Pillars of Barabbas
Publisher: Independently Published
Release Date: March 23, 2021
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
ABOUT THE BOOK:
In I Was Called Barabbas, author M.D. House offered his vision of Barabbas’ life by imagining what came after his momentous encounter with Jesus of Nazareth.
Pillars of Barabbas continues the story, finding the man they called Barabbas a long way from the wretched prisoner once released by Pontius Pilate in lieu of Jesus. He and his wife Chanah are growing in regard among the leadership of Christ’s fledgling church, which is expanding and thriving.
But increasing Christian influence breeds jealousy among several Roman governors and senators. How will Emperor Nero react? Can the apostle Paul soothe the moody young ruler?
The Parthian Empire is also a problem, including in Africa, where the former centurion Cornelius has become a prominent Christian leader. Will the Christians be able to flee, or will they have to fight both the Romans and the Parthians?
Just in time for Easter, Pillars of Barabbas brings the early years of the church into vivid detail, following the saints who sacrificed everything to bring Christ’s message to the world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
M.D. HOUSE is the author of Pillars of Barabbas, as well as the first book in the Barabbas series, I Was Called Barabbas, and the science-fiction novel, Patriot Star. Before beginning his second career as a writer, he worked for twenty-five years in the world of corporate finance, strategic planning, and business development. Now, Michael lives in Utah with his wife, where he spends his time writing and enjoying his children and grandchildren. Learn more about Michael and his work at www.mdhouselive.com.
Author’s Website: www.mdhouselive.com
Author’s Facebook: www.facebook.com/LiteraryThunder
Author’s Twitter: www.twitter.com/real_housemd
from Chapter 5 (1,188 words)
I tried to force out those negative thoughts as I was guided into the building and through the front foyer by a senior aide, whose presence reminded me how important my performance would be. I felt like I was truly in the lion’s den, and I knew these particular lions were always ravenous, no matter how much they were fed.
The walls of the broad main hallway beyond the foyer had recently been covered in marble, the old iron sconces replaced with beautiful brass, the intricate and colorful carpets newly acquired. It was both a mark of the island’s growing importance as a trading way station and the narcissism of the governor. He had recently returned from a trip to Rome, and it was rumored he had even met the emperor personally, which was an impressive feat for a minor governor.
When I was ushered through rich mahogany doors into the building’s main audience chamber, six guards stood spaced around the room. I nearly stumbled, but I uttered a brief prayer in my mind and tried to stiffen my spine. I was on the Lord’s errand—that’s what Paul would have told me, just as Chanah had. Paul had stood boldly before King Agrippa, facing the determined wrath of his accusers and many more than six armed soldiers, and he had been protected.
But then, he was Paul. He was more powerful with words, more filled with the Spirit. My heart constricted, and I swallowed. How was I to do this?
I was left to stand in the middle of the room before an imposing platform mounted by a row of tall chairs, with a railing built before them. The wood of the chairs and railing looked old, but it still shined, and I could see ripples in the top of the railing from decades of forearms resting upon it as petitions were heard and judgments meted. The chairs were all empty.
I was left there, standing uncomfortably in the middle of the room. Several silent minutes passed, the guards barely rustling. They were well disciplined, belonging to the highly regarded centurion of the island. I tried not to shuffle too much, but standing in one place with nothing to do was unnatural and discomfiting. In the back of my mind, I knew this was just part of the game, meant to intimidate me, but it was working, at least in part.
Finally, a side door opened, and the governor swept in with several of his aides and attendants. He almost had a skip in his step. He even spared a small smile of greeting for me before he sat. It was perhaps the most unnerving thing that had happened so far. “Bishop Barabbas,” he began when he was settled. “It is good to see you. Thank you for accepting my summons.”
Had I really had a choice? “Greetings, Governor. And peace to you.” It sounded like something Paul would have said.
The governor nodded as he leaned forward and rested his arms on the railing. He had a slight feral gleam in his eyes. “You and your people are a credit to this island, Bishop Barabbas.”
It was not the opening statement I’d expected. “Thank you, Governor Venalian. We try to work hard and be good citizens.”
He nodded, looking pensive. “This is what your god asks of you?”
“Yes.” I didn’t know how else to answer, but I sensed a trap.
“What are your numbers now?”
I couldn’t lie to him, though it seemed a question with a deeper purpose. “Nearly nine hundred now.”
He breathed heavily. “Hmmm. How are you growing so fast?”
I swallowed. “We trust in the Lord and find peace and strength in him, which we try to share with others through service and teaching.”
“And you perform miracles?” he asked.
I shook my head slightly, my nervousness growing. “God performs the miracles. We are blessed to attend them sometimes.” Paul might have been proud of that answer. I had surprised myself.
“Paul of Tarsus was here, too, and the centurion and his men who were supposedly his jailors. He ‘attended’ many miracles, it is said, even raising the wife of Mayor Publius from the dead, if the stories can be believed. Do your people follow Paul, or a different god?” His question showed his confusion or his cunning—or perhaps both.
My mind scrambled for a way to respond, and thankfully I didn’t stutter when the words came. “We follow Jesus, called the Christ, whom Paul taught and by whom Paul was able to bless us.”
The governor lifted his chin in regal suspicion. “This is the man who was resurrected, who supposedly raised himself from the dead?”
“He is more than a man,” I said softly, remembering how much I owed to his sacrifice.
Venalian gripped the railing with his hands. “You seem sure. Would you stake your life on it?”
I knew my answer instantly, and while I should have been trembling at his barely veiled threat, my nervousness disappeared as if a warm ocean wave had gently washed over me. “I would.”
Venalian nodded as if he had expected the answer.
“Of course,” I replied.
“The emperor is a powerful man.”
“I know.” I almost added that God was more powerful, but it wasn’t needed.
“If Paul were to die, would your congregation here survive?”
“Yes, it would.” I was confident of that. Even if Chanah and I were gone—Chanah in particular—the church would survive. The Lord would call others to take our places, and the Elders and Sisters of the church in Jerusalem would continue to send the saints on Melita correspondence and instructions, and even visit from time to time.
“Did Paul give you anything before he left for Rome?”
I blinked, having no idea what was prompting the question.
“Just some written instructions,” I answered honestly, “and his blessing, humbly petitioned from God.”
The governor leaned back in his chair, straightening to make himself look more imperial. “I will need to see those instructions, Bishop Barabbas. It is a routine precaution, of course. Paul is a notable prisoner, and while I laud your behavior thus far, prudence requires that I understand more fully what he told you.”
It was an odd and intrusive request, but not out of the ordinary for governors and prelates across the empire. I was happy to share those instructions with him. There were things in them he wouldn’t understand, but nothing seditious. I would have two copies made beforehand, of course, and I would have at least two prominent witnesses to the copying—including the island’s centurion or one of his officers. “It will be my pleasure, Governor.” I don’t think he had expected me to acquiesce so easily, but he would probably have suspected something deceptive in my response no matter how I answered.
He paused for a moment, staring intently at me. I didn’t feel like his prey any longer, but I was curious what would come next.“That is all, then,” he said abruptly, surprising me yet again. “Safe journeys to you, Bishop Barabbas.”