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Tales of Forever - Excerpt 11

Caesar heard rumors about a remarkable physician who’d been performing a tremendous work

Trial by Fury

Day of Reckoning

Volusianus appeared before Pontius Pilate, who sat auspiciously in his ornately decorated governor’s seat.

Volusianus bowed graciously before Pilate. “Greetings, Governor Pilate, my name is Volusianus, and I am the royal messenger sent here by your most omnipotent master, Tiberius Caesar, emperor of Rome.”

“Really? The emperor of Rome sent you here to see me? But why?”

“It seems that Caesar has heard the rumors circulating in your country about a remarkable physician, one who’s been performing a tremendous work here.”

“A physician? This country has all sorts of physicians. Which one is Caesar looking for? Just give me his name, and I’ll see to it that he’s immediately sent to our great and illustrious emperor.”

Volusianus hesitated for a moment, trying to decide how to articulate his unusual request. “Uh, well, let me see. It seems as though Caesar is looking for the physician who heals his patients simply by speaking to them.”

“Oh, that one,” replied a deflated Pilate.

“Then you know who I’m talking about?”

“Yes, I’m afraid I do.”

“Good; because Caesar is very eager for you to send him to Rome as soon as possible. He wants his disease to be healed, too.”

“But the man you’re talking about was accused of being a criminal,” sputtered Pilate, whose gruffness was merely an attempt to mask his inner terror. “People from his own nation insisted he was fomenting revolution against the Empire. How was I supposed to know he was innocent of every charge? I’m just one man here, trying to maintain order in this madhouse. You have no idea what I’ve been dealing with here! No idea at all!”

Volusianus eyed him suspiciously. “So what are you trying to say, Governor? Where is this man now?”

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Dumbfounded, Pilate just sat there.

“Well, where is he?” pressed Volusianus. “In exile? In prison? Tell me.”

The governor’s words came out with great difficulty. “I’m afraid that after discussing the matter with the city’s spiritual leaders it was decided he should be crucified.”

“Crucified,” Volusianus groaned as if someone had punched him in the stomach. “But why?”

Pilate just shook his head, unable to reply. Staring at the floor, the mortified governor sank down in his seat and put his hand over his brow as though he were hoping he might simply disappear. Head in hand, a grief-stricken Volusianus just turned and walked away.

On his way back to the ship that would return him to Rome, a sullen Volusianus, burdened with the responsibility of conveying the bad news to Caesar, encountered a noble woman.

“Excuse me, good lady,” Volusianus said, “but could I have a moment of your time?”

“Veronica,” replied the woman with a charming smile.

“Ma’am?”

“My name is Veronica.”

Obviously distracted, the messenger nodded. “Of course, Veronica, pardon me. I am Volusianus, royal messenger sent here from Rome by his majesty, Tiberius Caesar.”

Seeing the regal caravan that was traveling with him, the woman was intrigued. “Certainly, sir. What can I do for you today?”

“I was just wondering. I know this may strike you as odd, but considering the importance of my mission here, I feel compelled to ask.”

“Go right ahead, young man. Ask me anything.”

“You see, it seems there have been rumors going around, rumors that we, even in faraway Rome, have been hearing.”

“Rumors?” echoed Veronica with a curious tilt to her head. “What rumors?”

“Rumors that there was a remarkable physician in this country who healed his patients simply by speaking to them. Is it possible you might know who I’m talking about?”

“Oh, yes, of course, my dear boy,” she said as her face lit up at the mere mention of Him. “I know all about the Man you’re describing. Why do you ask?”

“Well, as it turns out, I was sent here specifically to look for this special man on behalf of my master who’s very sick and seeking a cure from his disease.”

“Oh, dear, I’m so sorry to hear that,” Veronica replied, truly touched. “What do you want to know?”

“I want to know why anyone would’ve killed a man like that. What could have possibly driven a people to such hatred, such madness?”

“Oh, my dear sir,” moaned Veronica, who began to weep. “He was crucified because they were jealous of Him, that’s why.”

“Jealous?”

“Yes, jealous,” she replied, fighting back the tears. “Ordinary folks loved Him, but corruption in high places wouldn’t stop until they saw Him dead.”

“But I was supposed to return this man to the emperor of Rome. He was hoping so much that he could help cure him.” Volusianus hung his head. “Now I’m afraid I’ll never be able to accomplish my royal mission.”

Veronica slowly regained her composure. “Maybe you still can.”

Confused and intrigued, Volusianus looked up at her. “Pardon me? I’m afraid I don’t understand. What are you saying?”

“It just so happens that after Jesus finished teaching in our town, He had to leave, so I wanted a painting of Him. That way I’d have His likeness to console me while He was gone.”

“That seems natural enough, yes.”

“So just imagine my surprise when: Who do you think I happened to meet on my way to see an artist?”

“No.” Eyebrows raised, Volusianus gaped. “You don’t mean—”

“That’s right, Jesus.”

“What did he do? What did he say?”

“Well, when He found out where I was going, He asked me for my canvas.”

“Yes, yes. Then what?”

“Then He gave it back to me, and…” Veronica chocked up, unable to continue.

“And?”

Veronica opened her mouth, but nothing would come out.

“And what?” Volusianus’ eyes grew wider.

“Oh, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” murmured Veronica, obviously embarrassed.

“But I would, really. Tell me: I’ll believe you. And I’ll personally make sure that Caesar himself hears what you have to say.”

“Well, I could hardly believe my own eyes,” she continued, slowly measuring out of her words, “but incredibly, the canvas He handed back to me was no longer blank. Now it had a picture of His marvelous face painted on it.”

“What? I’m sorry. Could you say that again for me? I don’t think I heard correctly.”

Veronica sheepishly smiled. “You heard me. There was a picture of His face on it.”

“Astonishing. Caesar will definitely have something to say about this.”

“What will you do now?”

“I’ll return to Caesar with the news. But only the gods know for sure if I’ll find him still fit enough in mind or body to receive it.”

“I wonder what would happen if your master were to see this painting for himself.”

“What do you mean? Take your painting to Caesar and present it to him in person?”

“Yes, that’s right. Maybe if he looked at it, you know, maybe he could experience His healing power, too.”

Volusianus was thunderstruck by the mere suggestion. “Yes. I do think you’re on to something. Would it be possible to buy a picture like this with gold or silver?”

“No, of course not,” replied Veronica, smiling sweetly. “But I will go with you, and together we’ll take the painting to Caesar.”

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