As was his daily custom, Addi stood on the veranda during a relatively warm day on the 10th of Nisan and looked out over the city of Jerusalem. It had been six long months since his encounter with Jesus, but despite the time, his heart was still heavy from the memory and disappointment of it. The ride home from the meeting had been long and quiet, far different from the anticipation and excitement he felt on the way to the meeting, but it had given him the time he needed to organize his thoughts and settle his heart. “Settle his heart” might not be an accurate statement, but it had changed enough to go back to his purpose. In some ways he was grateful he could put to rest his misguided idea and hope of Jesus being the Messiah. It again allowed him to focus on preparing for the true Messiah he knew was out there.
He often thought of his encounter, reliving each moment and feeling repeatedly, but with each passing month, he learned to let go of it much sooner and not let it take over his day. Although he never spoke of it, he still felt Jesus was a man blessed by God, but he now agreed with Hadar and the other members of the Pesachya group that Jesus was not a man who had the skills and leadership ability to unify the people, lead a civilian army against the Romans, or establish and rule a kingdom. As increasingly more information was shared at the meetings by those who had gone out personally to meet with Jesus, it was becoming more evident that Jesus’ intent was more likely to divide the people against each other rather than unifying them against Rome.
There was a growing concern within the membership of Pharisees and Sadducees that Jesus was gaining many more key followers to his teachings, most of whom were coming from their priestly and leadership ranks. Despite their best efforts to discredit and trap him in his own words, they had failed at every opportunity. They still had their staunch followers inside and outside the Pesachya group who believed their message of Jesus doing these miracles, not by God, but by Satan. But even that strong propaganda attempt was losing its power and fear with the people, and more and more of those who were formerly undecided were now heading to Jesus in droves.
Hadar had repeatedly stated to the group it was only a matter of time before the truth about Jesus would become evident and people would turn against him. Despite repeating his mantra at each meeting, Addi and the rest of the Pesachya group could see Hadar was increasingly frustrated by their failures. Hadar had recently taken his message to both King Herod and the Roman Governor Pilate personally to warn the people, but because Jesus was not preaching a message of the overthrow of Rome, neither Herod nor Pilate had tried to put the kibosh on Jesus.
There was the word from some inside circles Herod was more concerned about Jesus being the cousin of John the Baptist whom he had beheaded, and the revenge he might try to take upon him, but there had been no sign or message from Jesus professing such action. Pilate seemingly enjoyed the fresh message of peace, not rebellion Jesus was teaching. They both allowed him to continue, but were watching him closely, becoming concerned at his growing numbers of followers. So much so that Pilate had an additional 1,000 Legionnaires moved into the city as support for their already strengthened 10th Legion stationed there. His reasoning had to do with the upcoming Passover festival, and the arrival of 300,000 to 500,000 Jews from all over the known world to celebrate. He needed the additional troops for crowd control and protection of the citizens. But Addi also knew Pilate felt a growing interest and fervor in the citizens.
Addi often thought God was using Jesus as a distraction or a diversion to keep those concerned about a Messiah focused on something, or someone else until the true Messiah stepped forward. Did Hadar already know who the Messiah was and not shared it with the rest of the group to protect his identity? Addi wondered. Was that why this evening's meeting of the Pesachya group was being called? His heart raced at the thought and what would be discussed at the meeting.
His thoughts and concerns returned to Jesus. If they found the Messiah, and established him on his throne, would the Pharisees allow Jesus to play any role? With the Messiah in place, would Jesus change his message and join them, or could there ever be unity between them? Perhaps once the rebellion started they would find a way to set aside their differences and come together.
As he continued to stare out over the city, one of his servants who had been standing in the doorway for a while, cleared his throat enough to get Addi’s attention.
“My lord, there is a messenger at the door who will only speak to you.”
Addi turned and nodded and began walking to the front door, stopping briefly to gather a few coins sitting on a nearby table.
A message from Cleopas? Addi wondered and then dismissed it as there had not been one from him in over six months. In fact, he had assumed Cleopas had come to the same conclusion he had and abandoned his own personal research of Jesus as the Messiah and was just as disappointed. The fact Addi had not heard from his friend in so long was very concerning. As he opened the door, he saw the same man who had delivered Cleopas’ last message and the same man Addi had seen in the temple grounds watching him leave after his own encounter with Jesus. Addi felt a bit of embarrassment at the thought of him observing and hearing all that was said during that meeting.
“Greetings,” Addi said calmly nodding to the young man. The man smiled and handed him a small leather tube. Addi gave him the coins in return. The man placed them in his pocket without looking at them but did not turn and leave as before. He seemed to be looking for something in Addi’s eyes. Apparently not seeing it, the smile faded from his face as he turned and walked away. Addi stood in the doorway, watched him walk down the street and disappear into a nearby alley, and out of sight. What was he looking for? He wondered as he slowly closed the door behind him.
Returning to the veranda, he opened the leather tube sliding the scroll from inside. He could tell instantly the scroll was small, and the report would be brief. Verifying the seal was from Cleopas before breaking it, he unrolled it onto the table.
Our guest will be arriving in Jerusalem this week. As there is much to be shared, I would like to meet with you in person upon our arrival. Go to the temple mount on Monday and I will send a messenger to meet you. Let him know the time that I can visit you.
Addi was surprised by the brevity of the message, but understood that if they were going to meet in person, there was no need to spend the time to write it all out. He rolled up the scroll and placed it back in the leather tube.
Today was Monday, the same day as the urgently called Pesachya meeting. Deciding to go early would allow time for Cleopas’ messenger to find him. He looked at his week’s schedule to see when would be a good time to meet with Cleopas. His long-awaited meeting with Governor Pilate was Tuesday afternoon, finalizing the transportation deal he and Gavriel had been working on for so long. Not knowing the length of the meeting, allowing for the usual delays and waiting to be seen, his meeting with Cleopas would have to wait until Wednesday evening at the earliest.
Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. He felt his heart racing same as the last time when he had gone to Galilee to meet the man. Because this approach brings Jesus to the heart of the nation, it would create far more challenges and reactions than wandering around in Galilee. Not just for Jesus, but for everyone and anyone who cared.
Why now, why during the seven-day Passover week? Addi wondered. Was it because of the large numbers of people who would be in the city and he was hoping to get lost in the crowds, or was it an opportunity to address and express his teachings to a larger audience? Addi knew the Pharisees and religious leaders would be busy with the preparation and rituals of the feast leading up to and concluding the Passover week, but he felt confident those in the group would not let the Passover distract them from their agenda either. Addi was confident Jesus was the reason for calling this meeting three weeks earlier than originally planned and was anxious to hear their thoughts of how they were going to handle it.
Addi and his guards arrived in the temple court shortly before noon. For the first day of Passover week, they were surprised by the small crowd as only half the number of people who should be there were actually there. As he slowly worked his way through the temple area, he asked those he met where all the people were. Everyone said most had gone out to see Jesus entering the city. Depending on whom you asked, they believed Jesus was either a teacher, a prophet, a lunatic, a demon, or the Messiah. Whatever their belief, anyone who had yet to travel to Galilee personally to find out seemed very interested in taking advantage of this moment. Addi already knew he was not the Messiah, but he honestly did not know what response he would have about whom he believed Jesus to be.
The excitement level was high with anticipation from those willing to talk about it. Some were giddy and nervous as if they were about to meet their potential spouse. Some were excited and acted as if a long-lost relative were coming to visit. Some seemed concerned and afraid as if they were going before a judge. And some were those who reminded Addi of the crowds that gathered to instigate and watch a fight in the streets; not really caring about the two individuals fighting, they just wanted to see blood.
Addi’s stomach knotted as he realized those who wanted to see a fight were the majority, and he was greatly concerned for Jesus. At first, he felt sadness for his people and their brutally twisted mindset, when a group of Roman soldiers marched past, stirring his own inner feelings of hatred and disdain. He realized he was not so different and wanted to see an even more gruesome and bloody fight break out. Not against Jesus, but against the Romans for what they had done to his parents and his people. Was he willing to stand face to face against his opponent, to take and give the blows needed to defeat him; or was he just an instigator looking to start the fight and then stand back and cheer it on as people died in droves? Did he truly care for his people, or was he just looking for revenge?
Addi looked up, seeing thousands of people wandering in the temple court area and wondered how Cleopas’ messenger would be able to find him. He hoped Cleopas sent the same one that had delivered the reports to him, or he feared he would never recognize him. Even then, he was not sure he would be able to recognize him in the river of people flowing past him. Then it dawned on him. The messenger had probably been watching him since he entered and was waiting for Addi to find a more secure place for them to meet. Addi looked around the area and stepped into a shaded alcove away from the flow of people, with his two guards just outside of it. Within several minutes, a man approached the guards and motioned toward Addi.
He recognized the face of the young man who had delivered the reports to him and nodded toward his guards, who stepped back and let him approach. The young man smiled and remained silent, waiting for Addi to speak. Addi thought about asking him many questions, but knew they would be in vain. He had not come to have a deep or philosophical discussion of what he has learned in his profession, something Addi would have loved to discuss with him. He only came to gather one verbal item of information to bring back to his employer.
“Wednesday evening,” was all Addi said. The young man again seemed to be trying to find something more hidden in Addi’s expression, but his smile faded as he nodded, turned and disappeared into the river of people flowing past.
With still several hours before the Pesachya meeting was scheduled, Addi wandered in the court of Gentiles outside the Temple grounds, searching the hundreds of vendors to meet with his bigger clients. Whether it was sacrificial animals or other goods he had sold them, they were all very uncomfortable and embarrassed as they tried to explain why they were charging such exorbitant prices for the same goods he had sold them at standard market costs. Some were honest enough to say it was an unspoken opportunity all the vendors followed. Others either lied or tried to explain it away as something else. Although he felt all of them should be ashamed, he preferred the honest response making a mental note to work with them on any future programs.
As he worked his way closer to the temple, he realized he was becoming more anxious to see and hear the latest reactions from Hadar, and his newest plans on how he was going to address the Jesus issue now on his front door step. Although Addi did not believe Jesus was the Messiah, there was a strange inner desire to see Jesus succeed, despite Hadar’s continual efforts to trap him and turn the populace against him. Jesus had not only survived and defied all the predictions and repeated efforts of the Pharisees and Sadducees trying to stop his movement, he had grown in popularity. Addi often wondered, was his inner desire of continued success for Jesus more about seeing Hadar fail than in his belief that Jesus were someone sent by God. No matter which were true, he knew all the parties were about to meet at the crossroads of Jerusalem. The outcome would not only be unpredictable, it also had the potential of being very dangerous for everyone.
Entering the temple, as he walked through the initial Court of Women, there was a strange buzz of activity. He knew there was a great deal of busy preparation for the Passover happening, but this was a different feeling. No one would acknowledge the cause of it, but Addi knew who was generating it.
He saw several other Pesachya members moving toward the steps of the Court of Men and beyond to their meeting place. Addi casually followed them up the steps, while his guards instinctively waited below. As he passed the Court of the Levites into the Temple Altar, he was amazed at the level of activity in this area. There were so many priests in their robes and high hats, each with their assistants running around, responding to their requests. As he walked past them and into the meeting room, he was hoping to enjoy the calm atmosphere normally found in there, but was surprised to find the same nervous buzz within the group.
Joseph smiled, crossing the room to greet him in person. Joseph was still one of the few leaders who would greet him. Most still feared Hadar and would almost ignore his presence. For his part, Addi was learning to adjust, but seeing Nicodemas ignore him as the other Pharisees did, bothered him.
As they took their seats, Addi glanced around and saw several empty chairs at the main table. After a quick count, he realized the chairs belonged to several of the newly appointed members who had replaced the Pharisees Hadar had appointed. Because the meeting had been called on short notice, Addi wondered if they were unable to clear their schedules.
Although he was happy about it, it was strange the formalities of the pre-meeting rituals seemed to have been shortened and rushed in an effort to get to business. After the traditional brief greeting by Hadar, he looked around the room at members of the group.
“This meeting was called in response to a direct threat to this group and the goals we have for our nation. Our demon possessed adversary has entered the gates of the city, and his teachings have poisoned enough of the minds of our citizens that they are now calling ‘Hosanna and King’ as he rides in on a donkey.” Hadar paused to let the comment take root.
“What are we accomplishing?” Asked one of the Sanhedrin who generally would not speak up without approval. “Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and remove both our place and our nation,”1 he ended emphatically as other members, mainly the Pharisees, voiced their agreement. Addi continued to watch the man. He appeared happy with his statement, instead of nervous or angry. At the same time, Hadar allowed the voices of agreement to continue to build in volume and intensity. Addi supposed the man's statement had been planned by Hadar.
Addi saw Hadar nod to one of the Pharisees sitting near the front of the room to open the door. Silhouetted by the fires of the altar beyond, Addi could tell the person entering was a priest, but it was not until he had stepped into the well-lit room he saw it was the High Priest Caiaphas. As more and more recognized the high priest, the room gradually fell silent while he approached the head of the table where Hadar now stood. There was a pronounced boom as the door was slammed shut. Caiaphas remained standing at the front of the table and, apparently as planned, Hadar’s chair had been quietly removed. A grand entrance, Addi thought to himself.
“The work of the Pesachya group and its members are greatly appreciated and to be admired, but your lack of faith shows that most of you...” he paused briefly, “know nothing at all!” He almost yelled and struck his staff on the ground. “This man Jesus is very dangerous, but we should not fear him. Rather we should rejoice that he has come here,” he said, glancing around the room. “You see, it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish. If you look at the priestly records, you will see that I prophesied that this man Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for our nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.”2
Addi was confused by the statement. If Caiaphas had known about Jesus all along, then Hadar had known also. But what did he mean by Jesus’ death? How would his death save the Jewish nation and those scattered beyond its borders?
“Now that he has come to us, it is time for us to prepare for the Messiah to be revealed and for your plans to be unleashed upon the Romans.” Caiaphas ended, turned and walked back toward the door, where it was opened quietly and then slammed behind him. As Addi looked back at the table, he noticed Hadar’s chair had been returned and he was sitting in it. The room remained silent as everyone waited for Hadar to speak, who was enjoying the moment that had just unfolded, like a play director happy with his cast member's stage performance. By bringing Caiaphas in, Hadar had made it clear to the group he had been given the authority to do whatever was to come next, the plan everyone was waiting to hear.
“As you just heard, it is clear as to what we must do.” Hadar began. Addi looked around to see the same confusion and apprehension on other members’ faces as was on his own. 'It is clear?' What is clear? Addi wondered, but was brought back to the moment as Hadar continued. “We are already into the Passover week, so we must move quickly if we are to fulfill Caiaphas' prophecy," Hadar declared, looking down at his notes in front of him. Addi again glanced around the room, looking to see if he were the only one who had not understood what seemed apparently so clear to Hadar. He saw two responses, one mainly from the Pharisees who were all nodding in agreement and seemed ready for action while the remaining members sat stunned and confused. It was Joseph who spoke up for the other group.
"What is it exactly that you and Caiaphas are proposing on our behalf?" He asked diplomatically. Everyone seemed to stop what they were doing to await a response. Hadar took a deep breath, leaned forward to answer the question.
"Do you believe that Caiaphas is the anointed high priest of Israel, the only one who can enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement?" Hadar asked Joseph and then scanned the rest of the room.