What Have You Done With The King?

“Hail, Lord. By your camel’s wandering path, you are a stranger in Bethlehem. By your face and manner of dress, a Gentile. Your camel’s harness as well as your own clothing proclaim you a rich man. For a slight fee I can direct you to the best inn in Bethlehem. Night is not far off, and I am sure you would prefer to spend it in comfort, with good food and drink at hand. And if my lord will tell me his business in Bethlehem, I can no doubt smooth your path.”

“I seek for word of a child I saw once, briefly, thirty-five years ago in this town. A special child whom the stars declared to be the King of the Jews. Two comrades and I traveled far to honor him, and left valuable gifts with his father and mother. We have heard nothing of him, unless some stories of a powerful prophet and miracle-worker are of him. I am the only one left of the three Magi who made this journey so long ago, and I have a strange longing, as my life draws to a close, to see what became of the King of the Jews, whose birth was announced by the appearance of his special star.”

“Lord, you come too late. He is dead.”

“Dead?! How? The stars do not lie! I have spent my life learning from the stars of Heaven, and they have never lied! And yet … I see Roman soldiers everywhere … somehow I doubt that the Romans would support a Jewish King of the Jews.”

“Truth, Lord. They crucified Him.”

“Ah, horrible! But … I suppose … inevitable. We were warned that night, when we had seen the child, not to go back to the Roman puppet-king and tell him where to find the child … but … if he was the choice of Heaven … why did your God allow him to be crucified?”

“You should talk to one of His disciples, Lord. But it is dangerous. They are a hunted people. They don’t make themselves known casually, except for some who have become … messengers of His. Special messengers. And they have suffered for it. Rome and even our own leaders are determined that there will be no more talk of His resurrection from the dead. And I do not speak your language.”

“I noticed. But I speak Hebrew fairly well. Resurrection from the dead? Am I to believe that power was available to resurrect him, but your God allowed him to be crucified? Or is Rome too powerful even for your God?”

“I don’t know the answers, Lord. You should talk to one of His disciples. Shall I find you lodging for the night … for a small fee?”

“What is your name, man?”

“Meshulam, Lord.”

“Meshulam, take me to a quiet, out-of-the-way inn where private business may be conducted.”

“Follow me, Lord. There is such a place not far from here, with a stall and fodder for your camel. Of course, the price is high, but one must pay for privacy …”

“Somehow I knew it would be expensive. But I am a fortunate man. I can pay for what I want.”

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“Zohar, this great lord has traveled far and he is hungry, thirsty, and tired. Take care of him and his camel. He can pay.”

“He’d better pay! The last ‘great lord’ you brought here was as destitute as you are! … Lord, my prices are fifteen shekels for a room for yourself and a stall for your camel. Twelve shekels more for food and water for the camel, ten shekels for your meal, and you will not find a better meal in all Bethlehem.”

“Zohar, you should be a rich man at those prices. Here … take your money and bring me food. And look after that camel well. He is a good one.”

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“… and now, Meshulam, can you lead one of these followers of the King of the Jews to me? For another small fee, of course.”

“Ah, for that, Lord, the fee will not be small. I have told you that it is dangerous – ”

“Is five silver coins enough to give you courage, or shall I find another guide tomorrow?”

“Five is enough, on condition that if I am jailed, you will get me released.”

“I have no influence here. I speak the language well enough, but – ”

“You know, lord, that money speaks fluently for anyone in any language.”

[smiling] “True, and I agree. Go on your errand.”

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“Meshulam, have you failed? You return with no one? You’ll get no silver for no result.”

“I have not failed, Lord. I have found one of His disciples. I am one.”

“Do you want a job with me, Meshulam? I have the impression that you could increase my wealth greatly … you are quick to see opportunities for profit.”

“Lord, what I can tell you about Jesus of Nazareth will be more than profit for you. It is the way to citizenship in the Kingdom of the Most High, the Holy One of Israel. Truthfully, you should go to Jerusalem and speak to one of the first disciples, because they saw and experienced what I am about to tell you personally. I … one of my uncles, a Rabbi of this town, was at Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified. It’s a long story, Lord, and my throat is dry…”

“Zohar, wine for this young man …”

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“Now, Meshulam …”

“My uncle is not one to take stories of prophets’ tales come true without investigating. But he said he was overwhelmed with evidence of the truth of the claims … that Jesus of Nazareth was not just the King of the Jews, but our Messiah! Lord, if you knew what that word means to us … He came to save us forever from our sins! He allowed Himself to be crucified so He could be the sacrifice for our sins! He had never committed a single sin, so He could take our place … on the altar. On the Roman cross.”

“And He was resurrected? Tell me, Meshulam, a man sacrificing himself for the sins of others, a resurrection from the dead … did you drink wine before you returned? Are you – ”

“I am sober. My uncle said that he was in Jerusalem, in the temple courtyard, when fire appeared with a sound like a storm wind. The fire settled over the heads of the disciples of Jesus, and these disciples of Jesus began speaking in the languages of all the Jews gathered there from every nation on earth. Lord, there were Jews who were Parthians, Medes, those from Mesopatamia, Cappadocia, Egypt, Libya, and other places … men who had grown up with the languages of those places. And they quickly discovered that they were all hearing the words of the disciples in their own languages! One of the disciples of Jesus explained that this was the fulfillment of a prophecy from the prophet Joel … and … I”m sorry, Lord, I can’t tell you without tears of joy interrupting me …”

“My uncle is an exceptionally hard man to convince. He said he was shocked at the display of languages unlearned yet spoken, but he investigated. For the next several days he followed every lead and questioned every disciple he could. Until on the third day … he saw … he saw a crippled child miraculously healed, made healthy … the child was delirious with joy, and my uncle asked no more questions. He became a believer and a disciple of Jesus the Messiah on that spot.”

“And that, lord, is how I became a believer. That child was my son. I sent him with uncle because he had come of age for being presented at the temple before the Lord. I had to remain here to earn my family’s living. When my son came home walking, running, jumping, still laughing for sheer joy, and told me himself what uncle confirmed, that he was healed when a disciple prayed for his healing in the name of Jesus … there is only one response to that, lord. Jesus is the Messiah! And I have to believe also what the disciples were telling everyone – that they had seen Jesus after His crucifixion, talked with Him, shared meals with Him … not once, but for more than a month … it’s impossible, but it happened. And only the power of our El Shaddai can accomplish these things. I have always been a Jew faithful to the Most High. Now I know I have been privileged to have heard with authority that our Messiah has finally come.”

“If he returned, Meshulam, where is he now?”

“Lord, He was received again into Heaven. The disciples said they saw Him go. They would not lie, because this has brought them nothing but trouble. Trouble they could have avoided if it were a lie and they only acknowledged it was a lie. But no punishment has stopped their mouths.”

“This all happened some time ago, lord, or I would not be telling you. Because you are not a Jew, and it was only recently that the word came from the disciples that even Gentiles, uncircumcised and without making sacrifice in the temple, may also become believers in Him. And if they do, like us, their sins will be forgiven, and like Jesus, when they die, their spirits will be received into Heaven, into the Kingdom of our God. And on the final day, their bodies will be resurrected also. He is now the God of all who believe. And I hope, lord, that you can believe in Jesus also … lord, why are there tears on your face? Can you not believe?”

“I still have many questions. I might not have believed, Meshullam, but I do now. Because for the past quarter of an hour, I have been listening to you speak … in my language.”

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