While he sat on the veranda contemplating his day, Addi stretched and rubbed his tired eyes as the sun slowly pushed its way above the skyline. He had spent most of the night tossing and turning as he contemplated the knowledge he now carried around in his head following his meeting with Pilate. The biggest question that concerned him was why Pilate had even told him about the Pharisees and Sadducees asking for him to arrest and kill Jesus. Was Pilate once again just being shrewd by trying to undermine his loyalty to the Pharisees, or to the Pesachya group? Did Pilate know about their organization? That thought alone was enough to keep him from getting any sleep.
If he had not witnessed Hadar's admission of planting the seed with Herod that ultimately saw John the Baptist killed, he would have never believed Pilate's statement. But now the whole idea of them requesting him to kill Jesus not only seemed feasible, but probably truthful. It was the thought of his own involvement in all this that made him sick and confused on how he should proceed. It was not until he stepped out onto the veranda that he decided on what he would do.
Knowing he was meeting with Cleopas that evening, he decided the best use of his time before then was to learn more about Jesus. And based on Jesus' fearlessness from yesterday, he figured the best place to find him would be in the temple courts. He notified his two guards of his plans and pulled together what he felt he would need to spend the entire day there.
Despite the crowds, their pace picked up the closer they got to the temple courts, so much so that one of his guards asked if he were late for a meeting. Addi realized the idea of watching and listening to Jesus was somehow exciting, an excitement he had rarely felt listening to the priest at the temple. Was it his message, or the risk and danger it took preaching it? All he knew was that for some reason he wanted to see Jesus succeed every time he encountered a Pharisee or Sadducee. In fact, he enjoyed it.
Arriving at the temple mount area, they crossed the Gentile Court where they had last seen Jesus the previous morning. Again, he dismissed his guards, asking them to return home and wait for him to arrive that evening. As he settled in on the top row of steps to the left of the Beautiful Gate, he watched as crowds of people walked past. There was an occasional person he recognized, mostly priests, but the clear majority were from out of town and wandered the temple grounds in amazement.
"Waiting for the Messiah?" An elderly man sitting on the steps to his left asked and smiled. At first Addi thought he would deny it, but did not know the man so he nodded and asked.
"All my life," the man said with a distant smile as he continued to scan the temple court areas before continuing. "What is it you hope to find from him?" the man asked. Addi contemplated his deep question before answering.
"Answers, I guess," he finally replied and shrugged.
"Answers or truth?"
"Is there a difference?" Addi asked as the man smiled and nodded without taking his eyes off the crowd before him.
"I have found if I'm only looking for an answer, then I will look until I find the one I like best or the one which agrees with my own desires. But if I'm looking to find the truth, I must first remove my personal desires and influences before I even consider the question," he said and turned to Addi. "Then I focus on whether to believe in the source from where the answer comes," the elderly man said and then pointed across the temple grounds. "Here he comes."
Addi's heart quickened as he followed the direction of the man’s finger and saw in the center of the temple court what looked and sounded like a swarm of bees surrounding the queen as she moved locations, except the bees were people and the queen was Jesus. Some were running away as if carrying an important message to another waiting party, others were walking or running toward the swarm in an attempt to join it. Addi fought the urge to also run toward him but stayed where he was, still thinking about the words the man next to him had shared. Addi knew he was looking for the Messiah, the Messiah who would drive out the Romans by sword and reestablish his kingdom in Jerusalem and across the earth, but he knew Jesus was not that Messiah, not the messiah he was looking for. But was he the Messiah the world was looking for? If he followed the man's advice and removed his personal desires for a Messiah, how would he see Jesus?
As the swarm grew closer, Addi tried to set aside his "warrior king" Messiah vision and focus on the answers Jesus and John the Baptist had both taught. Repent and believe the good news, for the kingdom of God is near. All of it accessed through a baptism of repentance and forgiveness of sins. Addi remembered what Nicodemas had said about his encounter with Jesus, 'Addi, he sees right through us and into our hearts. He answers our questions before we ask them and his words...what he teaches is so profound, yet so challenging. The kingdom we desire is different from the one he professes. In his, you enter through a new spiritual birth of water and spirit that requires a person to make a physical and mental choice of either believing in him with all your heart, or not.'
Addi thought about Nicodemas' statement and how different the two kingdoms were; one a physical kingdom, the other a kingdom of the heart, and how it applied to what the man nearby had said. If Jesus was from God, as Nicodemas and so many others believed, then what Jesus is teaching should be heeded and obeyed by all! Addi's heart suddenly went cold as he recalled what Jesus had told him; 'One thing you lack. Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.'
Addi remembered the interaction as if it were yesterday and the words still haunted him night and day. Even Jesus' initial response when Addi had called him good teacher, and Jesus saying why do you call me good, no one is good - except God alone, as if he were testing Addi on who he truly believed Jesus was. In response, Addi had made it clear whom he felt Jesus was by saying only teacher. It was an easy way out. If he did not believe Jesus was from God, then he would not need to obey his words. If he did believe then everything he had worked and strived for would be lost.
Addi turned to ask the man next to him whom he thought Jesus was, but he was not there. Addi urgently scanned the area, looking for where the man may have gone, but he could not find him in the growing crowd of people who were gathering near the steps as Jesus came closer. Another opportunity lost, he thought to himself as the outer edges of the people began to move onto the steps in front of him.
As Jesus and his disciples approached the steps, he could see they were in deep discussion. Jesus was nodding and answering their questions as the people around them were trying to hear him. He passed through the sea of people in front of him as if he were Moses parting the Red Sea. At first Addi was nervous, thinking Jesus might be coming up the steps to speak with him personally, but he angled to the right and stopped a few steps down. Jesus then turned to face the sea of people gathering below him to deliver his answer.
"Have faith in God," Jesus announced loudly as the crowd fell silent waiting for him to continue. "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."1
A hush fell over the crowd of people as they considered the power and challenge of Jesus' statement. Hearing a commotion to his left, Addi saw a group of Pharisees pushing their way through the crowd reaching the edge of the area around Jesus. Jesus waited silently as their pointed hats and white garments came into view only a few feet away from where Addi stood. Although they were a little disheveled and frustrated at the crowd for not dispersing as they approached, a respect and protocol they felt they deserved, they took a moment to adjust their garments as they prepared to address Jesus. Addi recognized Caiaphas, Hadar and a few other priests as they glanced around at the enormity of the crowd below them. Hadar finally broke the silence.
"By what authority are you doing this and who gave you this authority?" The question seemed odd, as if rehearsed. Jesus tilted his head and looked briefly at the crowd and then back to the Pharisees who had assembled themselves in such a way as to create enough room to stand almost defiantly before him.
"I will ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John's baptism- where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?" Jesus asked. Hadar seemed shaken by the question about Jesus' cousin John, as if knowing he had been involved in his death. Instead of answering, they turned away and Addi heard them discussing how to answer it amongst themselves.
"If we say, 'From heaven' he will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' But if we say, 'From men' - then he will know we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet." They nodded, and Caiaphas mumbled something Addi could not hear. Hadar turned back to respond to Jesus and the crowd became silent again as they waited for his response.
"We don't know," Hadar said coldly and the crowd murmured and grumbled at the response. Jesus shook his head in disappointment before finally responding.
"Then neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."2
Jesus then turned away from the group of Pharisees as if dismissing their presence to again face the crowd, who immediately went silent in anticipation of what he might say.
"What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' 'I will not' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will sir' but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?" Jesus asked. To his surprise, Caiaphas spoke up.
"The first," Caiaphas said confidently, the other Pharisees nodding. Then Jesus again turned to face them.
"I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness. You did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him," Jesus said sternly in response as the crowd mumbled in amazement.3
Addi thought about the simple message and calling John had preached at the Jordan River, the same message Jesus and his disciples were preaching; 'to confess, repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, preparing our hearts for God.' It seemed so purposeful; from the opening comment Jesus had made to the crowd to simply 'have faith and believe in God', and then pivot to the same teaching as John's baptism to challenge the Pharisees on their lack of obedience to God's commands. Addi could see the challenge did not go without effect, their embarrassment was evident on their faces.
"Listen to another parable," Jesus said directly to Caiaphas. "There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a wine press in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. 'They will respect my son,' he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance.' So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" Jesus ended, waiting for Caiaphas to respond.
"He will bring those despicable tenants to a wretched end and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time." Caiaphas finally replied angrily.
"Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?" Jesus asked and waited until Caiaphas nodded. "Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed." Jesus said clearly. Everyone in the crowd, including Caiaphas and Hadar, knew Jesus was speaking about them.4
Addi could see that instead of humility and fear, there was only rage, and revenge written across the faces of the high priest Caiaphas, Hadar and those Pharisees with them. For a brief moment Addi thought Hadar would lash out at Jesus as he had done to anyone in the Pesachya meetings who opposed him, but Caiaphas put a hand on his chest and motioned with his head toward the crowd below them. Hadar could see they were nodding in agreement with Jesus' words, watching how they would respond. Hadar seeming to understand the danger of the moment, calmed down and stepped back. There was an uncomfortable period of silence until Caiaphas turned and left the edge of the circle and disappeared into the crowds.
The next few hours Addi listened as Jesus taught from the steps, answering their many questions. He and the crowds hung onto every word of Jesus’ teaching, mostly being taught in parables, requiring each person to try and understand what it meant and how it applied to them. Addi realized they were 'word pictures' intended to help those who may not have memorized scripture, but could easily relate to what he was teaching.
When Addi was not watching Jesus, he would watch his disciples. Each was very similar in appearance, although the one who sat closest to him seemed larger in stature. Most listened intently to Jesus' every word, never taking their eyes off him. One of them seemed distracted and spent more time looking down at the ground, shaking his head slightly in what Addi could only describe as 'frustration' as Jesus taught from the steps in front of him. He seemed like the odd man out in the group though none of the other disciples treated him any differently.
As the day progressed, Addi recognized various Pesachya members and their assistants stepping forward to ask a question meant to trap Jesus in his words. Hadar and Caiaphas were determined to chisel away at Jesus until he made a mistake, then they would pounce. He was a little surprised to see Hadar now working together with the Herodians, as a combined group of Pharisees and Herodians came forward to ask Jesus a question.
"Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity and you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are," they said. Addi could feel them setting Jesus up for the kill. "Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" They had carefully laid their deadly trap and now waited for Jesus to walk into it. Addi knew if they could get Jesus to say, 'do not pay taxes to Rome,' then they would have what they needed to have him arrested by the Roman soldiers. The crowd seemed to understand this also and became silent as they waited for his response. Jesus appeared disappointed with the group of men asking the question and shook his head.
"You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax?" Jesus demanded and held out his hand. One of the Herodians gave Jesus a denarius. Looking at the coin, holding it out for them to see, he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"
"Caesar's," they replied.
"Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" Jesus replied and tossed the coin back to them. The crowd, clearly amazed, nodded and mumbled in agreement, while the group who tried to trap him withdrew back into the crowd, defeated again.5
At one point, Addi realized several hours had passed and he and the rest of the crowd, including Jesus and his disciples, had not eaten. Addi opened the bag he brought with him and, at first, thought about withdrawing from the crowd to eat its contents and then return. But as he glanced around, he saw Jesus' disciples sitting on the steps below him had not brought anything. Addi hesitated a moment as he thought about the delicious dates, cheeses, and bread he knew was waiting for him inside the bag. But instead of taking a few for himself, he merely tapped the nearest disciple on the shoulder and handed him the bag. When the big man opened the bag, a smile grew across his face as he looked back and nodded in appreciation. Addi returned the smile and motioned toward Jesus and the rest of the disciples sitting nearby. The man whispered a 'thank you' and opened the bag placing it on the steps just behind where Jesus stood.
At first everyone again turned their attention to what Jesus was teaching, but Addi could see the 'frustrated' disciple staring at the bag in front of him. Not waiting, he suddenly reached out and took a fig, a slice of cheese and then broke off a piece of bread and started eating. The one to whom Addi had given the bag seemed bothered by the action of the other disciple and let the man know it by bouncing a small pebble off the side of his head. The one who was eating looked to see who had thrown it. Seeing the man's disappointment, he simply shrugged at him and kept eating. An older woman sitting next to the man he had given the bag to leaned over and spoke gently into the man's ear.
"Relax Peter, focus on what Jesus is saying," she said with a smile.
"Judas is so selfish sometimes," the disciple named Peter replied and shook his head. The woman smiled softly at the response.
"Trust me. If Jesus wants to turn it into a feast or water into wine, he will and there will be more than enough for everyone," she replied. Peter nodded looking away from Judas who was staring at the food in front of him while he was eating. As if Jesus had overheard the conversation behind him, he turned and looked down at the bag and closed his eyes briefly. Then he reached down and took a single fig while looking directly at Addi, smiling and nodding as he took a bite. Not missing a beat, he turned back to face the crowd. Jesus taking food was apparently a signal the rest of the disciples needed as they each moved forward to take a small portion from the bag. At first Addi tried to focus on what Jesus was saying, but more of the disciples moved forward gathering what was left in the bag. Addi began to realize each time a person reached into the bag, they often carried with them as much or more than what Addi had originally packed. Having more than enough, they often shared what they had with those nearby. This process went on for almost an hour, with some disciples even returning for a second handful. When the disciples and those nearby seemed to have had their fill, Peter took notice and reached down, grabbed the bag and passed it back to where Addi was sitting. Giving Addi a big toothy smile he silently mouthed the words 'delicious' and 'thank you' as other nearby disciples nodded in appreciation, then turned back to focus on Jesus.
Addi was stunned when he opened the bag and saw that although there were more crumbs at the bottom of the bag, there was exactly the same number of figs, cheese and bread in the bag he had originally brought. Addi heard a familiar laugh come from a young woman who was sitting next to the older woman; apparently, she had been waiting and watching to see Addi's reaction. He glanced up and blushed, not that she had laughed at him, but because he recognized her beauty and smile. He smiled and shrugged in returned. She held his eyes briefly and then smiled again before turning back toward Jesus. It was the young woman he would purposely visit in the merchant area. She was one of Jesus' disciples. Addi realized it had been over 6 months since he had last seen her and now understood she had been with Jesus the whole time.
As the day progressed, Jesus would transition from the role of teacher, to that of a healer, to an arbitrator. He had to continually navigate through the dangerous questions being asked by the Pharisees and teachers of the law. Addi knew the questions were being sent in by Caiaphas and Hadar in an attempt to trap Jesus. As the afternoon was progressing toward evening, Jesus was again challenged by a group who had been sent to trick Jesus by asking what he felt was the greatest commandment.
"As what was taught in Deuteronomy; 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Laws of the Prophets hangs on these two commandments," Jesus replied and watched as the Pharisees gathered together as if playing a game to determine what their next question for him would be. Jesus interrupted their discussion and asked them a question.6
"What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" He asked. At first they seemed confused, but finally answered; "The son of David." Jesus looked at the crowd and back at the Pharisees. "How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him 'Lord'? For he says in Psalms, 'The Lord said to my Lord: "sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet."' If then David calls him 'Lord,' how can he be his son?"7 The question baffled both the Pharisees teachers and the crowd, including Addi. Was the point Jesus was trying to make the fact that the Christ or Messiah was not born of Man, but of God? If so, then belief in Jesus as the Christ and Messiah that stood before them meant he was either the son of God, God in the flesh, or an impostor. The Pharisees could not deny the miracles or trap him in his teachings, but they clearly would not embrace Jesus as anything but an impostor. The real question everyone in the crowd had to answer was, 'who did they believe Jesus was'?
The Pharisees at first remained silent, apparently choosing to ignore Jesus' question as they began whispering and planning their next move continuing their game of entrapment. Jesus shook his head, having had enough of this ongoing battle of knowledge. Turning to the crowd he motioned with one hand toward where the Pharisees were plotting their next question.
“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you." Jesus said and the Pharisees looked up, almost shocked by Jesus' words of apparent support. "But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them." Jesus said all this while looking at the Pharisees who were now in shock and obviously offended.
“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called 'Rabbi' which means ‘my great one', or 'master' by others. But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted,"8 Jesus continued. The look on the Pharisees’ faces was now one of intense hatred toward Jesus. To Addi's surprise, Jesus did not stop there.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel."9 Jesus never took his eyes off the group of men before him while he spoke.
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean."10 Their expressions were now changing to extreme discomfort. Jesus did not relent in his response to them.
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."11 Addi could not help but think of Hadar and his willingness to have Jesus killed without even a thought of remorse.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!"12 Jesus yelled. Addi knew he was speaking about their desire to see him killed.
“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation."13 As Jesus spoke, it was as if another voice that witnessed all these things was speaking through him from long past memories. Jesus' obvious frustration slowly turned to sadness.
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”14
As Jesus finished, the crowd was silent, the Pharisees and teachers of the law were silent, and Jesus' disciples sat silent. The only sound that could be heard was a bleating lamb in the distance. With that, Jesus turned and nodded to his stunned disciples. With them close behind, he walked through the crowd toward the nearest exit. Addi saw the female disciple who had smiled at him turn and glance in his direction, as if seeing whether he was going to follow. Addi wanted to, but he knew he needed to get back to the estate if he were to prepare to meet with Cleopas. He smiled, and she smiled back, turning to follow Jesus with the other disciples.
As quickly as Jesus arrived, bringing with him crowds of people, he left taking most of them with him. Several hundred people remained behind, all of whom appeared obviously agitated and adamantly opposed to Jesus and what he had taught among them that day. Addi surveyed the temple area and saw groups of Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians each coming together in their respective groups, each angrily discussing the results of the day. He knew he was supposed to be one of them and feel the pain of today's failure, but he could only smile and shake his head at the spiritual and verbal beating Jesus had given each group trying to trap him with scripture and doctrine. In truth, he felt more embarrassed to be considered part of them.
Taking a deep breath, he headed back to his estate. The day spent with Jesus passed like a wonderful cool breeze on a hot summer day, leaving him wishing for more. He was looking forward to hearing from him while he was in Jerusalem for the Passover feast. In fact, he was looking forward to going back out into the country, perhaps taking the time to travel with him to learn even more.
As Addi quietly passed by a group of Pesachya Pharisees he recognized, he overheard them speaking.
"Hadar is right, if we don't kill him now it will be too late," one hissed, but another replied, "We need to be careful or the people may riot." As he finished, the man saw Addi standing just outside their circle, staring back at him. As one, the entire group turned and looked at Addi.
"Addi, it's good to see you!" One of them said uncomfortably and smiled, while the others nodded nervously. Addi recognized him as Hadar's second, or right hand. His name was Kohath.
Addi had not been aware of stopping his walk when he overheard their plans and now stood staring at them in disbelief and shock. After realizing it, he tried to recover from the moment.
"So Hadar has made the decision before the next meeting?" Addi asked as nonchalantly as he could. The Pesachya group of Pharisees hesitated briefly, not knowing how best to respond.
"No. We're just a little frustrated. It's just talk," Kohath said. Addi could tell Kohath was lying. After everything Jesus said today, Addi realized he had been right about the Pharisees.
"Well, I guess adding 'lying' to the list of commandments you're willing to break seems small in comparison to 'murder'. Jesus was right about you, you are hypocrites," Addi almost spat the last words out. At first the Pharisees were taken aback by his disrespectful words, several shifting uncomfortably, but Kohath stepped forward and glared at Addi.
"You sat there and listened to this false Messiah berate us all day and did nothing. You even fed him and his followers a grand meal, and now you have the nerve to accuse us?" Kohath said as he pressed close and glared. Addi realized the others had regained their courage and were now circling around him as if to shield the discussion from any observers. "One word from me and I can have a crowd stone you dead for blasphemy, and all the money in the world won’t save you," he hissed threateningly at Addi, but Addi was in no mood for threats.
"Blaspheme? So 'You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor' is another one you are willing to break?" Addi replied calmly and watched Kohath's face turn red and his eyes bulge with anger. Addi realized he had gone too far and a moment of clarity suddenly came to him, perhaps too late. In his own anger, he had forgotten his guards were not with him and knowing the beating these Pharisees had taken, he would not put it past them to actually follow through with the threat and have the crowd of angry dissidents drag him outside to stone him in the streets. He had to remind Kohath of his influence before this went too far.
"Look, I know you're frustrated, but Hadar is not going to be happy when he hears you had a key income source for the group stoned out of anger," Addi said, trying to diffuse the situation and bring Kohath back to reality. To Addi's surprise, Kohath smiled and began scanning the area as if trying to judge the size of the crowd he could get to join them. Addi's heart went cold as a growing, helpless panic overcame him, a panic he had not felt in a long time.
"Kohath, what is going on there?" The voice was clear and powerful as it shot the question across the temple court from a hundred feet away. The group turned as one to see Joseph of Arimathea, coming down the steps. Addi was surprised to see the elderly man he had spoken with when he first arrived this morning was walking behind him. The shout was loud enough a nearby contingent of Roman soldiers had also heard it and were now heading in their direction. Kohath glared back at Addi and turned to face the approaching Joseph.
"Just venting our frustrations, no harm done," Kohath said, but Addi knew there was far more to the moment than just venting, but he also knew his next few words would be crucial to perhaps not only his own survival, but also to Joseph and the elderly gentlemen following behind him.
As Joseph approached the circle, he was surprised to see Addi standing in the middle of it.
"I'll ask again, what is going on here?" Joseph spoke directly to Addi this time.
"We were…just going over the Ten Commandments and how important they were to obey for our eternal salvation," Addi finally responded and smiled at Kohath. "It seems I have a different understanding of them, so I was asking these Godly leaders to help clarify it for me. Is that correct, my priestly brothers?" Addi said and they all began to nod. Addi then pushed his way through the group of priests to where Joseph stood and looked back at them.
"Good night and let’s plan on doing this again tomorrow night," Addi said while looking past Joseph for the elderly man with him, but he was nowhere to be found. "Joseph, I hate to run, but I'm late for an important meeting," and began walking away from the temple toward the approaching Roman guards.
Addi tried to think of what to tell them, but knew anything he said about the situation would bring a great deal of unwanted questions and trouble for everything and everyone. He also knew he was far enough away they could not hear him, so he politely thanked them for their diligence and service. Then pointing and motioning to where Kohath and the other Pharisees waited, Addi said they wanted to know if they could assign an extra patrol or two to watch the Holy of Holies tonight. The Roman guards only nodded and said, "they would see what they could do," then slowly began walking toward the area. Addi smiled as the group of Pharisees, seeing the Roman soldiers approaching, suddenly began moving toward the safety of the Holy Temple, knowing Romans would not enter there. Joseph stood looking at Addi, knowing there was more going on than he had been told. Addi waved, turned and headed home.
Looking at the late evening sky, he realized he would need to walk quickly if he were to arrive in time to connect with Cleopas.
1 Mark 11:22-24
2 Matthew 21:23-27
3 Matthew 21:28-32
4 Matthew 21:33-46
5 Matthew 22:15-22
6 Matthew 22:34-40
7 Matthew 22:41
8 Matthew 23:1-12
9 Matthew 23:13-24
10 Matthew 23:25-26
11 Matthew 23:27-28
12 Matthew 23:29-32
13 Matthew 23:33-36
14 Matthew 23:37-39