Then suddenly—the risen Lord has come! The marvel of it! The splendor of it! While the five hundred are talking together, the air grows luminous with his presence. Out of the invisible he appears. As suddenly he comes as Aurora in her chariot drives up the eastern sky and brings in the shining day. When the company have fallen on their faces and have adored their Master, in the hush that follows he gives them a great commission:
“You are to go forth.” he says, “and herald my gospel to the world. Let there be no laggards in your company. It is a lifelong charge. There is a task for Petrus and Johannes, for Philippus and Mattheus, and for all. You are to look for disciples everywhere. You are to proclaim the message of repentance. You are to give them the waters of baptism, in the name of the God triune. You are to declare to sad-hearted men the promise of eternal life, until I shall come again to take men to myself.”
That honorable commission! It was in coming days to stir the souls of apostles and quicken the feet of missioners and fire with zeal earth’s coming reformers. Nor does Quintus forget that he too has his charge. In the city on the Tiber is to be his task. To his home circle, to priests in the temples of the gods, and even to the royal Tiberius he is to herald the gospel of the resurrection. His vision of the risen Lord is the measure of his opportunity.
Then the Master looks into his very face, and remembers him as the Roman knight he had seen in the Porch of Solomon. The half thousand disciples on Kurn Hattin prostrate themselves to the earth; and in their acclaim the soldier joins his voice, “Rabboni! Rabboni! Our great Master!” Then departs the Christ, and back to their homes they go, evermore to comfort themselves with the vision of their risen Lord.
Soon afterward their Rabboni goes from earth. Out beyond the hill of Olivet he walks one day with his eleven. In their last words together he reminds them again that they are to be his heralds to the eastern world. A cloud gathers above their heads, like some halting chariot, and he is gone forever from human sight. Yet only in the distance it seems a cloud. For John afterward says to Quintus that it was in reality a phalanx of ten thousand angels, robed in whiteness and sent to convoy the Son of God to glory everlasting.
With Quintus that visit to Kurn Hattin shaped all his future. His Master’s countenance had seemed to him more wonderful than any face which the gifted Phidias had ever carved in stone. But never in after days could he worthily tell to Lucretia the vision he had seen. Only in one poor sentence could he sum it up: “I have seen for myself the risen and ascending Lord.”
CHRIST’S WITNESSES AT ROME
“A great multitude.”—Tacitus.
With jubilation Quintus sees again the shores of Italy rise over the Adriatic, and finds himself once more in his beloved Rome. The center of magnificence and power it seems. Alter clamorous public greetings in the Forum, there comes another welcome which happens only in a returning soldier’s life. In the palace of Marcus the kindred of Quintus are gathered, and Lucretia also is in the circle, to hear his great adventure.