Somewhere in Galilee, James the Just dreams of his boyhood, Jerusalem, A.D. 12, when he found his 12-year-old buddy Jesus preaching to the Sandhedrin outside the Temple. Back in the present, James begins walking to Jerusalem, where the apostles are worried. With Saul in jail and Simon missing, Peter decides to go to the Temple to beg for their release. Frightened Peter will never return, Barnabas begs him to wait. If something happens to him, who will lead the apostles? At that very moment, James walks up to embrace his old friend Peter. Inside the safe house, he tells the apostles about his dream of Jesus, a sign that it was time to rejoin the group. Once he hears about Peter’s plan to go to the Temple, James offers to go in his place. Not only is he a rabbi, but he’s left them to suffer alone for too long. It’s his turn.
Caiaphas has already let Saul out of his cell to talk about why he abandoned their cause. Saul has a chance to recant, confess his sins and return to the Temple. How can he cut himself off from God? When Caiaphas offers his forgiveness, Saul refuses. Only Jesus can forgive him. Furthermore, according to Saul, Isaiah’s prophecy has been completed: Jesus is their Messiah. So there’s no longer any need for the Temple, its rituals or even Caiaphas himself. Furious, Caiaphas smacks Saul, demanding, “What’s happened to you?” then offers a dozen possible fates, none of which sound good. Meanwhile, an unhappy Cornelius stops an ornate parade of Ethiopians in the street, led by wealthy nobleman Gabra, Chief Treasurer to the Queen of Ethiopia. Visiting Jerusalem to make sacrifices at the Temple for Yom Kippur, Gabra has left his weapons at the city gates, but Cornelius orders a search anyway. Later he reports back to Pilate: the Ethiopians are clean. When Claudia suggests Gabra has come to Jerusalem to make sacrifices as he says, Pilate explodes in a racist tirade. Doesn’t she realize Gabra has gelded himself to serve his queen? And how could his arrival in Jerusalem – when the city is on the brink of war – be innocent? Pilate instructs Claudia and Cornelius to invite the eunuch to dinner – and invite Antipas and Herodias too, so his intentions don’t look too obvious.
While praying at the Temple’s Court of the Women, Leah spies Saul walking away free. She rushes to confront Caiaphas, who admits to releasing Saul, a mad man whose words will surely get him killed. When Leah presses, Caiaphas silences her with his rage. All Jews must unite to fight the abomination of Caligula’s statue and everything it represents. The people need to love the Temple more than they fear the Romans. But Leah can’t let go of Saul, whom she believes stains Caiaphas’ reputation daily. Why can’t Caiaphas act in accordance with his high office?! Caiaphas insists that he does every day; Leah’s just too blind to see it. Uncowed, Leah makes a beeline for Eva’s house. When Eva kicks her out, Leah refuses to go, admitting she needs Eva’s contacts to kill a man for her. Eva sets up a meeting with Levi, so Leah can place her request to kill Saul. What would Levi want in exchange for his services? Levi wants to know Caiaphas’ plans for Caligula’s statue, and when Leah professes not to know, he snickers. Everyone knows Caiaphas does what Leah tells him to do. What Levi wants from Leah is blood, the blood of a thousand Romans, and she will influence Caiaphas and the Temple to give it to him when the time is right.
Simon returns to the safe house, explaining he was waylaid after a night of partying, then Saul shows up. The apostles are overjoyed, thinking James must have secured Saul’s release, but he explains Caiaphas just let him go, which enrages Simon. When Saul asks, “What are you accusing me of, exactly?” Simon turns and leaves. Meanwhile, James calls out Caiaphas in front of the Temple, asking what kind of high priest instills such fear in his people. When James demands Saul and Simon’s release, Caiaphas explains that Simon was never there, and Saul has been freed. James demands that Caiaphas stop persecuting the apostles, so Caiaphas counters: how about a safe place to pray and a chance to make peace with the Temple? After all, it’s nearly Yom Kippur, and Caiaphas wants to unite the Jews. Everyone except Saul, that is. Caiaphas moves on to greet Gabra, who has great riches to offer in sacrifice. Just then, Cornelius rides up to order Gabra to attend dinner at Pilate’s palace – where things are going badly. Claudia and Herodias have just walked in on Joanna, Tabitha and Mary Magdalene, rejoicing over Tabitha’s upcoming baptism. When Herodias lays into Tabitha, Claudia tries to shift the blame to her own servant Mary, offering to take care of the matter, but Herodias banishes Joanna and Tabitha.
James returns to the safe house to float Caiaphas’ offer to the apostles: they would be able to live normal lives again! Of course, Saul has questions. Why do they need the Temple when Jesus is everywhere? Furious, Simon is up on his feet, railing at Saul, telling his brothers not to trust him, then stalking off. In the market, he runs into Levi, who has questions about Saul, too. Can Simon bring Saul to Levi and his men? When Levi explains that Saul’s future is none of Simon’s concern, Simon bristles. He can’t betray a brother, but it looks like he can’t help considering it. Levi moves on to confer with Eva about Leah, whom Eva is sure will betray them. Moreover, Leah has asked them to murder a man who hasn’t sinned any more than being a loudmouth. Levi advises Eva to go see Saul preach to see what kind of man he really is. Then he meets with Gabra, who opens a mighty chest of gold – much larger than the chest he gave Caiaphas…
Over dinner, Gabra explains that on Yom Kippur, the Jews make peace with their enemies – a custom not native to the Romans. Pilate is just insisting that he has crushed all of Jerusalem’s dissenters when Herodias arrives late to dinner, explaining she had to wait for her new gown to be completed, since she had to dismiss her seamstress. When Gabra asks why the seamstress couldn’t be forgiven, Herodias explains she was joining the Nazarene cult. Gabra pokes Pilate – didn’t he just say he crushed all the dissenters in the city? Furious, Pilate orders Cornelius to summon Joanna and Tabitha to his office. Claudia begs for mercy, but Pilate is intent on flogging the two women in public to send a message to both Rome and the Ethiopians. When Cornelius asks whom he should flog first, Joanna tells a sobbing Tabitha to take heart, Jesus will give her strength. Pilate gets up in Joanna’s face, telling Cornelius to beat only Tabitha. He has something special planned for Joanna. The group returns to the courtyard, where Pilate whispers into Antipas’ ear, blaming him for bringing insurgents into his palace. He will watch the whipping of Tabitha, he will admire Rome’s might, and then he will get the hell out. After apologizing to Gabra, Pilate orders the whipping to commence in front of his dinner guests. After everyone’s left, Pilate summons Claudia to berate her for arguing with him in public. Even though she didn’t say a word, her face betrayed her disapproval. She’s horrified to learn that Pilate is still mulling over how to make Joanna’s death “count.” Locked in prison, Joanna tells her husband Chuza not to worry; her heart is at peace.
The next day, both Eva and Simon listen to Saul preaching outside a synagogue. Eva calls to Saul with questions: Does Saul preach what the cult of the Nazarenes truly believes? Claiming Saul will destroy their new church with his words, Eva changes her mind about him. Reminding Simon that he is with her now, she tells him to deliver Saul to the inn, alone at sunset. They’ll do the rest.
Claudia finds a tearful Mary Magdalene comforting Tabitha, saying “I’m sorry” over and over again, blaming herself for all that happened. She’s stunned when Claudia offers a bag of money and medicinal herbs for Tabitha, urging them to leave now while Pilate is distracted. When Mary asks after Joanna, Claudia will only say, “Go. Now.” When Simon returns to the safe house, he finds Saul tenderly praying over a gravely injured Tabitha, which causes his total reversal. He confesses his plotting with Levi to Peter and James, explaining his goal was only to protect the Temple. So now what? In favor of accepting Caiaphas’ deal, James thinks Saul is the problem – clearly, he’s pulling them apart. Saul walks in, none too happy to discover his brothers are discussing his fate. Late that day, the ancestors walk Saul into the desert, claiming there’s a bigger role for him in the world beyond Jerusalem. The apostles are scared, but Saul’s not – he’s merely trying to drag his more timid brothers forward to meet the challenge of spreading the word. Promising the apostles their safety, Saul heads off to Tarsus, promising to recruit new followers along the way.
Preview Next Weeks Episode “Saved By The Spirit” airing 6/14/15
Philip baptized the Ethiopian Eunuch and gets saved through God’s Grace. Meanwhile a suffering Tabitha experiences the power of Gid firsthand when Peter performs on of the Bible’s greatest miracles.
Strengthen your relationship with Christ and read along with this week’s episode: Acts 8:26-38 & Acts 9:39-42
Here are a few added resources from A.D