Sandals of the Nazarene Chapter III

There was a buzz about the room after Simon finished speaking. The strangest aspect of this ‘buzz’ was that many were speaking sounds that did not sound the usual Aramaic spoken or even in the tongue of Greece or Rome!
Their hands were lifted up as were their faces ‘speaking’ to a non visible entity. Some of the Jews that followed in with Peter looked surprised that these ‘Gentiles’ as they called us were behaving in this manner.
“Can anyone deny a water baptism to those who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? Those Jews who had come with Peter spoke together with him and Peter spoke with Cornelius regarding this water baptism. Cornelius then spoke.
“If any have received this message as I have to be a true testimony regarding this Jesus, let him or her come with my household to the sea to be baptized for the repentance and remission of our sins and claim this Jesus to be our Lord and God!”
The room was emptied of all save a few. Uncertainty seemed to play on their faces as did mine. One thing for sure, I sought a pardon for my part in his torment and execution. I knew, as my captain had, that he did not deserve a criminal’s death. I regretted my part in those proceedings and if seeking his pardon could be somehow appealed by identifying him as one to be reckoned with by this baptism, I hurried to join those headed to the sea.
Peter was invited to stay and instruct them more in the Way. I sought a private audience with him before he would depart to Joppa. There were still many answers to questions to be sought.
It wasn’t until early the second day that I could have a private audience with this Galilean. It came about unexpectantly when I had gone up to the rooftop to take advantage of the breeze coming from the sea when in the dim light of the morning sky, I espied a silent form huddled on his knees near the far roof ledge. The roof was large so I quietly stepped over to the near ledge and reposed there as not to disturb the silent moving form. He would only rise up for a moment and then lower his head to his bent arms that were raised skyward. I could sometimes make out an indistinct utterance every now and then but his language was unknown to me for the most part.
I had learned a few phrases in Aramaic, mostly ‘market’ phrases to purchase food and drink. My savings were dwindling from whatever pay I had received from the priests to keep ‘quiet’ about the occurrence at the tomb. To say the least, I had already entered my own vow of secrecy as I did not care to discuss with anyone about those matters.
It was amusing; however, that the Jews had instructed us to only report that it was this man’s followers that did ‘steal’ the body away. No even this large Galilean could have overcome our garrison to do that!
As if he could sense my thoughts, Simon Peter rose and turned towards me. It then occurred to me as he nodded at me that I questioned myself – how was I to speak with him if I did not know sufficient Aramaic to dialogue with him?
Cornelius had learned the language but – then I remembered that this simple Galilean fisherman did speak my tongue.
“You are Janus?” Simon Peter asked.
“Yes – I hope that I have not disturbed you, I just –“
“– No, you have not, I was informed by the Holy Spirit you were here,” he replied.
“I have heard of you speak of this holy spirit once before – who or what is he?” I asked “Where is this spirit?”
Peter smiled. “Well that you ask, Janus. I know of what I speak of is odd and strange to one foreign of these lands. As a matter of interest, what is your native land and why are you here?”
“ I am from Macedonia – and my reason to be here in this godforsaken land is something that I am not liberty to speak of.”
“Well, then – I respect your reservation. Do you reside here with the Roman Centurion?” he asked
“ – For the present. He has been gracious to allow me that liberty,” I answered.
Peter spoke no more and then turned as to depart.
“Sir! Could I trouble you to speak more about Jesus and the god you worship?”
“I would be delighted to but we best reserve a good portion of time to do so.”
“Sure. I am indisposed at the moment but I imagine that there are matters that you have to attend to before you depart.”
“I am learning, Janus, that my time is not my own to serve my own itinerary. I am reserved now to go about His business.” Peter replied.
“His business? Oh, yes I believe that you speak of your –Lord?
“Quite right, Janus. Did I not see you at the Sea as we baptizing?
“I was and I was ‘baptized’ though I am uncertain what it all meant? I rejoined.
“It is an outward sign of an inward change in the direction of your life.” Peter stated.”
“There are things in my life that I am ashamed of being a part of even if I was com-“
I stopped myself from speaking further. I had already given him the answer to his earlier question.
“You are or were a soldier. Peter simply commented.
“Was – until recently. I admitted.
“Hmm.” Peter said no more and looked away.
“There are some things that I don’t understand about your –this God – that I got ‘baptized’ for.
Peter turned back towards me and smiled “Just some?” He then began to chuckle. “You must forgive me if I appear to show irreverence to your query but my friend, I was with Him these last several years –“ he continued chuckling and then began to laugh out loud. “Please excuse me, Janus, I –“!
He then let out another peal of laughter, bowing almost to the ground. He continued to laugh for nearly a minute until he could begin to reign in to some aspect of sobriety.
“Janus, no disrespect intended but when you said that there are ‘some’ things that you understand about ‘this God’, I couldn’t help but to recall –“
He then lost himself with a peal of laughter again. I was puzzled. There must have been something about an event or events that this fisherman spent in the company of the Nazarene that brought out this odd behavior.
Finally, after working himself back to control once more Peter remarked, “…as I was saying, my friend, the more I spent time with Him, the less I seemed to understand or figure out, right until –even now”.
“-Then, how are we to know him?
“That is – an entirely a different question with entirely different resolutions,” Peter remarked.
“Isaiah said –rather it is recorded in the writings of the prophets; ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not My ways.’ We cannot form this God, as the nations, including my own, have tried to do.
“So you Jews have not always served him? I queried.
“Heavens, no! Janus….and they still don’t!”

Sandals of the Nazarene Chapter III

Thomas Josiah Chappelle

Oxford, United States

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Partial transcript of the third chapter

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  • Thomas Josiah Chappelle
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