Gathering of the Eternal Five: Pursuit and Persecution

Chapter 5

 

Rome envisioned Jesus of Nazareth as a demented, penniless carpenter with delusions of grandeur. His family lines were too faded to be of any concern. His ability to heal was granted some low level credence. His resurrection of Lazarus was a theatrical trick well executed. People involved in that scheme would be flushed out and punished for their part. He was a pebble in the shoe of Rome to be dislodged  with little or no effort. His ability to command attention and make people follow his lead was a marketable talent.  At the height of his preaching thoughtful consideration was given to offering Jesus of Nazareth a scholarship to Rome and there train him to be a Roman commander. Former enemies of Rome had been successfully coerced into becoming implements of Rome’s ambitions. Jesus was just a man, like any other man he graved attention, comfort, gold and respectability. Rome would cure his dedication to abstinence. Once fully exposed to the pleasures of music, wine and sensuous flesh, Jesus would belong to the empire. Rome could provide all that in return for allegiance. The simplicity of the possibility was staggering. All Jesus had to do was say that his heavenly father was Jupiter and not “Iamthatiam”. Once he stated he was the earthly son of Jupiter, the world would fall to their knees in his presence. Rome had dealt with living gods before; Jesus would be easy meat on the spit. That possibility floated in the minds of Roman heads as a cure to an uneasy peace in Jerusalem. With the son of Jupiter as Rome’s strong arm in Judea, the stoutest Jewish heart would yield and peace and prosperity would result. Rome would win a battle without wielding a sword. The Jewish nation would be Roman Jews. They had escaped Egyptian power to reach their present pinnacle of success. Rome was a different matter without Moses to intervene since Roman swords outnumbered Jewish heads. Rome had learned that peaceful transformation was less costly and quicker to achieve. Whereas forcing masses to accept Roman gods and rules often left much resentment and opposition in its wake.

To his disciples Jesus was a power to motivate the soul. He gave ambition to their spirit. To the receding remnants of paganism, Jesus was a new god on their horizon. It was time to relocate priorities and Jesus offered an easy address. Power struggles were whiplashing in all directions, as interested parties vied for favorable position. The high level Hebrew council spent countless hours in debate searching for a way to recoup their losses in attendance at the temple. Faithful followers of Jesus adhered to the teachings of the Nazarene and would not return to the misguided ways of the Jewish council. In an effort to regroup their receding congregations the Hebrew leaders hired vocal broadcasters to discredit the words of the deceased Nazarene. They continued to berate the story of Jesus rising to heaven in company of angels as being somebody’s laundry caught in the high winds of the desert. Flocks of migrating birds and even deceitful cloud formations were all given blame for the awesome truth.

Onofrio had at last made peace with the cross. He lived in awe of the forces that brought him to be a right hand man to the master of Public works in Yerushalayim. Serou, the Egyptian. No happier man existed in the world as the young adopted son of Serou. His home life with Senobia and their children was a paradise on earth. He labored in earnest to complete his assignments and be home with his family. It thrilled his heart to drive his assigned chariot home and see Senobia waiting by the door. Recently adding zest to the welcome was Horacio holding his mother’s hand and waving at his arriving father. Onofrio would not pass a single day without taking his young son and placing him over his shoulders. He walked home happily with his loving hand on Senobia’s waist. It returned him to a place in his heart long ago when his father did the same thing with him. Onofrio and Horacio would often be heard splashing and laughing as they bathed together. So happy were those times that young Horacio refused to bathe unless he bathed with his father. The wonderful happy times were jewels to brighten his days as he conducted his foster father’s business. Often it would take him to the manufacturing plant where he found joy in visiting memories he would never forget. Paolo, the Greek was comfortably seated as Serou’s master bookkeeper at the plant. Not a single coin escaped his avid attention. Paolo was in his older years and found great comfort in having a near luxurious place in which to live, and associate with architectural heads in his office. He hungered for reports on the work being done to improve living conditions in Yerushalayim. Hieros, the holy city of David had suffered through many name changes throughout its painful history. Had raised and rejected numerous godly entities to arrive at the son of God from earthly Nazareth. Zeus was Paolo’s god. He found great joy in explaining that the Romans were making a serious effort to promote Zeus into being related to Iesus the proper name for the Nazarene. When worshippers said Hail Zeus, it came close enough to accept that they were saying hey sus.  Paolo was happy to accept his heroic Zeus in company with the local son of God. Yahushua was an ancient name given to the god of Moses. Languages, geography and cultures made alterations to that name. To Paolo, the Greek Zeus and Iesus were good enough Gods for him. He revered them both as being good politics. One never knew when he would need the services of one or the other. Paola was an added source of historical wisdom regarding this land of living miracles for the young man with the hungry mind. Onofrio often felt embarrassed when he listened to Serou speak and had nothing intelligent to contribute. He felt honored that his foster father sought of explore his mind and wanted to always have something of value for him to find. He wanted Serou’s praise and admiration. His quest to achieve that goal was fuel for his inquisitiveness and the world was his classroom.

And although the young man accepted his day at Golgotha as a penalty, he also accepted it as the deepest lesson in his life. He had been in the company of the son of God on that fateful day. Men would come and go and nobody could ever take that experience from him. Yes, he pained to remember the agony of Iesus but his heart regaled in the company of the son of God. No man walking had that close a relationship with the Nazarene. They had suffered together, they had cried together and together they had seen the agony of His mother and suffered with her as well. The cross was a burden shared equally by Onofrio de Iberia and Iesus of Nazareth. Such closeness to the son of God was Onofrio’s personal treasure. Within that acceptance was a tranquil power that gave the young man peace and personal strength. He felt stronger than ever before and yet a serene calm seemed to be in control of his actions. He felt no desire to anger even in troublesome situations. There was always a calm solution to even the most difficult problem.

Peaceful acceptance of his previous penalties did not simply fade away. On his daily assignments crosses on the roadside were nudging reminders of his day at Golgotha. Men paid for their crimes along the road to Yerushalayim (Jerusalem in Hebrew), the city of David. The upper heads of the Hebrew council declared war on the disciples of Iesus. To the thinking man, it was evident that council leaders feared a dead Iesus far more than they feared their God. They chose to forget “Thou shalt not kill.” It was imperative to their power to destroy the opposition. Hebrew congregations continued to recede and the disciples were everywhere. There was dozens of them, all in homespun and worn out sandals. Arrests were made in the guise of sedition against the Hebrew laws. They were labeled rebels and punished as such. Heinous crimes against less careful disciples became common. In spite of the council’s hard driven quest to dissolve his disciples, they overcame their tribulation and multiplied. To the man on the street, the disciples became an item of admiration for their devotion to the lessons of a dead carpenter.  A number of disciples were rounded up and presented to the Hebrew court. It’s safe to say that a one-sided trial was conducted and the disciples were labeled guilty as charged. However, the conviction served to inspire outsiders to pay closer attention to the devotion of these men. Nobody is that devoted without a good cause. Maybe money, position, free wine with meals. There had to be something substantial to strengthen their allegiance to Iesus. More so, when the disciples left the Sanhedrin rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace and penalties for the name of Iesus. Day after day in the temple courts and from house to house they went on teaching and proclaiming the good news that Iesus was the Christ (the Messiah). Some men did not hear the words of Iesus from strangers they witnessed his faith at Golgotha. Some disciples were in disguise, but they were there. They had concrete proof when Iesus was seen rising to heaven escorted by angels and that added concrete and steel to their faith.

New and old followers finally grasped the promise of Iesus. He offered the greatest treasure of all. Not gold, not fame, not earthly riches but a clean soul accepted by God and a place to reside in paradise.

Their devotion won many converts but the price was heavy. History would record the holocaust created by the holy (?) men in power. People had a right to question if perhaps the evil of Satan was in full command at the temple. The list of casualties would be long and hard to forget.

  1. Andrew crucified.
  2. Bartholemew, beaten and crucified.
  3. James, son of Alphaeus, stoned
  4. James, son of Zebedee, beheaded
  5. John, exiled for life
  6. Judas (not Iscariot) stoned
  7. Matthew, speared.
  8. Peter, crucified upside down in Rome.
  9. Phillip, crucified
  10. Simon, crucified
  11. Thomas, speared.
  12. Matthias, stoned

(From Fox’s book of Myrtars)

That reality had not made its presence known yet. History would record many more such atrocities and sacrifices in the future.

Today, Onofrio rode in comfort into the city of David with scrolls and instructions to various people in Serou’s assembly of workers. He liked dressing plain to blend into the natural crowd. He learned that when he dressed elegant, he was hounded by beggars and street vendors. This guise was a safe refuge and he did his work without too many approaches for money, wine, comfort or a kind ear. He had been a fond recipient of adoration in the beginning but the thrill had worn off with time. He was a dedicated young man doing his work as the right arm of Serou. He went in quest of fresh fish as his wife had requested. The daily catches were cleansed of intestines and kept fresh with salt. Wrapped in wide leaves, they could be transported for stated his destination. Lemons and oranges from Nazareth were on his mental list also pomegranates for Tremiyo. He liked binging home items that pleased his wife. She had been raised without want for anything. Her husband bringing home surprises thrilled her and she loved it. Equally so, it thrilled Onofrio when Senobia would come running to his arriving chariot and jump into it to wrap her arms around him and lay her head on his back. A quick kiss and she had to ask with the joyous curiosity of a child, “What did you bring me, today? Huh? What did you bring?” As if that were not enough, she would push him aside to visually search the chariot floor for bundles. Today, she found a new shopper’s woven basket with separate compartments and beacons of joy became her eyes. Eager hands filled with childish curiosity investigated the treasures within. Freshly milled wheat, fruits and a clay vessel of an olive oil she preferred. Most importantly he brought her some fresh fish from the Sea of Galilee. He would be an improper dad had he not brought his children some dried figs, dates and a honey comb. A goat cheese blended with raisins and topped with bits of almonds. God favors the man that provides for his family.

Onofrio soon learned that his wife would not allow a single bite of food be passed before she acknowledged God’s generosity. He was often embarrassed when she thanked God for providing her with Onofrio as her husband. He learned to accept a ritual kiss from her and heard the same words a hundred times, “Thank you for loving me and sharing your life with us.” She always found reason to lovingly caress his face.

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