Chapter 2 - Good Tidings
Jedida’s slender, delicate frame was quite the contrast to that of her husband, Simon. Kneeling gracefully, she bent over a kneading trough, silently working in the large, well-shaded courtyard. The stillness around her was broken only by the whisper of the fresh sea breeze and an occasional fisherman’s call in the distance. She sighed contentedly. Ezekiel had brought the word of his abba’s return to the shore earlier that morning, and she would be happy to see him again. She certainly had missed Simon while he was gone and looked forward to the spark he always brought with him. But the quiet was pleasant for the moment in contrast to the normal bustling of their busy house. She was grateful that life was good for them even in these troubled times—even though the fishing wasn’t always prosperous, even though Rome seemed to be tightening its grip and spreading its influence all through Israel. Still, there was hope. Hope in this prophet of the wilderness, John. Perhaps some with something to hide or protect would call it “bondage.” But, there was great hope in his message of repentance, of the kingdom, of the One to come. “Soon, Adonai,” she whispered aloud at the thought of the Messiah. She looked forward to what news Simon would bring from the Jordan.
Push, fold, push, fold, push. The bread yielded to her smooth, strong hands. She lifted her hand and neatly tucked a stray wisp of straight black hair behind her ear. High on the roof she heard her baby’s sweet giggle as he called aloud “Nana!” Jedida smiled again at the thought of her own mother tending the baby. The children adored their Nana, and her quick, warm laugh was often heard throughout the house. Jedida smiled to herself. Mother is such a help. How could I ever keep up everything without her?
Yes, there was so much to do. Seven children to keep track of was plenty, not to mention the endless chores in the many-roomed, maze-like house that had grown with each generation. The many tasks to finish before the noon meal systematically filtered through her mind. We need to bake the bread and finish the lentil stew. This courtyard must be swept. But maybe there’s still time to make some fig cakes for Simon and Jared?
“Mother!” A loud bang followed shortly after the earnest shout. Startled, Jedida looked up from her kneading. Though Ashira bursting through the gate was not totally out of the ordinary, something in her daughter’s voice made Jedida tense, unsure that this was just an “abba’s home” announcement.
“Ashira! What’s the matter?!” Jedida uncharacteristically wiped her hands on her garment as she quickly rose, “Is everyone all right?”
“Oh, Mother!” Ashira laughed. “Abba just left! Again!”
“Left? What do you mean left?” Jedida asked, puzzled over her daughter’s excitement. “Why, he’s only just come home!” Even as she asked, thoughts flew through Jedida’s mind. Every time Simon and James have returned to their fishing from those trips to see the Baptist their passion and energy for the Kingdom burns even more intensely. And I’m glad! But what has happened now? Jedida slowed her thoughts, and calmly asked, “What happened, Ashira?”
Ashira took in a deep breath to prepare herself for the words she could hardly hold back. “Uncle Andrew returned and he came to get father! He said they’ve met a man—the Baptist says He is the Messiah! The Messiah, Mother!”
Jedida gasped in astonishment over the immensity of what her daughter had said. The question over Simon’s departure was suddenly swept aside by this news they had all longed for. This wondrous news—The Promised One of Israel! Tears brimmed in her eyes. “Now?” she whispered. “Has He finally revealed Himself? Out of so many generations in Israel might we see the Messiah, Ashira?”
Ashira continued in a new surge of elation. “Abba and I were talking by the boat, Jared was cleaning up the nets, and suddenly Uncle Andrew was rushing toward us along the shore. The prophet John, the baptizer, had introduced Uncle Andrew to the Messiah! His name is Yesu. Oh, Mother! If the Prophet says this man is the Messiah, then he must be, right?? I mean, thousands upon thousands of people have been baptized by John and trust him to show them the One who is to come. He wouldn’t be wrong, would he??” Ashira sat down on a wobbly bench by the courtyard wall, breathing hard and marveling at the news.
Jedida continued to ponder incredulously. “Ashira, we all knew that the Messiah must be alive; there were so many signs!” She paused. Then, carefully and intentionally Jedida said aloud the name her heart had waited so long to know. “Jesus.” She looked at Ashira, her face radiant. Though now completely at a loss for words, her mind still overflowed with thoughts and implications. Andrew, James, John, and Simon—my Simon—meeting the future King of Israel, the Restorer of the Kingdom of David!
Yet somehow in the marvel of it all, Jedida suddenly felt uneasy. If this really is the Messiah, our lives and the lives of everyone around us are about to change FOREVER! Am I really ready for this? Then she silently chided herself for so quickly turning her concerns inward. But still, warring thoughts continued to clamor within her.
Drawing in a deep breath, Jedida spoke with intentional stability. “Ashira, tell me more! Did your abba give any idea of when he might return?”
“He said something to Jared about a few days. Oh, Mother. I hardly know what to think! My mind seems to be jumping to a thousand unrelated things.” Ashira stared intently across the courtyard wall, where in the distance she could catch a glimpse of the Sea of Galilee that they all loved so dearly. “When abba first said good-bye, and I knew he was going to meet the One who John says is the future King, I was so excited,” Ashira said. “But in a way, it is also—frightening!” Ashira suddenly stood and whirled around to face her mother, distress creeping onto her face with a realization, “Do you think abba would really leave us for long, like Uncle Andrew? Will he stay? Might he never come back?!” Her eyes welled with tears.
Jedida looked at Ashira in astonishment. She could see, reflected, visible, and magnified in her daughter, her own overwhelming feelings. “Oh, child!” she said, finding relief in her own laughter. “In one moment you somehow expose your mother’s silly doubts with changes of emotion that would compete even with your father’s. Whatever will I do with you!” Jedida again laughed aloud, drawing her daughter into her arms. “Let’s not let our love for your abba lower the eyes of our hearts.” With new enthusiasm, she expressed what she knew was right and true. “Ashira, Israel has been praying for the coming Messiah for hundreds of years. If this man is the Promised One, we have nothing to fear, even for your abba!”