WHO LIKES TO WORD WAR?
*waves hand frantically*
*realizes that she has the cheesiest ever introductions to her posts*
Last week, Light4TheLord and I agreed to each write a 5k short story this week and post it on our blogs. Oh, my. We are both extremely #competitive, so of course we lived up to the challenge.
- If you want awesomeness.
- If you want a cringe fest.
- Go over to her post.
- Keep reading.
My final word count is 4920.
The young boy stood by the roadside, speculating. He had his hands in his pockets, and his face was tan and rough from the hours under the relentless rays, but yet he bore an aristocratic mark on him, for he was the rabbi’s son. He held his head high, and there was a look of interest imprinted on his face.
He was watching the threshers.
Bam-toss. Bam-toss. The golden pods floated into the air, and he caught one as it flew towards him. The ripened stalks of wheat swayed in the gentle wind. He picked one up and chewed it thoughtfully. It was not in the rabbi’s school, clean and scholarly, that he felt like he was home, but here in the fields. Here he felt free, one with the wind and the sky.
He speculated. It was an hour before sundown right now. He would have plenty time to watch the threshers finishing their day’s work and to wrap up other duties before the Sabbath would begin. He smiled.
“Shalom, Jabir bar Avraham.”
He jumped and whirled around. “Shalom…??”
“Oh, you have grown! A boy yet not past his Bar Mitzvah, and yet almost as tall as me!” The twinkling eyes of his friend met him.
“Jacob!” he exclaimed, thrusting out his small brown hand for a shake. “Oh, Jacob! What brings you here? Where are you headed next? How is your trade? Has your–”
“Slow down, little one.” Jacob smiled, and though Jabir did not enjoy being called little one, he raised no opposition. “One by one.”
Jacob was a twenty-year-old sailor and trader who had been a teacher at the rabbi school for a year before switching his trade. Yet somehow, even though miles separated them, teacher and student still had a passionate bond of companionship that could not be easily broken. It was like they were destined to be together.
“What brings you here?” Jabir asked impatiently.
He sighed. One had to ask Jacob several questions before he could get to the point, and then he still might not tell you.
“What are you trading?”
“Fish, mostly, and spices, and figs, and olives, and grapes, and things. We just finished a long day of selling at market.”
“O, yes! These Nazarenes kept exclaiming about the low prices! They swept up our wares like fire on dry brush.” Jacob bellowed a deep, jolly laugh, delighting the young boy.
“Where are you headed next?”
Jabir gasped. “That’s far.”
“Young man, you have forgotten that I travel for a living. Now how is your life?”
“Rabbi school…Torah…memorizing…Hebrew scripts…” Jabir tried to hide the weariness behind his voice.
“You don’t quite want to be a scholar, do you?”
“No. But my father insists.”
The two stared into the distance. Already the threshers were finishing up their work, and Jabir coughed as the flying chaff got into his nose.
“Well, my friend…” Jacob placed his hand on the boy’s sunburned shoulders. “I’d best be going.”
Jabir sighed. Visits with Jacob were all too few and all too short. “Will you be at synagogue tomorrow?”
“Why, of course! You didn’t think I’d be leaving for Damascus right now, did you?”
His spirits rose. He could still get a chance to spend time with his best friend tomorrow. On the Sabbath Day.
The synagogue rustled with noise as Jabir entered, leading his little siblings behind him.
“Quiet, Reuben. Over here, Tabitha. No, Nabila, Father isn’t up there yet.” He spoke quietly as he weaved his way along the long lines before taking the designated pew at the very front of the synagogue. Jabir’s father, Rabbi Avraham Rabin, stood in his long robes at the podium, preparing to address his congregation.
He began the words of the famous Hebrew prayer in a deep, mellow voice. The congregation sang it back, and Jabir smiled. He loved Sabbath mornings, the wonderful peaceful feelings of assurance in the synagogue.
The moment the morning prayers and rituals were over, the rabbi straightened his robes. As His custom was, Jesus the carpenter would sometimes go into the synagogue on Sabbath day, and stand up to read.
Jabir could feel the rustle around him, and an exciting tingling impressed upon him as well. Jesus had been with them in the synagogue ever since His youth, but this time it was different. This was the Jesus they had heard so much about? The one who had done so many great wonders and silenced His pursuers multiple times? He was the one who stood up to read almost every Sabbath?
His thoughts were shut off as the young, sprightly man mounted the podium. He had on a long, white robe, and His hair had been carefully slicked and oiled. The audience was silent as He was handed the book of Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where He wanted to read.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,” He began, and His rich and calming voice resonated through the congregation. “Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted…”
The audience again rustled, and Jabir could almost feel them holding their breath. And then he had a sudden, impossible thought. Was this the Messiah?
He brushed it quickly to the back of his mind, but the thought came back again. Some had said He was. Some had said that He was the Messiah, the Son of God. But this young man right before his eyes? This Nazarene?
“…and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
All eyes were intent upon Him as He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down.
He cleared His throat and began to speak. “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jabir gasped loudly, and so did all the crowd. He was claiming it.
“Is this not Joseph’s son?” one cried out in the middle of the assembly. Nobody cared to answer him, and the audience was ruckus. And yet Jesus remained indifferent.
Jabir was tempted to shout out an ancient proverb when Jesus opened His mouth to speak again. “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’ “
Is He a mind-reader?
“Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land;but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath of Sidon, to a widow woman.”
Is He going to preach a sermon?
“And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”
Immediately, Jabir felt the tension in the crowd. Jesus had blown a bubble in them, and now it burst. In indignance, and before either he or his father could stop them, the whole congregation rose up, seized Him, and thrust Him out of the city. Jabir panted as He followed. What were they going to do with Him?
They led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built. Jabir gasped as he ran. Were they planning to throw Him off the cliff? They couldn’t do that! That was murder! That was criminal!
“Stop!” he yelled, but his voice was drowned out. Where was Jesus? He couldn’t see him. Now, the crowd was turning the other way, shoving each other in confusion.
“Where did He go?” one yelled.
“I was holding Him by the arm, and then He just disappeared!”
“I saw Him passing through the midst of us, and then I tried to grab Him, but I couldn’t!”
Jabir sighed. Oh, well. Nothing good does come out of Nazareth.
“Do you not understand?”
Jabir shook his head confusedly as he looked up into Jacob’s exasperated eyes. It was evening, and Jacob had just been getting ready to leave when he had blasted off on some story about Jesus.
“He is the Messiah! He isn’t just some blasphemer! He’s the Son of God! I heard Him say yesterday…”
“The Messiah I’ve been waiting for all my twelve years? The one I always wanted to be the first one to see and announce to Israel? The one who will overthrow the Roman kingdom and free us once and for all? I doubt it.”
Jacob sighed. “I met Him a few days ago, when I was returning to Nazareth from a long trade route. There was a huge crowd in the middle of the streets, so I followed them to see what it was all about. There was a man leading the crowd. His name was Jesus. Jabir – the minute I saw Him – I knew He was the Messiah.”
“I don’t know.”
“And so I followed Him. Even when the crowd left, I stalked Him. Jabir, I saw Him heal the sick, open the eyes of the blind, give strength to the lame – and even raise the dead!”
“Oh, my!” Jabir gasped. “Are you sure you saw all that?”
“I’m sure, Jabir. But apparently, others don’t think so. I heard a rumor that the Pharisees and Jews are in this city right now, plotting and planning to kill Him. I’m afraid He doesn’t stand a chance anymore.”
“Jacob! Oughtn’t He to be warned?”
Jacob shrugged sadly. “I thought of warning Him, because I know where He lives, but I have to leave straightaway. Like, right now.”
“I could do it,” Jabir offered promptly.
His eyes lit up. “Are you sure? Given that He probably knows the danger already and might not listen to you?”
“I still think He ought to be warned. I’m going right now.”
Jacob nodded and clasped Jabir’s hand. “Go quickly, Jabir. You can ask around to find out where He lives. And goodbye, for I am leaving.”
Jabir half-ran for about ten minutes before slowing down his pace in exhaustion. He speculated.
“Excuse me, but do you know where Jesus the carpenter is?” He finally mustered up enough courage to ask a passerby.
“I am one of His disciples,” the man answered. “He lives over there.”
“Okay, not so far away. Thank you!” Jabir called over his shoulder and continued to walk.
The terrain now sloped and became rocky. He regretted coming barefoot. He walked slowly now, so that his feet would not be pierced by the jagged rocks. He was so focused on not getting his feet hurt that he did not see the small group of rowdy, homeless children sitting by the road.
“Hey!” The loud voice made his eyes jerk up. “Hey, boy!”
“Hello,” said Jabir, just as the boy chucked a rock at his feet, almost throwing him off balance.
“What was that for?”
“You look like a girl,” one shot maliciously.
“No, I don’t.” He laughed.
“No, I don’t.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Just listen to his polished speech!” one jeered. “Sounds like the rabbi’s son!”
“I am the rabbi’s son,” he retorted. That was a mistake.
“Wanna fight, then?”
Just as if he had complied, the boy sprinted forward. But Jabir was ready. He sent his fist spinning into the boy’s face, knocking him backwards.
“The kid can fight!” his companions jeered. Jabir just wiped his forehead with his shirt and kept going, ignoring the group. Unfortunately, he didn’t see the boy, seeking revenge, come up behind him.
Bam! He just barely missed falling, hard, to the ground. His arm instinctively went before him, preventing him from a hard fall. He seethed with indignation as the rocks made a sharp gash in his arm. Pain shot through his body from the force of the fall.
Ignoring the malicious taunts from the children, Jabir picked himself up and set off again at a determined pace. He breathed a sigh of relief when he heard no footsteps behind him. The voices of the children melted away into the distance. He pulled up his sleeve. An ugly wound revealed itself, the blood oozing out of the cut.
He didn’t have to ask again for Jesus’s house. There was already a large crowd in the courtyard: mostly consisting of the lame, sick, and blind. He stood on the outskirts. How was he supposed to get in?
Dusk was already falling, and Jabir knew he should set back as soon as possible. But he had walked all this way to get here, and either way, Jesus should be warned.
But yet he felt so out of place he made up his mind to go back.
Just then, the door opened, and Jesus came out into the courtyard. Jabir’s heart leapt. The Master was now walking through the crowd of wailing, moaning sufferers. He passed by some, but others he compassionately touched.
“He has healed me!” came the shriek of one man, in which his joy almost gave way to pure insanity.
“And me as well!” yelled another.
Was it really true? Why were some that He touched healed instantly, and others not at all?
Jabir craved an audience, but he realized that the others had bigger need. Andrew and another one of His disciples were finally convincing Him to go back inside. The moaning and pleading of the crowd slowly tapered as Jesus walked back into the house.
He took that chance.
With power in his step, he forced through the crowd and sprang to the doormat just as the door closed. He waited a moment. Was he insane to do this? He slowly, slowly creaked the door open.
Jesus was alone in the hall, a small lamp in his hand. The flame was flickering off the walls of the house, making ghostly shadows.
He stopped and shivered.
Jesus turned around. He had been expecting that, but now he dreaded it as His eyes bored into him.
“My lord?” He asked
“Young boy…” The very sound of His gentle voice dissolved Jabir’s every fear. “What is the matter?”
He pulled him into the ring of light cast off by His lamp.
“Master,” Jabir desperately tried to calm the quaking in his voice, for he knew that he was not worthy to even look into the eyes of Jesus. “They are here. Your persecutors. In the city. They are out to get you. Jacob told me that-”
“Who is Jacob?” His eyes were intent and curious, but yet He remained calm, which exasperated His messenger.
“Jacob is my friend. Master, you must get out of this city! You don’t stand a chance against your pursuers.”
“Thank you. Jabir?”
His head jerked up. “How did you know my name?”
“Jabir bar Avraham, suppose you carved a wooden figure and named it yourself. Would you not remember the name?”
He contemplated. He was aware that Jesus was renowned for making profound metaphors, he just never expected to be on the receiving end.
“You have been through a lot to warn me of this,” He added.
How did you know that? Jabir was tempted to retort again, but he just nodded.
“Can I see your arm?”
This person knew everything. He relented and pushed up his sleeve, where the ugly wound was showing. Jesus touched it gently, and suddenly he felt all the pain drain away.
The “Master” had apparently tuned out of things. He was staring into the distance. The last of the oil in his lamp was burning away. Jabir sighed. He had fulfilled his mission. Now he felt like he should leave.
Slowly, as to not disturb Him, Jabir tiptoed out of the hall. Just as he was closing the door, however, Jesus turned towards him and spoke.
“Brave, cunning, and relentless…you are just the person I need.”
Jabir stiffened. What could Jesus possibly want him for?
“Jabir bar Avraham, are you willing to embark on a mission that prove extremely dangerous?” Some of the weariness in His creased eyes disappeared as He asked this, and a youthful, adventurous spark came into His eyes.
Jabir started. Was he? At first, he was tempted to shout “Yes!” but his brains took over this time. Was he indeed willing to serve a man who could very well be a heretic and sorcerer?
“Yes,” he said slowly. “For my friend, I am willing.”
“Good.” His eyes twinkled as He reached into the pocket of his robe. Jabir flattened against the wall, his eyes wide, as Jesus pulled out a dusty document.
“Jabir bar Avraham, this is a letter.”
“I need this delivered to Simon Peter bar Jonah, right now in the city of Capernaum, in the house of Caiphas bar Jonathan.”
“You must understand that this is not any letter. In here is information that could cost you…much.”
“Master, I don’t know.” Jabir stuttered.
“Then you should not have promised.” His tone was stern and judgmental.
His eyes flashed. Never should Jabir bar Avraham be titled coward. In a sudden, swift motion, he reached out and took the letter. He stuffed it inside his pocket.
Jesus’s eyes twinkled again, in that youthful fashion. “Go in peace, my son. Serve me well.”
Early the next morning, before even the rooster crowed, Jabir woke up. His hand reached to his pocket, and to his immense relief, the letter was still there. He carefully dusted it off and tucked it inside his sandal. He was going on a mission.
He gathered some provender inside a knapsack and was just slipping out through the front door when he realized that his family would miss him as soon as they woke up. So he bent down, took a stick, and scratched a crude message in the dried dirt.
Going on a mission. Will be back home soon and safe. -Jabir
He didn’t have a huge expectation that he would be back home soon – or even safe, but he meant to see that his family did.
And with that and a map he had obtained from the rabbi school, he was on his way.
Abdiel bar Esau was walking through the dry brush, a knapsack on his back, a bow in his hand, a quiver of arrows in his belt, and a song on his lips. His father had let him go off to hunt by himself, but really, he had no intention of snagging any meat. This was just one of the days he craved adventure, and he aimed to get it.
He was in high spirits as he jostled through, singing so loudly that even if he wanted to shoot a squirrel or two, he wouldn’t be able to. He stopped to pluck a fig from a nearby tree and popped it into his mouth. It was delightfully juicy and good.
Just then, he heard a noise.
He heard a great amount of noises here in the countryside, so one more should not have bothered him. But it wasn’t the twitter of a bird, it wasn’t the twang of a bow, it wasn’t the chirp of an insect.
It was more like the cry of a human.
Curiosity drove him forward to the place where he had heard the sound. He finally thought he had lost it. It seemed so far away.
But no. For here it came again.
He heard it clearly this time. It was evidently the weak cry of a boy in trouble. He ran.
There under a bush lay Jabir.
“Shalom,” he managed, sitting up weakly.
“Shalom. Are you alright?” Abdiel’s eyes perked in a concerned manner.
“Yes. But I think some animal bit me.” Jabir remained completely calm even in his agony.
“You think!” Abdiel burst out in indignance as he stared at the ugly red gash. “Here, sit still.”
While Jabir rested, he wetted a cloth from his pack in the nearby brook and tied it carefully around the wound. That done, Jabir sat up. “So…who are you?”
“Who are you?”
“I asked first.”
It was nice to have some hostile fun with a boy his age. Jabir just grinned. “Okay. I’m Jabir. I’m twelve. I’m the rabbi’s son back at Nazareth, and I’m going on a mission to Capernaum. And you?”
Abdiel ignored that last question. “Ooh, missions!” He shot up. “To Capernaum? How exciting! If you walk from here to Capernaum…that’ll be about six hours more.”
“So what’s your mission?”
He squirmed. “Confidential.”
“Hey, tell me! I’m just a boy like you. And I wanna help!” Abdiel made a puppy face.
He sighed. “Sorry, no can do. Jesus – I meant, the person who sent me on this mission – he said it was confidential.”
“Jesus? The Jesus?”
Way to blow your cover, Jabir muttered to himself. “Never mind.”
“I am a follower of Jesus!”
“How cool! Where do you live?”
“Right back there. I’m hunting. I’m Abdiel, by the way.” He pointed as he slid his hand along the smooth, polished wood of his bow in the air of a marksman.
“I’ve always wanted to be a marksman, actually,” he grinned sheepishly.
“Oh really? I can teach you!”
“Ahh, no can do,” he sighed again. “I have to be on my way.”
“Hey,” Abdiel grinned impulsively. “Can I go with you? My father won’t be missing me any time.”
Jabir stared into his eager hazel eyes. Was this someone to be trusted? Either way, he couldn’t decline…
“Okay,” he relented. “Just don’t ask any questions.”
His animal bite didn’t hurt too much anymore, and he was sure that he hadn’t gotten infected. He wrapped a new bandage around it and stood up.
The two friends clasped hands, shook, and soon disappeared on the horizon.
“Do you even know where you’re going or anything?” Abdiel complained, an hour or so later. They had been so exhausted they had stopped to rest at least three times, and now they were again panting under the shade of a sycamore tree. It was steaming hot, and both boys were sweating like mad.
“I would possibly be lying if I said I did.”
Abdiel just groaned and flopped facedown into the dirt. “Let’s have lunch.”
They shared a small loaf of bread and a bunch of fresh figs. The water in the canteen was almost gone, so not being too thirsty, neither of them took a sip.
Presently, Abdiel got up. “Come on, we have to keep going.”
Jabir ignored him. At first Abdiel thought it was of pure laziness.
“Jabir, come on!”
He motioned his fingers to his lips, and Abdiel realized that he meant business.
There were footsteps coming from behind them. “Abdiel!” A voice called. “Where are you?”
Abdiel jumped up. “Oh, it’s you, Father! I’m right here! I’m hunting with a friend.”
“Oh, really?” The small beady eyes searched Jabir as he bowed. “Alright. Please be back before supper.”
Abdiel went to have a quick word with his father, while Jabir gathered up their things. He waited impatiently as his friend walked back toward him. “Ready?”
The two continued on their long trek.
They had barely walked one hour more when Jabir stopped dead in his tracks.
“What is it now?” Abdiel sighed.
Footsteps again. But not just any footsteps.
They were the footsteps of soldiers. They were distant, yes, but advancing with every second.
“How exciting! Soldiers!” Abdiel exclaimed, just as Jabir grabbed his hand and broke out into a fast run.
“What’s the matter?” He panted between ragged gasps of air.
“Abdiel, they’re coming for me.”
“I’m on a mission for Jesus. He’s a sorcerer.”
“No, He’s not. And how do you know they’re coming for you? What are you even doing? What are you carrying?”
Jabir just kept running. The footsteps of the soldiers were coming nearer. So near, in fact, that both boys could hear the yell of one of them.
“I think I heard something. Running footsteps. They know we’re on their track!”
They ran faster. Faster. Faster. Their footsteps tumbled over weeds, they skipped over fallen logs, they ran so fast they felt momentum was going to make them fall forward.
“Abdiel, where’s a good place to hide the letter?”
Abdiel gasped as he ran. “It might get into the wrong hands.”
“We have more chance of keeping it safe if we hide it,” Jabir panted, in a gruff voice. “Here…or should we just give up the mission altogether? We could pretty much just tear the letter in pieces and go back. Whoever’s following us will suspect nothing.”
The footsteps had disappeared.
“Jabir, you cannot stop now! You are halfway to Capernaum!”
“Abdiel, if I’m caught…bad things will happen. Let’s just abort the mission.”
“Jabir, Jesus is depending on you. You are already halfway, and now you decide to turn back?”
“Halfway means there’s still half of the way to go.”
“It also means you’ve already covered the earlier half.”
Jabir sighed. Abdiel was right. He made as to get up.
Just then, footsteps sounded behind them. Both boys stiffened and dropped straight to the ground.
They came closer and finally stopped altogether.
“Arrest the spy,” a gruff voice demanded. “Get up, boy.”
“What?!” He countered, truly confused. “Who, me? I’m not a spy! I’m only a-”
“My son tells me you work for Jesus.” The man came into full view, and behind him a group of Pharisees and soldiers. He jerked his finger towards Abdiel as they seized Jabir and tied his hands behind his back.
“Abdiel?” he gasped.
“I’m sorry, Jabir,” Abdiel murmured, looking away. “Truly, I am. But I serve a different cause. My father is a head Pharisee.”
Those words made Jabir sick to the stomach. It was Abdiel who had betrayed him. Abdiel who had turned him in. The same Abdiel who had sealed his wound when he was writhing with agony. The same Abdiel who had claimed to serve Christ. The same Abdiel who had pressed him to keep going.
That same Abdiel had now turned against him.
He let the Pharisees snag the letter and lead him away. Everything was happening so fast, he couldn’t take it in.
Jesus had said that this would be dangerous. What would become of him?
Only one hour after his arrest, Jabir was released. It was quickly proven that he was no spy, that it was completely legal to be on a mission for Jesus, and that Abdiel’s father had been crazy to arrest him. The only downside of his whole excursion was that the letter was lost. The Pharisees had taken hold of it, and they didn’t give it back when he asked. Oh well.
Jabir hurried home. He couldn’t wait to tell his family of all his adventures. Just when he was walking back, though, he heard a familiar voice.
It was the voice of Jesus.
He was talking to a group of eager listeners on the street, and seemed rather occupied. Jabir was glad, for he didn’t want to meet the Master after he had lost the letter and not even tried to get it back.
He was just slipping through the crowd when Jesus saw him.
He walked towards him. “Jabir!”
Jabir sighed. It was impossible to pretend that he hadn’t heard Him. He turned around. “Yes?”
“Thank you, Jabir.”
That was unexpected.
“What? But I failed you!”
“Master, why are you commending me like that? I failed you!” He exclaimed in exasperation.
Jesus just smiled and took his hand. “You didn’t fail me, Jabir. You were brave until the end. Even when you had a chance to abort the mission, you didn’t do it. You saw to it that the letter would go through even if you didn’t.”
“But it did not go through, Master,” Jabir sighed. “The Pharisees have it. Now they can read of all your plans – whatever they are.”
It was His turn be exasperated. “Jabir, don’t you see?”
“That letter didn’t contain all of My ‘plans.’ That entire letter and that entire mission was a fake – or to put it in plainer words, a test. The minute I saw you and looked at your heart from my Father’s perspective, I knew it was solid as steel. I knew that if you had been through so much to warn me of danger, you would go through even more to serve me. But first, I wanted to test you.”
“I tested you. With the letter. I expected you to back out the minute I said it was for Capernaum. You did know that it’s a nine-hour walking distance to Capernaum, did you not?”
“You didn’t get it through, and I admit that you could have. You should have seen at once that Abdiel was not to be trusted. There was cunning and bravery lacking in your actions.”
“But cunning and bravery is not what I want. Cunning and bravery is not what My Father wants. What I want is loyalty…and a humble heart.”
“I have witnessed both loyalty and humility in you…firsthand. And now I have to ask you an important question.”
“What is it, Master?”
He smiled. A warm, golden smile, the rays of which pierced straight through Jabir’s heart. An infectious smile.
“Jabir bar Avraham, will you follow me?”
He thought he could never be happier.
do you like to word war? what are some stories you’ve been writing lately? please go over to Light4TheLord’s post to read her (wonderful) story!