(Modern-Day Reporter Series)
Nazarene Rabbi preaches to thousands on
Mount; calls for mercy , compassion &
forgiveness ; chooses 12 followers!
Matthew: 4:15-16: “ In the land of Zabulon, and the land of Nepthalim (near Capernaum) by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles ; the people which sat in darkness saw a great light…”
Capernaum, Judea (31 a.d.) – Reporter: Bill Byrnes
Controversial young Rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth, added to his already burgeoning reputation yesterday, when he preached to thousands atop a small Mount, on the Northern edge of the Sea of Galilee.
Though some calling themselves his friends said this was the first official act of his ministry, this native of Nazareth has already established quite a reputation among Judeans – many of whom already refer to him as the “Messiah” – the savior – whose coming has been foretold for many centuries in Jewish religious scriptures . Interestingly enough, Jesus has never referred to himself as the messiah, but, in the past several months, he has been credited with healings that have been nothing short of miraculous, and all of them having several witnesses! All manner of diverse diseases including leprosy; great fevers, afflictions from birth, and the expulsion of evil spirits were healed!
“All manner of diseases were healed–including leprosy!
Just a few days ago, Jesus chose twelve men to be his “Apostles”–or Followers. These men , reportedly , have forsaken all their worldly possessions to be among the chosen. I’m awaiting verification of all their identities before mentioning any of them. It was an incredible scene. He stood on a small rise, above the people, who were stretched out on three sides of the surrounding terrain, almost as far as the eye could see. They came from all over : Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, and many other areas of Judea, and beyond Jordan. There was no limit to age or gender. There were many families , and even young children, normally rambunctious , seemed to pay attention when he spoke– it was the most incredible presentation ever witnessed by this reporter! His voice was not the powerful, booming instrument shown by great orators of the past; but it was steady and unwavering–soothing and penetrating when he wanted to emphasize key points.
“ Blessed are the poor in spirit , for their’s is the Kingdom of Heaven . Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek,- for they shall inherit the Earth!”
But the most amazing thing about his presentation was his eyes — — at any given time, he looked directly into everyone’s eyes — AT THE SAME TIME! I discovered this by circulating among the crowd, talking with them during his pauses. One young mother, choking – up, almost sobbing, said, “The way he looks into my eyes– — comforts me and my children greatly.” Her gaze never left him while she answered. A man 20-30 ft. down from her said, ”The way his eyes look into mine when he speaks; I’ve never felt so content. And my children, usually very playful, are quite still, as if they have just finished eating and are ready for sleep. But the way they’re staring at Jesus , they must understand him too! As I moved among the masses, the responses were the same. And when I sat and listened, I was affected as much as anyone!
“ Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
When I first started hearing stories of the child prodigy from Nazareth — I just mentally filed them away for future reference. But, now….now I knew there had to be some truth to them. Suddenly, I could form a mental picture of the 12-year old boy sitting in the temple in Jerusalem, asking questions and discussing issues of faith with the most educated of clerics, who were spellbound with the lad’s answers to their questions. All of this happened while his parents (not knowing their son’s whereabouts) frantically searched for him for 3 days!
They were amazed with the boy’s answers!
The most impact occurred during the last three of his “blessings”, “Blessed are the pure in heart – for they shall see God! Blessed are the peacemakers–for they shall be called the children of God ! Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’s sake, for their’s is the kingdom of Heaven! “ With the last few words, it was if a very short episode of collective , brief sobbing was heard throughout the entire crowd! I must admit, I was not immune to being a little choked-up!
After this, he spoke at great length regarding a new purpose for the laws governing his people. No one in the crowd, myself included, had any doubts that this man was, indeed, the long awaited messiah! But, he still never referred to himself by that name. He came pretty close to it when answering criticisms from some skeptics in the crowd who accused him of trying to destroy the laws of their ancestors. Matthew: 5;17: “Think not that I have come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I have not come to destroy them, but to FULFILL them.” So, at the least, Jesus gave himself a very special “raison d’etre ”.
Certainly, everyone leaving the event realized that they were at a very special happening. The blessings bestowed by Jesus were termed “Beatitudes”. Considering that the word comes from the Latin “beatus” , meaning “blissful” or “fortunate” This reporter can honestly say that I was very “fortunate” for having drawn this assignment.
* See Note Below*
(One year later – 32 a.d.)
Reporter’s post-script: After posting the above article my editor gave me a royal chewing-out for losing objectivity, and removed me from any assignments covering Jesus. This morning, I was exonerated! No sooner had I gone to my desk, than he came over saying: “Hey, Byrnes – don’t hang up your coat! You’re back on with your messiah.” I stammered, “Great–but what happened?” Then, I added facetiously, ”I thought I wasn’t objective enough?”
“ Yeah, but now, we’ve got a whole new ball-game– AND I want you on it– — Now!”
As I started gathering all my necessities he added: “During last night’s storm out on the lake– — several witnesses saw your messiah rescue his followers — BY WALKING ON THE WATER!”
“No complaints from me, boss”. I was all smiles and as I exited the office, my smiles turned into almost giddy chuckling when I confronted this question: have I gained much more than the greatest story ever—have I found GOD—alive, well, and walking around Judea? In my gut—I knew the answer!