Miriam’s tears dropped into the dark curls of her son’s head as she held him tight. It wasn’t the first time he had come home badly bruised from a fall. The bruises would heal in time, but her heart ached to think that her blind son would likely have bruises like these the rest of his life. God willing, there would be nothing worse than that, but Jacob hated staying cooped up at the inn. He’d rather roam the village, visit with the neighbors, and breathe in the fresh air. But wandering on the rough hillside tracks was never going to be safe.
A turban-clad man in dusty robes rode up to the inn from the western road. “Woman! Is there room here for the night?”
“Indeed, cousin Eli. Welcome back from Jerusalem! How was the journey?” Miriam wiped the tears from her face and shooed Jacob into the inn, whispering “Tell your father that my cousin Eli is here.”
“Ah, Miriam. I didn’t recognize you. Jacob has grown so much since I last saw him.” Eli dismounted and led his horses over to the trough by the well. “Jerusalem was the same. Dirty, busy city. No one wants to pay what my silks are worth. But wait ’til you hear! I heard the most amazing stories from the townfolk of Capernaum!” Miriam’s husband came to the door, and Eli turned away from his cousin. “Hello, Marcus. How’s the innkeeping business these days?”
Late that night, Miriam lay next to Marcus, wide awake. Eli’s story had been amazing, almost unbelievable. A man name Joseph, or John, or Jesse — Eli wasn’t too sure — was working miracles, healing dozens of people. He’d become so popular that he no longer stayed in town, but went out into the countryside where hundreds, even thousands, followed him, to listen to him teach, and to be healed. They said that he’d healed a sick woman, a lame man, a deaf-mute, even a paralytic! He didn’t ask for money, or use incantations, but claimed his miracles were from God.
What if it was true? What if there was someone today — not some ancient legend like Elijah or Elisha — who could heal her son Jacob? The possibility stirred a hope she had not felt since she had found out she was pregnant, six years ago. But Eli’s story was so vague. Galilee was so far. It would take weeks to get there. And Marcus would never allow it. She turned on her side and squeezed her eyes shut to hold back the tears.
(to be continued)