As a colonnade of Roman centurions trudge towards Jerusalem hauling the giant golden statue of Caligula, Caiaphas preaches to the Sanhedrin and the Jewish people, gathered in the royal stoa at the Temple. Caligula’s statue will arrive within a few days, and if God’s house is defiled by this abomination, he will leave the Temple and its people. Famine and then starvation will render them helpless to oppose their enemies. Caiaphas wants all Jews to unite to protect the Temple; now is the time for brotherhood and unity. Caiaphas gains the support of the people, the Sanhedrin, his wife Leah – and maybe even James the Just, who reports back to the apostles, admitting that for a minute, he dreamt he was in Caiaphas’ place – but talking about Jesus instead of Rome. Imagine being able to speak about Jesus in public without fear! But Peter refuses to trust the man who murdered Jesus. James claims he’s merely looking for an end to their persecution, and John recalls the sight of Jesus on the cross. His pain was so great that he called out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” If Jesus asked this of God, then he asks it of them, too. Swayed, Peter tells the others that James will talk to Caiaphas about reconciliation, while he is leaving Jerusalem to preach.
Gabra smuggles weapons into the city for Levi and his band of Zealots. Both men feel they’re lighting a fire that will burn Rome to cinders, giving the rest of the world confidence to fight their oppressors. Later, Simon enters a synagogue where Levi rallies 100 men to use their new Ethiopian weapons to fight the Roman infection and cleanse the Temple’s corrupt priesthood. Reuben delivers an invitation from Caiaphas, begging unity, but Levi calls him a spy and has him dragged away.
Concerned with the rising violence on the streets, Cornelius asks Pilate to increase the volume of patrols. They’re a holding force, not an army, and more men will help hide this fact. When Claudia promises Pilate they’ll get through this trial, he notes she’s not eating. What can he do to help? Claudia asks him to release Joanna, explaining that her interest is merely empathy. Between clenched teeth, Pilate declares that empathy breeds weakness, and they are not weak. Later, Claudia brings food to a weakened Joanna, who asks whether Pilate has decided her fate. “He doesn’t get to decide everything,” Joanna says.
At the Temple, Caiaphas is taken aback by James, whom he feels is making demands – like stop the persecution. Nevertheless, he agrees to leave the Nazarenes in peace. But, he cautions, they must refrain from calling Jesus king or messiah, which could bring trouble from Rome. Much as he doesn’t like it, Caiaphas permits James and his people to speak without censorship in the Temple, provided they remember his generosity in days to come. James hurries out to report his good news to Simon, Thomas, Mary Magdalene and Tabitha, then ushers them towards the Temple. But just as Tabitha is giving all her money to a beggar, she collapses, then begs Mary to take her home to her family in Joppa. Thinking Tabitha’s injuries are all her fault, Mary immediately gathers her friend in her arms and starts the long journey.
Levi sends Eva to a Roman tavern to deliver a warning to Gabra: he’s making himself too visible. Gabra laughs it off. He’s a dignitary in Jerusalem to be seen with no hidden agenda. As long as he’s visible, he’s untouchable. But Reuben, the Temple spy, could make his life uncomfortable. Does he have Eva’s assurances that he won’t be a problem? Unbeknownst to Gabra, a Zealot has smuggled Reuben out of the city in a bag. Reuben gets on his knees, asking to make his peace with God before his execution, and then his prayer turns into swift and sudden death for the Zealot. It’s not long before Reuben is back in the city, reporting the Ethiopian/Zealot plot to Caiaphas and Leah, who wants to go directly to Pilate. Caiaphas refuses. He’ll never sacrifice the Temple; he won’t be the high priest who caused God to abandon his people. Leah makes a beeline for Pilate’s palace to ask Claudia’s permission to speak to Pilate. Her information about the Ethiopian/Zealot alliance could prevent a massacre. It’s not long before Eva and Levi are scrambling to escape across Jerusalem’s rooftops, while Cornelius seizes the Ethiopian weapons and takes Gabra prisoner. Gabra claims that any harm that might befall him would be an act of war with Ethiopia, but Pilate’s skeptical. Gabra’s queen would risk an attack on Rome? Probably not. While diplomacy prevents Pilate from killing Gabra, he will write to his Queen, advising her to banish him for life. Seizing Gabra’s men as slaves, Pilate has him kicked out of the city, a site not lost on Caiaphas, who realizes Leah is behind the whole deal.
In exchange for Leah’s information, Claudia again asks Pilate for a good turn, releasing Joanna, and again he refuses. Furious, Claudia returns to the prison to release Joanna herself, but they’re met by Cornelius on the way out. It’s not long before they’re standing in front of Pilate, who fears Joanna is infecting the mind of his wife, just as she did Tabitha’s. When Joanna insists her interest is only empathy, Pilate gives her a choice: she can set Joanna free by strangulation or send her to the cross. Calling her husband a monster, Claudia tells him not to make her choose. Joanna shuffles forward, insisting she will choose her fate, so Pilate commands Cornelius to carry out the strangulation. Joanna forgives Cornelius his actions in the name of Christ. Afterwards, Cornelius methodically washes the blood off his hands, but it’s all too much and he breaks into tears.
While preaching in a small Judean village, Peter is amazed to encounter Philip, who was on his way back to Jerusalem. Only Philip notices the Angel, who has come to deliver a message: they are to go south to the Gaza road. After dispatching Philip, Peter continues on his way to Joppa, where Mary has brought Tabitha. But by the time Peter arrives, Tabitha has died, devastating her family and Mary Magdalene. Peter finds her crying on the street – she thought her faith would be enough to keep Tabitha from dying. Peter tells her she’s not responsible for Tabitha’s death; it was God’s will. Mary takes him to Tabitha and leaves him alone to pray over the corpse. Moments later, Peter is besieged by a mighty wind, which blows Tabitha’s shroud away. Peter commands Tabitha to “get up!” and she does, restored to life. Mary brings them outside where they’re embraced by a joyous crowd.
Eva and Levi spy Simon preaching the word of Jesus in the street and call to him. Simon promises he’s loyal to their cause, but his new friends wonder how loyal he’ll be when the Romans charge them with sedition. Meanwhile, Gabra finds himself alone in the desert, the wheel of his meager chariot broken. Since the only possession he has left is the scroll of writings by the prophet Isaiah, given to him by Caiaphas, Gabra sits, reading aloud. Luckily, Philip happens by and, recognizing the words of Isaiah, stops to help fix the wheel, and talk about Jesus. When the chariot is fixed, the two men spy a small pool of water, so they stop to baptize Gabra, who repents his sins and declares his intention to preach the word of Jesus to the four corners of the Earth. Strangely enough, when Gabra rises from the water, Philip has vanished.
Preview Next Weeks Episode 12 “THE EPIC FINALE!” airing 6/21/15
It’s late at night when the statue of Caligula finally arrives in Jerusalem, standing three times higher than any man..
Peter has his famous vision as God tells him that gentiles will now be welcome into the church. Cornelius sends guards to bring Peter to him, not to arrest him, but to hear his message. Cornelius – the Roman Centurion – comes into the Christian faith as the first Gentile to believe..
Here are a few added resources from A.D