Memorable words in answer does Quintus hear. The Stranger puts aside the thought of the Jewish struggle for an earthly throne, and turns in his fancy to the quiet pastures where feed the flocks. He is a guardian Shepherd; Israel and all the world besides are his cherished sheep. Those who are truly his shall hear his guiding voice, and shall follow him. They shall never perish. From the hand of the Shepherd no vandal shall steal his own away. How the words thrill! Sometimes Quintus has seen in the Judaean pastures the keeper with his flocks, and knows how unchanging is his fidelity. It is as if this watcher in his devotion is anticipating the faithfulness of the greater Shepherd. How entrancing is the lesson to this seeking soldier from beyond the Adriatic!
Then does the Christ add another word more surprising than the rest. To men who are his sheep he makes a promise that compasses the furthest limit of the eternities. Of such he says: “Unto those who follow me I will give the Life of the Ages. Beyond the tomb they are to live on forevermore.” Nor to the Jews alone, amid the maze of those Corinthian columns, does the coming Shepherd speak. The listening Roman soldier, wearing the armor of the empire on the Tiber, comes within the circle of his promise. Into the face of Quintus he looks and benignly says: “There are other sheep not of the Jewish pasture, to whom I shall give this unending life. I covet your great empire as my own. O soldier of the Caesars, follow after me!”
Back to the camp on Scopus the soldier goes, moved to his deepest soul. Impossible it seems to longer worship the Roman gods. When he has described to Aulus the Feast of Dedication, he repeats the words he has heard in the Temple cloister, and says in deepest seriousness:
“Most unearthly is the Man on whom I have looked to-day. In his speech a divine patience, kindness, and dignity combine. As for the words he spoke, I cannot tell their moving power. The sayings of our noblest Romans are feeble in the comparison. Never have I heard another speak as he has done about a future world. Truly, an unequaled Man is this new Teacher who is abroad in Judaea.”
Sleep is of little consequence that night. Is the word of the augur at Brundisium beginning to be fulfilled? In his tent Quintus is wondering through the long hours if, among his people on the Tiber, the Shepherd shall not find some sheep to whom he will give the unending life.
CHRIST HIMSELF THE WITNESS TO IMMORTALITY
“He appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold.”—Josephus.