(Thanks for waiting an extra day while I recovered.) I’m writing a novel set in New Testament times and this is a rough draft in progress. It’s historical, at least, as historical as I can make it, and I still have research to do. I find more holes in what I know (and probably in this draft) every time I write. And now the journey continues.
A Journey – Part 19
First Day, Again, Sunday
At barely dawn she burst through the door, the Magdalene, out of breath from running, with some outlandish story about seeing the rabbi in the garden, the one near Golgotha, near the tomb given by Joseph of Arimathea. And she says the tomb is empty and that he is risen.
Of all the unbelievable things I have heard since I first met this group, this claim is the most unbelievable of all.
Risen? From the dead?
The house is full of people talking about the Magdalene’s report. I cannot get away from it. And I can’t help but wonder: Do they all want to be charged with blasphemy? Is the Sanhedrin not looking for them all already for questioning? Is it not dangerous enough already to have been one of his followers when he was alive? Do they now want to be punished for continuing to follow him now that he has been put to death?
Peter, the one who leads them now that the rabbi is gone, had already decided to leave and was making his preparations. Some were going to go with him but are undecided now that this news has come. Peter is undecided again. He took off running to the tomb with John the youngest right on his heels, when he heard the news, but they returned all sad and forlorn, saying that the rabbi was nowhere to be seen.
They expected to see him? Have they all gone mad?
Confusion reigns. Some of them are leaving few doubts about where their loyalties lie now: With the rabbi. All in. This insane act, this horrible rumor, and their spreading of it, will call down a harshness from the Sanhedrin–and Rome–that will make what went before seem trivial. They are trying to keep it quiet but all it will take is one unwise word spoken in the hearing of one wrong person…
Surely Rachel will see through this band of revolutionaries now and come away from them. We have enough money between us, we can arrange a good marriage for her and any children who are born of it, we have relatives in other lands, we do not have to stay here and–
I tried to tell her this and she told me that if I ever mentioned it again, she would go so far away that I would never find her, or, worse, straight to the Sanhedrin to declare her undying devotion to the one they murdered. What to do with the woman? So I will stop. For now.
There is one of the disciples who shows remarkable prudence and rational thought, and who does not share in the insanity most of the others display. The one called Thomas makes more sense than all of the others combined. He wants proof that this thing has happened and that only seems right. And of course no proof will be forthcoming because the claim itself is so far-fetched and ridiculous that to even entertain its possibility is absurd in the extreme.
We were expecting a prophet, yes, as Moses himself foretold to us. We were expecting a messiah, yes, as many prophets foretold to us. But we were not expecting anyone to claim to be the Son of the Father and to be equal to Him; Adonai has no children and to say that He could have, and that they are One, together, is blasphemy of such a high degree that I am surprised that his execution was so long in coming. I did not want it to happen but I cannot see any other way for things to have gone.
I have learned that there is much talk taking place in the Sanhedrin. Messages arrived yesterday from Nico and Joseph–there is always a way to send and receive messages, even on the Sabbath. Some Gentiles will work even for a Jew, anything for a little money. Some Jews will do the same but who would reward a fellow Jew for breaking the Sabbath?
Anyway, their message said that there is much talk in the Council about rounding up the troublemaker followers of the heretic and, not arresting them, but questioning them. I do not like the sound of that. They warn me not to be seen going in or out of this house. I still do not know how they knew I was here but we all have our spies.
And now the tentmaker has sent me yet another message. (I was alarmed that he knew I was here, and where here was–is–oh–anyway, until I learned that my servant brought it. I hope no one followed him.) Seems he has noticed, too, that something has happened that has the chief priests and a few others whispering to each other and holding hush-hush meetings that no one is supposed to know about. He wants to meet, to talk with me again. He repeats that he wants to discuss an offer. I am glad that this message was not delivered in the hearing of everyone in the house like last time.
What can he mean? What kind of offer can a maker of tents make to me? If he wants me to sell his tents, he can say so. And if I wanted to sell them, I would have already. So what can this meeting be and why not tell me outright? Or is he hinting that he thinks he knows that I am a follower or a secret follower? Or that I might know a secret follower or two? Or three? He would be wrong there. By burying him the way they did I would say that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea are no longer secret followers at all. They may as well wear signs on their foreheads or paint signs on their houses. And now I will be considered guilty by association.
If all of this craziness had not started–this ridiculous lie, that this man or any other had risen from the dead–all of this madness would have died down and things would have gone back to normal, and we could get on with our lives. But no, and now Rachel is even more stubborn than before, and they are all going to get themselves killed, and if anything happens to her, I will never forgive myself for not finding a way to put an end to this nonsense, once and for all, and for not making her come home with me.
Bah! I have never been able to make her do anything. No one ever could. But this is the worst thing she has done, this brings dishonor to our name. And that I cannot approve and I cannot allow it. I must make her see the truth. She must accept reality and stop this before she brings anymore shame upon our house.
And shame is exactly what she will bring upon our house if she is taken in for questioning before the Council. Our wealth may or may not help us there, it will depend upon who stands against us and how favorable they are to us and to our father’s memory, may he rest in Abraham’s bosom and may he not be aware of any of this taking place now or of our roles in it.
I can spend no more time thinking about this. The time has come to act. Either I convince Rachel to leave with me or I leave her here and leave Jerusalem. I cannot stay in this city much longer. And I cannot imagine anything that a tentmaker has to say that will change that. Thomas, my level-headed friend, is going to get supplies for those staying at the house. I am going with him as far as the tentmaker’s house. And I will take care that they do not see each other. And that no one sees us together. And that no one can identify who I am.
Truth be told, even I do not know anymore.
End of Part 19
Other parts of the continuing story are linked on the Fiction page.
Thank you for visiting and reading and for waiting an extra day for the post. I hope you’ll join me again. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy, remember, we are all on the journey to the heavenly city. So pick up your cross daily and follow Him, so you can become who you were meant to be: a SAINT! May the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
Image in the cover: From the east, Nazareth, Holy Land, from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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