Two weeks later, word came that Jesus had left Galilee crossed the Jordan River and was currently in Judea. Addi wasted no time gathering the resources and reasons to travel there after his most recent meeting with Gavriel. Jesus’ presence in the region was not mentioned. He even managed to make it Gavriel’s idea by reviving a few opportunities Gavriel had recently explored and been pressing him to pursue. Mentioning it briefly to him again, Gavriel took the bait and again made his case to send Addi to make the presentations necessary to close the deal. Addi had even suggested someone else go in his place, but Gavriel insisted it was far too important to send anyone else. At first, he had pretended to resist the suggestion, but then gave in.
Taking two men with him, they rode quickly toward the area where the two business opportunities were located. What would normally have taken several days to play out with traditional meetings and negotiations for the two sides to come to the best price and arrangement, Addi had deliberately moved the process much faster. Knowing his buyers had ears everywhere, he had his guards subtly leak information Addi had a meeting scheduled with another key buyer should this one fail. This process was usually not undertaken unless there appeared to be a breakdown in the negotiations. Although both deals were secured much faster, in doing so he knew he had little profit left in the process. He knew Gavriel would see this and question him about. What it did gain him was four extra days to travel to where Jesus was.
Discovering where Jesus was located was easy. He was one of the most talked about topics in the temple courts and bazaars, with many recently returning from where they had met with him, a little over a day’s ride away. Every personal encounter told about him questioned whether he was from God or from the devil. No one denied the miracles, but the debate always centered on the source of Jesus' power.
Leaving the next morning, they rode hard toward the last known location with the added urgency of knowing the Sabbath was the next day, and if they failed to arrive in time they could not continue their travels. They stopped briefly to rest and water the horses at the same river where he had encountered John the Baptist. As the horses drank and he chewed some bread, he stood in the very spot he had on that day. Where previously there were crowds of people, now it was desolate. Before riding away, Addi could not help wondering if not getting baptized by John on that day was an opportunity he had lost forever.
By the narrowest of margins, they had arrived in the city where Jesus was staying in time to avoid the looks and scrutiny of the Pharisee priests who were visually scouring the city streets for Sabbath breakers as the sun dropped below the skyline. They had been blessed with an earlier arrival because finding Jesus had been far easier than he expected. What had originally started out as long discussions with those they met on the road, boiled down to asking a simple question, “Jesus?” The people would simply point or offer brief directions. Their greatest challenge was finding a place to stay once they arrived, for the city was overflowing with people. Although Addi knew the Sabbath had begun and would continue through the next day, this felt more like the excitement and attendance at one of the festivals. It took making some connections paying twice the going rate, but he was finally able to secure a room for them for the night.
With their lodging arranged, they took some time to stretch their cramped legs by walking around the crowded city, stopping by to listen in on a few of the hundreds of conversations about the man he had come to see. Jesus was the talk of the town, and it was a town divided.
Addi stopped around a fire listening briefly to a conversation between an older man presenting his case for Jesus and a younger man against it, both trying their best to convince the growing crowd gathered to listen to them.
“Who are you going to believe, this untrained man who claims to have been healed, or the priests of God?” the young man asked the crowd while the older man chuckled in response.
“Believe your own eyes and ears! Even the priests ask for him to show them a sign, perform miracles and drive out demons. Yet when he does so in front of them, they refuse to believe it. What must he do to convince them?” the man replied, shrugging his shoulders as he turned to face the rest of the crowd. The soft murmurs of agreement from the crowd clearly agitated the younger man.
“It is by Beelzebub, the prince of demons that he is driving out demons” the younger man replied.
“That is the same worn out response they use after each miracle. What further proof do you need that he is from God? He heals, he drives out demons, yet the Pharisees cannot. Considering that alone, who else should we believe?” the older man asked incredulously.
“Well, your Jesus shared a meal in the home of the town's Synagogue leader and priests, so I’m sure he has been set straight by them,” the young man responded coldly and turned to leave the discussion; but another man interjected.
“I saw him leave that meeting. Although Jesus seemed content, your priests were not at all happy about how it turned out,” the man stated as he and the crowd chuckled.
“They are your priests, too, you arrogant fool!” the young man shouted, suddenly afraid at his disrespect of an elder and slowly began to withdraw into the crowd. “His mistreatment of the priestly order is only further proof he is not from God,” he ended and stormed off into the darkness. Addi watched the crowd, that moments earlier had been loud and confident, but was now quiet and contemplative. He realized he had felt the same during the interaction, torn between the two perspectives.
As he stood by the fire listening to the mumbling of the people, he realized how tired he was from the long hard ride. Between the warmth of the red coals and his empty stomach, he knew it was time for them to retreat to their room. He wanted to feel well rested and clear minded when morning came so he would be ready when he met Jesus. Unfortunately, instead of the sleep he wanted, he wrestled and relived over and over all the thoughts and situations he had experienced because of this man Jesus. From the evening's most recent interaction by the fire, to the time he heard about John the Baptist from Maor, his herdsman. It was a long and tiring night.
The next morning, they broke their fast at the earliest opportunity. Although he felt refreshed by the food and drink, he also felt exhausted from the long sleepless night. Still determined, he asked his guards to watch their room and animals while he set out early to find and meet this man Jesus. Although there were no Jewish shops open, there were beggars and people everywhere in the temple courts who were clearly not from this city, yet had spent the cold night in the open. Some he could see were still cold from the long night; some were still sleeping wrapped in their cloaks. There were even a few of them he could not be sure were still alive and that thought saddened him. Yet as was their Sabbath requirement of no work, he walked past them without offering to help. He stopped to become familiar with the place and looked around for recognizable objects. Perhaps he would return this evening, at the end of the Sabbath, and provide them with some assistance.
As he was looking around he was suddenly stopped by a thought that came to him. Since finding Jesus was the true purpose of his business trip, would the search for him be considered a violation of the Sabbath days rest? Where does one truly draw the line on such matters he wondered?
As he stood there contemplating the notion, a distant rumbling of voices and footsteps could be heard, both becoming more pronounced as it drew closer. As he stood by a sleeping beggar along the wall, he watched a few men run into the temple court area pronouncing excitedly that Jesus was coming. Addi’ heart raced as the very purpose of his journey was now coming directly to him.
As the crowd turned the corner, he watched what must be his vanguard of leaders and followers entering first as if to prepare a place for Jesus to enter. Searching to find Jesus in the crowd, Addi realized he had no idea what Jesus looked like. Addi could see Jews of every social and economic standing; city leaders, soldiers, and Pharisees with their robes and pointed hats, all of them pushing through the gate opening and into the temple area. The initial vanguard of men who first entered came right toward the area where he stood, stopping a few feet to the left of him. The people kept slowly flowing in and pushing their way into the temple court area and what started as a few hundred turned into well over a thousand. Addi was frustrated at the realization that what he thought was going to be an easy task to talk privately with Jesus once he arrived was going to be almost impossible.
Addi was relieved to see that although the crowd was pressing in, it was giving the vanguard of men who led them into the temple courts a little space and privacy. He was fortunate enough to be on the edge of that narrow space. Being so close, he overheard one of the men giving orders to the others.
“Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
Addi looked over to see the one who had just finished speaking turning away from the group and was now looking straight at him as he continued.
“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs,”1 the man said softly and smiled. Then looked back to the other men as the crowd pressed in growing louder, drowning out what he was saying.
Addi looked away to see where Jesus might be, but could not see past the growing crowd, which included a Pharisee who now also stood on the edge of the opening. As he continued searching the crowd, the words of the man echoed in his mind. These men were clearly followers of Jesus, their distain for the Pharisees evident by the accusation of hypocrisy. But what had he meant by the rest of his statement? The way the man looked directly at him; it almost felt as if he was being accused, rather than the Pharisees, of hiding something.
There was a growing clamor and unruliness in the crowd. Finally, a nearby man pushed his way through to the edge of the opening and spoke to the small group near him.
“Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” The man in the group that had looked at Addi stopped talking with his men and stepped forward to face the man who made the demand. Addi was surprised that the crowd suddenly grew silent as they listened for his response.
“Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” He then looked up from the man as the crowd pressed in. “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist of an abundance of possessions.” The crowd seemed to silently hang onto his every word as he continued. “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”2 The man ended sternly, but then his face shifted to a smile.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” He said as he walked along the line of people standing just out of reach of him and then continued. “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” The man stopped a moment and then turned, looking briefly at Addi before turning back toward the crowd. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near, and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”3
The man’s words seemed to pierce Addi’s heart like a sharp sword. He felt vulnerable and exposed by the words being spoken as if someone had told him all his secrets and he was now telling them to the crowd. He suddenly realized the man who was speaking was Jesus. Jesus turned and faced the men he had initially been speaking to.
“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”4
One of the men suddenly asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable only to us, or to everyone?”
Jesus hesitated a moment and smiled at the man and his question, then answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time?” Jesus slowly turned back toward the crowd letting his eyes again rest briefly on Addi and then on the Priest standing beside him before continuing. “It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the other servants, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”5
As Addi watched and listened, hanging onto his every word, Jesus took a breath. Exhaling, he continued to scan the audience as if making personal contact with each person. Then a moment of sadness crept into his features before it suddenly turned into a stern look of determination.
“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”6 Jesus then turned and pointed toward the sky above.
“When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” Jesus said and looked briefly at the Pharisee in front of him. “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”7 As he concluded, Jesus turned and walked toward the Synagogue. Addi just stood there trying to grasp to whom he was speaking and what he meant by his teaching.
In his moment of thought and hesitation, Addi realized Jesus and his men had passed by him, and now he was caught in the crowd. He did his best to catch back up, but quickly fell further and further behind as the crowd pushed in. Unfortunately, once inside, the closest he could get was in the back rows for the next several hours listening to Jesus teaching in the Synagogue. He was surprised Jesus was allowed into the area, but seeing the crowd of people and fearing their response, the Pharisees had stepped back allowing him to enter and to teach the crowd unopposed. As the hours past, it was becoming more evident they were not happy with the situation and began grumbling in the back.
As Jesus answered one of the many questions being asked of him, he stood up and looked into the crowd, with his eyes stopping on a woman who was bent over, obviously crippled.
“Please come forward,” he said, motioning to the crowd to give her room to pass. She carefully found her way past the feet and legs of those either sitting or standing nearby until she was stood in front of him with her back bent and her face angled up as she struggled to try to see him.
“She has been that way since I have known her. Let’s see if he can heal her,” a Pharisee standing near Addi mumbled to another priest. It did not seem possible, but Jesus seemed to have heard the man and turned to look at him for a moment before turning back to the bent woman in front of him and said.
“Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and she immediately straightened up and began praising and thanking God with tears.8
Addi looked back to where the Pharisee who had mumbled stood and was surprised that instead of seeing someone truly amazed by the healing, he was glaring indignantly at Jesus.
“There are six days for work. So, come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” He almost shouted to the people but carefully avoided looking at Jesus. To Addi’s surprise, there were others in the room that began mumbling their agreement with his statement.
“You hypocrites!” Jesus stated incredulously over the mumbling crowd, and the room fell silent again. “Don’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”9
The Pharisee and those who had opposed him were obviously humiliated by Jesus’ rebuke; others were delighted with the healing and the words he had spoken to them.
Addi was moved by the wisdom of Jesus’ statement but was also surprised by his strong words. He felt confused and greatly bothered by the extreme stances that had been taken by both Jesus and the Pharisees. Jesus’ words were truly inspiring and challenging to hear, but they were focusing more and more on refuting and dealing with the attacks and growing resistance from the Pharisees. The Pharisees, on the other hand, in anger or hurt pride, refused to acknowledge the miracles and actions performed right in front of them. Why could they not simply work together to bring about the kingdom he knew they both wanted.
“What is the Kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to?” Jesus suddenly asked the crowd who fell silent as his words were spoken. “It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.” As Addi was visualizing the parable, Jesus continued. “What shall I compare the Kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into it a large amount of flour working it through the dough.” As he ended, he and his men started slowly working their way through the crowd toward the exit.10
Addi suddenly panicked at the thought that if he did not get a chance to speak to Jesus today, it might never come again. He jostled his way through a mass of people and out a side exit, leaving his guards stuck in the crowds. When he left the building, he ran down the street toward the entrance to the temple grounds where he had first seen Jesus and his men enter. What would he say in such a short time, what could he safely say in front of so many people? He wondered as he saw the entrance to the temple court come into view.
If Jesus was the Messiah, and this was his last chance to speak with him, what would he want to ask him more than anything else? He sprinted across the temple courts where hundreds of people were either sitting or standing around waiting for Jesus to exit the Synagogue. He knew if he did not get to the opening first, this once in a lifetime opportunity would be lost. The memory of his father’s note suddenly entered his mind as he saw Jesus coming through the door, a life filled with ‘regret’ is a sickness that never heals, that eats a man from the inside out, and the last thought he takes with him upon his death. “No regrets!” a voice inside almost yelled as Jesus watched him close the last few feet between them. What did he want to ask Jesus more than anything?
Addi looked into the eyes of Jesus, the possible Messiah and fell on his knees before him.
“Good teacher,” Addi exclaimed, taking another breath to finish his question. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” As the words came out, Addi was not only surprised by the question he had asked, but that he had fallen onto his knees to ask it. Breathing heavily, his mind racing, he knew that was not the question he had planned to ask, yet deep down, he somehow knew it was the question he wanted to ask more than any other. As Addi looked into Jesus' eyes, he felt as if Jesus were looking through him or into him as he considered his question.
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered him, emphasizing the ‘you’ and then continued. “No one is good - except God alone.” Addi could feel the beads of sweat from his exertions begin to run down his back as he thought about the unlikely response. “You know the commandments; ’Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”11
Addi thought through each commandment as Jesus listed them off knowing deep down he had strived to obey them. He started to reply with ‘Good Teacher’ again, but still doubting if he could be the actual Messiah, he did not want to imply that Jesus was God.
“Teacher,” he replied hesitantly noticing Jesus’ expression changed slightly, almost as if something important had been missed, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”12
As the two of them looked at each other, Addi felt as though he were kneeling spiritually naked before him and that Jesus was turning the pages of his mind and reading all his hidden secrets, dreams and disappointments; even the important reason he had come to speak with him. As a son awaiting his father’s response, Addi knew with this information now in hand, Jesus would be ready to follow Addi back to Jerusalem and announce his kingdom to the world and drive out the Romans. He saw Jesus’ expression turn to sadness, yet he smiled deeply at Addi.
“One thing you lack.” Jesus replied, and Addi tried to grasp what it was they had not readied for the Messiah’s return. “Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.”13 Jesus seemed to wait a moment as if hoping for something he did not expect to see.
Addi was stunned by Jesus’ response and requirement. Had Jesus not looked through him, into his very soul, to see all Addi had worked his whole life to acquire just for him? An untold treasure was waiting for him to claim and build his kingdom upon, yet he wanted Addi to sell it all? The thought of giving all of it to people who had done nothing to earn it did not sit well with him. He knew they would wastefully and selfishly squander it on themselves instead of using it to support the new kingdom when it arrived. Addi’s heart suddenly broke inside him. He felt all the excitement and joy drain from his body, as he realized this was not the Messiah but only a man whose agenda was far different from his and that of the Pesachya group.
Addi lowered his head and climbed up from his knees. He wanted to say something, to find words that would persuade Jesus to change his mind, but deep inside he knew that would not happen. His heart was so broken with disappointment he could not even politely excuse himself, knowing if he tried to speak his voice would falter and tears would begin to flow. Instead, he just turned and walked away.
As Addi tried to push his way through the noise and clamor of the growing crowd of people, he heard Jesus say from behind him.
“I tell you the truth; it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Addi hesitated as the words again hit hard at his very core.
“Who then can be saved?” He heard someone standing next to Jesus ask as Addi continued to push past the line of people in front of him.
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” It seemed strange to Addi that, despite the noise of the people all around him, he could clearly hear Jesus’ response. “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.”14
Jesus’ voice suddenly faded into the background as Addi made his way out of the crowd toward the temple grounds exit. He looked up briefly to see a man quietly leaning against a wall, taking in everything that was happening in the court area, yet strangely remaining detached from it all. The man seemed vaguely familiar, but deep down he did not care who it might be. Stepping into the street, angling back toward the inn where he was staying, he thought about gathering his guards and leaving, but he wanted to be alone for as long as possible. As the back door of the inn came into view, the image of the man leaning against the wall again entered his mind. Suddenly Addi realized he was the courier who had delivered the reports from Cleopas. Addi spun around, expecting to see the man following closely behind, but he was relieved to see there was no one there. Addi hoped the man had not recognized him, but deep down, he knew better.
Quietly entering the inn, making his way up the stairs to his room, he laid down. As he closed his eyes, he thought about all that had happened and the hopes and dreams that were lost at Jesus’ words. He thought about him being on his knees in front of Jesus, the question he had asked and the answer that had devastated him. He had felt so sure this man was the Messiah, the chosen one from God, yet his advice was that of a madman. Sell everything and give it to the poor! The Messiah would have known such things.
His heart seemed to break in his chest as the tears he had held back now began to fill his eyes, running down his cheeks.
1 Luke 12:1-3 2 Luke 12:13-21 3 Luke 12:22-24 4 Luke 12:35-41 5 Luke 12:40-48 6 Luke 12:49-53 7 Luke 12:54-59 8 Luke 13:10-13 9 Luke 13:15-17 10 Luke 32:18-21 11 Mark 10:17-19 12 Mark 10:20 13 Mark 10:21 14 Mark 10:22-30