Chapter 7 - Invited!
Ariel came dashing down the steps from the roof, “Zeke, Shira, Mother…it’s abba! Abba’s coming up from the shore!”
Ezekiel hurriedly set down the carving knife. “Abba’s home? Great! Did you see if the man Jesus might be with him?”
“I don’t know,” Ariel called back as she reached the courtyard gate. Already Rebekah and Kitra were at her heels trying to catch a glimpse of their daddy. “It looked like just father coming.”
Simon crested the last little rise on the path leading to their house and was swarmed with the hugs and clutches of his three youngest daughters.
“Abba!” Rebekah exclaimed. “We’ve missed you so much!”
Ezekiel was close behind the girls. “Hello, father!” He hardly paused before launching into what really excited him. “Is the Messiah with you? Is He here in Capernaum? Is He gathering His mighty army to conquer the Romans? I can’t wait to see Him!” Ezekiel pranced around his father enthusiastically.
Simon let out a confused laugh, “Well now, Zeke! I don’t know anything about an army at this point. We’re going to a wedding—in Cana.” Simon worked his way eagerly toward the house with the smaller children still clinging to him. But not Ezekiel. Ezekiel had stopped cold in his tracks, incredulous. No army? No war? Isn’t he going to defeat the Romans? He’s going to a wedding instead?
“Ashira, my daughter!” Simon bellowed joyfully. “I have so much to tell you! But, I only have a short time. Come to me!” He gave her a hug.
“Oh, abba, I’ve missed you! I was beginning to wonder if—” Ashira stopped herself.
Simon momentarily pondered her hesitation, but spun around when he heard other familiar voices. He warmly drew his mother-in-law and wife into his powerful arms. “Anna! And my dear Jedida. If it were only possible to tell you all that has happened in these last few days. I—”
Simon was interrupted by gleeful, squirming children once again climbing onto him. He tickled a squirming Kitra off of him and swooped up the baby. He gave him one more scruffy kiss before handing him to his mother.
“Abba,” Rebekah said eagerly, “when will you come back with the Messiah?”
“I—I don’t know. I …”
“But…” Ezekiel started, still a little shaken over his dream of an army being replaced by a wedding trip. “But I thought… Isn’t He going to conquer the—”
“I tell you, Zeke, I just don’t know. I’ve heard of no army. Nothing about Romans.”
Ashira had never heard her abba say the words “I don’t know” so often. He’s not as confident as when he left. I wonder why.
“Simon,” Anna said, “surely you’re hungry after all that traveling; let me get you something to eat.” She started towards the kitchen.
“Thank you so much, Anna. I’m famished!”
“Shira!” he shouted over the endless flow of questions, “Where’d your mother go? JEDIDA!” he roared, only to realize that she was standing right behind him, thoroughly enjoying the whole escapade. “Oh, uh…there you are! Hey, can you tell me where my best clothes are, and Andrew’s, too?”
“They should be in that old chest,” she answered. “Simon, what is He like, this Jesus?”
Simon paused. He looked at Jedida with eyes searching for an answer. “I don’t know how to describe Him. He’s, well—I—You’ll just have to see Him for yourself!”
“Is He the Promised One by God to redeem Israel?” she asked. “Is He the Messiah?”
“Well, I think so—I—I imagine so…He’s not really what we’ve been expecting all this time.” Looking at Ezekiel he added, “He hasn’t talked about defeating the Romans or anything. But we all feel such an attraction to Him…He’s amazing and wonderful…and challenging…He is so hard to decipher, and yet somehow, I think, in Him lay all the answers. I do find myself confused a lot.”
Simon gave up his attempt to explain. He thundered into the common room, the children running after him. He grunted as he pulled out a dusty chest with a lid hanging half off its hinges. He propped it open. “Ah-ha! Here they are. Just what is needed for the wedding!”
“Abba, abba!” Kitra said as she jumped up and down. “Isth the Mesthiah getting married?”
Simon burst into laughter. “Well, I do know the answer to that! No, no, sweet one. Jesus’ mother was invited to a wedding in Cana, and she asked Jesus to come with all His disciples. Andrew, John, James and I are all going with Jesus. Even Philip and Nathanael are coming.”
“Are you a disthiple?” Kitra asked innocently.
“I—uh—well, I suppose—I never really thought—I, yeah, I guess I—” Simon said, baffled by his daughter’s simple question.
The baby grabbed Simon’s leg and tugged. “Ah, my little one, abba has missed you!” Simon picked up his youngest son again. “Are you being a good little boy?” Simon said softly, tickling the baby.
He finally pulled the clothes out of the chest.
Jared entered the house, his nets slung over his shoulder. He stopped suddenly. “Father, you’re back!” Simon’s face lit up to see his eldest son. Walking toward Jared in big strides, Simon embraced him. Jared was stunned by his father’s rare warmth.
“How’s the fishing been, Son?” Simon asked.
“Uh—I’m sorry, father,” Jared admitted with a little trepidation. “Not so good.”
“Oh, that’s okay. You’ll get the hang of it.” Simon struggled for a moment, “I’ll come home as soon as I can, but do you think you could manage for a few more nights?”
“Yes, Ezra has been helping me.” Jared was still bewildered. Since when has bad fishing been okay with father?
Intrigued, Ashira watched her father and Jared. Abba definitely seems different. Aloud, Ashira persisted with the questions they all had burning within them, “Abba, what’s Jesus like? What has He talked about? What is He going to do?”
“When I get back from the wedding, I’ll try to answer as many of your questions as I can. But, you must understand, I still have many of my own. You’ll see. I hope you’ll meet Him very soon.”
Ezekiel piped up hopefully, “Father, when you leave for the wedding, can I come with you? I’ll be good and not lag behind!”
Simon smiled and looked at Ezekiel. “Indeed, you wouldn’t lag behind; you are more likely to lag ahead! But, no, Son, you need to stay here and help Jared fish and take care of your mother and sisters. Don’t worry, though; Jesus and the rest of us will come back into Capernaum soon.”
I wonder, Jedida thought to herself, I wonder what it is that Jesus does and says? In this short time, I can see that Simon is changing. He is just as loud, just as abrupt, but—not so—self-assured! He’s certainly softer toward Jared, and after only a few days with this man he is following! It’s not just an accident, or a coincidence. There is a reason for it. There must be something special about this man Jesus.
Simon looked at his wife. She sees exactly what I’m thinking—as usual. This time she knows I know—nothing. He met her gaze sheepishly. Then, not sure what else to do, he shrugged his shoulders and once again tackled the children.