Now Featured at the Patheos Book Club
Jehoshua: Signs and Wonders
By Garrett Glass
Book Excerpt: Chapter Two - Lamech the Trader
Leaving instructions with his landlady to keep their apartment locked for several weeks, Lamech and Jurja left via the Damascus Gate and took one long look at Golgotha, where the unfortunate Jehoshua had met his fate less than a year earlier. There was one decaying body fixed to the gibbet—obviously not a Jew or the religious authorities would have demanded its removal. A slave, probably. Jurja shuddered at this display of Roman power, while at the same time asking under his breath that the carcass give them good fortune on their journey.
Lamech decided to stay in the vicinity of the smaller towns northwest of Jerusalem: Timna, Beth-Horn, Emmaus, and Lod were the last places Jehoshua visited before his fatal entry into Jerusalem. They worked out a strategy as they walked along the road. "We should find an inn or public house that might have a small number of people dining," said Lamech. "You enter first and let people know you have seen the risen Jehoshua along the road. Mention that you recognized him as you had seen him earlier before his execution, and that you are almost certain it is the same man. If you want, call him 'Master' to show your belief in him."
"Do I show them a piece of the robe?," inquired Jurja. Lamech thought a bit and answered, "I don't think so—You can sell these once people believe I am Jehoshua come to them from the grave. I will have to leave, since of course I cannot stay at the inn as I would no doubt have to share a room or a bed with one of them. We will have to stay at a farmhouse nearby but not too close, so no one can see us coming or going."
They discussed the right moment for Jurja to ask for money, and how to do so, but decided circumstances would best dictate the time and place, and what to say. They were fortunate along the way to obtain a ride on an ox-cart loaded with vegetables from the harvest, and which lumbered its way all afternoon on the dusty road to Beth-Horn. Lamech and Jurja took leave of the conveyance when they spotted farms beginning to dot the countryside as they approached the village.
They tried their luck at a farm some distance off the road, and their luck held out. They were able to use a small loft for the night, above the cows and goats, for the reasonable price of one denarius.
As night grew near, they headed in to the village to put their plan into effect, both of them nervous due to the unusual nature of their mission and the uncertain outcome. At the worst, they would get a beating if people found out they were imposters, and to avoid this Lamech was determined to use every ounce of acting skill he could muster.
He waited outside of an inn that Jurja had entered. Jurja returned to say there were several customers eating in an upper storey room, and he had brought up the topic of Jehoshua. They had all heard of him and at least one person claimed to have seen him perform healings. "Master, I told them I believe I had seen him on the road to Beth-Horn that afternoon, and that I was almost certain it was the same Jehoshua I had witnessed a year ago talking to a crowd of people. Several people let out small laughs, but one woman in a red shawl took the matter very seriously. You will want to approach her first in order to convince the others. I ate my meal quickly and left."
Lamech waited a decent while, and then tamped down his nerves and excitement and entered the inn. The proprietor paid him no mind as he pointed the way upstairs to the dining room. Lamech opened the door to the room and paused momentarily to adjust to the dim light provided only by a few candles at the table. All eyes in the room turned to look at him, as he carefully removed the hood covering his face.
It was the woman in the red shawl who responded immediately. "Ay—Master!, Master!" She said this in a near whisper, but the silence in the room was so profound that she might have been shouting. She rose unsteadily from the table and began approaching, but then lowered herself on the floor in front of him. "Bless me, Master!" she pleaded, and she appeared to reach out to his feet.
Lamech was prepared for this moment but for none of the other moments that followed. "Bless you, my sister, but do not touch me. I have not yet gone to my Father." With
that, he removed his hands from his cloak and raised them over her head, saying once again, "Bless you."
The light from the lamps flickered on the faces of the people sitting around the table, their eyes fixated on his hands with their blood-encrusted wounds. The woman in the shawl raised her head for the first time and saw above her the healer, the magus—Jehoshua returned from the dead, his crucified hands poised over her head. She sobbed intermittently. Others began to half-walk, half crawl from the table. "Bless me, Master!," they cried, "Heal me, Master!" or "Forgive me Master, I am a sinner." He approached each one quietly, raising his hands above them, and saying "Be healed," or "You are forgiven."