Sandals of the Nazarene Chapter IV

IV

Simon Peter had given me much to ponder. Even though I had ‘baptized’ and welcomed into their community of believers, there was much that I was puzzled about. Had I achieved to resolve the matter of my appeal to be pardoned of my role in his execution?
I had only been introduced to the man Peter called ‘Master’ or ‘Rabboni’, under the cruelest circumstances. I had only seen Him then as a Jew that I could place my contempt upon. All that has changed – everything was topsy-turvy – none of my doing – that is-what choices had I made other than employ myself as a soldier six years ago? I have always been one to pick myself off of the ground and go for another lunge at my opponent. Who was my opponent now? Was it the people of this land that I once had derision for; contempt borne from an ill-conceived hatred? I found Simon Peter to be a fascinating man; a seeming contradiction of appearance and mindset. Had this Nazarene brought this about – a fisher of men- did he say? He, the Master, had called him from the fisheries of the Galilean Sea to do what? The Master was now gone –where? What was Peter to do; go about talking about His Master to all that would hear? Was this message that important to give up all that this fisherman had known before?
Granted, I did go out seek even out of intrigue to know something about the one I had assisted in placing him on those rugged timbers. To seek out what, who? My life was bare before me. I had to procure different attire after my ‘discharge’. It was neither honorable nor dishonorable – released as a convenience to the commander of our battalion. I was also given my soldiers’ wages and release parchment.
Go back to Macedonia? Small chance of that. How could I explain to my father and brothers, the cause of my release? Despite my release, there wasn’t anywhere for me to go – Athens was a possibility. I could still hold my own as a wrestler and there was much competition – but then what? I had hoped to work my way up through the ranks to a junior officer and remain until death or old age took me. Death, I did not fear and saw the most likely candidate for my fate. One doesn’t consider his mortality in the heat of battle as his single most priority is to overcome his foe, giving little heed to its reality until it is upon him. I had witnessed comrades perish with a single stroke of a sword or pierced through from a javelin or arrow. Death for them seem to come quick and welcomed. It was the soldier that suffered an infection from a wound that wished he had died outright on the battlefield. The healing arts of a artisan were scarce and improbable to overcome death’s call. Even when they did, the soldier remained crippled and little use to himself or others. Glory was in the battlefield; not in some dim barracks suffering from an ill fated survival. Many of these would pay a companion soldier to place a dagger into his heart .
I had ‘joined’ the company of the followers of ‘The Way’. It was only later after some of the Way been called ‘christians’ by their tormentors as a token of derision but the name was adopted by the believers as a ‘badge of honor.’
I did not know much about these new companions but they seemed to ‘operate’ in life’s activity with a different outlook an were very helpful and supportive. Even in Cornelius’ household, I became immersed in a totally ‘radical’ culture. They would join together in groups, linking hands sometimes and call out to this Jesus or the “father”, sometimes I heard them mention a holy spirit. I knew about ‘spirits’ but one being sacred and even divine was a total new concept to me. I seemed as lost as a cur in a bazaar and I could bear to get some more understanding of what or who this ‘way’ was. I listened in when someone would read aloud from a scroll. They would speak of something as being from “The Law and the Prophets”; how this Nazarene was a ‘fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy of a suffering servant of the Lord. This was indeed strange teachings to me. There was nothing like it in the gatherings of those who came to appeal to one of the Gods of Rome and Greece.
They would end their gathering with a song; holding their hands up in the air as well as lifting their heads upwards. There no statues of this Jesus, yet, for them to gather around and pay oblations to. I wanted to get back with Peter but his group was leaving after this gathering. Perhaps I would accompany them on their journey as I had nothing to prevent me from doing so except for the fact that I was a ‘Gentile’ and Peter’s company were Jews.

Sandals of the Nazarene Chapter IV

Thomas Josiah Chappelle

Oxford, United States

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Chapter four of the Sandals of the Nazarene

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