A Grain of Wheat
A Grain of Wheat
The day dawned bright and fair. By mid morning the heat was oppressive as the sun burnt down, mercilessly, on the small group that trudged their weary way uphill. People thronged around them seemingly impervious to the temperature. The noise and bustle of the pilgrims resounded through the streets. The smell of sweaty bodies mingled with the odour ...of the goats and lambs brought into the city for sacrifice.
Clanging bells vied with the shouts of street sellers to attract worshipper’s attention. The rich variety in colour of the various fruits lured the small group to a stall standing alone in the shade. Andrew picked up a ripe orange and breathed in its delicious fragrance.
“Oy! Don’t touch the fruit unless you’re buying it.”
Andrew dropped his gaze, in embarrassment, as he reached for his purse.
“My fruit is love, joy and peace. You will taste plenty of that in my father’s kingdom,” stated a bearded man by his side.
Andrew looked at the, departing figure, perplexed before handing the stall holder a coin. Yeshua’s habit of speaking in riddles had annoyed him at first. Lately he had come to accept it as one of his quirks. Beside there was an irresistible charm about this rabbi. He was the kind of man that one could easily form a life long friendship with. Andrew had already proved him to be completely dependable and was determined that, in like manner, he would never forsake him. He was concerned for his master though. Yeshua had been so preoccupied lately. It wasn’t that his attention to the group’s welfare had diminished. No one could fault him on that. Andrew had observed him, however, in the few moments that his friend had snatched alone from the crowds. He had seen the far away look in his eyes. There had been something else as well. At first Andrew had been unable to identify it clearly. Lately though it had grown, increasingly, stronger. Far below the surface of his, welcoming, gaze there had been a look of trepidation and horror. It was as if time, itself, was marching relentlessly forward towards a period of unrivalled abhorrence.
Despite his concern, for his rabbi, Andrew could not understand what there was to fear. Their group was riding on a pinnacle of success. They were adored by the crowds. Why, only a few days before they had thronged the streets to welcome him into the city. Branches had been torn off the nearby trees to lie at his feet. The noise had been horrendous. The atmosphere, though, was electric. The people loved him. One facet of that day had perplexed Andrew though. Yeshua had entered the city riding on a donkey! Surely he had known the ancient prophecy. Seers, years before, had prophesied that the coming messiah would do just that. For ages the people had waited for the liberator who would free them from Rome’s tyrannical yoke. What was Yeshua thinking of to enter the city in that way? It was unthinkable! Andrew fell silent as he considered how his friend was, forever, pushing the boundaries of respectability. Yes, there may be trouble ahead. Some fussy do-gooders might complain that he had gone too far but it would be no more than they could handle.
As Andrew pondered on these matters a further five men approached the group. They made a bee line for him as he was standing slightly apart from the others. Phillip the, slightly, taller of the five was very well known to Yeshua’s group. Indeed, he was a valued member who had introduced several figures to them. Andrew did not recognise the others though. Phillip introduced them.
Hello Andrew! These men have come from Greece. They would like an introduction to Yeshua.”
Andrew was loath to disturb his friend.
“Yeshua has been plagued by people all day. He relishes their company but you know how they tire him so.”
“They've come all the way from Greece. Lots of people there are talking about him. Word has got back about his wise words and healing powers.”
Allowing his inquisitiveness to get the better of him Andrew and the small group hurried to catch up with Yeshua.
“Master, these men are friends of Phillip. They would like to meet you.”
Yeshua slowed his pace as the men introduced themselves.
“We have heard so much about you from pilgrims returning to Athens. We just had to meet you ourselves whilst we were in the city,” the men explained.
Yeshua laughed. “So my fame spreads! Tell me what you have heard.”
“People say that you are wiser, even, than Aristotle. Not only that. They claim you can heal the sick”
“I simply do my father’s work while it is still daytime.”
The men were puzzled by Yeshua’s words, but continued.
“People, there, are clamouring to hear more from you. Would you consider returning with us so you can explain your teaching?”
Yeshua, slowly, shook his head. “The harvest, here is white. There are far too few labourers.”
Unknown to the Greeks their words had struck a raw cord in the rabbi though.
Over the next few hours the invitation squirreled its way into his brain. As the heat bore down on the travellers Yeshua began to daydream. Instead of the towering temple overhead he saw the distant shape of the acropolis. The cries of the traders were replaced with shouts of adulation as the men made their way towards the centre of Athens.
“Tell us more!”
“We are hungry for your truths!”
Yeshua realised that from the centre of Athens his words would reach out to every quarter of the known world. This was the epicentre of civilization. The great Roman Empire had been built upon the teachings that emanated from this city. Surely, his influence would be far greater here than in Jerusalem. The horrors that lay in front of him, in that city, could be avoided here in Athens. Hurrying through Athens cobble stoned streets they saw the mud bricked houses of the city’s inhabitants on either side. Reaching the business quarters they noticed that the mud constructions had been replaced by towering stone edifices. In front of them towered the theatres and storehouses displaying the vast opulence of the city. To one side stood an ornate, white, fountain from which flowed a refreshing stream of crystal clear water. On its sides were carved two, carefully proportioned dolphins playing with, what appeared to be water nymphs. Yeshua turned to address the crowds.
“Drink freely! The water that I give will never fail.”
The words woke Yeshua from his daydream and brought him back to a stark reality. He could not fail. There was too much riding on him. Understanding that it was the only way to restore the broken relationship, between man and God, he had willingly chosen his path. Now he knew he must walk it.
His mind strayed to another day. Long ago at the dawn of history. He had gone, as usual, to meet his beloved friends Adam and Eve. It all happened so long ago and yet appeared, to him, to be no time at all. No power, in heaven or earth, could destroy the love that he felt for his creation. He knew they had disobeyed his instructions. He understood the cataclysmic events they had set in motion. Yet he loved them just the same. In the cool of the day he went looking for them. All was still in the garden. Fragrant scents from the plants and shrubs delighted his senses. Watching carefully he saw a humming bird hovering by a delicate flower. Listening carefully he could hear the beating of its wings. In the distance was the thunder of a majestic river as it cascaded over a rocky outcrop. His senses finely tuned he listened for the sound of his friends. They were nowhere to be found. He called out,
“Where are you?”
He finally found them hiding in shame. The very people he had created, innocent and pure, were now racked with guilt. He knew that, as much as he longed to be with them, they would continue to hide until that guilt and shame was dealt with.
Returning, from his daydreams Yeshua’s mind was firmly resolved on the path ahead. Gazing intently at his loyal disciples he told them, “I must complete the work that my father sent me to do. Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies………