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THE LEPER

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THE LEPER

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The Leper

by Dottie McElreath



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Loaves and Fishes
The Leper
For Bible Study


Loaves and Fishes

"Have you ever had days that stand out in your memory as vivid as if they were written upon your soul?

She always started her story in the same way and it was always a story that the people gathered around her came to hear even though they sometimes didn’t realize that was the main reason they came. The simply clad, old woman was a patriarch in her family and her gentle spirit permeated the air about her. As her loved ones sat on the floor around her, they settled down and gave attentive ears to her as she began to reminisce:

"I remember the day when I started living. I remember that day and how I felt. I can almost taste it!"

Have you ever had something stand out in your memory like that? The people around her could tell by the sound of her voice when she was looking back more than she was looking at them. There was a change in her voice. She didn’t realize her voice deepened and became so reverential and the cadence of her words changed.

Her children just told people she’s in the spirit, that’s the difference.

"I was sleeping finally after a long sleepless night. It had been so hot and the air was so still, the temperature had dropped a little. Well, I fell asleep. It doesn't seem as if I had been asleep but just a few minutes when I heard someone walking on the road outside my door. I had almost dozed off again when I heard more people walking by. What is going on? Why are people walking around this early in the morning?

It's still dark. I just wanted peace and quiet so I could sleep. I was so hot and tired. I hoped my son, your father, didn't wake up. Lord, but he would have to see why they were up and there would be no more sleep for me if he woke up. She grinned at her small grandson that was so like him.

A group had just walked by with horses and I could tell it was my people because they were talking low and trying to be quiet. If it had been the Romans they would've been noisy and arrogant about it because that's the way they were. Oh, but times have changed or could it be me that's changed? Do you think I’ve changed? Lord, yes and I’m glad that I did. Then she immersed herself in the story. They could feel the heat and the dust of that morning of long ago.

Well wouldn’t you know they woke him up.! I could just have killed them at the time, but later, well, it turned out for the best. I guess I was just a little curious as to why so early and so many people were walking around. I knew that Simon would find out for me, so I stirred around and started to cook while it was still dark in the cool of the morning.

I could feel the anticipation even then in the air and something else, but what was it? Something's was different about these people I thought and then Simon came back, so I found out what it was.

They were following the men who had followed John the Baptist and I heard the day before while down at the well that he had lost his head. He had been beheaded they called it. I called it getting your head chopped off. I could have told them what was coming but they wouldn’t have listened so I just listened and kept council with myself. I'd have been willing to bet you then that if they followed him, they’d come to rue the day ah, but that's another story.

Simon said that they were going to hear a man called Jesus and that some of them had been traveling for days. How did they know to come here? I heard about this man and even saw him once, but He just stood there with tears in His eyes and didn't say a word. He made me uncomfortable. I didn't want any part of that crowd.

The priests had warned us to stay away from him and I had enough trouble trying to raise my son without the priests calling curses down on me. Bet you didn’t know that priests use to do that. They didn’t say so but bad things seemed to happen if you offended one of them. I wish God didn't listen to them. I like it better now, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Simon wanted to go and I didn't. The walk would be about an hour away and it had been so hot and I had so much to do. My brother, Philemon, came by and said he'd watch after him so I agreed to let him go. I cooked up extra fish and bread for him to carry and a bit for our breakfast and sent him on his way.

I watched people pass by all morning and some were coming for miracles and some of them didn't know why they were coming. I got caught up in something and found myself walking too. All the time I was walking, I was telling myself what kind of fool I was for doing this and still my feet kept walking.

I walked into a valley and I could see the Sea of Galilee over a slight hill. I felt so strange at that moment I felt for some reason I was where God wanted me to be and I no longer felt foolish. I was walking just like the other people that didn’t seem to know why they were walking, they just had to come here. There were people everywhere. Some were sitting or standing or lying on the ground and on mats.

I guess what amazed me most was the quietness and peace all around us. Children were silent and attentive. I wondered if this was what Isaiah meant about the Lion will lie down with the Lamb and I was surprised. Some of the meanest boys in our neighborhood were sitting down and being quiet, I was amazed something that could quiet those heathen down had to be something else. My aggressive and argumentative nature even changed. For the first time in my life I was content to sit and listen. I had not done that. Why Lord, all my life I reckon I ran just like your dad and there wasn’t enough time in a day for all the trouble I use to stay in. Now I was content to just be. I should have expected my life was changing but I didn’t.

My son was sitting close to the man they called Jesus and He was talking I could hear clearly everything that he said and I was a long way from him and yet I could hear with my whole body. There were thousands of people there and this man Jesus transformed us all. It was as if we just existed until this day and now we were new creatures. If I could have felt this love with Simon's father, I would have been in heaven on earth.

After what must have been hours, but seemed like 30 minuets, Jesus told his followers to take up a collection of food. All the people who brought food were asked to stand with their food and my son, my precious son, stood with his small lunch of fish and loaves and gave it to the disciples closest to him. Even if we had all the food in my village, we would not have had enough to feed all these people. There were thousands here and I found myself wishing I were bread. If I were I could give my all and feed those people, but alas, in myself, I could do nothing.

Jesus took the small basket of food from my son and he blessed it and then they began to pull food out of the basket. I didn't put but enough in there for one small boy and there was an inexhaustible supply that came out of that blessed little basket.

When my portion was given to me, I felt so honored! People everywhere were murmuring about how good it was. I started to say I cooked it, but then I bit into it and I have never before or since cooked anything like this and surely never this much I hadn’t seen this much food in the hands of so many in all my born days. I ate my fill and couldn't eat it all. I had more in my hands then I had put in his little basket.

They began to pass baskets around to pick up leftovers and the leftovers were still multiplying. There were twelve baskets picked up and they were big storage baskets. Do you know what I learned most of all that day? I learned that when you give from your heart or want to give more than keep, God honors that giving and it returns to you and you can truly never out give God.

When I met my son later on that day he received a new Mom, for the old Mom didn't live there anymore. I saw miracles performed right in front of my eyes that day as if the air was healing people and I saw tears flowing down the faces of some of the meanest people I had ever met, and I felt my own face and it was wet. I wish he would pass this way again and let me walk into his presence just one more time because these old bones would still walk that extra mile to be with the Master of my life.

You know, I received a new son that day too. He never caused me one bit of grief until they killed him for talking about Jesus, but I know where he is and he's waiting for me and I'm going to step in the arms of Jesus and find him right there beside him smiling at me one day soon.

The old lady lay back in her chair and the people, old and young, quietly walked away, some with tears and others with smiles. A man stood outside the window and listened as the old woman told her story. He came here a lot to listen to the old woman and she never knew. He just couldn’t stay away. Something about her voice just fed something down deep inside of him. This day began like all the others for him but it did not end the same way. This man that they didn’t know was there had a secret and today he had a miracle. He was looking with wonder at his beautiful skin with tears flowing down his face.

The Leper

I'm a man most miserable. How did I come to this state? Well most of my problems started from thinking that I was superior to my fellowman and I justified my actions by saying I was right and therefore they must be wrong. Does my thinking reflect normal man? Yes, it does, but maybe I can atone for my sins, which are many, and stop other people from walking down this road I've come down.

I am Caiaphas, a priest, or was, and I was well respected and my words carried great weight at the council and at the temple. I was a man who should not have been born in this time, for that is the only thing that would have helped me.

I was a keeper of the law most stringently. I have been educated from birth for my life as a high priest.

My father and his father before him and all the way back to Moses my families have been priests for I am of the tribe of Levi.

Forty years ago we had a man in our midst that denounced us and circumvented our authority before the people. He said he was the Messiah, the King of the Jews, but where was his kingdom? We all thought he was possessed or demented and we had to stop people from listening to him and, alas, we eventually had to stop him.

I persuaded Judas to help us by telling him we wanted to bring him before the courts, but in actuality, he had become such a thorn in our side that we had to dispose of him so we would have our authority back. This impudent man dared to defy us in public and quoted God's words to us as if he had a right too, but, under the law, this was not possible. He was very intelligent and we couldn't outsmart him, but his words against us were uncalled for. Why, he treated us as liars and thieves and we were to be looked up to by all men because we talked to Jehovah and went into the Holy of Holies. Maybe we should have handled it differently. We should have put him in the Holy of Holies and let God kill him for an impostor instead of doing what we did.

I voted against him in the Sanhedrin and we congratulated ourselves on pulling this off and true to form, he stood before Pilate and answered his questions with quiet dignity. He should have been afraid and said that he would behave, but instead he said that we had no power over him except he gave it. Oh, but that was the last straw! "Kill this man," we all said. "Crucify him and be done with it before we have more like him." I came close to listening to him one time because my emotions became involved, but my superior intelligence came to my aid to remind me that if he were the Son of God that he would command angels and I had seen none. I would have been better born stupid.

I urged and enflamed the people to hatred by lying and when Judas came to me after the decision to crucify him and tried to give the money back, I couldn't take it. That was blood money and couldn't be allowed back in the temple. I knew the law.

I felt sorry for Judas because of his state. He had betrayed his friend and he was desperate to undo what he had done. I kept seeing myself in him but I had made my stand and I couldn't back down now.

I remember that day we crucified him as if it was yesterday or today even. Jesus was dragging his cross and I couldn't believe what the soldiers had done to him. I could still have stopped this and I would have but he looked at me as if I was dirt and I hit him. He stumbled and almost fell and I got nauseous. He had lost so much blood, some old, some new, that it was caked and in various stages of drying. Some people were spitting on him and some were hitting him and then they would look as sick as I felt. I guess that it was Satan's way of fighting back, or so I thought then.

I knew the exact minute that he died because my spirit died within me. It was as if I had lived my whole life for this time and there was nothing left to live for. I didn't have to be there but I wish to God I had known what I know now, for I would not be in this state now. I would have stopped it.

Some of the priests were worried about the body, but I didn't want to be involved anymore. I know inside that I had done murder and I was sick. I couldn't face God in the temple because blood was on my hands and he would strike me dead, so I was afraid.

I heard that the body had disappeared from the tomb and I myself heard some of his followers saying that he had arisen and I wanted to believe that this was true, but I was going through my own hell and it was a hell of my making. I was showing signs of leprosy on the hand that I had struck Jesus with and I was ostracized from the people.

I was now among the living dead. I slept in a section of wilderness that was assigned to us and I scrounged for food. People who had leprosy that I had avoided before; now, avoided me. They were not afraid that I would give them new infections but I think, because of how I had treated them in the past. I know that each time I saw one of them I would remember what I had said to them and I was hurt anew as if these words were said to me. I have asked God repeatedly to tell people not to do as I have done, but to no avail, so I guess this is a job that God wants me to do myself.

I get as close as I can to his disciples as they preach, but I wear the headdress of leprosy so they know not who I am. I have not asked them in all these years to pray for me, although I am sure they would. I have not forgiven myself, so how can God forgive me?

There was a widow lady that I harassed unmercifully when she became a follower of Jesus and I grieved with her when her son was killed. He left many fine sons and daughters that now preach the words of Jesus. I have noticed that when they kill one, a dozen more spring up.

I find myself again outside her home on the outskirts of the city. If she only knew the nights I have wept bitter tears at my actions towards her. She doesn't know me because of my disfigurement and I don't have much flesh left on my arm or my face. I am a man most ugly, but she smiles at me as if she loves me and it breaks my heart anew.

She tells stories to her relatives of her adventures with Jesus and she saw him after his resurrection. I know this is true because I saw him too, and he knew who I was. This time there was a look of pity and sorrow on his face. I couldn't say I was sorry because I was crying under my headdress but I think he knew.

I come here when I'm hungry and she puts food out for me and I come when it's feast time because she will tell again the stories that I long to hear.

Tonight I think my death must be close because I feel different and I'm ready to leave this hell I live in.

She talks tonight about the miracle of the loaves and fishes and I can feel what she felt when she was there. I feel his presence when I'm around her and it's soothing where it used to be irritating. When I felt him close again, I decided to do what I should have done forty years ago. I told him I was sorry and I asked him to forgive me and he was standing in front of me with his arms open. It has been so long since someone hugged me that I leapt into his arms and I must have jumped into the fire. I felt a burning inside and out and my soul vibrated as he spoke these words:

Because I love you,
I lay down my life for you.
Your debt is paid and you're forgiven,
The door is open now for you.

He showed me a vision of me preaching in his name and he showed me putting my arms around other lepers just like me and them being healed. He told me that "you must walk in another person's shoes to know the pain that person is in".

I felt his presence lift from me and I raised my hands to worship him and in place of a stump at the wrist I had a hand with skin and I touched my raw open sore of a face and I felt skin and my skin had no blemish or spot. I was truly clean both inside and out. I gazed out into the desert and I saw a leper crippled and crawling along the ground and I felt such a love for him and Jesus spoke again into my spirit and said, "Love him as you love me for of such is the Kingdom of God."

I held out my arms to embrace my brother and he fell sobbing into my arms.

For Bible Study

John the Baptist beheaded:

• Matthew 14:7-12

• Mark 6:24-30

Loaves & Fishes:

• Matthew 14:13-21

• Mark 6:31-44

• Luke 9:10-17

• John 6:1-14

Judas Iscariot:

• Matthew 26:14-16

• Matthew 27:3-8

• Luke 22:3-6

• Luke 22:47-48

• Acts 1:16-19

Leper

• Leviticus 13 & 14

• Numbers 12:10-15

• Matthew 8:2-3

• Matthew 26:6-7

• Mark 1:40-45

• Mark 14:3

Caiaphas

• Matthew 26:3-4


Copyright 2005 All Rights Reserved. Dottie McElreath

This website and all of it's contents are copyright protected
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