.  Though we didn’t know it yet, we also had a betrayer in our midst.  Despite what I sensed when I watched and listened to Judas, I realized that he loved Jesus.  That evening, when he heard Jesus dreadful prediction, he refused to accept it.

After we set up camp, ate a snack, and sat in reflection around the fire, Jesus spoke about his death again: “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, who will kill him, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.” 

Peter, the first disciple to jump to his feet, questioned these dreadful words  “Master,” he cried out, “why tell us this?  How could God’s son be killed by mortal men?  Do you think we’ll standby and let that happen?”

          “You have no control over this,” explained Jesus gloomily, “neither do I?”

          “Will I can’t believe it!” Judas sneered. “You’re tired and worn down Jesus.  You mustn’t let those Pharisees, scribes, and priests get you down.”

          Judas, having spoken our minds, was nevertheless rebuked by Jesus.  “What would you have me do?” He waved irritably. “Turn from God?  You and the others who counsel retreat don’t understand the Lamb of God.”  I-have-no-choice!” he added succinctly.

          “Jesus!” I cried out. “What do you mean ‘you have no choice?’  God gave us free choice.  Why would He let you be killed?”

          “Enough!” Jesus held up his hand.

          Rising angrily to his feet, he stormed away from the campfire and disappeared into the night.  The impression left upon us was that Jesus was being forced to do something he didn’t want to do.  We understood his desire to follow scripture.  Isaiah’s suffering servant appeared to be his model.  That it was God’s will made no difference to us that moment.  All that mattered was Jesus’ frame of mind.  With each passing day, his mood worsened.  Two questions remained unanswered.  Why would a merciful God want his son killed?  More specifically, why did Jesus think He wanted him killed?  It made no sense to any of us.  We hadn’t fully grasped the significance of the two halves of our religion: the old faith where animals were sacrificed in the temple and the new faith where the Lamb of God would be sacrificed for our sins.  The notion of such a blood sacrifice was almost too barbaric to imagine. 

          “It reminds me of those pagan Canaanites who sacrificed their children,” I said reflectively.

          “Not quite,” James frowned. “They burned them alive to satisfy the whim of their gods.”

          “Oh that’s dreadful!” Zacchaeus groaned.

          “I know it’s not the same,” I replied, “but it’s still a form of sacrifice.  How else can you explain the fact that he’s the Lamb of God?”

          “The whole thing is barbaric,” Bartholomew made a face. “I avoided that slaughterhouse of a temple all my life.”

          “I never liked it,” I snarled. “That’s what makes this all the worse.”

          “Well, we can’t change his mind,” Peter shrugged. “He seems dead set on it.”

          “Yes, dead is the key word,” James nodded, “but I don’t agree.  There has to be someway we can stop him.” 

          “How?” asked Philip. “We’ve never been able to stop him before!”

          “That’s true,” John grumbled, “he just gets angry.  “What did he say to Peter, when you tried to stop him?”

“Get thee behind me Satan!” said Peter. “That upset me very much.  It’s no use trying to change his mind.  When you do, you’re tempting him.  In his mind, you’re doing the work of Satan.” 

“He doesn’t like that.” John’s brother shook his head.

“His course is set,” Andrew concluded, “right into a storm!”

“Yeah.” Simon looked thoughtfully into the dark. “He’s bound and determined.  I’ve been around the priests and their Levite agents. They’re constantly on the lookout for heresy.  In their minds’ eye Jesus is the biggest heretic of them all.”

“They had it in for him from the very beginning,” observed Thomas. “Everywhere we go they’re waiting for him—those graybeards and scribes.  Why does he have to confront them at every turn?”

“He does it on purpose,” I said, staring into the flames. “I’ve never seen him so reckless.  You had it right, Andrew.  It’s as if he’s deliberately sailing into a storm.  Much of it is his own making.”

Peter looked around the group.  “We mustn’t forget whose sailing the boat.  As much as we don’t like it, Jesus’ mind is set.  In his thinking, if we try to stop him, we’re defying God.”



          Though it was blackest night so far for us, no one left the camp to find Jesus.  We were tempted to go after him, but Peter’s memory of Jesus’ admonition stopped us cold.  No one wanted to be a tool of Satan.  Jesus had slipped away like this before, Peter reminded us.  Usually, however, the moon was out to light his path.  Tonight there was only cold, distant starlight.  Along with all of his other gifts, Jesus must have bee able to see in the dark.  

Finally, after lying on my pallet between James and Bartholomew pondering on Jesus’ fate, I fell into a troubled sleep.  In the past I usually had silly, meaningless dreams, but every once in awhile, I was beset by nightmares, some too hideous to describe.  After such black contemplation, tonight was one of those times.  I found myself in a lonely barren place.  The sky was strangely tranquil.  A full moon peeked through the clouds, allowing subdued light on the scene below.  I had dreamed something similar to this before when Jesus and I were youths but Jesus had downplayed this nightmare.  Now, as I recalled the earlier dream, I was filled with great dread.  In the distance there were three shadowy crosses.  Below them, a handful of people stood vigil beneath the middle cross.  The dark outlines of men hung from the crossbeams.  Romans stood by looking up at the middle cross.  One of the soldiers, who turned to face me, had a familiar face.  It was Longinus…. I knew at once who the middle man was.    

          “No,” I cried out, “this can’t be!  They can’t crucify the Son of God!” 

          Shaken awake by James, I lie there staring up into the face of Jesus.

          “That-that was awful!” I stammered

Upon hearing those terrible words, James eyes were wide with shock. 

“Did you hear that, Jesus?” he sputtered. “Why would he say such a thing?”

          “Shush!” Jesus clamped his hands on both of our mouths. “Jude dreamed this before.  It’s a forewarning.  Only God will decide my fate.”

          Jerking away from his hand, I asked, “Can a forewarning be changed?  You can’t lie Jesus.  Why would I dream this again?”

          “Again?” James mumbled. “What did you dream?”

          “You dreamed this because you’re worried,” Jesus explained calmly. “How many times in our lives have we seen men hanging from crosses?  Too many.  Nightmares, as is their nature, bring out our worst fears.”

          “Why me?” I groaned. “Why can’t I dream normal nightmares of monsters and fiends?  I’ve worried about you so much, Jesus.  Now I have this in my head.”

          “You must stop worrying,” Jesus insisted. “I’m just glad you didn’t shout this out.  Fortunately, Bartholomew sleeps like the dead.  I’m sorry you dreamed that, Jude, and you heard those words James, but I don’t want the others alarmed.  They’ll see it as a bad omen.  They have enough on their minds.” “Promise me, both of you.” He placed his hands on both of our heads. “You mustn’t bring this subject up around the others.  Discuss with it with each other, but keep this to yourselves!”

          When Jesus slipped away again, James and I broke into excited murmurs.

          “What did Jesus mean by ‘hanging on crosses’?” he shook my arm. “Tell me about your nightmare,” he demanded. “I have a right to know!”

          “What you heard was nothing,” I shuddered. “It gets much worse.”

          James listened intently, whistling under his breath and shaking his head.  After sharing my nightmare with him, he lie there silently a moment.

          “…We must trust Jesus,” he whispered hesitantly. “…. It’s obvious why we have to keep this to ourselves.  Let’s hope and pray that Jesus’ fears have been unfounded and your nightmare is a forewarning, not prophecy.”

          “… What if it is prophecy?” I murmured fretfully. “What if he will be killed?  Jesus appears to deliberately provoke his enemies.  It’s as if he’s encouraging and inviting his destruction!”

          James repeated his refrain, “We must trust Jesus,” and, like Jesus tried to downplay my dream, but nothing could wipe away the thoughts in my mind…. I had the same dream twice: once as a child and once as an adult.  If this was merely a warning, then I must do everything in my power to prevent it from happening.  How I might do this alone, I couldn’t yet imagine, but I must try!



Though I would obey Jesus demand that I keep my nightmare secret, I decided to enlist the support of three men, I knew would agree with my decision to prevent his death: Bartholomew, Matthew, and Simon.  Judas would join such a pact, but he was too unstable and might run amuck.  My notion sounded insane to Bartholomew and Matthew, but Simon immediately agreed.

“How do you plan on stopping Jesus?” challenged Bartholomew. “He’ll interpret this as mutiny, an attempt to spoil his purpose on earth!”

“I don’t care,” I said, folding my arms, “Jesus is following the prophecy of Isaiah, not God.  I read that scroll.  God doesn’t want his son dead.  I never liked Isaiah’s passages about the suffering servant.  It’s gloomy and unreasonable.  Isaiah’s was contradictory in giving us two separate Messiahs.  It’s because of his prophecy about the conquering Messiah, in fact, that Jesus has so many enemies.  I blame this entire mess on him, not God.  God is merciful.  He wouldn’t allow him to be killed!”

“You’ve convinced me,” Simon nodded. “At first I thought it exciting to hear him attack the Pharisees, scribes, and priests.  Now, I think he’s going too far.  We were lucky that the people sided with us in Jericho.  If we go to Jerusalem, as he plans on doing, he might not be so fortunate.’

“How are you going to stop Jesus?” Matthew raised an eyebrow. “Unless, we physically restrain him, which is impossible with those fishermen at his side, we have to change his mind.”

“He said he wanted to see Capernaum one more time.” I suddenly recalled. “That was a week ago.  I didn’t like the sound of ‘one more time,’ but I’ll remind him of that goal.  The problem is we’re on the Jerusalem road.”

“Is he really thinking of going back to the holy city?” muttered Simon. “With all those priests in Jerusalem, that’s crazy!”

“Wait a minute!” I snapped my fingers. “We have relatives on the way—in Bethany: Lazarus, Martha, and Mary.  That might be his destination this time.  If we can forestall his plans to revisit Jerusalem long enough and get him back to Galilee where he had so much success, maybe he’ll see his folly.”   

          “Hah!” Matthew tossed his head. “You sound desperate, Jude.  You really think you can change Jesus’ mind?”

          With that awful nightmare branded in my mind, I nodded vigorously. “Yes, yes.  I have to try!”



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