Simon departed from his brother’s house and headed straight for the temple, the most likely place to find Messiah. Soon the Passover lambs would be slaughtered for the feast, so early today would be the best time to seek Him. A picture of his suffering son flashed through his mind. Hopefully, I can make my petition to the Lord before the people assemble.
Outside the temple small crowds gathered and voices inquired, “Where is Jesus, our King?” Electricity sparked their emotions. Although Simon searched, He was nowhere in sight, but in the midst of the confusion was a man carrying a pitcher of water while moving purposefully through the outer court. Curiosity drew Simon to follow, and two blocks later, he caught up with the man.
“Sir, do you know who Jesus is?”
The man looked over his shoulder at him, out of breath with sweat glistening on his forehead. “I don’t know Him, but I must prepare for a supper at the direction of my master. His upper room is rented tonight for Jesus and His disciples.”
“Can you tell me where?” He pleaded.
The man offered no response as he swept away and disappeared around a corner.
Simon’s heart wrenched at this revelation. There was no hope of finding Him until after the supper with His Twelve. Shuffling back to the temple, he entered, intending to pray. He found a discreet corner and knelt, when the sound of men arguing behind a curtain interrupted his petitions.
“How dare Jesus confront the chief priests by refusing to answer where He receives His authority to preach and perform miracles.” A deep voice hissed.
“Timaus, we all agree. What I can’t understand is how He outwits us with every question we ask. In order for Him to answer us, we have to first answer Him. He outwits the Sadducees the same way.”
“Tricks! All tricks! Asking us if John’s baptism was from heaven or from men. He knew we couldn’t answer … we must follow political protocol—or be stoned.” The volume of Thaddeus’ voice rose, followed by the sound of shushing.
“Calm yourself. We’re not about to set ourselves up to be stoned. There must be a way to trap Him for our purposes. Unfortunately, the masses believe John was a prophet.”
Another gave a short laugh. “His relative who is a cousin, I believe? A family of prophets.” The voice dripped sarcasm.
“I, for one, do believe that John’s baptism was from heaven. Why couldn’t we just say that to get His answer? Wouldn’t it have been worth it? Perhaps we could have trapped Him after all.” A dissenting voice shrilled.
“How naïve of you, Stephen. Don’t you have any pride at all?” This new voice was full of drawn swords. “That would force us to admit He was right all along.”
Silence. Simon waited, holding his breath.
Just then distant footsteps approached the concealed group of men.
“Quickly! We are going to have this Messiah—the One who masquerades as the Christ.” The voice exuded urgent joy.
Simon tensed and his heart galloped. Dear God! What evil are they planning against Him?
“The High Priest has again spoken with one of His disciples. The one who keeps the money, apparently, is quite interested in hoarding silver for himself.” His tone jangled like heavy coins.
Simon started. Judas? He sat at my table many times with Jesus when they were in Bethany. His memory searched. Had a love of money shaped him into a traitor? Impossible. Yet, he did recall Judas holding tightly to the money bag, which was always in his possession.
“What did they say? Will Judas cooperate with us?” He recognized the voice as belonging to Timaus.
“It looks promising. The High Priest has spoken with him on many occasions, offering to pay. He always refuses. It’s never enough. But this time, his offer was more silver—thirty pieces.”
“If he has always refused, why does he now agree?” The shrill tone condescended into a scoff.
“Because this time … this time, he said he would look for an opportunity to betray Him away from the crowds. Tonight is the first day of Unleavened Bread, and he claims Jesus and the disciples have a Passover Supper planned. We are readying our group of men, arming them with clubs and swords.” Viciousness wrapped around his words.
“But why go with violence? The Teacher has never been anything except peaceful. Just because He outwits us is no reason to take swords and clubs.” Stephen’s voice whined.
“Whose side are you on? This prophet is turning the people away from the authority of our High Priest! The crowds just led him into Jerusalem, intending to crown Him as their King! That. Is. Treason.”
“Yes, and if there is a political uprising, we will take the brunt from Rome. They hate us and find any excuse to tighten the bars of our prison. It’s better for one man to suffer than for all the Jews to be tortured by these cruel Romans. This Jesus must be sacrificed for the good of all.”
“We have no king but Caesar!” His tone rang with finality.
Simon’s energy surged, and he leapt to his feet. All the more reason to locate Messiah to warn Him of this evil plot, planned against Him by one of His own.
God help me find Him!