Chapter 3 - They Loved to Think of Him
Voices chimed behind them as the courtyard gate again swung open, and Jedida turned, “Why, Ezra! What brings you here?!”
Sauntering in through the gate was their tall young neighbor, darkened by the sun of nineteen summers and damp from a long morning of hard labor. His dark eyes glowed merrily as one corner of his mouth lifted in amusement. He nodded respectfully to Jedida, “Good morning!” Little Kitra was riding high on his strong shoulders, her loose braids flung across her rosy cheeks. Her hands grasped fistfuls of his dark hair as she swayed high above the surrounding world. Rebekah, a basket in her arms, was beaming at their side. Ezra laughed heartily as he swooped Kitra to the ground. “Well, it seems that Ashira left her basket of food at the lake—along with a few other valuables.”
Ashira’s deep brown eyes widened. “Oh! Oh! Mother,” she cried, “I—I didn’t mean to leave them…I’m so sorry!”
“Ashira, you left usth!” Kitra chided playfully, placing her hands on her hips in an emphatic and exaggerated gesture.
“Sorry that your work was interrupted, Ezra. Thank you for bringing the girls home.”
Ezra waved away Jedida’s apology. “I was coming up, anyway, to help with my father.” He winked at Rebekah.
Grandma Anna’s cheerful voice came from the roof. “Jedida! What’s all the ruckus?” Soon she was stepping gingerly down the stairs, with the baby on her hip. Thirteen-year-old Ariel trailed behind her with wilted flowers in her braid. The story of Ezra’s find was shared, and everyone broke into fresh laughter, even Ashira, now blushing brightly.
Ezra turned to go, and then paused, looking toward Jedida. “If it would be any help to you, I told Jared I could help him with the fishing while Simon’s gone back to see the baptizer again. He has enough work for three men.”
Jedida laughed softly, as the momentarily forgotten wonder of the morning’s news broke anew upon her thoughts. The Messiah. The name of hope rekindled expectation in her heavily pounding heart. “Oh, did Jared not hear? Simon left again, but this time not to see the Baptist.”
Anna moved closer and put her hand on Jedida’s arm. “What’s this, Daughter? Where has he gone now?”
Jedida seated herself on the small bench, pulling Kitra into her lap. “Mother! Andrew came to find Simon—he had news from the Jordan. He had met a man….named Jesus.” She continued, the momentum of her eagerness carrying her on. “The Prophet said that this man was the awaited one. The baptizer called him the Messiah of Israel! Andrew has taken Simon to go meet Him.” Jedida laughed. In the corner of her eye Jedida could see Ashira nearly bursting with elation. “You tell them, Ashira. Tell them what your uncle said!”
Ashira repeated the phrases she had heard during those fleeting moments on the shore as her grandmother, Ezra, and her siblings listened with rapt attention. “John called Him ‘the Lamb of God.’ He said something about Jesus baptizing with fire and that He would ‘take away the sins of the world!’ And then Andrew said he had followed Jesus to the house where He was staying…” How she wished she knew more details! She broke off, looking at those around, all captivated by words they had longed to hear for so long and yet, like her, could hardly comprehend. “I also heard from Uncle Andrew that the prophet John said, ‘This Man who comes after me is greater than me because He was before me.’”
“What does he mean by that?” Anna asked, completely enthralled.
Ashira threw up her hands—she had been wondering the same thing. “Uncle Andrew didn’t explain—that’s all I heard.”
Ezra looked up, his eyes pleading for more. “What is He like? Does anyone else know of these things? What will Jesus do next?” His voice was excited, but neither Ashira nor Jedida had any more to tell him.
Anna sat down and put a trembling hand to her lips. She spoke, half to herself. “I never thought I might live to see the day. Jedida, after so many generations who deliberately forgot Jehovah’s goodness and rebelled against His way, Yahweh chooses now to reveal His Savior, the Messiah?”
Kitra suddenly straightened up and peered quizzically into her grandmother’s face. “Nana, what’s a Mesthiah?”
Anna’s voice was shaky, and her eyes glistened. “Ah, child…the Messiah is the True King.”
Ariel brightened. “Will He be like King David?”
Anna shook her head. “If this is the Messiah, He will be greater than any other king, even King David.”
A wind rushed through the courtyard and rustled the leaves of the acacia tree in the corner.
“I shouldn’t keep my father waiting,” Ezra said, “and I told Jared I’d be back before long. Jedida, may I tell him what has happened?”
“Oh, yes, please do, and thank you again, Ezra.”
Kitra jumped down from her mother’s lap and followed the young man to the gate, calling goodbye and waving until he was out of sight around the corner.
Ashira snapped her fingers as a thought came to her remembrance. “Oh! Mother, Elizabeth and I were going to work on the loom together this morning.”
“Ah, good! Why don’t you go on over now. While she and Ezra take care of their father, you can get started.”
As she neared the gate, Ashira winced suddenly and turned. “Mother, Zivah was going to come help—we saw her at the well earlier, and—”
Jedida gave her a knowing look. “I’ll come in a few minutes. You go ahead.”
Anna sent Ariel and Rebekah up to the roof to gather the clothes she had been mending earlier, and Kitra hurried after them, running along at Rebekah’s heels as usual. The older woman stooped and set the baby on the ground. He toddled over to the corner and stretched up on tiptoe, reaching for a leaf that dangled just above his pudgy fingers.
“Jedida,” Anna said softly, reaching up to smooth her daughter’s hair, “you don’t quite seem yourself.”
Jedida smiled. “It’s nothing. I just…it feels like the day Andrew left. Every bit of news about the coming Messiah is so marvelous—yet so hard to grasp! And now, if this one John speaks of is the Messiah, I wouldn’t want Simon to be anywhere but at His side. But it will be so much different with Simon gone. How long will he be? There are so many mouths to feed, and Jared is still young…” Her voice trailed off.
Anna thought for a moment, “Well, we’ll trust that it will all be made clear soon enough. I’m sure Simon will bring us news quickly.”
His Name is Yesu
Oh, the wonder,
Oh, the joy,
Oh, the marvel of it all!
Could it be the Hope of Israel has come?
His name is Yesu.
What’s He like?
Does He laugh or cry at all?
This man Jesus, could it be? Is He the One?
Jesus! What a name!
No longer just a hope to which we cling.
Jesus! He Who Saves.
Has He really come fulfilling all our dreams?
A light has dawned
In the form of man!
But right amongst us? Here and now?
Walking, talking under this same sky?
Will we see Him?
Will we hear Him?
Can we look into His eyes?
Can we touch the One of whom men prophesied?
Yesu! What a name!
No longer just a hope to which we cling.
Jesus! He Who Saves.
Have you really come fulfilling all our dreams?