Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)
TITLE: The Cousin Who Came First
By Joshua Janoski
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“I’m coming Alma,” Abdon said as he approached the stone table. Sitting there was a gold platter covered with a shimmering golden lid. The lid was adorned with precious gemstones of all different colors and a gold crown was affixed to its handle.
As a servant to King Herod for fifteen years, Abdon was quite used to seeing fancy dinnerware such as this, but for some reason his hands shook as he reached to pick up this particular platter.
The prison guards put this platter here just a short while ago, he thought to himself.
His better judgment told him to not look inside, but his curiosity won over. He wrapped his trembling hands around the gold crown and lifted up the cover. Abdon swiftly dropped the cover onto the table and jumped back in fright, startled at what he saw. Sitting atop the gold dish was the head of a man!
The man’s skin had no color left in it. His eyes were shut. The man’s mouth could be seen cracked open ever so slightly underneath his brown beard. His long brown hair flowed across the back of the platter. It was hard to tell whether this was how the man looked at the moment he was beheaded, or if the guards had worked on re-arranging his expression. Regardless, it was a hideous sight to behold, especially since Abdon recognized whose head it was.
Abdon hadn’t previously met the man whose head sat before him, but he had heard enough stories to recognize that this was whom many had talked about. Prophets had spoke of this man long before he was born. He was the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth. His duty was to prepare the way for the Messiah’s coming. John was his name.
Many considered John a madman, as he spent most of his days in the wilderness, feasting on locusts and honey. He would cry out “Make straight the way of the Lord!” as he stood in the river. It was there that he baptized people with water.
Abdon recalled one very specific story regarding John’s baptisms. He remembered being told about the day that John’s cousin Jesus arrived at the riverbank. John did not recognize Jesus as his cousin. Instead, he proclaimed him to be the “Lamb of God” who takes away the sins of the world.
As Abdon stood looking at the head of John The Baptist, he began to see visions of Jesus entering the water. John stood there, draped in his camel’s hair and leather belt, looking into the face of his cousin, or as he called him – the Messiah. John hesitantly grasped the back of Jesus’ head and lowered him into the water. As Jesus came back up, the Spirit of God came down upon him. What a brilliant sight!
Tears filled Abdon's eyes, and anger began to boil up inside him as he thought about Herod and Herodius. What evil people he served! He placed the lid back onto the platter and shoved it aside. There was no way that he was going to deliver John's head to the king, even if it meant him losing his own head.
He pushed past Alma as he ran out of the room. Once again, he thought about John and Jesus. Could it really be that Jesus was the foretold Messiah? Perhaps John was the cousin who came first in order to prepare the way. But would the people accept this Lamb, or would they also choose to send him to the slaughter?
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