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Friday, January 6, 2012

Fiction Friday: One More Time, Chapter 31, More About Jesus

Sarah made a point of checking with Jonas to see if he knew anything new whenever she went to the marketplace, but no news had yet been received regarding Hamath. The week following Paul’s promotion, Jonas greeted her with a request. “Now that Paulos is an official tutor, do you think he’d be willing to accept one more student? Dathan is schooled in Greek, but I don’t have time—or as much ability—to teach him sums. I’d of course pay Paulos for this.”
“I’m sure Paul would be willing and happy to teach Dathan, but I’m equally sure he won’t accept payment. We’d have to get Dorcas’ permission. I can let you know tomorrow, if that’s soon enough.”
“That’s soon enough. He has gone fourteen years knowing only the rudiments of math, a few more days can’t hurt. I’d be grateful to Paul for his help, and I can well afford to pay for his service.”
Sarah grinned, “You may be grateful, and you may be able, but you may not pay for his work. You have done so much for us, this is a pittance we can give in return. Besides, this is what friends are for.”
Sarah relayed Jonas’ request to Paul and Dorcas. Both agreed, and Dathan began coming to the morning sessions with the other children.
What a difference between modern times and these times. In modern times, an older child would be insulted if you made him take classes with elementary and preschool children. Instead, Dathan helps Paul with the younger ones when he is not busy with his own work. Hmm. There could be advantages in the modern world, but this ancient life has its own benefits.
The days passed, and life settled into a routine with few disruptions, other than Tamara still had night fevers too often accompanied by convulsions. Between bouts she was her typical happy self, although perhaps not as perky. She still clung to Paul. Sarah assumed this would gradually diminish as Paul remained happily also clinging to Tamara. And to me, too. Her cheeks warmed at the thought.
Their new stone house had been finished—two bedrooms and a living area in this one. They talked Tamara into sleeping in alone in one room only with construction of a window between the two bedrooms. A curtain hung in the low aperture, and if she needed them she had only to walk to the window and lift the curtain aside to make sure her Papa and Mama were still there. Paul and Sarah could hear Tamara, too, if she cried out in the night or if they heard any thumps and bumps which alerted them Tamara was having another convulsion.
Sarah thought how pleasant the household was without Hamath around. Personally, she wouldn’t mind if Hamath never returned, but for Dorcas sake she hoped he would. Dorcas looked more worried as time went on and no word of Hamath came.
A runner arrived with the news Dorcas’ parents, Proteus and Thecla, would be returning for another visit. They were to arrive the following day, so Sarah made her way to the marketplace with Martha to stock up on vegetables, fruits, and meats. While the visitors were here, they would need to make daily trips. After all, there weren’t only Dorcas’s mother and father to feed, there also were the six men who carried the litter and personal servants.
Sarah looked forward to talking again with Benoni. She had come to believe—or at least to being willing to be convinced a little—in Jesus. She wished she could remember more of her childhood Sunday school lessons. Paul hadn’t attended church or Sunday school as a child. Sometimes in the evening, they talked about the Man in shining white clothes that Tamara insisted was Jesus. Whoever this Man in shining white had been, Tamara had no doubts there was indeed a Jesus, the one who talked to her mostly in dreams. Paul was somewhat bemused by the Man who had given him the choice between going back to his mangled car—and probably being pretty mangled, himself—or to his family, and he was open to the notion that there might be something more to this Jesus person than he grew up thinking.
That evening, Sarah told Paul about Benoni and how he had helped her look for Paul the evening he disappeared. “All the time we were looking for you, Benoni kept going on and on about Jesus. When Benoni was here before, I didn’t really want to listen to him because I couldn’t believe in Jesus. Several things have happened to make me more curious now. Maybe he can come and tell us more about Jesus while he is here. And maybe this time I won’t close my ears.
Paul nodded. “It would be nice to talk to someone who actually saw Jesus under normal circumstances.”
When Dorcas’ parents arrived, Benoni wasn’t with them.
Sarah approached her employer during the morning lessons. “Dorcas, may I ask you a favor? Would you please ask Proteus and Thecla what became of Benoni?”
“I would be happy to, but we already talked about that last night. I remembered what a help he had been, going with you that night you went looking for Paulos. They said someone had bought Benoni. He’s no longer with them.”
Sarah decided she’d ask the remaining servants and slaves to see if any of the others had first-hand knowledge of Jesus. She waited until after the evening meal and then helped Amad carry the trays of food to the servants and slaves.
She smiled a greeting. “Hello. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Sarah. I’m one of Dorcas’s servants. I was wondering, do you remember Benoni, the boy who was with you last time you visited here?”
“Of course.” One of them nodded, Thecla’s personal servant, Mary.
“Last time you were here, Benoni told me about seeing a Man called Jesus. Do any of you know about Him?”
Mary and four of the others nodded.
“We were in Samaria when Jesus was there with His disciples. He spoke to the citizens of the town, and then He healed someone who couldn’t hear or speak. It was awe-inspiring,” Mary said.
“Would it be all right if my husband and daughter and I came over here and talked to you about Him?”
“Yes—that would be pleasing,” Mary said, and several others nodded their assent.
“I’ll go get Paul and Tamara and be right back,” Sarah said.
She ran to get Paul and Tamara, and together they hurried back to the servants’ dining area. The visitors vied with each other, telling tales they had heard of Jesus and the things they had seen. The resident servants’ and slaves’ expressions ranged from disbelief to eager interest, the latter including Paul and Sarah. Probably the most interest was generated, however, when Tamara started talking.
“Jesus is my friend,” she said.
“How do you know Him?” Mary asked. “Has He been here?”
“Yes, sort of, anyway,” Tamara responded. “He talks to me mostly in my dreams. And he held me one time when I was really sick and Mama and Papa were crying.”
Sarah thought perhaps she’d better take over before Tammy started talking about the windy net or the modern world. “Tamara sometimes has fevers,” she said. “One time the fever was particularly bad, and she was near death. She tells us Jesus picked her up and held her, laid her on her pallet, and the next morning she felt better. Neither Paul nor I saw Him at that time.”
Amad nodded. “She does have a lot of fevers.”
The others looked at each other. They were probably thinking the child had hallucinations that accompanied her fevers.
Crispus, another of the slaves, spoke up. “I also saw Jesus in Samaria. When He looks at you, you feel like He knows you as well as a twin brother would. His gaze is so piercing, yet gentle and caring. You feel like He can see right through to your heart.”
Mary nodded. “That explains it well.”
Tamara wriggled in her father's arms. “He loves bigger than anyone! His hugs are so warm they make me not feel freezy anymore.”
“I’ve been talking to a man who is a rabbi here in Tyre,” said Sarah. “His name is Jonas, and he also sells cloth materials in the marketplace. He tells me that some of the Jews expect a Messiah to deliver them from the Romans. Their scriptures actually talk about a great leader Who will bring about peace, One who will be a Counselor. This Jesus you talk about sounds more like a peaceful Counselor than a warrior who would deliver the Jews from the Romans.”
The talk went on for three hours more. By the time Paul and Sarah went back to their home, Tamara was asleep on Paul’s shoulder. They smiled at each other in the moonlight, talking softly and holding hands like new lovers.
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