Once more, the strange looking black and white chariot made its way up Mt. Zion to the ornate Jerusalem palace. Once more its strange looking owner stopped it and tied the horses to one of the pegs which protruded from the wall. He could see another chariot and horses tied a little way ahead, so he figured that his foster brother must still be there. Once again he opened the gate and walked unto the palace grounds. This time, however, there was a new spring in his step and an even more confident look about him than the last time he had entered there. Once again the guard paid no attention as the odd-looking man marched toward the royal bedchamber. Once again, he pushed the door open and entered. But the bedchamber was empty. So he walked through the bedchamber and out its back door into the dimly lighted hallway. There, he tried another door which opened onto the lavish royal throne room.
Once again the king sat upon his huge, plush throne, with his crown in his hand. It had been resting comfortably on his royal head, but when he heard the latch move, he snatched it off and held it tightly. There were two half-empty wine glasses on the table in front of him, but the throne next to him was vacant for the moment since Herodius was in one of the other rooms preparing for an evening out.
Peering at the unwelcome visitor Herod said, "Oh, it's you, Manaheem. Don't you believe in knocking?"
"Why, Herod, dear, we're practically family. Family don't need to knock."
"True, but the operative term here is 'practically'. You're only my foster brother."
"Yes, but I feel like we're actually blood brothers. That's why I had to come to see you. I was afraid you might have left for Tiberius already since Passover is over."
"No, I usually stay until after the feast of Unleavened Bread is over. But I’m enjoying it so much here, I might just stay until the feast of Pentecost." Herod reached for one of the glasses and took a sip. "But you say you had to come to see me?--No doubt to demand more blackmail money from me. I should have known. You've been away too long. I was beginning to wonder when you would come by again for another payment."
"No, brother dear. I’m through with that. I don't want any more of your money. I’m a changed man. Meet the new Manaheem." He reached out his hand.
Herod set the glass back on the table and peered at his foster brother. "Oh, yes, I see you're letting your beard grow out. Or did you just forget to shave it?"
"No, brother dear. I decided to forget about trying to be different for difference sake. I’ve found a new cause now, and that's what I came to tell you about because I wish you could find it too."
"A new cause? And just what might that be?--Oh, where are my manners? Would you like a glass of wine while you tell me about it?"
"No thank you, brother dear. I never was much of a drinker and am even less of one now."
"Well, out with it! What is this new cause of yours?"
"The cause of Jesus of Nazareth."
"You mean that Jew that Pilate sent to me, who claimed to be some sort of king?"
Manaheem smiled. "He's the one."
Herod continued as if he had not heard Manaheem's response: "--and who couldn't or wouldn't do any miracles for me, and thus, whom I sent back to Pilate and whom Pilate had crucified?"
"And you are a follower of this dead Jew? Ha ha!"
"But, brother dear, He's not dead. He arose from the dead just three days after Pilate had him crucified."
Herod let out a big laugh and said "Ha! You expect me to believe that? Dead men don't rise."
"You once thought he might be John the Baptist reincarnated, didn't you?"
Herod sighed. "Well, yes but that's different. People can come back as someone else by being born into another body, but, once someone is born and dies, they don't just rise from the dead as their old self."
"Well, this one did. I know because I saw Him."
"You're delusional, Manaheem--plain delusional."
"Oh, my dear foster brother, if you could only believe--. Trusting in Him has made all the difference in my life, not to mention my eternal destiny."
Herod sighed and reached again for his wine glass. "Maybe, if I actually saw him again. Can I make an appointment to meet him again?"
"I’m afraid that's impossible, as He is no longer with us."
"But, you said he arose from the dead."
"Yes, he certainly did, and he was with us for the past forty days. I should have come and told you sooner, but I was just getting back with Claressa and didn't think of it."
Herod took another sip of wine. "Oh, yes, your lovely ex-wife. How is she?"
"She's fine. She too is a follower of the Nazarene, and we're both to be baptized, and we’re to be re-married."
"Sounds like you have everything under control. But if this Jesus isn't here, where is he?"
"He's in heaven. He ascended to heaven forty days after he arose."
Herod set the glass down and let out another big laugh. "He ascended eh? Went straight up, I suppose. Ha! This is getting funnier all the time!"
Now Herodius slowly entered from one of the rooms in the back. She was dressed extravagantly and reeked of perfume. "What's all the laughter about, Herod, dear?" she asked and noticing Manaheem, she smiled and said, "Oh, hello, Manaheem."
"Hello, Your Majesty."
Herod rose as his wife walked toward the throne. "Manaheem here is telling me that he is now a follower of that Jesus fellow--the one who couldn't do any miracles and whom Pilate had crucified. He claims that the crucified Jesus actually arose from the dead and then ascended into heaven. Did you ever hear anything so ridiculous?"
She started to laugh as well. "It is pretty funny. Come on, Manaheem. Tell us it's a gag of some sort." She arrived at the throne and sat beside Herod.
He sighed. "No, Your Majesty, it's true."
Now they were both laughing hysterically.
"Well," said Manaheem, “I can see I will get nowhere with you two. At least, I told you. If you refuse to believe it, that's your problem, but I wouldn't want to be you on judgment day."
He turned and walked out of the door and, once more, through the hallway, then once more through the royal bedchamber and out to where his chariot was tied. As he mounted the chariot, he prayed. "Well, LORD Jesus, I told them. They laughed at me, as they had laughed at you. But, I pray, if it's at all possible that you would soften their hearts and let them see the truth."
After he left, Herodius asked, "You don't think there could possibly be anything to what he said, do you?"
"Of course not," Herod replied. "Why would you say such a thing?"
"Well, when he was only reported as doing miracles, you thought he might be John the Baptist reincarnated."
"Yes, and Manaheem brought up the same subject, but there's a difference in being reincarnated and actually rising from the dead."
"What's the difference?"
"In being reincarnated, you, you---"
"--take on another body, right?"
"You come back by being re-born into another body."
"And in rising from the dead you come back in your own body?"
“I don't know--it's too complicated for me. Anyway I know I don't believe in someone rising from the dead."
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