It was an unusually beautiful Sunday afternoon in the courtyard of the wealthy widow, Abigail. Abigail’s deceased husband had done very well and had left her a sizable inheritance, including the nice property on a hill overlooking Jerusalem, and a bustling wine business. Abigail was known as a shrewd business woman but for the last two years was almost as well known for her hospitality and philanthropy. She had converted to the Way several months after the well known events of the execution of Jesus of Nazareth and his reported resurrection.
This woman who had earned a reputation as a heartless, and sometimes less than ethical business woman, was now unbelievably generous. It was rumored that she repaid people she had cheated and had given a small fortune away to the needy since joining the Way.
Today, as was her custom of late, she was hosting a gathering of disciples of Jesus. They had started to gather early in the morning and had talked, heard readings from the Torah, sung Psalms, laughed and shared stories. Soon they would all share an agape’ meal and near the end of the meal they would eat some unleavened bread and drink wine to remember the body and blood of the Christ. But, a guest had requested that he be able to share his story with the others.
Abigail began speaking. “Please pray with me. Almighty God and Father, the God of Abraham, together we give you thanks for Messiah who has given us his life and his peace. Please give strength to our brother Jeb as he speaks to us. May each of our lives honor the Christ of our God, please help our brothers and sisters who are suffering great persecution for the sake of our great God, Jesus Christ our Lord and Messiah.”
The last thing anyone knowing Jeb would expect would be that he would be speaking before perhaps 300 people, some of them the most prominent citizens of Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Even more out of character was that this guy who was known for shady business dealings and an affection for wine and women had converted to the Way.
Jeb rose to his feet and began speaking with a trembling voice. “My name is Jeb and I am a follower of the Way. I have lived my whole life in the city of Nazareth. I own two inns, have some cattle, and other small business interests, but I am not proud of my life.
I came from a good family, devout people of God. Our custom was to attend synagogue, repeat daily prayers, and keep all the customs of our faith. I was the rebel in my family. At a young age I started to lie for my own gain, steal, cheat, and when I was old enough I was consumed with lust for women. That all changed two years ago….”
To be continued….