Walking the Cat . . .

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True Believer . . .(it could have happened this way)

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It rained most of the day.  It was not a violent downpour, no lightning or thunder: only the steady, soaking rain prevalent at this time of year and depended on so much by the farmers.  Yeshua and a few of the Baptist’s entourage had taken shelter in the shallow caves east of the river.  Yeshua sat near the mouth of the cave and stared out at the rain.  The others of the group sat farther back in the cleft, huddled around the meager fire made from the few bits of kindling they managed to snatch up before the rain came.  The fire did little to mitigate the chill brought on by the rain and the atmosphere of uncertainty that permeated their hiding place.

“At least the farmers will have a good harvest,” Yeshua said as he turned from the cave entrance to move closer to the fire.

“Our lives are in danger and you make jokes,” Ezra said.  He poked at the fire and the flames flared up, briefly illuminating the interior of the cave.  As if on cue, the five men looked toward the opening of the cave as though expecting soldiers to materialize at the entrance.  Yeshua picked up an errant twig and tossed it into the fire.

           “It’s unlikely Herod’s soldiers would be out in this weather,” he said, looking from one to the other of his companions.  “Besides, if they wanted to arrest us they would have taken us when they arrested Yohanon.”  It had been a simple matter to escape while the soldiers were distracted by the struggle to take the Baptist into custody.  Yeshua and a few of the others managed to splash across the river and escape into the hills.  They were not there when Yohanon was taken but remained hidden in the caves without word of his fate.  It was obvious Herod’s men were not interested in arresting any of Yohanon’s followers.  It was the Baptist Herod wanted.

           “We tried to warn Yohanon about preaching against the king,” one of the men said, trying to assuage his own sense of guilt.  The others nodded in agreement.

           “We all tried to dissuade Yohanon from attacking King Herod in public,” Yeshua said.  It would do no good to start accusing one another of not doing all they could to forestall the outcome of Yohanon’s chastisement of the king.  Yeshua’s own conversations with the Baptist were to no avail.  Yohanon would have none of it.

           ” It makes no sense to admonish the people to live their lives according to the Torah when the king lives in sin,” Yohanon said,  “I will continue as I have been until King Herod submits to God’s Law.”

Yeshua struggled to understand his rabbi’s course of action.  “If you continue on this course, Herod may choose to separate your head from your shoulders,” he said.  It was well-known the king was prone to violence when confronted by people he perceived as a threat to his crown.  If Yohanon continued to preach against the king, it was likely Herod would take some action against the Baptist.

“I cannot turn from the path God has set for me, Yeshua,” Yohanon said.  “The kingdom of God will not be realized until all the people, King Herod included, return to the Covenant.”

“Don’t be a fool, Yohanon!” Yeshua said, anger and frustration boiling to the surface.  “You can’t bring the people back to the Covenant if you’re in prison or dead.”

The Baptist looked at his disciple, his closest friend, with an expression of utter disappointment.  “I thought you, of all my disciples, would understand,”

There was a moment, a brief suspension of time, when the two men stood facing one another, the air between them empty of sound, as though each was challenging the other to relent, when a word from Yeshua could have mended the burgeoning rift that sprang up between the two.  Neither man spoke.  The Baptist drew himself up to his full height, turned and walked away.

The men sat glumly staring into the fire.

Abruptly, Levi spoke up.  “We can’t just sit here doing nothing,” he said,  “We should at least try to find out what happened to Yohanon.  If the soldiers did manage to arrest him, we should find out where they’ve taken him.”

“I agree with Levi,” Joshua said.  “If the soldiers were after us, they would have found us by now.”  The others nodded their agreement.

The rain had begun to subside and Levi, taking note of the change in the weather said, “We should leave as soon as the rain stops.  Wherever they’ve taken Yohanon it should be easy enough to catch up with them.  They have to be somewhere between here and Jerusalem, if not in the city itself.”

All agreed this made sense.  Even if the soldiers had not gone to Jerusalem to wait out the storm, it should be easy enough to learn of Yohanon’s whereabouts from his followers in the city.  It was dark by the time the rain ended and the men decided it was best to wait until daylight.  At first light they began gathering their belongings in preparation for their departure when one of the men, Hosea, noticed Yeshua had not moved from his place before the fire.

“Aren’t you coming with us, Yeshua?”

“I’m going to stay here for a while,” Yeshua replied.  “I have much to consider before I see the Baptist again.”

“But you were one of the closest to him,” Hosea argued.  “He will be expecting you to follow him.”  The other men gathered about Hosea, looking at Yeshua as he sat before the fire.

Yeshua stared into the flames a long time before answering.  When he looked up at those gathered about him, his eyes were moist and full of sadness,  “Yohanon and I argued before he was arrested,” he said.  “I said some things that were, uh, unkind.”  He turned his attention, once again, to the flames.  “And when he needed my help the most, I failed him and ran away.  I’m not sure Yohanon will want to see me again, at least not now, when the things I said would happen have come to pass.”

None of the men responded to their friend’s confession, only stared as Yeshua continued to gaze into the flames.  After a few moments, without comment, they left their hiding place in search of their rabbi.


End, part one. . .to be continued.


Written by stevewthomas

April 20, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Posted in changing careers

Tagged with ,

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