Everything - Chapter 22
The next week was a whirlwind of prayer, fellowship and a continual wondering when Jesus would visit them again. Peter was becoming more convinced that Pentecost was the time Jesus was going to usher in his kingdom.
At first, the group stayed inside Clopas' house, avoiding the chance of reprisal by Hadar and Caiaphas; while Addi was more concerned about Gavriel's efforts. As the first week passed, the information gathered from Cleopas and Lycus was that because of the death of Jesus, his disciples were no longer viewed as a threat or concern.
Considering what Joseph and Nicodemas had shared with Cleopas, the group was in disarray and confused about what to do next. When it became known and confirmed Hadar and the other Pesachya members were involved in the deaths of Addi's parents (and other's deaths), Hadar had been relieved of his position as priest as well as his leadership of the Pesachya group. Caiaphas quickly denied and distanced himself from any knowledge of the deaths or involvement, but few believed it. His reputation had been stained. When the remaining members of the group learned Addi had withdrawn from the group, and in protest and fear of death had sold everything to those outside the group, there was genuine fear he had also gone to the Romans with the knowledge of what the Pesachya group was doing. Although it was not true, it generated great fear that Pilate and Herod would be searching for, and extracting, retribution on any member of the group.
After hearing that rumor, Caiaphas immediately tried to put even more distance between himself and the priest, along with the Pesachya group. The following week he made an official priestly declaration that condemned the Pesachya group and its members. Although no names were ever provided or revealed, Addi knew the group would no longer be an active or functioning entity until the fear of the threat had passed. Even then, it would be difficult to reorganize.
With Gavriel's involvement in Hadar's murderous role, and his own participation in the deception while working for Addi, he quickly fell out of favor with the priestly order and with every other business or employment opportunity in Jerusalem.
When the right moment came for Addi to have a private discussion with Cleopas and Lycus, he took advantage of it.
"So how much of the downfall of Caiaphas, Hadar, the Pesachya group and Gavriel did you play a role in?" Addi asked the two men who looked at each other as if hurt and confused, and then shrugged and nodded.
"We never lied about anything," Lycus stated and Cleopas shook his head.
"Never," Cleopas added. "We always told the truth to everyone we spoke to."
"All one hundred and fifty of them," Lycus said and they both smiled as Addi shook his head.
"God gives each of us talents and positions of authority to use for his Glory and to protect his people," Cleopas added. "We knew that if we did not do something, things could get much worse for everyone," Cleopas said. Addi nodded in agreement and thanked them both for helping clear away the dangers and obstacles.
"In all seriousness Addi, it's not over," Lycus said. "Hadar, Gavriel, Caiaphas…they will never forget what brought about their downfall and who was a part of it," Lycus ended.
"But hopefully, it will buy us all enough time to see the kingdom of God come with power as Jesus promised," Cleopas said.
With Peter's guidance and leadership, the main group of disciples spent the next few weeks before Pentecost, preaching and teaching in the Temple courts that Jesus had risen from the dead and the kingdom of God would soon be established. Few believed them. Most continued to mock them, but Peter did not want to shrink back from what Jesus had taught them.
Addi spent the first two weeks instructing and teaching Maor about the businesses he now owned and operated, introducing him to the people and resources he needed to succeed. It was a slow process and Maor was a little intimidated by much of it, but Addi could see he was a fast learner and was growing more confident with each passing day.
The third week, Addi introduced Maor to the merchants in the Temple mount area, to further confirm and instill confidence in them that Maor was indeed the key man for them to deal with now. As they had finished meeting with the last merchant, they decided to visit the disciples who were teaching in front of the Beautiful Gate.
When they came upon the opening to the gate, Addi could see the group sitting on the steps, with Peter standing where Jesus had once stood weeks earlier, teaching those that had gathered below him on the steps. He searched the group and found the beautiful young woman he knew would be there. She seemed to be looking for him as well. When the two of them came into view, she smiled and waved.
As Addi raised his hand to wave back, he saw her expression suddenly change to fear while pointing in his direction. If it were not for the warning, he would not have realized the sound of running steps approaching from behind him was as actually a threat. Knowing the danger was almost upon him; he instinctively ducked and felt a sharp pain in his shoulder where his kidney had been moments ago. The momentum of the person who had charged toward him, now carried him over the top of Addi, inflicting pain that started in his shoulder and crossing the upper part of his back. It ended only when the person landed on the stones in front of him. Although initially stunned by the unplanned fall, the man rolled to his feet. Still holding a bloody dagger in his hand, Gavriel came face to face with Addi.
Blood slowly flowed from a cut over Gavriel's eye from the hard landing on the stones from the tumble. Addi, in turn, with blood flowing down his back and his left arm, felt weak as he tried to lift it in defense. He could only wait for the next attack. Gavriel seemed unsure how to press his advantage now that Addi faced him. He faked a lunge with the dagger, which Addi managed to dodge and still hold his ground. Addi recognized the dagger. It was the dagger that was in the desk of his father's office; the same dagger he was going to use to kill Cleopas. How ironic, he thought. Gavriel stepped forward to continue his attack when a woman's scream from nearby alerted everyone around to what was happening.
"You fool! You ruined everything!" Gavriel yelled and lunged again at Addi, who jumped back. Seeing the blade coming at the left side of his unprotected chest, Addi knew there was nothing he could do to stop it. As time slowed, he saw the rage and hatred on Gavriel's face and the tip of the dagger moving toward his chest. He wished he could have said goodbye to Eliana, to keep his promise to her after seeing the kingdom of God established. But time had run out and now he prepared for Gavriel's final revenge.
With Gavriel so focused and intent on killing Addi, they both failed to see that Maor had moved to his right. As Gavriel lunged toward Addi with the dagger, Maor firmly planted his left foot into Gavriel's head. The kick was so powerful it stopped Gavriel's forward momentum, sending a 'thud' echoing across the Temple court area, the blade stopping short of his chest. There was a moment when Addi thought Gavriel was going to shrug off the kick and press on. But instead, Addi saw Gavriel's eyes slowly roll back into his head as he fell stiffly to the ground, still clenching the dagger.
Maor and Addi stood looking down at Gavriel's body watching it slowly relax from the concussion and drift into unconsciousness, as a crowd of people gathered around. Moments later a contingent of Roman troops pushed through the crowd and surveyed the situation before them. Blood was now flowing down Addi's left arm and dripping onto the ground in front of him. At the sight of the blood, he thought of his mother as she had pulled herself along the floor, bleeding and in pain from her many wounds, trying to protect him.
"Addi!" He looked up from the blood and saw Eliana pushing her way through the crowd and running toward him in shock, having moved passed the limp body of Gavriel. "You’re hurt!" she said, her voice cracking as she tried to remain calm.
"Really?" Addi replied, wincing while trying to make light of all the blood. "You should have been a doctor," he chuckled, and she glared at him and made him turn around and remove his bloody cloak. He heard her gasp briefly, as did others in the crowd when they saw the wound on his back. Addi was glad he could not see it. He watched as Elaina took off her scarf and pressed it against the wound. Meanwhile, the Roman guards reached down and removed the dagger from Gavriel's hand and looked around.
"What happened here?" one of them asked. Maor stepped forward and step-by-step began walking them through everything that had taken place. Several others who had witnessed the attack also came forward to confirm the story.
As different viewpoints were shared, more people came forward with bandages and ointments to help Eliana dress Addi's wound. Some burned, some smelled horrible; but they were finally able to stop the bleeding. Although he remained groggy and confused, Gavriel slowly regained his senses and was able to sit up. Considering the accounts shared by the witnesses, the Roman soldiers bound Gavriel's hands behind his back, left him kneeling in front of Addi as they gathered names, and wrote their report.
The two men sat awkwardly facing each other. Despite swollen eyes from the kick and a smashed nose with blood flowing from it, Addi could still see Gavriel remained filled with rage and hatred, while all he felt was sadness and pity for a man driven by greed.
"We both lost everything," Addi suddenly said to him and Gavriel shook his head.
"It was not yours to give away. It belonged to me." Gavriel hissed, but Addi shook his head.
"It did not belong to either of us," Addi replied. "It belonged to God. I simply obeyed what he asked me to do," he added and smiled.
"You're a fool, Addi. All of you are fools if you believe and trust that your dead Jesus was the Messiah," Gavriel replied angrily.
"I gave it all away Gavriel; and strangely enough, God gave it back to me. He would have done the same for you and Hadar if you would have simply believed," Addi ended. Gavriel spit the blood in his mouth toward Addi, causing disapproval from one of the Roman guards who then kicked Gavriel in his side.
"Spit again and I'll kick you in the face next time," the Roman guard snarled at Gavriel. Addi took a breath.
"He's not dead Gavriel. He rose on the third day just as he promised he would," Addi replied. "And his kingdom is coming very soon." It appeared Gavriel was going to try to spit again, but stopped himself as the guard poised his leg to kick.
Once all the information had been gathered, the Roman guards led Gavriel away to prison and eventual trial. With his wounds bound and leaning on Eliana, Addi and the rest of the disciples began to walk back to their home. Addi looked down at the woman he was leaning on whose sleeves and cloak were now covered in his blood. She still seemed in shock and disbelief and on the verge of tears.
"Thank you for the warning," Addi said softly to Eliana as they walked along. "You saved my life." Eliana sighed in disbelief.
"I hope you're not going to be this much trouble all the time," she said sarcastically. "You have a vow to keep," she ended. Addi wondered if she meant the one to see God's kingdom restored or the one to her.
While Addi spent the next week recovering from his wounds, the disciples were busy preaching and preparing. Their preaching brought back an ever-growing number of former believers who heard their message and had their faith renewed. They also were seeing former nonbelievers choosing to put their faith in Jesus, including both Joseph and Nicodemas. The number had quickly grown to over 100.
With the addition of each new disciple, many of whom did not live in Jerusalem, there was a growing need to find a place for them to sleep and eat. Clopas' house was already filled beyond its capacity. Some of the newer disciples were also opening up their small homes to help meet the growing need, but it was not enough.
"Maor's house is still empty. Maybe he will let us move in?" Addi suggested. Addi had not seen or heard of Maor visiting his former home, nor had Addi been there since leaving it. At first, Maor shook his head to the suggestion.
"How many can it hold?" Peter asked, looking at Addi. Although Addi knew it would be crowded, his family's estate could hold all of them, plus perhaps a few more if needed.
"Most of us," Addi replied. "And thosewho will not fit inside can either relax outside in the garden area, or on the veranda," Addi replied and everyone looked back at Maor. Maor seemed upset by the idea as he looked at Addi.
"It was going to be a marriage gift to a family member," Maor stated. Everyone in the room knew he meant Eliana and Addi. He looked at Eliana and gave a wink.
"Who's getting married?" Addi asked jokingly and everyone laughed and pretended not to know. Eliana just blushed and shook her head. "I'm sure whoever the couple may be, they are honored by such an incredible gift, but perhaps the need of the hour far outweighs the need of the future," Addi added while everyone seemed to wait for Maor's reply. He eventually nodded and looked at Addi. As if a start whistle had been blown, everyone began gathering their belongings and preparing to head toward the estate.
As the group of disciples assembled in the street with all their goods, Maor step forward to make an announcement.
"Although I will chaperone them when we get to the estate, I want Addi and Eliana to tour the house before we all overwhelm it," he ordered. Everyone agreed and started heading down the street. As they approached the estate, Addi was, at first, a little nervous at the sight of two guards by the front gate; but as they waved at Maor, they opened the gate and waited for their arrival. Maor stopped in front of the gate and looked at Eliana, and then at Addi.
"In his anger, Gavriel did a lot of damage to your home and destroyed a lot of your personal items," Maor sad apologetically.
"I figured he would, which is why I never came back here," Addi replied.
"I have hired workers to clean things up and a few guards to make sure he did not come back. It's in much better condition than it was, but it still has a way to go," Maor said as he motioned for Eliana and Addi to enter.
"Thank you, Maor," Addi said and Eliana stopped and kissed him on the cheek as she passed.
As Addi and Eliana walked through the outer court toward the building, the walled estate felt familiar to Addi, yet new at the same time. Where before he had viewed it only as a place to sleep, he now viewed it as a place to raise both a physical and spiritual family. Although he knew it no longer belonged to him, but instead was entrusted to him by God, he could not help but think of children and family members running through the grassy yards and sleeping safely in their beds. He pointed to the large pool of cool water that his father had built next to their well.
"My mother loved to soak in that during the hot summers while my dad would pour buckets of fresh cool water on her from the well," Addi said and laughed at the memory of his mother squealing when the cold water was poured on her.
When they entered the front door of the large house, Eliana remained silent as Addi told her about each part of the downstairs house, the guest quarters, the servant's quarters, and the storage rooms. He could see where the workers had repaired a destroyed doorframe, or alcove, or floor tile Gavriel had destroyed in his rage, but for some reason it did not bother Addi. As they walked up the stairs to the second floor, Addi had forgotten how spacious and open it was.
"It's perfect," Eliana whispered as she looked around the great room. "We can all be here together," she continued. She followed Addi into the dining area, down the hallways to the many bedrooms and then finally out onto the veranda where they stopped to look over the city of Jerusalem.
"This is where I spent most of my time dreaming of God's kingdom and of you sitting here next to me," he said and had her sit in one of the chairs on the veranda while he pulled another one over and joined her.
"It's going to get a great deal louder in just a few minutes," Eliana said and smiled, Addi just nodded.
"Which is why I will treasure this moment," he replied, taking a deep breath, and exhaling. "Shall we let the masses in?" he said jokingly. She smiled and touched his cheek as a tear went down her face.
"You are a strange one, Addi ben Zuriel," she said. "Which is probably why I love you so much," she continued, looking over her shoulder to where Maor stood in the doorway of the veranda.
"Thank you," she said. Maor nodded, then turned and opened the gates.
The number of people working their way through the house grew until Addi stopped counting how many times someone patted or slapped him on the back in appreciation for a place to live, forgetting in their joy his wound that was still healing. After a while, he decided the safest place to stand was against the wall, forcing them to shake his hand instead. Despite the pain, he admired the hearts and unique qualities of each person who passed by him. How each had given up, or risked everything to follow Jesus. Some had seen Jesus in person, others simply believed the personal accounts the other disciples shared with them. He had gone from a lonely family of one to this happy family of over a hundred in less that a month.
As he watched his new family fill the house, he suddenly remembered the last words Jesus had spoken out loud to him when he walked away sadly following his first meeting with Jesus, and his challenge for Addi to sell everything. “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”
Addi laughed out loud and Eliana looked up at him.
"What's so funny?" she asked.
"God's sense of humor," he said and smiled.