From atop the city wall, Lucius studied the crowd approaching from the direction of Jericho. Jews coming to Jerusalem for their holy day, which meant he’d get little rest in the next week or two until the city emptied out again.
These servants of Rome took their religion seriously. A little too seriously, in his opinion. Their holy days swelled the city’s population to several times its normal number of citizens and made it that much harder to keep the peace.
His eyes narrowed as the crowd drew close enough for him to see what they were doing. Some threw their cloaks on the road while others cut branches from nearby palm trees and threw them down before a figure riding a donkey. Interesting—the symbol of a ruler coming in peace. Who could it be?
His ears picked up the sound of chants, but it was some time before he could distinguish the words.
Save us? Save us now, son of David? Pilate would not be pleased to hear that.
Lucius looked closer to see if he could identify the rider. Of course. He should have known it would be the Hebrew rabbi, the one called Yeshua—the one who stirs up controversy and trouble every time he comes to town.
He’d listened to the rabbi’s teaching in the Temple. His words moved people, usually in different directions. The commoners loved him, but the religious leaders hated him. Jealous, they were. He saw it in their narrowed eyes and gnashing teeth, heard it in their anxious whispering among themselves. If only they could draw the crowds, inspire devotion the way this Gallilean teacher did.
Lucius had to admit the man’s words demanded thought. But as a Roman soldier, he couldn’t allow himself to become entangled in civilian affairs. He’d need to be especially watchful in the coming days. This Rabbi Yeshua didn’t strike him as the type to attempt an overthrow of Rome, but one never knew. His followers were obviously considering it. He’d keep his eye on that one.