In all ways obedient to Torah, Benyamin ben Ibrahim worshipped the one true God. He gave thanks before meals in the traditional manner, ushered in each new day with prayer, paid tithes of mint and cumin. In spite of this, the faithful man sensed a great emptiness in his life.
One hot and dusty day a famous rabbi named *Yeshua, believed by some to be **Messias, passed through the town. He spoke graciously, yet with authority and possessed great power to heal. Since that time Benyamin chased after every rumor of him that drifted through the marketplace. He could not get the man out of his mind.
Some months later a bent figure clothed in purple hobbled up to Benyamin’s door. “I am sent to deliver a message. The Master and his disciples come this way. Will you open your home to them for a night’s lodging? They are three days’ journey off.”
Benyamin could hardly believe his good fortune. The popular healer had chosen Benyamin, his house. The spirit man within him felt disarmed and fragile.
Like beetles on sheep’s dung, Benyamin’s servants glommed onto the news. The dust of their activity invaded his days and filled up his nostrils. Eventually all that had been topsy-turvy was set to rights and the clean space re-packed with luscious aromas of baking.
But at night, questions shooed away the poor man’s sleep.
What would it be like to have Messias under his very own roof? Would Benyamin remember the questions he wanted to ask Him? How would Yeshua answer? Would he relish the savory meat the steward had arranged for? Would the rabbi's eyes dance with good humor, his laughter rumble through the rooms? Or would His face be sober as a judge?
His servants had decked the sleeping room with lilies and spread fresh linens about to cheer and soothe him. Would he rest well?
Amidst all the preparation, the distracted, would-be host sometimes remembered Yeshua’s disciples: there were twelve of them, he thought. Yes, his house was adequate.
But for the most part he thought only of the Master. Perhaps sometime during their fellowship Yeshua would look directly into his eyes; His love would permeate the very fiber of Benyamin’s being. After a thorough soul search, Yeshua would know how much Benyamin loved him back.
By the third day, household expectation had escalated to a crescendo; the hour was come at last. As a sign of welcome, all four doors, one to each side of his house, stood open. Again and again the son of Ibrahim sought the street. Ah, at last he saw a blur of figures and a distant murmur of male banter reached his ears. With all the dignity he could muster he walked into the road to greet and escort his guests the rest of the way.
But something was very wrong. Benyamin’s quick eye flicked over each of the men’s faces. Not one of them belonged to Yeshua.
A disciple who called himself Thomas stepped forward, “The Master has been detained.” He did not know how long: perhaps later tonight or after a few days Yeshua might show up. The long face looked doubtful, “But maybe not. My Master has asked that you accept His apologies.”
“Come, come, Shalom.” Benyamin tried hard to hide his disappointment. “My poor house is indeed blessed though unworthy of such as yourselves. Nevertheless I pray you honor it with your presence. Here you will find water to refresh in and oil for anointing. You must rest yourselves. The meal I have prepared is little when compared to your esteemed company.”
But deep inside, his heart felt like a dried up potsherd.
A pale moon shone down upon the house of Benyamin ben Ibrahim. The sumptuous feast had been consumed; good wine enjoyed, with compliments; the final blessing pronounced. Benyamin had succeeded in performing the duties of an honorable host. His guests, now ascended to roof-top sleeping quarters, rested peacefully. But the good host’s thoughts were far from serene. Yeshua’s absence had imparted to him, as nothing else could have, a piercing truth: apart from the Master, even the best fellowship feels hollow and lacking in substance.
But hope dies hard in the face of such longing. Mightn't it be possible for Yeshua to yet appear? Perhaps even tonight? At that moment Benyamin heard a soft rapping at the door. His spirit soared.
That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3 (KJV)
*Yeshua - Jehoshua[Joshua], or Jesus. Joshua, a common name in Jesus' day
**Messias - John 1:41 & 4:25 (KJV) signifies one who is anointed. In synoptic gospels, the Christ.
Main resource material for article: Sketches of Jewish Social Life, by Alfred Edersheim
Addendum to author notes - Some of Jesus’ followers identified Him with the long-awaited Messiah, named in Daniel 9 & by implication in 456 other O.T. passages associated with Messiah “…and supported by more than 558 separate quotations from Rabbinic writings.” The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Appendix 9, by Alfred Edersheim.
“The Pharisees and those of the Jews who expected Messiah at all looked for a temporal prince only. The apostles themselves were infected with their opinion till after the resurrection. Matt. 20: 20, 21; Luke 24:21; Acts 1:6. Gleams of purer faith appear in Luke 2:30;23;42; John 4:25 ” A Dictionary of the Bible, by William Smith, L.L.D.
The story is like a masterful painting -- I felt as if I was there. It reminds me of the scripture: Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20 KJV)
I enjoyed this: very
thoughtful, and insightful!
I love Jesus, but I still
can't say 'the Son of God';
Jews are taught that this
is blasphemous, and nonexistent. Then again,
only this year, I was
able to say 'Jesus' aloud...
so, I guess there's hope yet!
P.S. Jews don't use the
word 'Messiah'. I was
taught that it was a 'Christian' idea, and
didn't apply to us. I never
heard of 'Yahweh' or
'Yeshuah', until I started
attending a church. In Temple, we
just said 'Adonai'.