TITLE: A Memorable Encounter March 22, 2019
By Marlene Custer
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With deft hands Ruth finished kneading the bread dough, put it in a pan, placed a fresh linen cloth over it, and set it near the warming oven. She had just started stirring a hearty lentil soup with fresh vegetables, when her daughter, Miriam, came in with little Joseph on her hip.
“Oh, come in, come in,” Ruth gushed as Miriam set Joseph down on a rug and slid onto the bench on one side of the table. “You must stay for lunch.”
“Well, we’ll see,” answered Miriam, as she handed the baby a toy. Then she continued, “actually, I came to talk to you about what I am hearing from the Believers.”
Ruth set a platter of fruit and two cups of cold goat’s milk on the table. Then she sat down across from Miriam and gave her her full attention. “I hope everything is okay.” She reached across the table and patted Miriam’s hand.
Miriam furrowed her brow. “I was at the market yesterday, and a group of women were talking about what is happening with Paul. He was brought before Festus in Caesarea and he appealed to Caesar. Now he is going to be sent to Rome. Festus accused him of being crazy.”
“Oh, my!” Ruth’s hand flew to her mouth.
“Everyone is sure he will be killed there,” Miriam said dejectedly. “But Paul has declared that Jesus himself appeared to him and wants him to tell the Romans about Jesus.” Miriam brushed a tear from her cheek. “Oh..., I wish he wouldn’t go.”
Ruth sat silently for a moment, then reached for Miriam’s hand again. Patting her daughter’s hand, Ruth spoke softly, “having an encounter with Jesus makes one willing to go places and do things that sometimes don’t make sense.”
Miriam looked intently into her mother’s eyes. “You say that like you have had an encounter with Jesus. Have you?”
Ruth pondered a moment, a distant look in her eyes. “Yes,” she spoke softly. “I have.” Ruth finished her milk and set the tin cup down. “I was just a child—about five or six years old. My mother, your grandmother, was a strong believer in Jesus. Any time Jesus was in the area, she and her friends would pack a lunch, gather up the children and follow the crowds. They tried to hear every word. One day, I remember it like it was yesterday, our mothers began pushing their way to the front of the crowd, urging us children toward Jesus.”
A smile broke across Miriam’s face. “Oh, I can just see Gram doing that.”
“Yes, well, we were almost to Jesus, clamoring to get his attention, when his disciples began shooing us away. They implored our mothers to not bother Jesus. But Jesus chided his disciples. Then he looked at us with the kindest expression on his face, and stretched out his arms to embrace us. Speaking with great authority, he proclaimed, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’ * He gently picked me up and set me on his knee while the other children pressed in as close as they could. Another child climbed up next to me. Lovingly, Jesus put his hands upon each of us and prayed. I can still feel his hand resting on my head—the warm tenderness. I turned my head to look full in his face. I can still see his eyes. Such a sweet feeling of peace and affirmation swept over me.” Mother and daughter gripped each other’s hands. “And from that time on, all through my life, I have felt blessed—so blessed!”
*NIV - Mark 10:14
The Blessing of the Children by Jesus really happened, as well as Paul’s meeting with Festus. Additional details are from the author’s imagination.
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