Return to Table of Contents/Writer’s Den


Chapter Thirty-Nine


Return to Bethany




On the road again, out of earshot of Jesus and the fishermen, we spoke our minds.  Judas, who was out of hearing range from us, was among the topics covered by our group.

“What was all that about?” Thomas motioned with his thumb.

“You mean the doomsday prophecy?” answered James.

“Whatever you call it.” Thomas shrugged his shoulders. “It was scary!”

“Not really.” Bartholomew looked down from his mule. “Attacking those graybeards, scribes, and priests was much worse.”

“Some of the doomsday prophecy was from Daniel,” James explained. “Much of it is revelation, when God’s in Jesus’ head.  I don’t know why he calls himself the Son of Man.”

“So he’s talking about himself.” Matthew nodded with understanding. “Now that’s scary!”

“Jesus has always said strange things.” I reminisced.  “He was that way as a child, and we never knew what to expect.  Sometimes it irritated our parents.  All of sudden, he’d begin jabbering about something that made little sense to us.  He was in his own little world.  James and I didn’t pay attention back then.  We do now!” 

“Yeah,” James laughed softly, “we, his siblings, thought he was addled.  Our brothers and sisters still do.  I still don’t think Mama has accepted who he is.  How could she believe he’s the Son of God?  She gave birth to him.  It still boggles my mind.”

“Mine too,” I confessed.

For a short while, we walked in silence contemplating this awesome fact.  Who other than God’s son would prophesize the end times?  We had almost forgotten Judas’ outrageous words, until we heard him arguing with himself.  It was at times as if there were two Judases: one dark and sinister and another merely quarrelsome, a nuisance always saying silly things.  This afternoon, as we approached Bethany, he appeared dark and sinister.

“Hey you!” Simon called through cupped hands. “Yes, you!”

“At least one of you!” taunted Matthew.

“Who’re you talking to?” Simon sneered. “Is it that demon again?”

“Ho-ho,” muttered Thomas, “look at him carry on!”

“Simon,” Bartholomew warned, as we waited for him to catch up. “The last time you teased Judas, he attacked you.  Don’t get him riled!”

“Nah!” I waved dismissively. “He’s always riled about something!”

“It’s his demons,” quipped Matthew. “He needs a cleansing!”

“Demon depart!” Thomas twittered his fingers.

“Stop it!” barked Bartholomew. “The man’s not right in the head!”   

Turning his mule, the old man, trotted back to the group.  As Judas approached, he dragged his feet, muttering incoherently under his breath.  Looking down with pity or disgust, Bartholomew shook his head. 

“Leave him alone,” he motioned disdainfully, “he’s a lost cause.”

“You’re telling me,” Matthew rolled my eyes. “He’s in another world.”

“Judas showed great disrespect back there!” James complained. “He made faces, shook his head, and muttered as Jesus talked.”

“I saw him.” I frowned. “He wants a warrior prince.” “Tell me,” I looked accusingly at Judas as he approached. “What did you mean, ‘Such a waste?’ You kept saying it.  Did you expect Jesus to reclaim David’s throne?”

Looking up, Judas expression changed from glum to resentful. “Why not?” He tossed his head back. “He could do both.  All that talk about end times.  Who cares?  It’s not the future Jesus should worry about.  He must seize the moment!  That stuff made no sense to the crowd.”

“He’s speaking for the ages,” James said intuitively. “It doesn’t have to make sense.”

“Now that really doesn’t make sense!” Judas slapped his forehead  “I can understand the others saying such things—they’re stupid, but you’re a scribe James.  You know better!”

“What?” cried Simon. “You, who can’t see what’s in front of your nose, call us stupid?”

“Yes, you’re all stupid.” He waved his arms.  “If Jesus is the Messiah, he can’t fail.  If he’s the Son of God, he can’t be killed!”

“Well, it’s true,” Thomas looked back at us. “Jesus listens to God.  God might just change his mind!”

“Fool!” spat James. “Don’t play into his argument.  Neither Jesus nor God change their minds.  When will you learn?”

“For shame, Judas!” I wrung my finger. “You’ve never understood him.  He says many strange things.  James’s right; he doesn’t have to make sense.  We don’t have to understand him all the time.   God works in mysterious ways, he told us.  He must do what his father says, and he has been very clear about who he is and what God wants him to do.  Why can’t’ you accept him for who he is: a savior, not a conqueror—a man of peace?”

“I accept for what he should be.” He gave us a defiant look. “I know exactly who he is, and I don’t believe his father wants him to be killed.  Why would he give him all his powers just to be struck down?  It defies all logic and common sense!”

As Judas mumbled to himself, Simon once more spoke our minds.

 “Listen, Judas,” he exclaimed, pointing toward Jerusalem. “Stop complaining.  If you’re so unhappy with Jesus, why don’t you leave?  This is all such a torment for you, so why draw it out.  You’ve never believed as we do!  Go back to where you came from!  Just leave!”

Judas red hair glistened like a torch over his freckled face.  Catching the light of the setting sun, his green eyes once again flashed with rage at our scorn.  Falling back on the road again, he remained within hearing range.  We could still hear him muttering to himself.  I hoped that moment, despite Jesus request of me, Judas would, as an ill wind, fall back further and further and just go away.  I recalled with foreboding, when he arrived shortly after Satan’s appearance on the road.  From the very beginning, his presence portended evil.  Where did this strange man come from?  I wondered that moment…. No one ever thought to ask.

“He’s deranged.” Matthew exclaimed. “Mad as a bat!”

“Or just plain evil.” Simon sighed.

“No, it’s deeper than that,” James said thoughtfully. “Look at the way his eyes dart and nostrils flare.  He reminds me of that Greek demigod with horns on his head.  What was his name?”

“You’re right,” I replied with a gasp. “I saw pictures of him in my travels.  He looks like Pan!”

“Yeah,” Simon agreed, “that fellow with the goat-like body and horns.”

“No,” Thomas shook his head, “it’s like I keep telling you men.  We’ve seen enough of them before at Jesus’ healings.  That man’s possessed!”

“Mad as a bat, he is!” repeated Matthew. “Like he has the biting disease.”

“Mad am I?  Possessed?  Deranged you say?  You’ll see!  You’ll all see!” he shrieked, spittle flying out his mouth.  

For a brief moment, my mind had flashed back to my childhood, and I was tempted to make the sign to ward off the evil eye, but then, as it so happened in the past, Judas expression changed completely.  In place of a maniacal stair, his face softened.  The eerie sparkle in his eyes disappeared, replaced by an amiable glow, and a cheery smile replaced the snarl on his lips.  He was the ‘other’ Judas now.

“Whoa!” Bartholomew muttered, drawing back his reins.

“See what I mean,” Thomas whispered to us. “He’s possessed!”

“I see,” I replied light-headedly. “He’s back to normal.  Whatever that is!”



After catching up with the multitude ahead of us, we walked in silence with Judas once again in our midst as if nothing had happened.  I wanted to talk to Jesus about this, but I already knew what he would say.  Though Judas’ behavior had actually worsened, the situation was similar to what happened before when Jesus listened patiently to my complaint then ordered me to be patient with the errant disciple.  I understood that Judas was, as Jesus implied, part of the plan.  I shuddered to think of what that was.

In addition to our concern for Judas duel personalities, we were worried about the mood of the crowd.  Was it merely exhaustion that was causing them to grumble and groan amongst themselves or had there been a ripple of discontent growing since we left Jerusalem?  Discreetly, James and discussed this on the road.  Was it his final enigmatic message before the temple that disturbed them?  Judas was probably correct, we agreed; it’s doubtful if very many of them understood his doomsday forecast.  Or was it more basic than this?  We wondered.  Had most of them, like Judas, expected a conquering Messiah as well as a savior?… The mood of the crowd had changed drastically from the buoyant multitude leaving Bethany.  Now as we returned, the crowd dispersed quickly to their homes.  Even the zealous Jairus was in a hurry to get home.  Jesus, who had warned us several times about the fickleness of our people, seemed to take it in stride.

Contrasting the travel worn and moody crowd, was the exuberance of Martha and Mary.  Lazarus, who, after returning from the dead, might never be the same, managed to greet us warmly.  We washed ourselves with heated well water and replaced our soiled garments with clean tunics and pants.  Despite Jesus unpretentious nature and homespun tunic and robe, there was no mistaking who sat in Lazarus house.  It weighed heavily in the large room, and yet there was, aside from the Shema and prayer of thanksgiving given by Jesus before our meal, little formality in the Son of God.  We were, because of the emotional as well as physical exhaustion suffered today, especially tired.  The deeper meanings of it all escaped us as we ate our dinner and looked ahead to a night’s rest.  While Martha, with her servant’s help, rushed around as a perfect host, Mary returned in her role as adoring admirer, listening to Jesus give an account of what happened today.  During dinner, he presented it simply without garnishments.  He didn’t explain his final speech to Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.  They might not have understood it anyhow.  James and I scarcely did ourselves.  What Jesus did take time to explain was what he had planned tomorrow.  He would gather the townsfolk one more time before returning to Jerusalem, for his final words.  We already knew this, but the women were alarmed by Jesus’ words ‘one more time’ and ‘final words.’

“Oh, Jesus,” Mary asked, wringing her hands, “what do you mean?”

“Yes, master,” Martha leaned forward. “Are you going somewhere else?”

Jesus looked squarely at her. “Do you remember what I said before I raised Lazarus from the dead?”

“You are the resurrection and the life…” Martha began to recite.

“Then you understand why I go to Jerusalem,” he interrupted gently. “I follow the will of my Father.  My life has led me to this point.”

Martha was, like everyone else, in denial.  The look of alarm on Mary’s and her faces deepened, and yet they didn’t ask for clarification of those ominous words.  Lazarus, however, knew what he meant, even more than Jesus’ disciples.  I could see it in his eyes…. He had, after all, been resurrected, living proof of Jesus’ assurance. 

That night everyone quickly found their pallets and, with little idle chatter this time, tumbled into that dark abyss called sleep.



When I awakened the next morning, a troubling nightmare, similar to previous dreams, surfaced in my head.  Once again it was a surreal and unsettling scene.  I emerged from a dark grove of trees.  Looking out passed a shadowy group on onlookers, I saw three crosses silhouetted against the sky.  A pale moon shined in the heavens, as a beacon for the scene.  Shadows from both the onlookers and crosses stretched toward me, like a mirror image reflection.  I tried to move beyond the edge of the grove, but my body now seemed frozen in this spot.  I heard weeping and muffled voices below the crosses.  It seems like such an obvious set of symbols to me now, but on that morning, only a day before Jesus last night, I couldn’t imagine such a dreadful thing happening. 

For the first time in many months, I appeared to be the first one awake at such an hour.  Judging by the amber light streaming into the room from a window, it was early dawn.  Recalling those few times in my childhood when Jesus and I walked in the hills of Nazareth, after first light, I felt blessed.  Perhaps, I told myself, tiptoeing passed the sleeping hulks of my companions, I’ll tell Jesus about my dream.  Opening and then closing door ever so carefully, to avoid its irritating squeak, I slipped out into Bethany, a strange, overwhelming calm replacing the dark imagery in my mind.

As I searched the street of the sleeping town, I saw a dog trotting toward me.  I don’t know why dogs were looked down upon by Pharisees and priests.  I had always loved these friendly beasts.  This dog, however, was acting very strangely.  The closer it came to me the more I realized there was something dreadfully wrong.  Once again, as in my dream, I froze—this time on purpose.  I didn’t know whether to run for it or stay put.  According to some thinkers, animals such as dogs and wolves were more likely to attack a fleeing prey.  This seemed like a stupid idea to me, especially when dealing with hungry beasts.  The dog moving crazily toward me wasn’t hunger; he seemed angry…. mad!

“Don’t move!” commanded a familiar voice. “He has the biting disease.”

“Jesus, save me!” I screamed.

Bounding in wide strides past me, Jesus headed straight toward the dog.

“Stop!” he shouted.

That was all he said.  He must have prayed inside his head, for suddenly, from a mad beast, the dog sat down before Jesus.  Despite its foam-flecked muzzle, there was a placid look on his face.  With the corner of his robe, Jesus wiped its muzzle clean, knelt down, and began petting the dog.

“Jude,” he announced blithely, “come here.  There’s something I want to show you.”

“Oh, I saw it,” my voice quivered. “I almost wet myself, Jesus.  That couldn’t be the same dog.

“It is.” Jesus motioned cheerily. “Have you ever seen a more beautiful beast?”

“Our rabbi in Nazareth said they were unclean,” I replied light-headedly.

“Nonsense,” Jesus waved dismissively. “Dogs make the best pets.  They’re loyal and, if trained properly, serve their master better than any of God’s beasts.” “Here,” he said, taking my hand, “stroke him.  He won’t bite you; not now!”

“Well,” I said obligingly, “you cured people of the biting disease, why not dogs?”

Rising up and looking down at us, he said almost reverently.  “This is a very special dog, Jude.  This shall be your dog!”

“My dog?” I looked up in disbelief. “Are you serious, Jesus?  How will that look for us to bring a dog into Jerusalem?  What will I do with a dog?”

“Oh, I’m not suggesting you bring him there,” Jesus laughed softly. “He’ll stay here in Bethany.  This dog will make a fine traveling companion for you, Jude.  Did you know that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had dogs?  Dogs were not only faithful guards and pets, they helped protect their sheep.”

“Really?” I muttered, cringing as the beast licked my hand. “What if he gets sick again?”

“Listen to me, Jude.” He knelt down to ruffle the animal’s neck. “That won’t ever happen again.  This is true for the people I cured of this disease.  The blind, mute, and lame have been restored permanently, so it shall be for them.”

“You’re saying this dog is indestructible?” I said in disbelief.

“No more than you,” he answered carefully. “You’ll live a long life Jude, and so will your dog.  Right now, he’ll remain here.  If Lazarus doesn’t want to take care of him, I’ll find someone in town.”

As always, Jesus enthusiasm was contagious.  How could I reject his offer?

“All right.” I shrugged my shoulders.  “I’ll visit him when I come to town, whenever that is.  I don’t know when that will be, Jesus.  Will he remember me?  It might be a long time.” 

“Oh, he’ll remember you,” he said reassuringly. “This is a special dog.  Until you return, Bethany will be his home.  Until that time, you should spend as much time as you can with him.  He’ll be waiting for you.  On those lonely nights when it’s just you, the stars, and the Lord above, he’ll give you great comfort. This will always be your dog! ”

“Hmm…,” I warmed up to the idea, “what shall I call him?  He shall need a fine name.”

“Who is your favorite prophet?” he smiled.

“You!” I chimed.

“I mean ones of old,” explained Jesus. “This is no ordinary dog.”

“Will, Zechariah is too long name.” I pursed my lips. “Isaiah sounds strange to the tongue…. Let’s see, how about something short and easy to say, like Micah?”

Jesus now recited from Micah’s scroll: “But you, Bethlehem, though small among the cities of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from everlasting.” “A perfect name, Jude!” he declared, rising to his feet. “Now walk a few cubits toward the house and say his name!” He pointed at the dog.

“Micah!” I called as I walked away.

Running happily toward me, he leaped, frolicked, and licked my fingers, as though

he had known me all his life.



          The miracle he performed for Micah for my benefit might be considered trivial by strict standards, but I was delighted with my new friend.  During this diversion, I had almost forgotten my nightmare.  Then, as we meandered back to the house with Micah trotting behind us, it came back like a dark wave.

          “Jesus,” I blurted, “I had that dream again!”

          “The one with the three crosses?” He cocked an eyebrow.

          “Yes,” I exhaled, “that’s the one.”

          “What’s that doing in your head?” he mumbled aloud. “I shall pray on it.” “Like the previous promise you made to me.” He glanced at me thoughtfully. “You mustn’t mention that to the others, not even James.  All right?”

          “All right,” I replied with a frown, “but should I worry?  That’s not prophecy, is it?  Why does it keep popping up when I sleep?”

          “Jude.” He shook his head vehemently. “No one knows the mind of God.  He guides my destiny, and he guides yours.  You’ve had that dream before, haven’t you?  It’s upsetting, I know, but you’ve had many strange dreams.”

          “That’s true.” I nodded with resignation. “I had some awful ones.  Once I dreamed I was being eaten by lions.  When you pray, though, please ask God to wipe my dream about the crosses from my mind.”

          “I can’t control God’s mind,” explained Jesus. “You should try to have pleasant thoughts when you retire, Jude.  If you dwell on darkness while awake, you’ll likely have dark dreams.”

          Jesus shared his views on the causes of nightmares, a completely unreligious, almost scientific analysis of bad dreams.  There were, he believed, aside from good dreams, which were influenced generally by happy thoughts, many kinds of nightmares, such as fear of falling, fear of being chased by wild beasts, fear of drowning, and so forth, but all them had one thing in common: dark and negative thoughts.  Fear of failure, being rejected, or left alone can cause dreams in which you fail, are rejected, or are treated as a castaway.   If you are afraid of heights, being in a small space, or drowning, these are also likely to become nightmares, in which you might fall, be buried alive, or find yourself on a sinking ship.  This talk caused me to shudder.  My dream of the three crosses, in fact, didn’t seem quite so bad.  As we approached the house, discussing the nature of dreams, Peter emerged, shielding his eyes from the rising sun.

          “What is that?” he muttered. “Is that a dog?”

          “Yes, indeed,” Jesus answered cheerfully, “his name is Micah.  He’s Jude’s dog.”

          “Jude has a dog now?” Peter scratched his head. “What’re we gonna do with a dog?”

          “Until Jude goes out on his own, he shall be our mascot!” Jesus paused, as Micah ran into the house.

          “Get that filthy beast out of my house!” Martha shrieked.

          “He’s our mascot now,” explained Peter, “he’s also Jude’s pet.”

          “Well Jude can tie him to a tree or something,” grumbled Mary. “Dogs are unclean!”

          “Not Micah.” Jesus reached down to pat his head. “He won’t be a bother.  He’ll need a home for a short while.  If you think he’s a burden, someone in town can take care of him.”

          “Well,” Lazarus said hesitantly, “… I guess it won’t hurt.”

          “Ugh!” Mary made a face. “They have fleas and catch diseases.”

          “Not  Micah,” came Jesus refrain. “He’s a special breed.”

          “What about food?” Thomas scrutinized him. “That’s a fair-sized mutt.  What’ll he eat?”

          “The Lord will provide.” Jesus waved airily.

Had I not caught his wink, I might have thought he was being naïve.  Lazarus, who owed Jesus his life, though reluctant, had agreed.  Regardless of the details, it had been settled.  Jesus would say nothing more on the subject. When I recalled the mad creature charging at me moments ago, I felt light-headed again.  As I sat down to wait for breakfast, he nestled beside me, his head cradled in my lap, the picture of man’s most faithful friend.  He had immediately, after his miraculous cure, won my heart.  To my delight, most of the disciples quickly warmed up to Micah, too.  Peter admitted that a dog would be a good companion on a journey.  Andrew, John, and his brother James, who agreed with most of what Peter believed, said much the same thing.  Simon and Matthew, however, didn’t have to say anything.  There actions spoke more loudly than the fishermen’s words.  Sitting down in front of Micah and me, they stroked the beast continually.  Lazarus, unlike his sisters, despite his initial reluctance, also took a liking to him, too, and Bartholomew, who had a mule, thought it would be a great joke to ride up to the temple with Micah yapping at his heels.  Everyone agreed, however, that Micah couldn’t go with them to Jerusalem.  There would be enough controversy with Jesus’ return without this sight.  Though he would be my dog, Philip suggested light-heartedly, everyone else would be his uncles and aunts and their mascot when they visited Lazarus’ house.  His very name was a reminder of Jesus’ purpose in the world.  Who could not love my dog?

After Jesus told them of his healing, everyone marveled at Micah, touching and patting him as if he was a sacred thing.

          “I’m getting one of these,” Matthew finally uttered. “This doesn’t look like a mutt.  I’ve seen this breed before.”

          “He’s a Canaanite dog,” declared Jesus. “Long before our people stole the land from the Canaanites, this beast protected their sheep.  Now he protects ours.  This dog is intelligent, faithful, and brave.  Most of the dogs of Israel have descended from this original breed.”

          “How do you know so much?” Mary batted her dark eyes.

          “I pay attention to men and listen to God,” replied Jesus. “Knowing is never as important as doing.  Action is more important than good intentions.”

          It appeared, thanks to Mary, that Jesus had gotten completely off the subject, but then he brought up the subject of Micah again to finish his point.

          “Behold, his innocence.” He looked around at us.  “The dog obeys without question.  He heard my voice, but he also listens to Jude.  So it is, he listens to both of us, but Jude is his master.  All the wisdom you have should never question the master’s voice.  The good intentions of people mean nothing to God.  When he calls, you must go!  What he commands, you must do: through water, wind, and fire, you must endure.”

          Not even Mary failed to get the message.  Jesus had just reminded us, using Micah to make his point that we must obey unquestioningly.  Where he led us, we must follow, and that included Jerusalem.  With this food for thought, as we ate our breakfast, we were left with the uneasy feeling once again that soon we would be on our own.  I sensed this feeling in all twelve disciples, even Judas.



          Soon, after breakfast, Jesus sent Thomas to alert Jairus, the unofficial leader of Bethany’s converts and supporters.  Jairus, his wife, and son, appeared in front of Lazarus’ house, with a large assembly of the town, but not nearly the crowd we had before.  Undaunted by this apparent setback, Jesus gathered everyone on the same hill where he stood before and gave his sermon.  His introduction started off with what seemed like a continuance of the doomsday forecast he gave the crowd in Jerusalem:
“A day will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you and your children to the ground, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you didn’t know the time of your visitation.  Be alert and watch.  The kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.  Those who were foolish took their lamps but took no oil with them, while the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.  While the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.  Then at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’  Then all the virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.  And the foolish said to the wise virgins, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, because there might not be enough for us.  You can go buy oil for yourselves.’  And when they went to buy, the bridegroom came, so that those who were ready went with him to the wedding, and the door was shut.  Not long afterwards, the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Verily, I say unto you, I know you not!

“Therefore keep watch,” Jesus said to the crowd. “You neither know the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man comes!”  

Unlike his sermon in Jerusalem, which elicited dumbfounded looks on his audience, this group appeared to understand his parable.  This struck me as peculiar.  Jesus parable of the ten virgins, though easier to follow as a story line than his prophecies in Jerusalem, could be interpreted two different ways: it could be understood as either a personal warning for people to be ready, as believers, for Judgment Day or a prophecy of Jesus’ own return at some future date, a notion that even his disciples couldn’t comprehend.  After overhearing some of the comments of Bethany’s citizens, I was certain they believed in a personal interpretation of the parable, which corresponded to traditional Pharisaic religion: you die, you’re buried, and, at Judgment Day either go to heaven or hell.  Of course, all of the disciples had heard Jesus talk strangely before and sensed a deeper meaning.  Unfortunately, it was a notion too terrible to ponder.  In order for Jesus to return he would, of course, have to die and be resurrected himself, but how could that be?  Was he not the Son of God and the Messiah?  Why, asked the fishermen, did he have to stray into such deep waters?  Now, as I write my chronicles, I know why.  It is clear to me that his earlier prophecies in Jerusalem and what he told his audience the next day in Bethany were connected and, by Jesus own words, a forecast for a sequence of events leading to his return. 

This, however, is hindsight.  After reading Matthew’s scroll, which were among the apostle’s writings collected by Luke and talking to John, the only disciple of Jesus other than myself still alive, I have more insight into what Jesus meant.  John claimed to be having strange dreams, some of which sounded like Jesus’ gloomy vision, and yet he couldn’t interpret them.  What I’ve heard so far from him has made little sense.  What he did explain to me was the prophecies of Daniel, which seemed to point to the dark days Jesus foretold.  Today I understand some of the terms Jesus used in his sermon in Jerusalem, and yet I’m still not clear on the picture painted by his words.  I wonder whether Daniel even understood what he wrote and if John wasn’t finally going mad.  I can’t ask Daniel—he’s dead, but when I tried finding out about John’s dreams, he threw his hands up, pointed heavenward, and said, “Ask God!”  From what I have gathered after reading Luke’s scroll, all of the prophets, including Daniel, Isaiah, Zechariah, and Micah, who prophesied Jesus’ coming, didn’t interpret their visions but merely reported the revelations they received.  During his lifetime on earth, this might have been true for Jesus too.  Reduced to their simplest meaning, the Jerusalem prophecies could be understood at face value: one day the temple would be desecrated (the abomination of desolation), signaling the beginning of a great tribulation that would test the remnant of believers in an evil world.  The parable of the Ten Virgins, which he gave to his Bethany audience, was merely warning for believers and those who were lukewarm to be ready for that dreadful day.  The five virgins, who kept their lamps lit, were saved by their faith, but those whose lamps were unlit were doomed with the rest of this wicked world.  So the question remains even now: Were these messages intended for this generation or a future generation as yet unborn?  I can’t speak for the other disciples.  Except John and myself, they’re all dead.  Poor John appears to be addled in the head.  Matthew, for that matter, wrote down Jesus Jerusalem prophecies and his Parables of the Ten Virgins, as he remembered them, but I doubt he understood them anymore than John, who claimed to be getting revelations from God.  Along with the question of Jesus timing, there’s also the question of his intent.  I’m still not certain if Jesus was, as Daniel, simply preparing believers for hard times directly ahead or preparing them for a distant time.  I have seen believers greatly persecuted in the reign of Nero, but Nero, along with his henchmen, are dead.  Now that the civil war is over, Emperor Vespasian appears to be a tolerant ruler.  At least for a while, though an outlawed sect, we members of the Way are no longer hunted down and killed on sight.  But Vespasian has only been on the throne for a short while; things could change.  Moreover, as I write this account, Jesus, my brother and our Savior, hasn’t returned as he implied in his prophecies.  So what did he mean?  I’m an old man now.  The more I ponder this mystery, the more it becomes apparent I won’t see his second coming.  As difficult as it is for me to accept, it appears as if Jesus was talking about events in the future.  Even John, who continues to scribble down his revelations, is swayed to this view.



Once again, as I write down my thoughts, I digress.  That last day in Bethany, after listening to Jesus, I had no such grand thoughts.  I saw only what was before me.  His prophecy in Jerusalem and his parable of the ten virgins given in Bethany, I gathered, pointed to Judgment Day or a cloudy future even he couldn’t comprehend.  His mind was filled with constant revelations.  Hopefully, they could change.  After he responded to a question from the audience, “When will this dark day come?”, with a noncommittal answer, “Only my Father knows,” I was encouraged.  Could that answer be applied to the prophecies of Isaiah and Zechariah, too?  I wondered.  “If that were so, perhaps Judas was right: Jesus father could change his mind.  Jesus’ fate was sealed.

Alongside of me sat Micah, my faithful dog, who served to distract me from my doubts and fears.  Suddenly, as he licked my face, I realized that Jesus had changed the subject and was giving the audience a new parable.  

“…. Don’t waste God’s gifts,” he was saying. “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.  To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went away on his journey.  The servant who received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.  And likewise the servant who had received two gained two more.  But the servant who received one talent dug a hole in the ground and buried his lord’s money.  After a long time, the lord came home and settled accounts with them.  He who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you gave me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.  ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’ said his lord, ‘you were faithful for a few things, yet I’ll make you ruler over many things.  Enjoy the reward of your lord.’  He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you gave me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’  His lord replied to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enjoy the rewards of your lord.’  Finally, the servant who had received only one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed, so I was afraid, and went and buried your talent in the ground.  Look, there you have what is yours!’  Angry with this servant, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant.  You knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed, so you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.  Therefore I shall take the talent from you, and give it to him who has ten talents.  For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance, but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.’  The lord cast his unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Though Jesus hadn’t clarified the previous parable for his audience, he took time to clarify the parable of the talents.  Unlike the deep, gloomy prediction of his Jerusalem sermon and his parable of the ten virgins, he had given his audience advice on their personal relationship with God.  It was a return to the more basic theme of salvation.  The talents, he explained, were those gifts God gave each person.  Some people had several gifts, some just a few, and others only one.  What mattered was how they used their gifts.  It’s not acceptable, he told them, just to have a God-given gift.  Such gifts are useless hidden away or on the shelf.  Like the three servants, they might not have gifts of the same degree, but God expects them to use the gifts given to them. The servant who received one talent was not condemned for failing to reach the five-talent goal; he was condemned because he did nothing with what he was given. 

After listening to prophecy that foretold a dark age and hinting at his own death, this parable had been a welcome change.  Everyone agreed that Jesus should stick to his basic message of personal salvation, not that gloom and doom.  Unfortunately, God, who gave Jesus his revelations, had different thoughts.  Once again, after pausing to drink from his water skin and splash water on his hair and face, Jesus returned to his previous theme. 

“What does all this mean?” Thomas muttered.

“Who cares?” Judas whispered shrilly. “It’s very depressing!”

Jesus had begun reciting a passage from Isaiah that affected each of us differently: Thomas, like Simon, Matthew, and Bartholomew, was confused, Judas was annoyed, the fishermen were concerned about its implications, and James and I were stunned by the unequivocal meaning in Isaiah’s prophecy: 

… He was despised and forsaken by men, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, one from whom men hide their faces.  He was despised and we didn’t esteem him, and yet he bore our griefs and carried our sorrows.  He was stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted, pierced through for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, chastened for our well-being.  By his scourging we are healed.  All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us have turned away.  The Lord has caused our iniquity to fall upon him.  He was oppressed and afflicted, but he didn’t open his mouth.  Like a lamb he was led to slaughter, and like a sheep he was silent before his shearers.  Yet he remained silent.  By oppression and judgment, for the transgression of his people, he was taken away, cut off from the land of the living.  His grave was assigned with wicked men, and yet he was with a rich man in his death.  He had done no violence nor was their deceit in his mouth, and yet the Lord was pleased to crush his own offspring, bringing him to grief, rendering him as a guilt offering.  As a result of the anguish of his soul, the Lord will witness it and be satisfied.  The Righteous One, God’s servant, will therefore justify many, bearing their iniquities.  Because he offered himself to death, numbered among the transgressors, he bore the sin of many, interceding for transgressors—the Lamb of God!”
          “Did Isaiah really say that?” murmured Bartholomew.

“Yes,” James nodded, “except those last words.”

“That was revelation.” I sighed, stroking my dog. “I knew he’d get to that.”

This time the audience didn’t know what to make of his prophecy.  Though we didn’t understand it then, Isaiah had foretold the arrest, torture, and crucifixion of Jesus, as well as his burial in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb.  He had explained the nature of the suffering servant and the meaning of his sacrifice for mankind’s sins.  With this reminder, it should no longer matter who Isaiah’s other Messiah was, the one most Jews expected would come.  What James and I more clearly understood than the others because of our greater understanding of the scriptures was Jesus use of this passage to prove he was the Lamb of God.  How it affected the crowd was difficult to discern.  I had found in my own experience with people that a look of awe and ignorance appeared almost the same, especially from a distance.

Looking out past the crowd, over the plain below, to distant Jerusalem, Jesus seemed to speaking to the entire world these moments:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.  All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.  And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.  Then the king will say to those on his right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  When did we see you as a stranger and take you in, or naked and clothe you?  When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?  And the king answered them, saying, ‘Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’  Then he said to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty and you gave me no drink; ‘I was a stranger and you did not take me in, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’  And they answered him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you?'  But the Lord replied angrily, ‘Truly I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.  As you receive your reward of everlasting punishment, the righteous shall have eternal life!”



There were no voices of protest after this session.  After the last batch of Pharisees, scribes, and priestly agents had been chased out of Bethany, Jesus had no visible critics…. But they were still there.  As the crowd broke up and began meandering back to their homes, many of them murmured pleasantries to Jesus, a few stopped to compliment him on his words, and one old man asked him what was meant by the Son of Man.  Jesus answer confused some of the disciples that much more.

“The Son of Man is the human side of the Christ, the Son of God,” he explained.

“But Christ is a Greek word,” the old man protested. “Why didn’t you say Messiah?”

“Because,” Jesus said, placing his hand on his shoulder, “the Messiah was meant for the Jews, and the Christ is meant for the world.”

The old man was the last citizen of Bethany to talk to Jesus that day.  The silence from the once excited multitude had been deafening.  Now, as we walked back to Lazarus’ house, the quiet among the disciples, for a different reason, spoke loudly, too.  Jesus had warned us repeatedly about the reception he would receive.  A great and tragic irony exists in the writings of Isaiah.  How is it, I ask myself, that such a prophet who so clearly predicted the true Messiah, could also have prophesize a conquering hero, who would sweep our oppressors from our land?  It now seemed apparent that the people who heard his message of salvation were also expecting such a man.  In this respect, Judas Iscariot’s hopes were in line with the vast majority of Jews suffering the yoke of Roman rule.  He was disillusioned and dispirited.  Of course, the remaining eleven disciples didn’t share Judas’ delusions.  They understood which redeemer Jesus was.  Our concern for Jesus welfare, unlike the disillusioned listeners, had caused our silence.  It was reflected on all of our faces.  Our optimism that somehow Jesus estimate of our people was wrong had been in vain.  Jesus had been right all aloong: they had been a stiff-necked people throughout their history.  They were, after all his miracles and wondrous words, still a stiff-necked people.  Moses had been afflicted by their wrong-headedness, as had been the Patriarchs.  They had murdered the prophets and created divisions in their ranks—Pharisees against Sadducees and rabbis at times against priests.  The only thing that all Jews had in common was the expectation that a glorious day would return.  An heir to David would arrive with a mighty force and make Israel great again.  After hearing Jesus quote Isaiah’s passage about the suffering servant, his warnings about our people’s obstinacy rang true as more prophecy.  The disciples, myself included, might not have clearly understood Jesus’ future prophecies, but we understood the connection between Isaiah and the mood in Bethany.  Even Thomas, who had so many doubts, finally realized that Jesus was Isaiah’s man of sorrows. 

As we sat down in Lazarus’s house our backs to the walls, facing each other, Thomas was the first one to speak.

“Lord,” he said, fidgeting with his beard, “you’ve never been wrong.  I see that now.  If our people won’t listen, the Gentiles will.  When you answered that old man, I know that’s what you meant.”

“What ho!” Jesus looked up from his lap. “If Thomas, who doubts, sees this, it is so.  Through your eyes, comes the truth!”

Everyone, except Judas, responded with restrained laughter.  Jesus motioned to Thomas to sit on his right side, which forced Mary to scoot over, an action causing more mirth.  The disciples resented Mary’s behavior around Jesus.  During this hour, her fawning and eyelash fluttering had been all the more irksome.  As Martha and her servant prepared our meal, Lazarus had taken a seat on Jesus’ left side.  With his pallor improved and glassy stair replaced finally to a normal human sheen, Lazarus no longer looked like a specter from the land of the dead, and yet he acted peculiar at times, pausing in mid-sentence, blinking suddenly, and saying strange things. 

Except for Thomas, no one seemed to want to talk.  Though it rankled Mary and Martha, Micah lie next to me, his head in my lap.  Jesus gave the Shema and blessed the food, but the only other voices we heard were Martha whispering instructions to the girl serving our food.  To break the silence, Jesus asked Mary if she had tended to Bartholomew’s mule.  Mary simply nodded.  All Mary had done was order the servant to do the deed.  Next Jesus complimented Martha on our fine meal.  Turning to her servant, she placed her arm around her, replying, “Ashira deserves credit too.” For the first time since our first encounter with Lazarus and his sisters, we knew the name of the servant.  By his warm smile to Martha, it was obvious he approved of her gesture.

“Come, Ashira,” he called gently.

“Me, Lord?” She seemed to gasp.

“Yes, Ashira,” Jesus took her small hand, “Lord is correct; you’ve spoken truly.  Do you share Lazarus, Martha, and Mary’s faith?”

“Oh yes, Lord,” she knelt down on her knees.

“Good, my daughter,” he replied, placing a hand on her head. “A servant in the house of Lazarus you are.  A servant of the Lord you shall be!

“Really?” Ashira was taken back. “Me?…  How so, my Lord?”

Jesus, who had just chosen a new follower, bent forward and kissed her cheek.  “When you return to your family in Bethany, remember this hour.  They’ll need your strength!  You will be sorely tested, Ashira, but you’ll prevail.  Your faith is strong and your heart is pure.”

Though Martha smiled with understanding at Jesus’ words to Ashira, Mary’s dark eyes flashed with Jealousy.  Something both remarkable and disturbing began happening that moment.  Walking over to her servant, Martha kissed Ashira, an action that would one day be called the kiss of peace by believers.  What we had witnessed moved us greatly.  What followed was a controversial act.  Mary reached behind a cushion to retrieve a bottle of spinenard, a very costly oil.  I knew at once what she had in mind.  Immediately, after she popped off the stopper, the room was filled with the aromatic odor.  Pushing Ashira aside, she anointed Jesus feet and wiped his feet with her hair.  During this ritual, Jesus sat patiently, as he had when Mary Magdalene performed a similar ritual in Magdala, but this time he said nothing at first.  Perhaps he was embarrassed or, considering how swiftly she moved, simply taken by surprise.  It was either an impulsive or calculated act.  It seemed quite likely that Mary was repeating what her namesake had done in Magdala.  Understandably, everyone in the room, except Jesus, had risen to their feet, aghast at what they saw. 

“This is outrageous!” Judas cried. “That oil costs three hundred denarii.  The money could’ve been used for the poor.”

“I don’t normally agree with Judas,” I blurted, “but he’s right.  What a waste!”

“Where did you get that?” Martha frowned severely. “Even in Lazarus tomb, we didn’t use that perfume.”

 “Whoa,” Matthew snickered, “it smells like a Syrian brothel!”

By now, as we looked on in dismay, she had graduated to the next phase I recalled Mary Magdalene doing: anointing Jesus’ hair.

“Let her alone,” he finally spoke. “Mary’s doing good work.  You have the poor always, and whenever you wish you may do good for them.  Me you will not always have.  She is preparing my body for burial.  Whenever this gospel is preached, the world will know what this woman has done.  This act shall be a memorial to her!”

          Jesus words upset us that much more.  Matthew and Mark would record Jesus rebuke to us, giving this action glowing praise, but John simply reported the event at face value, taking this opportunity to attack Judas for being insincere and a thief.  Contrary to John’s opinion, Judas wasn’t a thief, and many of us agreed with him.  In spite of his dislike for Judas, John admitted to me later that he agreed with him too, which might explain his omission of Jesus’ words.  All of Jesus’ disciples had been shocked by Mary’s boldness.  Mark hadn’t been there as a witness and had simply reported what he had heard, but Matthew, who mocked the event under his breath, must have been tempted to omit it, himself.  There were, in fact, two anointings: one in Bethany, recorded by Matthew, John, and Mark, in which Lazarus’ sister Mary performed the ceremony and an earlier anointing performed by Mary Magdalene in Magdala, recorded by my friend Luke.  In my opinion, Mary Magdalene was the greater of two Mary’s, and yet none of the eyewitnesses, had recorded her anointing of Jesus in their gospels.  What no one reported at all, until this writing, was what Jesus said to Martha, who ran weeping from the house. 

          Upon hearing the door slam, Jesus rose up immediately in pursuit.  Mary stood there smiling with satisfaction, her hands still moist with oil.  Glancing scornfully at her, Peter, Andrew, Philip, and John turned on Judas then, blaming him for Jesus’ rebuke, Judas replying defensively, “You cowards, I only spoke your minds!”  After Jesus slipped out of the house, James and I took the opportunity, as they argued, to eavesdrop on Jesus and Martha.  While we managed to slip out unnoticed, Micah broke loose and followed us out the door.  Hiding behind a myrtle tree, with Micah panting by my side, we heard Jesus clarify the meaning of Mary’s action and Martha’s importance in his plans.

“Martha!” he called to her. “Mary’s headstrong. You’re steadfast.  It mattered not who did the deed!”

          “Lord,” she spat bitterly, “this happened before.  My younger sister is lazy and disrespectful, and yet you praise her.  You once said she had the best part.  Now you say the world will praise her, too?  Where is the justice in our world?  You’ve made my servant a follower.  All I am is a slave!

          “No, no,” he comforted her, “you are all followers.  Have you forgotten what you said to me?”

          “No,” She answered, wiping her eyes, “how could I forget those words: ‘You’re the Messiah, the Son of God!”

          “And what did I tell you Martha—the first person to hear this news?”

          “You said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he were dead, he’ll live and never die!”

“Because of your recognition and my response,” he exclaimed, “you’ll be immortal, too!” “Tell me, Martha” asked Jesus, “What words are more important, yours or your sister’s?”

“ … Mine,” she answered hesitantly.

“You have said it,” replied Jesus. “Don’t be troubled, my daughter.  When the time comes, remember this conversation.  Be patient with Mary.  She’s not strong like you.  My Father chose you as a witness.  Like my disciples, you share in his plans.”

Jesus had singled Martha out and given her great praise.  Taking her hand, he led her passed the myrtle that we hid behind, back to the house.  For a brief moment, as Micah grew impatient, I was certain he would give us away as they passed by.  Holding his muzzle and stroking him anxiously—two contradictory actions for a dog, I prayed that he wouldn’t growl or bark.  To my surprise, though, Micah remained calm and silent.  When I released my hand, he even licked my face. 

“Good boy,” I whispered, “you are, in deed, a special dog!”

“Lord,” Martha said almost off-handedly, “you told us Mary was doing that for your burial.  Everyone dies and will be resurrected, so what did you mean?”

Not wanting to alarm her, Jesus answered delicately, “… Mary’s action was impulsive, yet well meaning.  What would have been better, being anointed for pure vanity or for my burial?  What other reason could she have for anointing me with oil?”

As they approached the house, James murmured, “That was clever.  He left the answer up to her.  I wondered about that myself.”

“We know what he meant,” I whispered sadly. “Everyone’s in denial.”



That night it was difficult for me to fall asleep.  Though Micah gave me great comfort sleeping beside me, there was much on my mind.  Though they were worried about Jesus’ safety, too, especially after his quotation from Isaiah, the other disciples, even James, appeared to take  it in stride.  Silently, it seemed to me, they were preparing themselves for the worst.  Outwardly resolved, though, they were deep in denial.  I couldn’t take it in stride and yet, like the rest of them, I refused to be a fatalist about the prospect of my brother’s death.  Tossing and turning awhile, greatly annoyed by the nighttime sounds of snoring, snorting, and wind, I rose up finally from my pallet and tiptoed toward the door.  Micah was right on my heels.  On the way, I spied a jug of wine sitting miraculously on the floor.  “Thank you, God!” I whispered, glancing at the ceiling, nabbing the jug, and slipping ever so quietly out into the night.  In the moonlight, near the myrtle tree where James and I spied on Jesus and Mary, I settled down with my jug of wine and, as Micah sat watching me, became thoroughly drunk.

          This time, I scarcely remembered the smallest fabric of a dream.  Down a long dark corridor I tumbled, a voice calling, “Jude, Jude, have you been out here all night?”

          It was Martha, bending over and shaking me gently, a smile playing on her face.  On the other side of me, Micah’s friendly face also loomed large.  I was reminded that moment of what an exceptional dog he was.  Martha’s twinkling brown eyes and rosy cheeks were also a comfort to me that moment, much better than being awakened by Jesus or Peter, who would have taken me to task for my lapse.  I was, after finishing off the jug, in pretty bad shape.  As the sun brimmed the eastern horizon, I was almost blinded by its rays, and it felt as if someone was beating a gong inside my head.  After falling asleep in a sitting position against the tree, I had a painful kink in my neck.  Though I didn’t remember being sick last night, I had vomited all over myself.  I was a mess and a physical wreck.  Micah had already begun my cleanup by licking off my face.  It took all of Mary’s strength to get me on my feet and guide me toward the house. 

Before we got too far, however, James emerged from the door, motioning for her to stop.  He must have looked out the window and caught sight of us.  My pack was slung over his shoulder and he carried one of the towels Martha had set aside for Jesus and his disciples.

“Let’s clean him up first!” he called in a hushed voice.

“I agree.” Martha nodded. “It’s early.  Hopefully no one will see him.  We don’t want people to think Jesus’ men are drunkards.”

James laughed sourly. “That’s the least of our worries,” he confided grimly. “We’re not happy about going to Jerusalem.  After last night’s speech, most of the men got tipsy.  Jude’s the worst, but even Peter drank too much.  Jesus’ words finally sank into their thick skulls.” 

“Is it going to be a one way trip?” blurted Martha.

“Wha-a?” My head jerked up.

“It doesn’t make sense, does it?” James sighed deeply. “How can he, the Son of God and Messiah, be that man Isaiah calls the man of sorrows?”

“Is that why he got drunk?” Martha asked me softly.

“Of course it is.” James frowned at me. “I’ve never seen him this drunk!”

For several moments, with only an old woman at the well as eyewitness to the event, they cleaned me up.  Fortunately the vomit hadn’t reached my pants and sandals.  After pulling off my tunic, James bent me over so Martha could drench the upper portion of my body.  The well water was so icy cold I let out a yelp.  With sympathy it almost seemed, Micah gave me another lick.  Drying me quickly, my rescuers tidied up my hair and beard and, still gripping my arms, walked me around a nearby meadow in an effort to sober me up.  For those moments, as a typical dog, Micah scampered around the meadow, after James threw him a stick.

“Listen to me Jude,” he counseled sternly, “this kind’ve behavior won’t help Jesus at all.  I fear for his safety too, but his mind is made up.  We, his disciples, must support him no matter what he decides.”

My tongue felt thick in my mouth. “He-e-es gon-na ged kill-led!” I tried forming the words. “I-sa-iah hid it ride on the marg!”

“I dunno.” James shook his head. “Isaiah contradicts himself.  I trust Zechariah’s prophecy more!”

“Why are people so stupid?” Martha complained. “They’ve seen his miracles and heard his wondrous words.  And yet they seem disappointed.  What do they want, James: a savior or a soldier?  After everything Jesus has done and said, they still don’t understand.  Lazarus made sure Mary and I were educated, so we could read the Torah, but many of our neighbors are barely literate.  They were told by the rabbis and Pharisees that our Messiah will be a warrior who will deliver our people.  Then Jesus arrives, giving them something far more precious than earthly rule: salvation and eternal life.  If they’re confused and don’t know who to believe, it’s because they lack faith.  Why is it that Gentile converts have no trouble understanding who he is?  Will our people choose the stale words of religious leaders or Jesus’ message of salvation and hope?  Who shall they pick?”

Martha’s words had a sobering effect on my mind.  It was, now that I think about it, actually a miracle.  Suddenly the mists of wine cleared.  I had a ringing headache, but everything was so clear.  I wished, during her statement, that I had ink and quell in order to write down what she said.  As it turned out, Martha’s words would remain brandished in my mind.  It was so simple: Jesus versus Jewish tradition.  Was it any wonder, he quoted Isaiah?  Had not Isaiah also said, ‘I will make you a light unto the Gentiles, so that my salvation will reach the ends of the earth?’

          “I-I’m all right now,” I said, shrugging off their hands. “I appreciate your help.  I’ve been such a fool.” “You spoke truly, Martha.” I turned first to her. “Thanks to you, I know now what Jesus wants me to do.  I don’t know what’s going to happen in Jerusalem, and I don’t want to know.  I believe the Gentiles will make his message a reality, not the Jews.  When I left home to travel the empire, I met many types of Gentiles.  They’re not like our stiff-necked people.  They don’t care who the conqueror is.  My Roman friends were the conquerors.  Those Romans that Jesus converted came to the faith innocently, without preconceived notions.” “There’s no use trying to talk Jesus out of going to Jerusalem,” I looked at James. “Judas and most of Jesus followers believe he came only for the Jews.  Because Jews have expected a warrior king like David, Isaiah’s other version of the Messiah is still preferable to them.  Many of his listeners appear to want both Messiahs, which is why they’re confused.  It’s those who have their minds made up that are the greatest threat.  I can’t speak for the rest of the disciples.  In the past Jesus always said we must preach to our people first, but Jesus now refers to himself as the Christ. This is a Gentile, not a Hebrew, word.   That’s why I know what I will do!”

          Martha marveled at my lucid state. “You were like the living dead before.  How did you come out of it so quickly?  You’re words were slurred and you could barely walk.”

          “It’s simple,” I explained, stopping to shake a stone from a sandal and reach down to pat Micah’s head. “I purged most of my wine.  I’m probably in better shape now than the others.” “The sooner we get on the road, the better,” I said to James. “As a sage once said, ‘There’s nothing more fearful than the unknown!’”



Next Chapter/ Return to Table of Contents/Writer’s Den