“The point of what I’m saying is…”
You’re talking as persuasively as you can but you can’t finish your sentence before Daniel shouts over you, “THE POINT OF WHAT I’M SAYING IS THIS,” he raises his knife for emphasis and lowers his voice, “the point is that they are going to kill you if you don’t join.”
“Daniel, what happened to you?”
“All you need to be concerned about is what’s going to happen to you…and to the rest of the sect if you don’t become part of our cause.”
“Listen to you. We’re a sect and you’re a cause? Daniel, win or lose, your revolution will have an end. And what then?”
You’re not encouraged by the sarcastic smile on Daniel’s face and even less when he says, “What then? We will have spilled their blood and fought for our freedom.”
“The Ka-na-im have spent more time spilling Jewish blood than anything, brother. The only spilled blood that gives real freedom was spilt on Calvary by Jesus. Don’t you remember?”
“Nothing is wrong with my memory, Ishamael. Jesus was not the messiah. I was a fool to ever believe that lie. Messiahs save their people, free their land. Look at us. Look at what Rome has done to our people.The Romans have tried to destroy everything important to us. They even desecrated the Temple…”
“But that’s what I’m trying to get you to see. Our Lord changed all of that anyway. He didn’t resist even when they desecrated his temple, his body. He died for us, Daniel. He died.”
“He died because he was weak.”
“No, Daniel, you’ve joined killers because you are weak. He died because he was strong. He didn’t kill his brothers. He didn’t kill his attackers. He didn’t kill anyone. And He couldn’t be killed forever, either. He was resurrected.”
“You’re a fool for believing that.”
“People saw him, Daniel. Exad saw him.”
“That old man? He says he saw him. You know his story? The story of Exad is the story of a lunatic, Ishmael.”
“You can’t say that. He is like a father to me. He was the same to you. You should have heard him read the letter last night.”
“I have no interest anymore.”
” Then what will it hurt to hear these words? Listen to what the letter said, ‘The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man.
Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.
For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8But God found fault with the people and said:
“The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts. I will be their God,
and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.
You’re amazed that Daniel has been quiet for so long, and you say, “See Daniel. The old way wasn’t meant to last forever. The only thing that will last forever is in Christ.”
Daniel doesn’t say a word for the longest time, he just looks down at the knife he’s holding. When he does speak it’s after a sigh that you hope signals his heart may be opening. You are wrong.
“They are going to kill all of you, Ishmael.”
While you try reasoning with a heart of stone and while Daniel tries to frighten a faith that is becoming stronger in you with every threat, the mob of Sicarii are making their way to claim you. They are lead by the man who quieted the mob that was beating you last night, the man who whispered in Daniel’s ear and gave you time to change your mind. The man who interceded.
He amazed his thugs when he spared you in the courtyard. Ordinarily no time would be wasted ‘converting’ you. You joined immediately or you died on the spot. That he allowed Daniel to take you away was unprecedented. But he was the leader and had earned that status with plenty of blood and no one dared question his decisions. All the mob was thinking about now was collecting you as either convert or victim. Either way was fine with them, they don’t really care.
The leader, however, has something else on his mind. Nearing fifty years of age and possessing authority among the Ka-na-im, his emotions are more easily held in check than the hotheads he leads. He’s walking slowly, setting a pace that his gang may feel is deliberate. Truth is, he’s stalling. His dreams won’t go away. Determined as he is to stay the course he set so long ago, his daylight hours are filled with the purpose of the cause. But in the sleep that he can’t control he still is haunted by Jesus.
The leader met Jesus long ago on that beach in the Gadarenes. Time had blurred his memories of what he’d been before he met the Carpenter. But when asleep, he could still see the tombs and hear the voices in his head and see the blood on his arms. Images flow from one to another: a torrent of demon-like creatures shrieking and flying past him into a herd of pigs now rushing down a steep bank into the sea as chains fall from his arms leading to that last image…him looking into the happiest, most peaceful, laughing eyes he’s ever seen. Even in his sleep he was aware of a presence unlike any he’d ever felt. Even in his sleep he knew these eyes had taken a stand between light and darkness for him. Even in his sleep he knew these eyes had already talked to the Father for him. And even in his sleep his waking mind wanted to stay and gaze into those eyes forever; to never leave that place, that feeling, that incredible calm and that…there was something else. Something that was foreign to him now and something he couldn’t quite identify. What was it? He knew it was important. He knew it was the answer to everything. Everything that ever was or ever would be or ever needed to be. It was so important but he couldn’t quite make it out. He was trying. He was looking into those eyes and trying so hard. He wanted to understand this piece of the dream.
Then a warm wave of understanding flooded over him and at last he knew. He knew so clearly, so brilliantly, so absolutely and it made him happy and it made him want to cry and it changed everything. It was the answer to everything. It was the secret to everything that is important. He needed to remember this. Of course he would. How could he forget the most important thing in the universe once he saw it; once he grasped it in his heart? This changes everything! He is so excited. He is so amazed. He is so elated. Then…
…he’s so awake.
He’d awaken and for the first few seconds he thought he’d held on to the illusive mystery but before he’d stretched himself off his mat the part of his brain that ran the wakeful hours stole the secret and buried it deep again. The same dream came to him every night for years now and the mystery forever eluded his daylight self.
Instead, he remembered his first days after that foggy experience on the beach by the Sea of Galilee which, for a while, he had called a miracle. He remembered telling whole towns about it, though now he couldn’t recall why he was so zealous for the Carpenter at the time. The years had a way of erasing the emotions and as incredible as the event must have been to him thirty five years ago, he slowly forgot what really happened to him.
His clearest history began the day that the Sicarii found out how skillful he was with a knife.