After ordering Saul to Damascus after the apostles, Caiaphas tasks Reuben with making sure he doesn’t come back – by escorting him there. This way, Jerusalem will be free of Saul’s campaign of violence, hopefully until Tiberius departs for Rome. Reuben is none too happy, but the apostles are delighted when they hear the news. Philip has sent word he needs their help in Samaria, and now leave Jerusalem safely.
The next day, Philip pauses while baptizing new converts to welcome John and Peter to Samaria. The apostles sit down with Yitzhak and Simon the Sorcerer, who excitedly explains his conversion and offers to help spread the word of Jesus. Walking into the marketplace, the men are surprised to find a crowd full of the sick and injured, who have been lured by tales of Philip’s miraculous healing. Peter and John begin praying, beseeching the injured to let Jesus into their lives – and thus more miraculous healings ensue. Afterwards, Simon turns over all his money to Peter, telling him to use it to help spread the power of Jesus. All he wants in return is “a few drops of the Holy Spirit.” Suddenly, the sky grows dark and the wind picks up. A furious Peter throws the coins in Simon’s face. God cannot be bought! When John senses the danger of God’s wrath brewing, Peter urges Simon to repent as blood flows from Simon’s eye sockets. Peter begs God for his mercy, and the skies clear in the nick of time. Simon’s life is saved.
Pilate and Tiberius are aghast to confront a tableau of utter debauchery: Caligula and Agrippa are passed out naked with a woman in a room that looks like a bomb went off. Tiberius laments that Caligula has much to learn, and certainly the Jew Agrippa is a bad influence. Tiberius is just saying Claudia shouldn’t see this when she walks in to spy her name, scrawled across the woman’s chest. Fuming, Claudia stalks off, leaving Pilate to clean up. Elsewhere in the palace, Joanna, now working in Antipas’ household, gives her old pal Mary Magdalene a discreet hug; they have to be careful not to show their connection of faith. When Joanna laments the death of Jesus, Mary explains his ascension – Jesus is very much alive and he is the messiah! Joanna’s husband, Chuza, interrupts their conversation and is immediately suspicious. Walking through the hall with Mary, Joanna is just explaining that she agreed to hide her faith to protect them both, when they run smack into Agrippa and Caligula, freshly drunk and on the prowl. Mary pleads for their escape, but Agrippa is intent on sexual congress with Joanna. Luckily, Herodias comes upon her brother Agrippa in the clinch and sternly admonishes him not to play with “her things.”
Having forged a respectful friendship with Claudia, Tiberius asks whether he should have Agrippa killed. Claudia advises taking Caligula back to Rome; Pilate will deal with Agrippa. Tiberius compliments Claudia. Her wisdom will surely have an impact on her husband’s career, especially when he’s appointed to the long-awaited position in Rome! Claudia is overjoyed until she spies four vultures circling outside the window – a repeat of Tiberius’ vision of death – a sight she keeps to herself. Meanwhile, Pilate finds Caligula nursing his hangover with Agrippa in the sauna. When Pilate broaches the insult to Claudia, Caligula calls her the daughter of a whore. In an instant, an enraged Pilate has his blade to Caligula’s throat, demanding a retraction. Unapologetic, Caligula dares Pilate to proceed. After all, he’s next in line to the Roman throne… Later, Pilate tells Claudia he should have killed Caligula on the spot. But she doesn’t sense the danger since she’s over the moon with news that, thanks to Tiberius, they’re finally returning to Rome. All they have to do is keep Agrippa and Caligula away from each other. Later, Tiberius gives a grateful Pilate a written order: his new position in Rome is official!
As Tiberius leaves, an angry Caligula confronts Pilate. Tiberius has ordered him back to Rome, while Agrippa is to stay in Jerusalem – which can only be the result of Pilate’s plotting! Pilate is making a grave mistake if he thinks Tiberius will always be around to protect him! Caligula sneers, spitting on Pilate’s feet to signify his ill intent. It’s not long before the Romans are leaving the city, with all pomp and circumstance and Caligula screaming and spitting his intention to wreak revenge on Pilate.
The road to Damascus is harsh, 70 miles of nothing but desert. Even though he’s the only man with a horse, Reuben is miserable and pleads with Saul to turn back. Why does he hate Peter so much? Full of passion, Saul explains that the creator would never choose a simple fisherman to articulate his message – Jesus is an imposter!
That’s when the sky turns dark and Jesus appears only to Saul in a ball of light to ask, “Why do you persecute me?” Saul freaks out, claws the dirt and demands to know what Jesus wants from him. Jesus instructs Saul to go to Damascus where he’ll be told what to do. Saul’s companions find him in the dirt, screaming for help, as he has suddenly become blind. Once in Damascus, Saul secretes himself in a cell, blindfolded and shaking, while his men stick to the street, pondering their next move. They don’t see Barnabas, who runs scared to report his sighting to Ananias Damascus. Barnabus wants to flee the city, but Ananias convinces him to stay. They’ll find strength together through their mutual trust in Jesus. Later, Jesus appears to Ananias and sends him to find Saul. When Ananias shows his doubt, Jesus assures him that Saul is his chosen instrument, who will proclaim his name to the Gentiles and their kings.
None of the Romans are resting easy this night. Disturbed by prescient, vulture-filled dreams about Tiberius’ death at Caligula’s hand, Claudia bolts out of bed. The next morning, Agrippa reports to Antipas and Herodius that he overheard Joanna praying to Jesus. They need to punish blasphemers! Knowing Agrippa has a prurient interest in Joanna, Herodias nevertheless summons Joanna and her husband Chuza, demanding to know the truth of her faith. Chuza claims Joanna is subject to fits of madness, and sometimes imagines she’s talking to Jesus. When Joanna confirms that she once was cured of demons, Antipas orders Chuza to control his wife, much to Agrippa’s disgust.
Ananias does Jesus’ bidding. Taking a desperate Saul’s face in his hands, he delivers Jesus’ message. Suddenly, Saul’s sight returns, and he gathers his men to tell them what happened to him in the desert. He felt so sure that he was right about Jesus, but now he knows he was wrong. What starts as a smile of relief on Reuben’s face morphs into a furrowed brow as he’s forced to trudge back to the desert after Saul, who’s intent on having Ananias and Barnabas baptize him. Once he’s been plunged into the water, Saul emerges, shouting his passion for his new mission of spreading the word to the heavens. After bearing witness, Reuben rushes back to report the bad news to Caiaphas, as Ananias and Barnabas scurry after Saul, trying to dissuade him from preaching about Jesus inside Damascus’ synagogue – this act could kill them all! Saul doesn’t listen…
Antipas and Herodias are scanning Pilate’s palace, plotting their return to their former home in Jerusalem after Pilate’s departure. But Antipas, Pilate and their wives are stunned to find a smirking Caligula lying in wait for them with shocking news: Tiberius has died peacefully in his bed. Caligula makes a beeline for Pilate – was he looking forward to his new position in Rome? Grabbing Tiberius’ written commission out of Pilate’s hand, Caligula rips it up, then screams at him to kneel in the presence of his new emperor.
Preview Next Weeks Episode “Friends or Foes”
Caligula strikes at the heart of Jerusalem: the apostles rejoice at winning new adherents;Saul’s conversion puts his life in grave risk.
Here are a few added resources from A.D