Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Fire in the Bones- A Fisherman's Tale (2)

Andrew had never seen his brother cry.

But there he was... unmistakable.... as Simon collapsed back against the mud brick wall of his house. Andrew himself wept at the dire circumstances. This was a dark day on top of a week of foreboding. Everyone in the home was suffering the strain. The house was full of people but no movement could be detected and the silence magnified the sound of  tears.

Andrew had followed Simon outside and, even in the dark, he could tangibly see the pain.

He didn’t know what to do. Dare he approach his brother in this rare moment of weakness?

But Simon already knew he was there.

“What do you think, my brother?” barely getting it out through quivering lips and short breaths.

Andrew moved closer and put his hand on the back of his brother's neck.

“We MUST pray. God can heal this fire in her bones.”

Simon did not want to counter his brothers' newly revived faith, but he withdrew from the reassuring touch and stared at the stars with the questions that all men cry out in their pain. All Simon heard was the background murmur. Proof of the life of others who did not share his pain or sorrow. The dogs barked and sheep echoed their responses. The smell of the fires throughout Capernaum were meaningless and empty.

They stayed quiet and still and Andrew ventured another awkward question.

“What of the Healer?”

Simon shook his head. “We don’t need to take her to the Jordan, she won’t survive.”

“No, Simon…. Not John… the man who is in Galilee... the Christ!”

“The demon fighter?” Simon’s voice could no longer hide the sarcasm. “The one who wants to change my name?.... The one you say is the Messiah?”

There had been considerable talk about the Nazarene who was teaching in the synagogues and was rumored to have cast out a demon from a man who had been screaming insults to heaven. Most were suspicious that the event had been staged.

Simon had already met him.  Brother Andrew took Simon to see this man called Jesus after John the Baptist had pointed to him with a nonsensical utterance about a lamb and sin.
Andrew was so excited, that he drug Simon to meet Jesus.

But Simon thought he looked way too common to be special. It also did not help that Jesus said he would call him "Petros" or Peter, a rock. When Jesus said it, everyone laughed and no one ever made fun of Simon and gained his favor.Simon got revenge and laughed himself when others suggested that ‘nothing good could come out of Nazareth’.

It was fine for Andrew to go out to see this man or that crazy other one who dressed in camel hair! The man who ate locusts and wild honey while calling people sinners. He spent the day telling people to repent and then he cleansed them in the Jordan.

Simon finally told Andrew that could visit the spectacle all he wanted to.... as long as he did it on his own time and not hurt the fishing business.

Andrew loved his brother in spite of the skepticism and submitted to the request.

When Andrew had bragged recently that the waters of the Jordan had benefited the fishing… Simon knew what Andrew was referring to. It seemed ridiculous to think that ceremonial washing of sin was contributing to a good fish harvest.

It was easier to just dismiss it. Simon did not have the energy to debate him.

“He won’t come. Why would he care about the mother-in-law of a man he wants to call a rock?”

“Do you mind if I at least ask him?”

Simon’s wife settled the debate…. She had been listening to the conversation.

“Andrew! What are you waiting for? GO!” Her command was fervent and desperate.

Simon stood and glared at her.

He had no interest in becoming a part of a side show. This Christ wasn't going to come anyway!
He kicked the ground as he pondered if they had enough to even take care of the funeral.

But there was a deeper issue... Simon  was about to lose a woman that he deeply loved and wondered if she even knew how much he cared for her..... and how guilty he felt about that.



Simon had been asleep on the wall when he heard the shouting. He had no clue how late it was or how long he had drifted off in his sorrow.

Simon's wife grabbed his arm. 

'You will need to invite him in, my Simon!"

Simon stumbled through to the front and struggled with whether he was dreaming or awake.

The commotion had drawn a crowd, there were torches all coming from the direction of the synagogue where Andrew's voice was unmistakable.


Andrew was easy to spot, he was running ahead and running back while the figure who followed him walked at a very casual pace.

The fires at nearby houses began to illuminate the man that Simon had met mere days before. 
Simon could not help but stare at him as the two finally looked at each other, eye to eye.

The Nazarene spoke firmly. "I have been pressed by Andrew to come see your mother-in-law. May I come into your home, Cephas?"

Hearing "Peter" again was so unusual to Simon that he was roused on edge; instantly alert and awake. He stumbled somewhat in the response.

"She is very sick, my Lord. A fire is raging in her bones, and we fear she will not last the night!"

Jesus glanced sideways at Simon right on the beat of the title  'Lord'. It was a cutting look, one that stripped away Simon's flippant use of the phrase.

Jesus gently grabbed Simon's wife, put both hands to her face, and whispered in her ear away from the gathering group of family and bystanders. She covered his hands with hers and began to weep.

"Yes," she answered quickly, "she is in here". And Jesus stooped into the doorframe of the room of sickness and darkness.

After a moment, he stepped back into the flickering light and took turns looking at each person in his presence.

Andrew spoke first. "Rabbi, you have the power to make her whole, I believe that with all my heart!"

Many reiterated the same sentiments.

Simon was impressed by his brother's confidence.

Jesus motioned to Simon and Andrew to join them as he went back into the small adjacent room.
He lifted his eyes and hands to heaven and whispered. Simon was straining to hear him, but he couldn't quite hear or understand.

The mysterious Nazarene then stepped over Simon's mother-in- law and stood upright on the opposite side. The fever stricken body beneath them was trembling under covers on a barren floor. She had been that way for days.

Then Jesus, in a loud voice, rebuked the fever.

Rebuke now seems like such a mild word. He cursed it!  In the name of the God of Abraham, Jesus spoke to the illness as if it were personified.

Simon only thought he hated the illness that was attacking his beloved mother-in-law.

He now could feel the passion! Jesus hated it and spoke to it in words and emotion that Simon could only marvel at.

Then Jesus stooped down. After a pause, he finally looked up at Simon's wife and reassured them,  "Your mother is now whole again."

Before anyone could remove the wraps, Simon's mother-in-law stood and kissed her healer on his cheek! He smiled and the room erupted in praises to God! No similar sound had ever emanated under Simon's roof!

The shouts began to grow outside the house. 'The Master has healed her! Praise be to God! Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah! He is the Christ!"

Inside they all sat down. Andrew laughed and looked very hopefully at his brother.

Simon did not know what to think.

Simon's wife and the now totally normal mother-in-law brought bread and wine to those who had stayed.

Simon looked again at Jesus. That forceful rebuke seemed to have pierced Simon as well. It almost seemed to be directed through the fever with a final destination aimed at Simon's heart.

Jesus did not say "Cephas" again as he walked out of the home later that evening. He walked with the same pace back toward the synagogue.

Simon wondered if he were going to be able to fish. James and John were already making preparations for the day.

"Andrew, send word to the Zebedee brothers. We will not be going out this morning. Tell them we will go tonight."

How could he go now? There were too many things to be thinking about!

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