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Great Interviews of Jesus (8 of 15)
With a Persecutor and Blasphemer
Clarence E. Macartney
It is the hour of noon. In the midday heat the ancient city
of Damascus, surrounded by its massive and hoary walls,
lies still and quiet. In the courtyards of the great
caravansaries the camels and other beasts of burden are
lying down, and near them their drivers too are taking
their ease. The bazaars are closed, the merchants asleep,
and the streets of the city deserted as the population
takes its noontime rest. Even the great waterwheels which
move majestically around, lifting the water from the rivers
into the luxuriant gardens, have ceased to move. In the
trees the birds are silent. Not a sound is heard in
Damascus save the murmur of the waters of the river Abana
laving the walls of the city and encircling it like a
To the southeast rises the snowcapped summit of Hermon.
Along the highway from the south, from the direction of
Jerusalem, comes a small caravan, the little asses in
front, the soft-footed camels swaying from side to side
after them. In the east caravans cease to travel at noon
and seek rest at some convenient oasis. But this caravan
breaks all the rules of the road. It presses on without
rest or stopping, on toward its goal, the city of Damascus.
With the caravan, directing its journey, is a man driven by
a fierce purpose. The pace of the camels and the donkeys is
too slow for him, and he strides on ahead, his staff in his
hand and a look of inexorable determination on his face. He
is the chief of the Gestapo of the priests at Jerusalem. In
a brief period he has made a record as a persecutor and
informer such as the priests have never had before.
Everywhere he has sought out and hauled into prison those
who have professed themselves the followers of the
crucified impostor, Jesus. Having heard that a company of
them has gathered together in Damascus, this inquisitor ...
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