But He Was Wounded
The years continued to pass and Simay grew from little girl into young woman. Because of her mother’s former prominence in Ephesian society, Nuray was never able to seek regular employment. As a result, Simay was forced to find work by the time she was ten years old. For five years now she had been the breadwinner of the house. Her mother tried to scrape up some extra coins here and there: mending clothes, doing laundry for strangers, cleaning the neighbor’s house when they were away on business. But it was never enough to live off of.
Simay’s arms moved back and forth rhythmically as she swept the sand, dirt, and plant debris out of her employer’s house and into the bright, sunlit street.
Why did her mother have to do this to her? What was so important about that little bear statue anyway? She remembered the night in the hollow nine years ago, but some of the memories were foggy. Had she really heard a voice come from that piece of silver-coated metal? The question was always nagging at the back of her heart. Her mother believed whole-heartedly in Artemis Diana, even though she had broken one of the most important rules for priestesses of the goddess.
Her mother had told and retold Simay about the promise that Diana had made to her – to them – all those years ago, and her mother had deceived herself into believing that the goddess had kept her promise. Simay was of a different persuasion. She remembered that day six years ago when the two Christians had prayed over her. When the man prayed, Simay had felt a peace settle over her. If she had the chance to find those tent-makers, she would take it.
“Simay?” the voice of the old seamstress with whom Simay had found work two years ago thrust her mind out of her musings.
“Yes, Mistress?” the girl poked her head out of the house. The seamstress was just returning from the market with two sacks of produce and a cut of meat.
“Come help me with the food, dear.”
Simay set the broom put against the far wall and quickly went to help the older woman. Her thoughts would have to wait for another moment of solitude.
When the work day was done, the old seamstress sent Simay home with her day’s pay and some of the leftover midday meal that Simay had helped prepare.
She usually took the most direct route home, but this evening Simay decided to take a different way back. She cut through an alley that connected the street she was on to another street a few blocks over.
Simay wove her way through unfamiliar streets, going in the general direction of her home. She rounded a corner and came face to face with a woman carrying a pail of water – presumably to water the thirsty-looking donkey standing in front of the house. A sign hung from two wooden pegs that had been hammered into the mortar between the bricks of the front wall of the dwelling. The sign read, “Quality Tents.”
Could it be? Simay looked at the woman again through the twilight. As her eyes adjusted to the dimming light, a vaguely familiar face came into view.
“Hello.” The woman smiled.
“Hello…” Simay said hesitantly, then decided to venture a safe question “Can you tell me how to get to Cypress Street?”
“Well, I’ve only been there one time and it was several years ago, but I think I remember the way.”
Simay listened as the woman gave her directions, then decided to test her luck.
“Could – Could I ask your name?” Simay stammered.
“Of course you may. I am Priscilla.”
Simay held back a gasp. The woman who had come to her house those years ago had been named “Priscilla.”
The girl forced herself to continue probing, “And that time you went to Cypress Street; it wasn’t by any chance six years ago…. Was it?” Simay gazed intensely at Priscilla.
Priscilla thought for a moment, tapping first one, then two, three, four, five, and finally six fingers.
“Yes, I think that’s about right. It was a little over six years ago. Any particular reason you ask?”
Simay opened her mouth to answer, then paused suddenly. A chill ran up her spine. Now that she had the chance to talk with this Christian, she was not entirely sure she really wanted to do this. What if her mother found out what she was doing? She would surely be punished.
Simay decided that she didn’t care what the consequences would be. She shook off her fear and answered Priscilla, “I am Simay. The girl you healed six years ago.”
“Hello, Simay.” Priscilla’s face brightened. “My husband and I have been praying these six years that we would have another chance to talk with you. Please, come inside. I will water the donkey and be right in.”
“Alright. But I can only stay a few minutes. My mother will worry.”
Priscilla nodded and sent the girl inside.
Simay sat down in a wooden chair by the table. The house was not ornate, but it felt comfortable and homey.
Priscilla came in a minute later and called to her husband who was working in a back room finishing up the stitching on a new tent. He came quickly when Priscilla announced that Simay was waiting to talk with them.
The man and his wife both took seats around the table.
“What is it you wanted to talk to us about, Simay?” Priscilla began.
Simay pursed her lips, contemplating what she should and shouldn’t say.
“Why did you heal me?”
“Well Simay, we are not the ones who healed you.” Aquila corrected kindly. “Our God healed you. Only He is the Great Physician.”
“If God healed me, then who was the man who touched me after you prayed?” Simay looked at Aquila in confusion.
The truth dawned on Aquila and his wife at the same moment.
“Simay, the Man you saw was Jesus.” He said.
“But He is dead.” Simay protested. “I hear the Jewish men come from the Synagogue every seventh day and sometimes they talk about the man called Jesus.”
“He did die, yes” Aquila allowed, “But He did not stay dead. Three days after he was buried, He rose from the tomb He had been laid in.”
Simay’s face twisted in confusion. “But how can that be? No man could… come back from the… dead…” The fog slowly cleared from her mind and she came to the only logical conclusion there was. “Jesus is God, isn’t He?”
“Yes Simay, He is God’s Son.” Priscilla answered.
Simay’s face instantly fell again. “So… there are two Gods?”
Priscilla realized her mistake and explained. “No Simay. There is only one God, but when His Son Jesus came to walk among us, He revealed to us that He and God His Father are one person. I do not understand it fully myself. No one but God can understand His nature. If we understood everything about God, we would have no need for Him.”
Simay did not understand completely, but she accepted Priscilla’s explanation. “So Jesus came to tell people about Himself?”
“That is one reason, yes.” Aquila replied. “Jesus came to save everyone who would place their faith in Him as Messiah. In the Tanakh, the Hebrew Scriptures, there is a section called the Nevi’im which contains many God-given writings of the prophets. One section of Isaiah’s book in particular tells us of Messiah and what He would endure to placate the wrath of His Father toward the sins of the entire world.”
“Sin? You use the word the same way we who follow Diana use it?” Simay asked.
“Sin is anything we do that God is not pleased with.” Priscilla clarified, and Simay nodded in understanding.
Aquila continued. “Messiah came to be the sacrifice that would atone for all of mankind’s sin. Sin began when the very first man and woman disobeyed God’s command. Because of that one sin every one ever born has had to suffer under the consequences of that very first act of disobedience. Sin is the reason that we have death and pain, and sadness. Messiah came to offer us eternal life – to replace the death that we are doomed to taste as mortal men. If we accept the life He offers us, Messiah covers our sin with the blood He shed when He died a criminal’s death on a cross on a hill outside Jerusalem called Golgotha. When Messiah rose from His tomb He sealed His victory over death by proving that death was not able to hold on to Him.
“God has always demanded a sacrifice of blood to cover sin. The Jewish temple still offers sheep, goats, bulls, and other animals on the altar in the temple. The blood of animals does not appease God. He instituted it as a means of making known His plans to one day send a Sacrifice that would be sufficient to pay for the sins of the entire world.
“Many Jews do not accept Jesus Christ as Messiah even though He fulfilled the prophecies in the Tanakh concerning Messiah. They look for a King – a conqueror – Who will rid them of their Roman oppressors. They do not see that Messiah will one day come again to reign as King, but that He first had to come as a servant – a sacrifice.”
Simay sat in stunned silence. If what Aquila said about this Jesus was true and He was the Messiah who the Jews unknowingly spoke of…
In the recesses of Simay’s mind a dark presence began to weave its way through her thoughts, twisting Aquila’s words just enough to draw Simay’s mind in a completely different direction.
If accepting the Jewish Messiah could grant her eternal life… She could only imagine the power she could garner as an immortal being. She could fulfill her mother’s dreams.
The darkness recoiled as if it had been burned and Simay’s mind snapped back to the conversation and the words Aquila was saying.
“’But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.’ These are the words of God spoken through His servant Isaiah the prophet.
“If we accept Jesus as our Saviour, our bodies will still die, but our spirits will be taken to live with God for eternity.”
Aquila and Priscilla fell silent for a moment to let Simay digest everything that had just been said.
Simay looked down at the floor in thought as she played with her fingers nervously. Finally she looked up at Aquila and Priscilla.
“I’ll have to think more about this Messiah.” The girl said.
Aquila and Priscilla nodded.
“We understand.” Priscilla said, “It is difficult to hear something that contradicts everything you’ve ever known, but please do think about it, Simay. And you are welcome in our home whenever you wish to come.”
“Thank you both.” Simay said, and then her eyes chanced to glance out the front window. It was fairly dark now. She had stayed too long; her mother would come looking for her if she did not get home very soon. “I have to go.”
Simay picked up the food she had set on the table and abruptly left the house. She ran down the street, following the directions that Priscilla had given her a little while before, hoping against hope that her mother was occupied with something other than watching the time.