A journey to the cross is a journey to repentance. It’s a journey to deep personal change. Will you take this journey with me?
In today’s reading, Marcus is in a discussion with his friend and fellow centurion Renaldo. He gives an eyewitness account of what he saw Jesus doing in the temple courts.
“I know it’s hard to believe, but I saw it with my own eyes. His leg grew a full hand span. It happened right in front of me!”
For emphasis I gestured at an imaginary spot a few feet ahead.
“Are you sure it was Lucas?”
“Who else could it be? What other kid hobbles along on a crutch and has a bum leg a hand span shorter than the other?”
“Lucas?” Renaldo snorted as he shook his head. He was incredulous.
“It was the same boy I’ve seen begging at the Fish Gate for the last six months.”
“The one with the copper begging bowl?”
“The one with the copper begging bowl,” I affirmed with a nod and then added, “Don’t believe me? Check it out yourself. The last time I saw him, he was dancing around on both feet. He’ll be back at your gate soon enough. But I don’t think he’ll be carrying his begging bowl or his crutch.”
Renaldo looked thoughtful as his eyes scanned the streets of the city below. We were standing atop one of the four turrets of the Antonia Fortress, the hub for military command here in the city. We had finished a light noon meal and then, for sake of privacy, had climbed the stairs to the top of the northeast tower.
“Look, Renaldo, like I said, I wouldn’t have believed any of this if I hadn’t seen it myself.” “So let me get this straight. This Jesus of Nazareth does miracles, and you saw him do them?”
“He kicked the money changers and merchants out of the temple courts?”
“He went at ’em like a wild man.”
“He defied the delegation from the high priest?” Renaldo questioned.
“Sent them scurrying for the exits like bugs under a rock.”
“What do you make of this prophet, Marcus? This Messiah?”
Now it was my turn to be pensive. I was so awestruck by what I had witnessed that I was having a hard time sorting through all my thoughts and impressions. The words came to me slowly. “He’s not at all like what I expected. He’s not at all like a revolutionary.”
“So he’s not a revolutionary. Then we’ve got nothing to worry about,” Renaldo said.
“I didn’t say that.” I paused but then added, “He’s not like your common revolutionary.” I put emphasis on the word “common.”
“So, he is a revolutionary.”
“His revolution, if that’s what he’s leading, doesn’t seem to be against us, against Rome—at least not at this point.” The vagueness of my answer left me feeling awkward.
“Then who is he fighting?”
“He’s not exactly endeared himself to the religious establishment. Caiaphas is probably having a holy altar- kicking tantrum right now. Those merchants pay good money to set up shop in there”—I gestured with a sweep of my hand in the direction of the temple compound—“and they’re going to be after him to get that Northern hick- town Messiah out of there. Now!” In imitation of their tactics, I made a downward stab with my index finger. “And I mean now.”
“So we let the high priest and his clan handle it. They’ve got the authority and the manpower.”
“Not at the moment. Jesus and his followers outnumber those temple guards maybe a hundred to one. I tell you he has the people—the crowd—in his hands. They don’t dare move against him.”
“Marcus, it’s still up to Caiaphas. It’s his problem. Let the Jews sort it out.”
“I suppose you’re right. He still scares me,” I confessed. “Scares me like no man ever has.”
“Why?” Renaldo queried.
“He’s got power like no man I’ve ever seen.” I shuddered inside at the thought of the unearthly nature of that power.
“This prophet really has you rattled, doesn’t he?” Renaldo said. “You’re still worried, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, I’m still worried.” Then to justify my concern, I added, “This talk about a kingdom bothers me. Besides, you didn’t see what I saw today. It makes all the difference.”
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