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The Quest

Joseph could hardly wait to see Jesus, the famous miracle man of Galilee.

“Oh, come on, Titus! If we don’t hurry we’ll miss something,” he said, wishing his older brother would move his long legs a bit faster.

“Like what?” Titus asked. “Don’t think I’m going to fall for any magic tricks.”

“They aren’t tricks!” Joseph said hotly. “You saw for yourself when Caleb’s dad came home cured of leprosy. He said that when Jesus said ‘be clean’ he felt a great power go right through him! Don’t you think that proves he’s from God?”

Like usual, Titus was quiet. It made Joseph sort of mad. He pushed ahead up the street, and then stopped to wait impatiently at the corner. Why didn’t Titus believe in Jesus’ miracles? He usually was the one to talk about God and obeying the law and everything. But ever since Grandpa had talked to him about training to be a teacher of the law, Titus had been sort of gloomy. “I want to serve God, but I’m not so sure that the scribes are right,” he had told Joseph. “They always act better than other folks and show off.”

“It’s a good thing Grandpa doesn’t know that we’re going today,” Joseph said, when his brother caught up with him. “He told Papa that Jesus is a troublemaker and—” Joseph bit his tongue. Why had he said that? Titus might agree with Grandpa and decide not to go after all!

“I know. He thinks he’s a fake,” Titus replied. “I guess we’ll find out soon enough, won’t we?”

Joseph grinned. He was glad that Titus had agreed to go with him.

It wasn’t hard to find the house where Jesus was. The yard was packed with people and the two brothers had a hard time squeezing through. “Ouch!” Joseph yelped, when a big man stepped on his foot.

“Quiet!” the man growled. “There’s no way to get in the door.”

Joseph was angry. “I can’t see a thing!”

“Let’s go around back,” Titus suggested. He led the way to a short stone wall and boosted Joseph over. A few chickens scattered as they hurried over to the back window of the house.

Joseph’s heart beat fast as he peered inside. Several men blocked his view, but by standing on a rock he could look over their shoulders. The room was packed with people. Where was Jesus? No one looked like the miracle-worker of Joseph’s dreams.

A man sitting on a table was doing most of the talking. All about trees having fruit and good words coming from a good heart and stuff like that. Joseph was getting restless. Where was Jesus? He was about to ask, when one of the men in front of him called out.

“Master, we want to see a sign of your power!”

Joseph was surprised to see the man on the table turn toward the window. He couldn’t be Jesus! But he was. And his eyes seemed to flash when he replied: “This is an evil generation that wants to see a sign. No sign will be given you, but the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Joseph was stunned. But Jesus was the miracle man! What did he mean?

“The queen of the south shall condemn this generation in the Judgment,” Jesus was saying. “She came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Behold, one greater than Solomon is here.”

Joseph’s ears got hot. He clenched his fists. Jesus was supposed to do something big and important, not talk like this. Angrily, Joseph turned from the window.

“Where are you going?” Titus asked.

“Home,” Joseph muttered, not looking back.

“But I thought you wanted to see…” Joseph didn’t hear the rest. He found a ledge in the stone wall and scrambled over.

It was evening before Titus got home. Joseph’s anger had cooled and he had begun to be a bit curious. What had he missed that his brother had stayed to see?

Titus headed to the stable, whistling. Joseph trotted after him and began helping pitch hay for the oxen. “Well, what happened?” he asked. “Did Jesus do something after I left?”

“No miracles, if that’s what you’re wondering.” But Titus’ eyes were twinkling. He hadn’t been so cheerful since Grandpa’s talk a week ago.

“Then why did you stay?”

Titus didn’t answer at first. Finally he looked at Joseph and smiled a strange smile. “I guess I had some hard questions I wanted answered. You know, like the queen of the south had for Solomon.”

“You talked to Jesus?” Now Joseph was beginning to feel a bit envious.

“Yes, and He’s really wonderful, Joseph.” Titus’ voice was serious. “Remember how I said I didn’t believe in all the show and talk of the scribes, how I wanted something real?” Joseph nodded.

“Well, little brother, I’ve found it. I’ve decided to follow Jesus.” Titus smiled, but Joseph could only stare.

“I don’t know what Grandpa’s going to say,” Titus continued. “I don’t really care. There is no pretending with the Master. He’s not a show-off. He really lives and speaks God’s words. I believe in him.”

For once, Joseph didn’t know what to say. He had wanted his big brother to believe in Jesus, hadn’t he? But… Jesus had turned out to be so different than he expected. And now Titus wanted to follow him. Joseph hardly could sort it all out.

Titus was starting for the house when Joseph thought of something. “Are you going to be leaving us? I mean, are you going with Jesus when he goes?”

Titus stopped and put his hand on Joseph’s shoulder. Joseph’s heart beat fast. He didn’t want his big brother to leave. If he did… why, that would change everything!

“What would you say if I told you I was going to get a treasure?” Titus asked, looking over the rooftops. “Something valuable that I’d found hidden up in that hill?”

Joseph frowned. “A real treasure?”

Titus nodded. “Yes, and when I’d dug it up, I promised to share it with you?”

“I’d like that!” Joseph said. “Would it make us rich? What would we do with it?”

Titus stroked his chin thoughtfully. For a moment he looked quite like Papa, so tall and wise. “Aren’t there more important things than being rich, Joseph?” he said at last. “I’m not out for the magic tricks. It’s the power of God that’s the proof, remember? I’m on a quest to find what Jesus has to offer.”

Joseph rubbed his toe around and around a stone in the dirt. He didn’t want Titus to see the tears in his eyes. It was strange, but deep inside he wondered if his big brother just might be right.