Spring flowers cover the fields and fill the air with sweet fragrance as we travel north through Samaria. I’ve now become a part of the small band of travelers who follow after the Rabbi. When he visited Jerusalem for the Passover with his disciples, some of us stayed outside the city. We waited, and then went with him when he returned to the countryside along the Jordan River, where his disciples baptized many people. When the Rabbi sets out for the north again, we follow.
We travel through Samaria and stop at a small village along the way. The disciples leave the Rabbi at the well to rest and head into the village. I watch from a distance and see him start a conversation with a woman of obviously questionable reputation.
He shows her incredible respect, despite who she is. I have not approached the Rabbi during our travels. I always keep my distance. But as I watch him talk to this woman, I wonder would he also talk to me? What would he say? The woman’s surprise at his words and her animated responses makes me think the Rabbi understands more than she tells him. My face flushes at the thought of my past and I quickly dismiss any idea of talking to him. The disciples return and surprise and shock cover their faces when they see their Rabbi chatting with the woman. The woman rushes away but in no time she comes back with a crowd from the village. I’m surprised they even listened to her. But something in her excitement draws and engages the people. And something in the Rabbi’s message keeps them.
We finally continue north and stop in Cana again. Many of the townspeople point to the Rabbi and talk about the wine marvel at the wedding. Some stop and talk to him. Others greet him like a brother. I see the man approaching from a distance, hurrying towards the Rabbi and his disciples. He’s dressed in the robes of an officer in the royal service, and several junior officers and numerous servants accompany him. But something in his chiseled features and resolute stride speak of desperation.
The servants retreat to the edges of the crowd, close to where I stand. As the man speaks to the Rabbi, asking him to come heal his dying son, the servants whisper among themselves about the many healers and priests of various gods the man summoned to Capernaum, paid to cure his son. Asclepius, Febris, Panacea, and even the Egyptian goddess, Isis. None had succeeded.
The Rabbi’s voice carries over the crowd. “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not trust!”
Such an odd response to the man’s wretched situation. Did the Rabbi know of the man’s previous attempts for his son’s healing? Or was he speaking to the crowds gathering out of curiosity?
“But of course,” a servant grumbles. “Healing requires spells, chants, sometimes even magic. Naturally, we expect these things.”
I’d seen healers at work before. With their herbs, their songs, their cutting on the patients and even demanding sacrifices. They reminded me of the Egyptian priests mimicking Moses. Or the priests of Ba’al in their frenzy to gain the attention of their god.
“Sir, please,” the officer implores. He falls to his knees and holds up open hands, an odd position for someone in expensive, royal robes. “Come with me, before my child dies.”
Another servant snorts and receives a knuckle in the head for his troubles.
Compassion fills the Rabbi’s face as he looks down at the man. I adjust the straps of the small pack I carry, holding my precious few belongings. I assume we would begin the trek to Capernaum with the officer.
“You may go,” the Rabbi says. “Your son is alive.”
The man looks up at him and blinks several times. So do I. The crowd falls quiet.
I hear a servant whisper, “Surely he goes with our master. A healer must see the one sick. How can he determine from afar what ails the child?”
Another servant shakes his head. “Who can heal without attending to the patient?”
The officer stands and brushes the dust from his robes. His mouth works as if he wants to say something. He pauses, and looks into the Rabbi’s eyes, then, he nods to himself, summons his junior officers, and turns. The servants scurry after him as he strides towards the town gates.
I clutch my pack to my chest. Such a long way home. What will the man find when he returns? What had he seen in the Rabbi’s eyes to make him have such trust, to leave, and take him at his word?
Grace & Peace