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On the Road to Emmaus

		On the Road to Emmaus
		by Karen Deal Robinson

It was just before Passover when I spoke to my brother
Yeshua for the last time. I was living in Jerusalem, and
I expected my mother and my other brothers to arrive soon
for the festival. When I heard that Yeshua was staying in
Bethany, I sent word to him, asking him to visit me. To my
surprise; he accepted my invitation.

He sat across the table from me, savoring some of my
best wine and watching me--warily, I thought. Looking into
his face was like looking into a mirror. He was only a year
older than me; people had often taken us for twins. He had
the same dark curling hair and beard I had, the same wide
brown eyes and crooked smile, the same strong, long-fingered
hands. His hands and face were browner than mine, and he
had a few fine lines of early gray among his curls. Our dress
was different, too. I wore the white shawl of a Pharisee,
while he still dressed the way we used to in Nazareth, in
one of Mama's homespun white tunics with a brown cloak thrown
over one shoulder. 

"Thank you for coming," I said. "I've been hearing a
lot about you the past few days. I've missed you since you 
left home. " 

He nodded. "And now you have left home too, Yaakov.
How is life as a temple scribe?"

"Life is good. Though I hear you have little use for
us scribes these days. I have to admit, though, that your
arguments in the temple these past few days have been brilliant.
You should have been a lawyer like me."

He gave me a rueful smile. "Do you still think I'm a
madman? Is that why you wanted to see me? Are you and Yudah
plotting to spirit me home to Galilee?"

I had to admit I wondered. His eyes looked tired, as
though he hadn't slept much lately, but I thought there was 
a feverish sort of glitter in them too. "You'd be safer there.
It isn't just temple priests who are annoyed with you, Yeshua.
The Romans have started to take notice, especially since your
escapade in the temple two days ago."

Yeshua frowned. "You're an honest man, Yaakov. Doesn't
the corruption and thievery that takes place in God's holy
temple make you angry?"

"Of course it does. And I do what I can to fight it.
But not by disturbing the peace and risking arrest."

He ran his hand over his eyes. "You do think I'm mad.
I remember when you and Mama and the boys came to take me 
home, to make me behave myself."

"And you rejected us: You wouldn't even see us." I
felt the old anger rising in my chest, and I tried to push
it down. I didn't want to fight with Yeshua now, when I'd
had so much trouble getting him to even talk to me. But I
couldn't help adding, "You really hurt Mama."

Yeshua sighed and ran his hand through his hair.
"I didn't reject you. I just wasn't going to let you haul
me home like a recalcitrant child."

"You said we weren't your family anymore. It made Mama

"I'm sorry she took it that way. But that's not exactly
what I said. I said my followers were my family. You could
have joined them."

So here we were at the crux of the old argument again.
I took a new line. "Mama's too old to go tramping all over
Galilee and Judea with you. But she still believes that you're
the Promised One who will liberate Israel from the yoke of
the Romans. She says an angel told her so, before you were

He smiled at that. "Well, you know Mama. She's the
most solid, sensible, down-to-earth person in the world.
If she says an angel spoke to her, why don't you believe her?"

"I do believe her, Yeshua," I said softly.

He looked up in startled surprise.

"I've heard some of your teaching," I went on, "and I
agree with you that we have no hope of freedom unless we first
learn to get along with one another. We can't expect God
to give us justice against the oppressor unless we give justice 
to each other."

He leaned forward, his eyes shining. "Yes!"

"But I don't see how getting yourself arrested is going
to help. They silenced the voice of the Baptist. Wouldn't
it be better if he could still speak?"

"Don't you see? His voice is stronger than ever now,
because he bequeathed it to me. They can't silence us by
killing us. Listen, Yaakov, you know the scriptures, you
know what the prophets have said. Isaiah, Zechariah, Daniel,
it's all there. Israel is to become the light of the nations,
but only after we purify ourselves. It happened so many times
in the days of the judges and the kings: God intervened for 
Israel, but only after she repented. Our times are no

"I know all that," I said impatiently. "I've been teaching
that myself ever since I was a grown man. But what does that
have to do with you endangering your life?"

"You know what Isaiah said: 'The punishment that brought
us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.'
But he also said, 'He will be raised and lifted up, and highly

I didn't like the strange fire in his eyes. "The Suffering
Servant is Israel," I said sharply, "suffering for all the
nations. You know that, Yeshua."

"Remember when David fought Goliath? Instead of sending 
all the soldiers into battle, he risked his own life.
Sometimes--sometimes, Yaakov, it's enough for one man to stand
up for what is right. Do you know the Greek word, 'martyr'?"

"Of course. It means 'witness'."

"It's possible that a man who dies for the sake of truth,
like the Baptist, can be a greater witness after his death.
Doesn't he have more followers now than ever before?"

I was angry now. "And so you're going to offer yourself
as a human sacrifice, like the Caananites did for their
abominable god Molech?"

"Offer myself? I'm not going to walk into Pilate's palace
and say 'Here I am; kill me,' if that's what you mean. But
I'm not going to stop speaking the truth. Anyway, if I went
back to Galilee, I'd only be postponing the inevitable. It's
not really any safer there for me. It was Herod of Galilee
who killed the Baptist, you know."

Looking into his sad, earnest face, I felt my scalp prickle.
What if he was right? I reached across the table and took
his hand in both of mine. "Yeshua, do you know what you're
getting into? These are the Romans you're dealing with.
Remember Sepphoris?"

I had been six years old, and Yeshua was seven. The
village of Sepphoris, not far from Nazareth, had rebelled.
The Romans burned the village to the ground. They sold the
women and children into slavery, and they crucified the men
along the roadside. The next day, Mama took us out to the
road to see for ourselves, she said, what it meant to live
under the yoke of the oppressor. When we came to the first
cross, I broke free from her hand and ran home, screaming 
in horror. But when I looked back from the safety of our
rooftop, I saw them still standing hand in hand, far away
against the sky, Mama and Yeshua looking up into the tortured
face of the man on the cross. Yeshua didn't speak for weeks

He closed his eyes now. "Yes," he whispered. "I remember
Sepphoris. I know that could be my fate. That's in the
scriptures too. Remember the twenty-second Psalm."

I winced as the terrible phrases of that Psalm rolled
over me. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?..They
have pierced my hands and feet...for my clothing they cast

"It would break Mama's heart--" I began fiercely.

"I know," he sighed. "I know. But Mama's tough. And
she knows the scriptures as well as we do." He took along,
slow drink of wine. "I'd like to see her again, before--
Is she coming to Jerusalem for the feast?"

"Yes. Yudah and Simeon are bringing her. Yoseh is staying
behind to mind the shop. I expect them tomorrow night. We I'll
be eating the Passover on the Sabbath. You should leave
Jerusalem tonight, you know. But--if you don't , you're welcome
to share the feast with us."

"Sabbath," he murmured. His eyes looked more tired than
ever, and his face seemed like an old man's. "I think by
then it will be too late."

"Too late?" I shivered, despite the warm spring evening
air. Sabbath eve was the night after tomorrow night.

He smiled wryly. "You're a lawyer, Yaakov. You know
Pilate will have a riot on his hands if he arrests me during
the feast. If he's going to strike, it will be before Passover
begins. Tomorrow night at the latest. Maybe even tonight.
If I'm spared tonight, I'lL celebrate Passover with my disciples
tomorrow night, a day early. Do you know a place where we
could gather? Eleazar has offered his home in Bethany, but
I'd like to eat the passover within Jerusalem's walls."

"How many of you?"

"There are twelve of them. Thirteen counting me. Fourteen
with Miriam."

A sourness came over me. "Miriam of Magdala? Are the
rumors true, that she is your lover? How do you expect to
purify Israel if--"

"Yaakov," he said gently, "what do you think of me?"

I thought what I had always thought: it was just like
Yeshua to answer a question with a question.
I sighed. "My house is too small. I'II barely have
room for the family, when they come." I was glad to have
an excuse: I didn't want Miriam of Magdala in my house.
"But my friend Yosef of Arimathea wants to meet you. I can
ask him."

"Thank you. Thank you, Yaakov. You're welcome to join
us, wherever we find ourselves. I'd like my disciples to
meet you. I think they will need you in the coming days."

"I can't join you tomorrow night. I promised Mama and
the boys I'd be here when they arrived." 

Yeshua studied my face for a while without speaking.
At last he said, "Yaakov, I have another favor to ask of you,
a more important one. Please, help Kephas lead my flock."

I'd heard of Kephas, the one the Greeks called Peter.
An uncouth man who'd as soon knock you down as look at you,
I'd been told. "Me! Won't they resent me coming into their

"I've spoken to Kephas. He doesn't really understand,
but I think he'll welcome you when the time comes. After
all, you're the heir to the throne of David."

I couldn't tell whether he was being ironic, or whether
he really meant it. 

"They'll need you, Yaakov," he went on. "They're
fishermen. They don't know the prophets the way you do."


"Kephas is the salt of the earth, but when the wind fills
his sails he goes blustering off in a direction he doesn't
mean to go. They'll need your firmness, and your knowledge."

"The knowlege of a Pharisee?" I said ironically. "One
of the 'brood of vipers'?"

He shook his head impatiently. "You know I didn't mean
you. It's hypocrisy I can't stand. There's no man more honest
than you are, Yaakov."

Tears stung my eyes. Why did those words of praise mean
so much to me? "Thank you, Yeshua."

"Will you do it?" His eyes glittered with a strange
intensity. "I know you've dedicated your life to God. Will
you help Kephas and the others?"

How could I say no? "Of course I will, if they'll have
me. "

He sat back, looking as though he'd laid down a burden.
The change was startling; he was almost smiling. "Thank you,
Yaakov. Thank you. I have the strength now to go forward."

"Yeshua," I choked, "it's not just Mama's heart you're
going to break. You'll break my heart too, if you don't flee
the city tonight."

He actually smiled then. "Yaakov," he said gently, as
though explaining something obvious, "there's no need to break
your heart. The next day or two will be awful, I know that.
But the Romans can't destroy me."

"Oh, I know," I said bitterly, "you'll live in Paradise,
I have no doubt of that. And maybe if you really are the
Promised One, I'll see you one day, 'coming on the clouds
of heaven,' after we've learned to live in peace, as it says
in Isaiah."

He waved his hand. "I don't mean that. I mean I'll
always be with you. You'll see me every day, if you know
how to look. Open your eyes, my brother." He stood up and
embraced me. I thought he felt thinner than I remembered.
He walked toward the door and turned at the doorway. "There's
no need for you to involve yourself in what's going to happen
next. Stay here and be safe for now. When things have quieted,
then go and find Kephas. I'm counting on you." And then
he was gone. 


Mama and Simeon and Yudah and their families arrived
the next evening. It was too late for us to go to the house
of my friend Yosef to look for Yeshua and his disciples.
I said nothing to Mama of my conversation with Yeshua. There
was no need, I thought, to worry her until something happened.
We went to bed, and I lay staring at the round Passover
moon coming in at my window. Where was Yeshua? What was
happening to him?

I found out shortly before dawn. A quiet but insistent
knocking sounded at my front door. Before I could get dressed,
Mama was at the door, talking in a low voice to the person 
outside. I threw on my cloak and caught a glimpse over Mama's
shoulder of a woman with her cloak drawn around her face like
a deep hood. A few coppery curls escaped from her hood and
gleamed in the light of the lamp in Mama's hand. I caught
a scent of orange blossoms, and a tang of clean hair dampened
by tears.

"My name is Miriam of Magdala," the woman said. "Are
you Miriam of Nazareth, the mother of Yeshua the prophet?"

Mama's lamp shook, sending ripples of light shimmering
across the ceiling. "Yes, why? Has something happened to

"He's been arrested. The high priest has sent him to
Pilate. I thought you should know. I'm going to the palace
now, to see what Pilate will do, but I have little hope--"

Mama grabbed a cloak from a peg by the door. "Take me
with you."

"I'm coming too," I said, and my brothers echoed me in
the darkness beside me.

Mama whirled on us. Her face was white in the lamplight.
"You stay right here, all of you! The Romans will pay no
attention to an old woman like me. But anyone would know
from looking at you that you are Yeshua's brothers. They
would need no more excuse than that to arrest you now. I
may have to lose one son today; I won't lose any more if I
can help it."

I swallowed. "Mama, if Pilate condemns him, it--it will
be terrible. Don't you want to stay with us?"

She kissed me. Her face was wet, but her voice was steady.
"Don't you know that it's women's work to comfort the dying?"
Very quietly, she closed the door behind her.


Simeon and Yudah and I spent the morning on our knees,
praying for Yeshua. Wouldn't God rescue his prophet? But
with every beat of my heart, Yeshua's words about martyrdom
echoed in my mind.

At noon a storm blew up, blackening the sky. As we were
fastening the shutters, another knock sounded at the door.
I peered through a chink and saw my friend Yosef of Arimathea,
his cloak billowing in the gale.

"Yosef, come in! What news do you have for us?"

He shut out the storm and let his cloak fall away from
his face. His gray beard and hair were wind-blown, his gentle
eyes wet with rain or tears. "Yeshua was arrested last night,
after he left my house."

Yudah banged the last shutter closed. I felt him and
Simeon breathing over my shoulders. I gripped Yosef's hand.
"We heard of the arrest. What's happened to him? Is he in
prison? Is--is he dead?"

Yosef put his hand on my shoulder. "He may be by now. I'm 
sorry, Yaakov, to bring you this news."

I tried to swallow.  "Tell me what happened."

Yosef spoke slowly, as though he dreaded telling the tale. "I 
asked him to spend the night at my house, but he insisted
on going out to Gethsemene with his followers. He said he
didn't want to bring misfortune on my family. I was awakened 
early in the morning by a messenger from the high priest, 
asking me to come at once. I was not the only one on the 
council who said Yeshua should be released. But Caiaphas 
overruled us, and sent him to Pilate."

"And?" Wouldn't he ever come to the point?

"And Pilate condemned him, Yaakov. Yeshua must be dying
now, even as we speak. I'm sorry."

"The Romans act swiftly," I said bitterly. I appreciated
Yosef's delicacy in sparing us the details. But I knew what
a death sentence from Rome would mean for a Jew.

I led Yosef to a couch and offered him food and wine,
but he had no more appetite than the rest of us.
"I took the liberty," he said, "of speaking to Pilate.
Of course I wasn't able to change his mind about the sentence
he'd passed. But I asked him for permission to lay Yeshua
in my own tomb. I--I thought you might want to take him back 
to Galilee, to lay him with his fathers. The Romans would
have buried him in an unmarked grave, and when evening falls
it will be the Sabbath and Passover, and you cannot defile
yourself then with--"

"With a corpse," I finished for him. It felt like blasphemy
to speak of my vibrant brother that way.

"So I thought we could lay him in my tomb for a day,
until you are able to move him."

A thought washed over me, and with it a horror that made
my bones shiver. "Yosef, will they--" I didn't know how
to ask my' question. "They won't--they won't let him linger
past sundown, will they? Not into the Passover? Not into
the Sabbath?" ,

Yosef winced. "No, they'll end his suffering before 
then. The Romans have made a few concessions to our laws.
Yeshua is fortunate to be dying on the sixth day of the week."

I felt the blood leave my face. I must have looked ill,
because Yosef added, "Forgive me, my friend! I shouldn't
have said that."

"No, it was kindly meant, I know. Thank you for all
you've done. Thank you for speaking to Pilate; it was well
thought of."

He stood up. "I should go see to the arrangements.
May God bless you, my friends."


Late that afternoon, just before sundown, Mama returned.
I scarcely recognized her. She wasn't yet fifty; until this
morning she could have been taken for our sister. Now she
might have been our grandmother. She shut the door behind
her, stood swaying for a moment, and fell into a faint in
my arms.

I laid her on the couch and held her hand until she revived.
Her eyes were huge and dark as she looked up into mine. "Yeshua
is dead."

I swallowed. "I know. Yosef was here; he told us what

She closed her eyes as though they ached. "I won't be
going back to Nazareth. I'm staying in Jerusalem, at least
for awhile."


"Don't worry, Yaakov," she said wryly. "I'm not moving
in with you. Eleazar and Miriam have asked me to stay with
them in Bethany. I love all of you, and I will always be
your mother, but I think right now Yeshua's followers need
me more than you do."

"You know you're welcome here, Mama," I said reproachfully.

"I know, Yaakov. And I'll stay through the Passover
as we planned. But then I must go to them. They need me.
They need you too, Yaakov. "

I shivered. "That's what Yeshua said. When Passover
is done, and Simeon and Yudah are on their way, I'll go find
Kephas, if he's to be found."


It was the saddest Passover we'd ever eaten. How could
we celebrate liberation from slavery when the tyrants had
destroyed our brother? Still, it was good to be together.
I wished our sisters could be with us too, but of course they
had not left their husbands in Galilee. How sad they would
be when Simeon and Yudah returned with their news, and their

Before dawn the following day, I went with Yudah and
Simeon and their families to Yosef's garden. Mama stayed
behind at my house, exhausted from her ordeal.

Yosef met us in the moonlit garden. He brought with
him several servingmen to open the tomb for us. He also loaned
us a cart and donkey, and two men to protect my brothers on
their journey back to Galilee.

Though he'd been pressed for time, Yosef had tended to
Yeshua's body as though it were his own brother's. It was
lovingly wrapped in fine linen, and the rich sweet spices
he had used kept the smell of death away. Carefully we rewrapped
Yeshua in fresh linen for the journey home. Tears stung my
cheeks as I lifted the linen napkin away from Yeshua's face.
To my surprise, it was calm and peaceful.

"Farewell, Yeshua," I said softly. "I'II do what I can
help the Kingdom come."

In the flickering torchlight the battered lips seemed
to move into the faintest of smiles.

Yudah wiped his eyes. "You must tell Kephas and the
others where we've taken him, Yaakov. Maybe they'll want
to come to Nazareth, and build a monument."

I nodded. "I'll tell them."

We lifted Yeshua onto the cart, as gently as though he
could still feel pain. I followed Yosef and the others out
of the garden, pulling the donkey behind me. Yudah and Simeon
remained behind for a moment, going into the tomb to see that
all was left in order for our benefactor.

I came back to find them, just as the early morning sun
peeked above the distant hills. Rosy shafts of light crept
through the cyprus trees, and turned the walls of Jerusalem
to gold. Before I reached the tomb I heard voices, coming
from the opposite side of the garden.

Could they be soldiers? "Simeon, Yudah!" I hissed,
as I slipped behind a tamarisk thicket. Could I get to the
cave in time to warn them?

Then I saw that the newcomers were three women, carrying
spice jars and linen. I heard the youngest say to the others,
"Who will roll away the stone for us?" I recognized her musical
voice, and the coppery glint of her hair in the rising sun.

All three gasped when they saw the open tomb. They peered
through the entrance, crouched low to the ground like animals
ready to flee.

Yudah's clear young voice carried easily in the stillness
of the early morning, echoing from the walls of the tomb.
"Don't be frightened. I know you're looking for Yeshua of
Nazareth. This is where they laid him, but he's gone now.
Tell Kephas and the disciples that he's going to Galilee."

With another gasp, the women turned and ran.

Yudah and Simeon came out of the tomb, wiping their hands
on their white pilgrim's tunics. Simeon put his arm around
Yudah. "You frightened those poor women half out of their
wits. They must have thought we were ghosts."

"I know," Yudah said ruefully. "I tried not to. I tried
to tell them what we were doing, but I don't think they


After my brothers embraced me and left with their sad
burden, I lingered in the garden, savoring its peace as a
balm for my aching heart. As I wandered slowly among the
cypress trees, I gradually realized that the sound I had taken
for a dove was the voice of someone crying.

I found her leaning against an olive tree, her face buried
against its smooth bark. Her cloak had fallen down around
her shoulders, and her hair was like a veil of fire over her
grief. Even in my sorrow I caught the scent of orange blossoms
mingled with tears. She could only be Miriam of Magdala.
"Why are you weeping?" I said softly, though I knew the

She didn't even turn around; she must have been too
miserable to be frightened any more. "They've taken my Lord
away," she replied, her voice muffled, "and I don't know where
they've laid him." She turned slowly. "Are you the gardener?
Did you move him? Tell me where he is, and I'll find a place
to bury him where he won't disturb your garden."

My heart ached for her, for her grief that mirrored my
own and for her beauty that I was sworn to renounce. "Miriam..."
I said softly.

She looked up, startled. As she stared into my face,
uncertainty swam across her shimmering eyes. "Rabbi?" she
whispered. She put her trembling hands to her mouth for a
moment, and then reached for me.

Instinctively I stepped back. If she knew I was a teacher
of the Law, she must know that I couldn't let her embrace
me, she who was neither my wife nor my relative. "Don't touch
me, Miriam," I said, as gently as I could manage. I wanted
to take her in my arms and comfort her. Instead I said, "Go
and tell Kephas and the others that their Master is going
to Galilee. And tell them to seek out Yaakov--you know where
the house is." 

With a strange little sob she turned and ran from the
garden. Poor woman; her wits must be disordered by grief.
Did she understand my message at all?


I returned to the garden later that day, leaving Mama
sleeping. My grief drew me to the garden; it was so close
to the place where Yeshua had died. I regretted bitterly
that I hadn't been there to comfort him, even though it was
his own wish that kept me away.

The soft spring sunshine and the fragrant flowers were
like an insult: How could the world be so beautiful after
such a tragedy? I left the garden and walked blindly down 
the road, away from Jerusalem. I wished now I had gone back
to Galilee with my brothers.

Not far from the city I overtook two men walking slowly
and talking earnestly together. One was a little older than
me, the other a youth scarcely old enough to have a beard.
I guessed they were father and son. I was ready to pass them
with the shortest of greetings when I overheard the older
one say, "I was sure Yeshua was the one. How could we have
been so wrong?"

I was hungry for talk about Yeshua. Talking about him
with these strangers would bring him back to life for me for
awhile. So I said, "Forgive me for intruding. What is it
you're talking about?"

They glanced at me briefly, and continued plodding on
with their heads bowed. The younger one said, "Have you just
arrived in Jerusalem, that you don't know the things that
have happened there recently?"

My heart pounded. "What things?"

"About Yeshua of Nazareth," said the older one. "He
was a powerful prophet, but the Romans crucified him. We
had thought he was the one who was going to save Israel from
the tyrants."

"But here's a strange thing," the boy added eagerly.

"Some of our women went to the tomb this morning, and they
didn't find his body, but they said an angel spoke to them.
And some of our friends went to see, and they found the tomb
empty as well. We think God may have raised him, as he did
for Elijah when he raised the widow's son.

My heart sank. I understood now the expression of trembling
joy on Miriam's face when she'd seen me in the garden. She
thought I was Yeshua! What was I to do? If I told them the
truth, I'd dash their hopes again. But Yeshua had praised
me for being an honest man. And he'd talked over and over
about truth. If his followers' faith couldn't bear the truth,
what sort of faith was it?

"You have to understand," I said. "His brothers came
and took him away last night. That's why his body was gone.
And that's who the women took for angels."

"The angels are his brothers?" the boy said, wonderingly.

My grief and frustration made me speak more sharply than
I intended. "How foolish you are! Always looking for a sign.
Can't you believe in him without seeing some miracle? Aren't
the words of the prophets enough?"

"Tell us," said the older man. "We're not learned men;
we don't understand the prophecies. What did the prophets
say about Yeshua?"

It's funny. When Yeshua was at my house, I had argued
with him. But now everything he had said made sense. The
prophecies I'd studied all my life were pointing right to
him. As God had taken the great kings David and Solomon to
be his sons, so he had taken Yeshua as his son, for Yeshua
was a king of Israel as well. And as Israel had suffered
long years of persecution, so her king had suffered. But
God would not let us suffer forever. Already the Kingdom
of God was dawning. If we followed Yeshua's example of selfless 
love, it might dawn all the faster.

I began to explain my new understanding to my traveling
companions. I reached back through my knowlege of the
scriptures, back to Moses and David, through the prophets,
up to the recent prophecies of the Baptist. As I talked,
I had the strange feeling that Yeshua was with me somehow,
walking just behind me, perhaps, listening and smiling. I
even looked back over my shoulder once. The road was empty
behind me, but that didn't change the feeling.

It was late in the afternoon when we rounded the crest
of the last flowering hill and found the village of Ernrnaus
at our feet.

"It's nearly time for supper," said the older man. "Won't
you stay and eat with us?"

I hadn't intended to spend the whole day walking. For
the first time since Yeshua's arrest, I felt hungry. "Yes,
thank you."

They took me to their house, and set before me a simple
meal of bread and cheese and wine. As I broke the bread and
spoke the ancient blessing, I felt again a powerful sense
of Yeshua's presence. I handed the bread to my two new
friends, and realized that they were staring at me.

"What must we do," asked the boy, in a strangely choked
voice, "to inherit the Kingdom? Tell us once more."

I smiled. "It's not hard to remember, though harder
maybe to do. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow
to become angry. Look after orphans and widows. Remember
that deeds are more important than words. If someone comes
to you hungry, and you say, 'I wish you well' but don't feed
them, what good does that do?" I chuckled at my own words,
for the bread they had given me was fresh and delicious.
"I suspect from your kindness to me that you have always done
these things without being told. Persevere as you've always
done, and it will be enough."

I looked into their shining eyes and felt my heart grow
light. If Yeshua had followers like these, he would never
really die.

"Won't you stay the night with us?" said the father.

"No, I must be on my way. But I thank you again for
your kindness. Every kindness you show a stranger is given
to God."


The next day I went to Bethany with Mama. Miriam met
us at the door. Her beautiful face was radiant, as different
from the tear-streaked face I had seen in the garden as a
rainbow is from the storm that precedes it. Her eyes widened
as she looked up at me.

"This is my son Yaakov," said Mama gently, quickly, as
though she saw the thought in Miriam's eyes.

Miriam turned her head to one side, studying me uncertainly.

I felt like turning and running. How could I destroy
her joy? And yet I couldn't dishonor Yeshua by lying to this
woman who loved him. "Miriam," I said, swallowing down the
ache in my throat, "it was me you saw in the garden yesterday
morning. You know that, don't you? I know I look like Yeshua,
but it was me you saw."

She nodded slowly. "Yes, I see that now. Don't be afraid,
Yaakov; your news doesn't dismay me. Because I saw him too,
yesterday morning. I see him now. He's with you, Yaakov;
he's with us. When he told Kephas to seek you out, we didn't
know what he meant. But it's clear now."

"And where is Kephas? Yeshua asked me to help him..."

She laughed ruefully. "He's gone to Galilee. Gone to
seek forgiveness for not dying with his master."
I shook my head. "Yeshua would not want him to die."

"I know. When he realizes that, he'll return."

"Does he have a place to stay in Jerusalem?  Where 
are the disciples staying?"

She hesitated. "They've gone to Galilee with Kephas.
They've been staying here, with me and my brother and sister.
But our house is small. They often slept under the stars,
in Gethsemene. That is, until--until it was no longer safe
to be found there."

I knew then what I had to do. With the help of my friend
Yosef, I would sell my tiny house and buy a larger one.


It was as well that I did, because when Kephas and the
others returned from Galilee, just before the feast of Pentecost,
they brought my brothers with them. They arrived on my doorstep
one starry, windy summer night. They blew through my front
door in furtive twos and threes, like seeds floating on the
wild wind, looking for a place to land and sprout.

Mama and Miriam and Eleazar arrived first, their faces 
bright with secrecy. No sooner had I hustled them safely inside
than Yudah and Simeon blew through the door, bearing with
them a sweet surprise: our sister Lysia and her husband.

Then the strangers began to arrive, old men and young,
and women too. The two men I had met on the road to Emmaus
stood staring at me in the lamp light for a moment, before
they came in. "I'm Yaakov," I said quickly. "Welcome."
The passed by me, but continued to stare over their shoulders
as I turried to see them safely inside.

I studied each new arrival to see if this might be Kephas.
There were se,veral burly Galilean who looked like fishermen,
but nothing to distinguish one from the other. They all stared ~
at me, even after Mama said, "This is my son Yaakov. You've
met my other sons, and my daughter."

Mama hurried them into the large upper room, so that
if the Romans peered in our windows from the street, they
would see only two or three of us at a time. At last Mama
and I followed them. I had couches set about the walls, but
my guests stood waiting for me, as though afraid to be to
free with my hospitality.

As I entered the room, one of the fishermen stepped forward.
"My name is Kephas. Thank you for your generosity. We're
all able to earn our own bread; we won't take advantage of

I waved his concern aside. "Yeshua asked me to help
you. I didn't know whether you would accept me. I'm glad
you're here."

Kephas blinked in surprise. "Our Lord asked us to seek
you out. After him, you are the heir to the throne of David.
It is you who have the right to decide whether to accept us.
But he told us that you would."

"When did he tell you that?" It must have been that
night after he came to my house, right before he was arrested,
five weeks ago.

"Just before we left Galilee," Kephas said quietly.
"Four days ago."

It was my turn to stare. I hadn't been to Galilee in
years. They must have seen someone else. Could it have been
Yudah or Simeon or Yoseh? They wouldn.t have pretended to
be Yeshua. And they had traveled all the way back from Galilee
with Kephas. He would have known if it had been one of them
he saw. Was it possible that Yeshua had really spoken to
him four days ago? My heart beat hard. Such things had happened
before, in the days of Elijah. Why couldn't God work another
such miracle in our time?

For a tiny jealous instant I wondered why Yeshua hadn't
appeared to me. Almost immediately I knew the answer. Open
your eyes, my brother, he had said.

"Tell me," Kephas went on, "has he appeared to you too?"

It wasn't a challenge. It was more like the eagerness of
a lover to hear about his beloved, or a mother about her child.
I looked around at their expectant faces. Should I tell
them that it was me Miriam had seen in the garden? Should
I destroy their hope? Or was that even pOsslble now? I took
a slow breath. Once again I had that strange feeling that
had come over me on the road to Emmaus, that Yeshua was standing
behind me, ready to slap his hand on my shoulder in a friendly
greeting. If I had turned around, I wouldn't have been surprised
to see him there.

"Yes," I said at last. "I've seen him more than once
in the past five weeks. The first was on the road to Emmaus,
where he helped me understand what it is we have to do to
earn our freedom."


Was it a lie? I've asked myself that many times since
then. Looking back, I don't think it was. Yeshua had been
with me on that road. I had seen him day after day. And
I see him still, every time I look into a mirror.


Yaakov became known to history as "James the Just, the
brother of Jesus." The Book of James in the Bible is thought
to have been his work. For thirty years he was the leader
of the Christian church in Jerusalem, which included among
its membership many of Jesus' original disciples, in particular
Peter (Kephas) and John. James was known as "the Just" because
of his strict adherence to Jewish law.

James was stoned to death in 62 A.D. His brother Simeon
was chosen to succeed him. Eight years later the Romans
destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, and with it most of the
Jerusalem church, although a remnant remained under the
leadership of the grandsons of Yudah (Jude). Over a million
Jews were killed. This left Christianity in the hands of
the followers of Paul, who disagreed strongly with James on
several doctrinal matters. James preached that faith without
deeds was worthless, thus earning the emnity of not only Paul
but also Martln Luther, who declared that the Book of James
was not canonical.

The followers of James became known as the Ebionites,
which means "Poor". They taught that Jesus was the Messiah
and the (adopted) Son of God, but that he was not divine.
The Ebionites were declared heretics by the Council of Nicea. 

"Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what
it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror
and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately
forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently
into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues
to do this, not forgetting what he has heard but doing
it, he will be blessed in what he does."
		--James l:22-25

The disciples said to Jesus, "We know that you are
going to leave us. Who will be our leader?"
Jesus said to them, "No matter where you are, you
are to go to James the Just, for whose sake heaven
and earth came into being."
		--Thomas l2-l3

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copyright 2002 by Karen Deal Robinson
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