Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: AMAZING (04/19/18)
TITLE: The Nicanor Scandal
By Jack Taylor
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The broad shoulders of the elder friend rotated easily as he surveyed the brilliant bronze gate framed against the rolling hills outside the city. He rubbed his chin through a thick bushy beard. “Bet he didn’t see that coming when his momma woke him this morning.”
“How could he?” replied his partner. “Those two brothers of his have dropped him off by this temple gate for longer than I’ve been alive. Nothing has ever been different.”
A hawk drifted overhead on a gentle breeze. “Amazing to think that for all that time he settled for shekels and drachmas.”
“Wonder what difference this will make for him?”
“Are you kidding? He’s been sitting outside this gate feeling left out for his whole life.” Pete stood on tiptoes to catch site of the celebrating center of attention. “This is his first time inside the temple grounds. It’s the first time walking. It’s the first of everything for him.”
“Can you imagine when he walks through the door at home?”
“I predict dancing until his momma drops.”
The younger friend, barely out of his teens, stretched toward the setting sun and then patted his stomach. “Quite the workout for one day, Pete. I think it’s bagel time.”
“Hang tough a moment, John.” Pete crawled up on a stony wall and fought to keep his balance. “There are ears that need filling first.”
John almost heard the swish of robes before he saw the religious leaders stride into the fray. “Careful, Pete,” he warned.
“Don’t know the meaning of the word.” The older man waved his arms and gave a shrill call for attention. The masses began to turn. Perhaps to see if another miracle awaited.
The message was a pointed arrow of guilt and hope; of blame and healing. “Why are you all so surprised as if we did something amazing? This is a God thing from start to finish. Think about it. “Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed – and you know how crippled he was before.”
The religious leaders didn’t wait long. The arrests were made without resistance. The scandal at the Nicanor gate was anything but amazing. Even as the men were marched away the listeners behind them knelt in repentance and tears.
The council of elders and teachers hummed and buzzed like honey bees in a hive as they deliberated. “By what power, by what name, by what right have you done this?”
Pete raised his bowed head. There was fire in his eyes, strength in his shoulders and then power in his voice. “Do you really want to know how this crippled man was healed? Jesus. It was Jesus. The one you killed is alive and there is no other way to be saved.”
The whole council was amazed. How dare these untaught fishermen lecture the elite of the elite. The gall. Warnings and words meant nothing. These lions wouldn’t back down. The crowds outside the walls chanted with joy so that their voices reverberated off the chamber walls like crashing ocean waves on a rocky shoreline.
The head priest raised his fist. “This is your last warning. Stop speaking in the name of Jesus.”
The two men stood courageously. “You don’t get it, do you? Jesus is alive. He’s living in us. He told us to speak. Do you really expect us to obey you over God? Do you realize what we’ve seen?”
“We’re not warning you again. Don’t bring up that name ever. This scandal at Nicanor will not be repeated. Now go.”
The two friends understood the unleashed energy of the former beggar, now healed. Bagels forgotten, they rushed for home to share the goodness of God.
The rest of the believers were amazed at the story. They burst into prayer. “Why, O God, do people plan and rage against you? You always get your way. Listen to these threats and make us more courageous than ever. Heal more people, save more people.”
The rocking of earthquakes didn’t compare to the shaking of that house of prayer as the Spirit filled them and anointed them for an amazing ministry of life.
John declared, “Nicanor is just the beginning.”
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