As Addi broke the wax seals of the leather tube and the outer scroll covering, he began to think about his father who had spent a great deal of time researching and reading in his office But Addi never understood exactly what it was he was researching and why. He suddenly realized where he and his father were different. His father had spent his time studying and researching within the scriptures trying to discover who the Messiah would be, not just believing and following what the religious leaders told him. As a result, he had come to his own convictions based on God's word, a conviction that apparently proved to be far different from what Addi had been taught.
Addi felt foolish and naïve in many ways. Guided by the religious leaders of the day, he thought he was doing what was right and even what God wanted. He never took the time to research and study the scriptures personally to find what was really true, not just what the agenda of the organization was teaching.
As he unrolled the scroll and looked at the words written on it, he wondered what it was his father had discovered causing the Pesachya group leaders to commit murder.
There was a letter attached by wax to the top of the scroll. It was a personal note from Cleopas. He wrote that he understood and forgave Addi if he was now reading this after taking his life with the dagger in the drawer of his desk, that a 'life for a life' was deserved. It was far short of any repayment that could bring peace to Addi, and he should not feel guilty. He then went on to walk through almost every detail of his role in the murder of his family; who was behind it, his current relationships that were connected to it, and how dangerous his present situation was now that he knew the truth. In some ways it was more detailed; in others it did not come close to demonstrating the heart behind the words that were written, what he saw in Cleopas' face and tears. Addi glanced over at the dagger still sitting on the edge of the table and was glad he had not killed Cleopas, but had forgiven him instead.
As he looked back at the scroll, he quickly unrolled it, forming two different rolled sections, one on top and the other on the bottom. He slowly allowed the bottom roll to transfer to the top as he glanced through the content and length of his father’s research and writings. He could tell Cleopas had combined what was probably many different scrolls or pages into one document. At each new segment of research, Cleopas had put a simple number header above it, saying Item read #2 and Item read #3 and so on. He could almost hear Cleopas and his analytical thinking as he scanned through each section. Within each numbered section, there often was a header or title to the section. One was titled Prophecies, another The Kingdom, another The Messiah and other sections would have strange titles like Oddities and Needs Further Research. It was the last section title that caught Addi’s eye; Personal Concerns. He decided to start there.
In this section his father expressed a growing fear he had for his family, not from the Romans, but from the leaders of the Pesachya group. His feeling was that he may have gone too far in his resistance to the group's belief as to who the Messiah truly was. He had tried to avoid making an issue with the group as a whole. Instead, he shared his research only with Hadar and some other key Pharisee members trusting they would consider his research. After many attempts and more research, they strongly suggested he not discuss it with any other members. Instead they would bring it up in due time after careful consideration and personal research on their own. After months of waiting and no response, he finally shared the research with a Pesachya member, a scholar of the Torah and prophets and his assistant. They spent a great deal of time studying and verifying the research. The scholar then said he would speak with Hadar about it in person. His father and the scholar then met the next morning and discussed the meeting. It apparently had turned very hostile and Hadar was very upset about his father betraying his trust and speaking with the scholar. Although he promised the scholar friend he would indeed discuss it in the next meeting, the scholar was found murdered in his home that evening and his assistant was found murdered the next morning.
Alarmed about the coincidence, his father had tried to hire an investigator to look into the deaths. At first, no one would take the assignment. The one that finally did, came back two days later to withdraw from the case, stating outside pressure had made it clear the case was not to be pursued. He felt the safest way to protect himself and his family from a similar “silencing” was to come out in the open with everything by pulling together all his research, making copies and distributing them to all the members of the Pesachya group. Hew would then withdraw his financial support and backing until such heavy-handed coercion was addressed and those responsible were held accountable. He had carefully documented his concerns with the leadership's involvement in the death of the scholar and his assistant.
As he finished reading the personal observations, Addi realized he held the last personal note his father had written before he was assassinated, and his greatest fear had proven to be true. He knew Hadar and those involved had been given this same information and that they had read it. Addi felt sick at the thought that, for fifteen years, they had smiled, guided, and shared their deep wisdom and knowledge of the Torah with him knowing they had murdered his family. How cold and hypocritical could an organization be? Jesus was right when he spoke about them as the Messiah. No wonder he went after them so intensely.
Starting with Prophecies, Addi spent the next seven hours reading and studying the various sections. Although most were clear and a perfect fit as he applied them to Jesus, some were not as clear. Reading the section titled The Kingdom, he realized how far off he had been to understand what God was planning, not only for the nation of Israel, but for the Gentiles, too. As Addi read The Messiah section, he realized that although his father had never met Jesus at the time of his research, the scriptures he found and used were an amazing reflection of Jesus, his ministry and what he was teaching. The sections his father had titled Oddities and Needs Further Research were appropriately titled. Except for a few scriptures he had listed, it probably made more sense to Addi knowing Jesus today. They were strange and hard to fathom to say the least.
It was nearly morning when he finally finished reading and cross-referencing the scriptures his father had listed. Some of them made perfect sense. Others seemed either unfulfilled or too hard to grasp. In the end, he found himself in the same situation his father had been in, but he was unsure how to proceed. It would take weeks for him to make enough copies of all this research in front of him, and he knew if he hired anyone to help, it would be found out. Then not only would they act against Addi, but the people he would have hired. Anyone he involved would be at risk. He knew Hadar was already putting things in motion to kill Jesus and he guessed similar plans were probably in motion for him also. If he sat and did nothing, it was only a matter of time before he came to an unfortunate ending. All he had worked so hard to build for the Messiah would be handed over to Hadar and Gavriel. It seemed hopeless.
He tried to think of past advice and training, and remembered the challenge Joseph had given him to pray. He stepped out onto the dark veranda and got down on his hands and knees and began praying. It was not his typical prayer of requests and desires, but instead prayers of thanks and forgiveness. As painful as it had been, he felt so grateful to have learned the reasons for his family's death before his own ended and to know who his eventual killers would be. He prayed for Cleopas’s protection from Hadar, for his forgiveness, for his inner peace and for his friendship. He prayed for his success in protecting Jesus and for his kingdom to be ushered in with him sitting on its throne. He prayed for his own forgiveness and for the ability to see Jesus’ kingdom established and join him in heaven when his life was over. Finally, he asked for wisdom on what his next step should be.
As he sat quietly, concluding his prayers, watching the sun come up over Jerusalem for what could be his last time, he thought about his first encounter with Jesus and the words he had asked, What must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus’ answer was the biggest disappointment and challenge he had ever heard. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ Addi sat there reflecting on those words from the Messiah and how he had felt before and after that moment. Jesus had looked through him and into him to see the greed and selfishness of his heart, revealing how unwilling he was to give up everything to follow him. “What a wretched man I am Father; I’m so sorry,” he said. But something tugged at his heart as he wrestled with understanding being willing to give up everything for his kingdom, including relationships, his future family, even his own life in order to see his kingdom established so he could follow the Messiah. If so, then why did Jesus say that to him?
As he replayed the moment over and over in his mind, a strange thought slowly began to enter his mind. If Jesus truly knew everything, then he would have known his intentions with the wealth he had gathered, although misguided, was still for him. However, what he had never considered until now was that Jesus would have also known the danger he faced with such wealth in the hands and control of Hadar and the Pharisees, and what extremes they would go to to make sure that wealth stayed with them, particularly if he were to follow Jesus. If he had known all of that, then maybe the real reason for his response to first ‘sell everything...Then, follow me’ was what needed to happen if Addi were to save his own life to be able to follow him. Was that really it, the meaning or reason for his response, or perhaps both?
He thought about the idea of ‘selling everything’ and how perfect it truly would be. If he had nothing, then there was nothing he had that they wanted. Without the power of his wealth and influence, there was very little for them to fear from Addi. They may still seek revenge, but as Cleopas was at peace, even with the idea of Addi killing him for the role he had played in the death of his parents, Addi felt at peace with the idea of dying knowing he had prevented Hadar from using that wealth for his own twisted purposes.
As he sat there, he realized he had a great deal to do in a very short time. He also knew he could not do it alone. He stood up and walked to the railing of the veranda and waved his arms. Moments later there was a knock on the downstairs back door.