Chapter 12 - Choose For Yourselves
As the afternoon passed and Anna had begun to feel a little better, she joined in the preparations going on around the house. She thought about what Jesus would look like, how He would act, and above all, what He would say. She knew somehow that recognizing Him as Messiah wouldn’t have anything to do with how He looked. It would be through His words. She wondered what other people’s reactions had been to Him. As she mulled over the various questions in her mind, she heard Ashira gasp as she shouted across the courtyard, “Abba!” That must be them, Anna thought in eager anticipation. She grinned at how her hands were trembling, and wiped them on a cloth as she stepped out into the courtyard with Ashira and Jedida. Rebekah and Kitra came flying to her through the open gate.
“Nana! Mother! Come sthee! Abba’sth home! He’ths home! And Jesthusth is with him!”
Rebekah joined in gleefully, “Jesus! Remember?! The man who changed the water into wine! Come see!”
The girls grabbed their grandmother by the hand, pulling her toward the arriving group. She saw Simon and Andrew, each on one side of a man she did not know but instantly recognized as Jesus.
Ariel appeared from behind them, “Nana! THIS is the stranger who helped me at the well! It was Jesus—only I didn’t know it.” Anna had never seen Ariel so excited.
Kitra ran back to Jesus and He swooped her up into His arms. Simon looked up and made a beeline straight toward Jedida. Jesus smiled warmly at Jedida, graciously introduced Himself to a flushed Ashira and then walked over to Anna.
“You must be Jedida’s mother! My name is Jesus.”
Anna blushed slightly and smiled. It is just as I thought. He certainly does not look like a Messiah! But her joy knew no bounds. This is Jesus! “Jesus,” she said aloud, “I am so, so happy to meet you.”
Simon left Jedida for the moment as Andrew greeted her. He made his way over and wrapped Anna in a bear hug. “I’ve missed you, too!” With a wry grin he added, “And your cooking!”
Anna, forgetting her awkwardness, laughed at him. “Yes, dear. There’s a big pot of stew just waiting to be eaten. It won’t be long until it is ready!”
Simon grinned broadly, “I was hoping you would say that.”
The greetings all around among their old friends James and John, as well as meeting other followers, had delayed the meal even more. Everyone had had much to say before hunger surpassed their eagerness to talk. Then Jedida scurried out the door, eager to tell Elizabeth and her household the news of the arrival of Jesus, Simon, Andrew, and the others.
The weary and hungry travelers reclined at the low dining table. James, John, Andrew and Simon were all naturally quite familiar with the room and therefore were careful to not actually lean on the table. Jesus, who apparently hadn’t caught on yet, put His elbow on the table and jumped as the table rocked violently, lurching away from His elbow. His disciples laughed.
“Oh, Master! Simon forgot to tell you about his table!” James said, still laughing. “The table isn’t supposed to be touched; it’s only for strategically placed food.” Simon pretended not to notice, but with the others goading him, he finally gave in.
“Yes, Master, I’m afraid it’s true. I suppose it’s a good thing the fish that are put on it are dead, otherwise even they would get seasick!” All the disciples burst out laughing.
After a while, unable to restrain himself any longer, Jesus called to Anna, “Do you mind if I fix this table of yours?”
Anna turned around, startled. “Why, yes, that would be very kind of You. That table has been wobbling for as long as I can remember!” She could hardly stifle a laugh. Is the Messiah going to fix my table?!
Jesus started by taking off all the bowls she had put on the table and setting them carefully to the side. Then, as the men pulled back from the table, Jesus flipped it over with expert ease and peered at the offending table leg. He wobbled it more to the side and peered in the joint where it was loose, as if He could see something in there. Simon peered along with Him a little sheepishly, knowing what was about to be discovered. The other disciples laughed and teased Simon for his lack of carpentry skills. Finally, Jesus fished out a small ball of what looked like string. He unwrapped it to reveal a tattered piece of what once had been a fishing net. He looked at Simon.
Simon tried to explain. “Well, you see, Master, I thought it needed a wedge, and I saw this ripped net down at the shore, so I—”
Jesus cut him off, laughing. “Simon, there are many, many things you must learn. One of them is that a fishing net does not solve all problems. To fish, you use a net. To fix a loose leg of a wooden table with a wooden leg standing on three other wooden legs, you use—a wooden shim!” Simon laughed.
“Yes, Master. As you can see, though, fishing has solved a great many problems for me. So I thought—”
Jesus cut him off again, clearly enjoying Himself. “Yes, Simon, it is clear that you think too much sometimes, and other times you don’t think quite enough! You have to learn the right timing for each.” He winked at the others, then continued. “Now, is there anywhere in this fishing house that I can find a piece of wood and a knife?”
“Zeke!” Simon roared. “Where’s your carving knife?”
Ezekiel had been happily glued to his uncle Andrew’s side since his arrival but had never taken his eyes off of Jesus. Thrilled with being able to contribute to the task at hand, he leapt up and grabbed his knife from the window ledge.
“Thanks, Son,” Simon said, receiving the knife. “Now go find Jesus some wood.”
It took Ezekiel only a moment to find wood he had stashed for his carving projects. He proudly handed a piece over to Jesus. Jesus carefully whittled, occasionally holding it over the empty space next to the leg to check for size. Finally, when He was sure it was right, He squeezed the shim into the joint and used the knife handle to hammer it into place. After it was just right, He tried to wobble the table leg, but it was stuck fast. Satisfied, He flipped the table over and tried to rock it, but again, it was solid. Jesus smiled and looked over at Simon. “And that is how you fix a table leg, my friend.”
Simon bowed in exaggerated gratitude. “Thank you, Sir.”
Jesus began to reset the table the way Anna had had it.
John piped in, “Master! Don’t put away that knife yet! Did you notice Simon’s gate when we walked in? Herod Antipas, all the way in Sephorris, must have heard that squawk!” The men laughed.
James chimed in, “And what about the wobbly bench? And the rickety ladder? Yes, Master, it’s a good thing you came! Simon’s house is falling apart!”
Anna set some dates and nuts on the table as Jesus, Simon, and the others settled around the table once again.
Suddenly the room grew strangely quiet as a figure familiar to many of them appeared in the doorway.
“Did I hear someone say Simon’s house is falling apart?”
It was Lemuel.
“I’m surprised anyone noticed that besides me.” He started to say something directly to Simon and stopped short when he saw the unfamiliar face of Jesus. He chose to continue as if the crowd at the table were an everyday occurrence. Aloud, he said, “Mother, here is a new broom to replace the one that was—burned. And by the way, what are you doing up?! You were supposed to be lying down!”
Anna’s joy could not be dimmed by anyone. “I did, Lemuel. And I feel fine now. Thank you for the broom. Really, Son, you shouldn’t have brought me more firewood!” She laughed. “I can find firewood on my own, but I do promise not to use my new broom!” She didn’t want to let Lemuel’s sourness ruin this happy time.
Lemuel did not laugh. He turned around and greeted Jesus cordially, sitting down at the table. Anna sighed. She could tell that he would rather be in some remote corner of the Far East right now. But formalities dictated otherwise. Lemuel popped a nut into his mouth, trying to appear relaxed.
Jesus nodded a greeting to Lemuel. He was about to say something when Jedida entered swiftly, quietly trying to get Ezekiel’s attention. “The goat’s gotten loose again!” Ezekiel ran out to chase the maverick animal.
Lemuel looked over his shoulder to watch Simon run out to help as well. Realizing an opportunity with Simon out of the room, Lemuel turned back to Jesus.
“Have you met Jared yet? He’s Simon’s oldest son. Nah, you wouldn’t have met Jared yet. He’s still working. He’s had responsibility for the fishing business now that his father has—abandoned it.” The disciples at the table stiffened.
Lemuel was clearly challenging Jesus. Anna knew that, and she felt her knees buckle at the rudeness as well as the audacity. Jesus recognized the challenge as well. But He did a strange thing. Instead of answering Lemuel directly, He looked straight into Anna’s eyes. His piercing gaze held her spellbound.
“Peter has chosen the right path.”