Chapter Ten


       Among the followers of Jesus were several women who had been healed
by him, and who helped his ministry financially; namely, Mary of Magdala, a
large town on Lake Kinneret, having in excess of 15,000 inhabitants, - John
the Evangelist claims she was the first witness of the Ressurection, and
there is also an oral tradition identifying her with the woman of loose
morals mentioned in the gospel stories but the texts themselves do not
confirm this identification; Johannah, the wife of Chuza, the steward of
Herod, she also being a witness of the empty tomb, and it is from her
husband that Herod may have gotten information about the activities of
Jesus; and also a certain Susannah.

       Jesus continued preaching and healing throughout the cities and
towns of Galilee but now there began a new urgency to his mission, and so
he intensified it by dispatching his disciples throughout the Land of
Israel to spread the gospel that "The kingdom of heaven is at hand"
(Matthew 10:7). He urged them not to go through Samaria nor to any of the
gentile cities, but to take the message straight to the Jewish people.
Furthermore he instructed them to devote themselves only to those who would
be receptive to the gospel message (Matthew 10:11-13), but to those who
would not be receptive, they were to turn abruptly away. They were not to
"cast their pearls before swine". But neither was Jesus neutral towards
those who refused to heed his message.

     "And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when
      ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your
      feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the
      land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that
                            Matthew 10:14-15

       Jesus had become intensely convinced that the Kingdom was immanent
(" ... for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of
Israel, till the Son of man be come." Matthew 10:23), and that he was its
prophet, and being its prophet implied carrying G-d's word within himself
so that all who rejected that word became enemies of the word, therefore
"He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me
scattereth abroad" (Matthew 12:30).

       After close to three years of preaching, he had already accepted the
probability the probability that the majority would not follow him (Matthew
7:14), and his position vis-a-vis that majority had hardened, as is
evidenced by his unfavorable comparison of them with the people of Sodom
and Gomorrha. He had come to expect complete loyalty now to the point of
martyrdom, if necessary:

     "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me:
      and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of
      me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is
      not worthy of me."
                             Matthew 10:37-38

       This attitude of self-righteousness was not unique to Jesus and his
Jewish followers. The Essenes and the Zealots also felt that their way was
the only true way, as did the followers of John the Baptizer. Like them,
Jesus saw his vision of the future of Israel, and of the world, as the ONLY
TRUE VISION! The only ones in Israel that did not share this attitude of
exclusive eschatological truth were the Pharisees. Their attitiude was one
of reserved hope, not one of dogmatic insistence. They said: "If you are
planting a tree and you hear that the messiah is coming, first finish
planting the tree, then go out and greet the messiah." In that, they
displayed a very liberal live-and-let-live attitude so typical of them.
This attitude later came to characterize all of Judaism. In contrast, the
other Jewish groups became increasingly angry, impatient, and violent under
the burden of Rome, and sought to hasten the Kingdom's coming rather than
await it.

       Upon hearing of John's death, Jesus' angry outburst revealed
that he too was becoming impatient with the Kingdom's delay.

     "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of
      heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force."
                           Matthew 11:12-13

       Both John and Jesus had prophesied that the Kingdom was imminent,
and now John's death should signal its beginning. Yet the unbelief and
unrepentance of the people were hindering its arrival, and especially of
those to whom the gospel message had been carried.

     "Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty
      works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Cho-
      razin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which
      were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would
      have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto
      you, It shall be tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of
      judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted
      unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty
      works which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it
      would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it
      shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodomin the day of judg-
      ment, than for thee."
                             Matthew 11:20-24

       Those who would not follow his vision were to be doomed:

     "But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous gener-
      ation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to
      it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas ... The men of Nineveh
      shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn
      it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold,
      a greater than Jonas is here."
                             Matthew 12:39,41

       One can imagine the bitter disappointment that Jesus must have felt
when, not only was the majority of the Jewish people not receptive to his
message, but when some who had initially followed him later turned away
from him, either out of impatience at disappointed hopes or because they
were unable to sustain the austerity he demanded. It is the pain of this
disappointment that Jesus expressed to his disciples in the Parable of the
Sower, in which he tells of a man who went out to sow seeds upon the earth.

     "And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side,
      and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some
      fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and im-
      mediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But
      when the sun was up, it was scortched; and because it had no
      root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the
      thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit ... The
      sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where
      the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immedi-
      ately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
      And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who,
      when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with glad-
      ness; and have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a
      time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the
      word's sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they
      which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares
      of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of
      other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh un-
                           Mark 4:4-7;14-19

       Now the disciples heard about the death of John at the hands of
Herod, and how Herod was comparing Jesus to him. Therefore Jesus retired
to the wilderness with them, along with a crowd of Jews who followed them.
After they had been there a time, Jesus sent his disciples to Bethsaida to
await him there while he retreated to the mountains. Again, aftre some time
had passed, he rejoined them at Bethsaida, but because they still felt
unsafe, anxious about being arrested by the authorities, they crossed over
the border into Phoenicia (Lebanon), and soujourned awhile in Tyre and
Sidon. This is the first we hear that Jesus actually stepped foot outside
the Holy Land.

       It was during his stay in Sidon that he had the famous encounter
with the Syro-Phoenician woman. Mark describes it as follows:

     "For a certain woman, whose daughter had an unclean spirit, heard
      of him, and came and fell at his feet: The woman was a Greek, a
      Syro-phenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast
      forth the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said unto her. Let
      the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the
      children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. And she answered
      and said unto him, Yes, lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of
      the children's crumbs. And he said unto her, For this saying go
      thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter."
                     Mark 7:25-29

       There is no need for this story to appear in the gospels, which are
completely out of sync with the xenophobic attitude expressed by Jesus,
unless the story is true, and comes from a very early source. The story
appears in the Gospel According To St. Mark, the earliest of the four
gospels. When we also realize that Mark's gospel was intended to distance
early gentile Christianity, in the minds of its adherents, from its Jewish
source, its is remarkable that a vignette so distainfull to non-Jews should
appear in it. Jesus' attitude toward the Syro-Phoenician woman is just
another confirmation, as far as I am concerned, that his sympathies were
with the Zealots, and that he was not the loving pacifist that Christianity
makes him out to have been. It was typical of the Zealots, in their hatred
of Greeks and Romans, to refer to gentiles as "dogs" which is what Jesus
did to the unfortunate woman in the story. He only relents and heals her
daugter AFTER she herself agrees with his judgment by a self-denigrating
remark that as a dog, she is entitled to "eat crumbs". A contrast to the
attitude of Jesus can be found in the writings of the Pharisees. The
Pharisees show that they felt compassion and love for gentiles, and Jesus
himself taunts them with the observation that they travel over "sea and
land" to try to bring gentiles to Judaism (Matthew 23:15), while Jesus
admonished his disciples to avoid talking to gentiles (Matthew 10:6).

       Although Jesus' fame had preceeded him, he did not wish to dwell
outside of the Land of Israel any longer than necessary, and when a
sufficient amount of time had passed, and he felt it was safe, he and the
disciples returned, passing through the cities of the Decapolis, where it
was least likely that the Herodians would look for him. They then took
their course through Dalmanutha (which some identify with Magdala on the
western side of Kinneret), and finally returned to Bethsaida.

       Not long after this, Jesus again felt the need to keep on the move,
and now he decided to go to Caesaria Philippi, located at the modern site
of Banyas, near the Syrian border. There they remained for some time in
seclusion, not actively preaching, but just resting and deliberating what
their next move would be. It was here in the restful, carefree atmosphere
of the natural springs and the the untroubled country side that a decisive
change occurred in Jesus' understanding of of himself and his mission. To
begin with, after the passing of John, he had looked upon himself as the
new messenger of the gospel of the coming Kingdom of G-d, taking up John's
work among the Jewish masses, calling them to repentance and preparing them
for the Kingdom. Then he gradually began to regard himself not only as the
MESSENGER of the Kingdom but its PROPHET!. Now, after nearly three years of
preaching to the Jewish masses and trying to prepare themn to meet the
messiah, years in which the waitingmust have become frustrating, and years
in which he appeared to be retreating more and more, he sought a more
logical and aggressive route to the completion of his ministry. To con-
tinue to prophesy about the coming Kingdom was no longer satisfactory to
him. In some way, he must set it in motion, he must strive to bring it
about. He could no longer bear to promise his people and end to their
suffering; he must accomplish that end. So the day came, there in Caesaria
Philippi, when he asked his disciples the fatefull question,

     "Whom do men say that I am? And they answered,  John the Baptist:
      but some say, Elias; and others, One of the prophets. And he
      saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am. And Peter answereth,
      and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ."
                       Mark 8:27-29

       Matthew repeats this episode with a coda of praise from Jesus:

     "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon
      Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee,
      but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee,
      That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church;
      and the gates of hell shall not previal against it. And I will
      give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever
      thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever
      thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
                      Matthew 16:17-19

       (Whether this response of Jesus is historical or not, the words
have been used as the foundation for the belief that Peter had been
especially designated to be the special lieutenant of Jesus in terms
of disciple leadership, and after Jesus' death, he indeed did become
one of the "pillars of the church", that is to say, a sort of temporary
succesor to Jesus in the early Nazarene movement. In the Roman Catholic
tradition, he is regarded as the first Pope of Rome.)

       Now at last, what had been silent within them for so long, re-
ceived vocal expression, and once having been spoken, the words could not
be recalled, and the words assumed a life of their own. Those closest to
Jesus, inspired by his charisma and the love he showed to them, and the
hope with which he had imbued them for so long, declared him their king,
and the king of all Israel. To them, Jesus would be the true king in G-d's
Kingdom, to overthrow the false king in Rome, and to lead his people out of
Roman bondage as surely as Moses had led them out of Egyptian bondage. But
this redemption would be an everlasting redemption for Israel, and
ultimately for the world. One can imagine the feeling of over-whelming
relief they felt now that the word had been spoken. This was the real good
news. No longer were Jesus and his Jewish folowers merely to carry the
gospel to the people. They were to be the instrument of its realization.
Now there was no longer any need to run away from Herod and the Romans. Now
instead of retreating, they would march directly into the enemy camp and
fight the battle of the L--d and of Israel. These simple men of Galilee
would do what their fathers and brothers and sons had died to see done.
Judas the Galilean and all the other holy martyrs would be justified. The
endless crucifixions which had lined the towns and fields of Galilee
would not have been in vain.

       Yet as excited as Jesus must have been at this prospect, he was
also realistic enough to realize that the accomplishment of G-d's de-
sign would not be simple. There would be sacrifices. Those who followed
him in the path now would have to be willing to suffer martrydom to see
the final blessed end of this evil age and the downfall of Satan and
his minions.

     "And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples
      also, he said unto them, Whomsoever will come after me, let him
      deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever
      will save his life shall lose it; but whoseoever shall lose his
      life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it ...
      And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some
      of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till
      they have seen the kingdom of G-d come with power."
                         Mark 8:34-35;9:1

       Jesus and the disciples remained in Caesaria Philippi for about a
week after this, and then they returned to Capernaum. Jesus now no longer
seemed disheartened by the fact that he was not being universally
accepted as messiah by the Jewish people. He probably felt that in time,
they would come to the realization of who he was just as his own disciples
had done. In the meantime, he welcomed every positive report he heard
concerning the popular attitude towerd him.

     "And John (son of Zebedee) answered him, saying, Master, we saw
      one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and
      we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, For-
      bid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miraclein my
      name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not
      against us is on our part."
                         Mark 9:38-40  (also Luke 9:50)

       It was at this time that an incident occurred which high-lighted
Jesus' disdain of the Roman oppression of his people in an open act of
rebellion against the oppressors:

     "And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute
      money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?
      He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus pre-
      vented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? Of whom do the
      kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children,
      or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of stramgers. Jesus saith
      unto him, Then are the children free."
                          Matthew 17:24-26

       It is this historical sentiment of Jesus, shining through the
Christological, editorial overlayers of the Gospel text, revealing a Jesus
who was NOT the pacific Christ that traditional churches made him out to
be, that belies the late, over-quoted, pro-Roman, appologetic verse in Luke
20:25, as if any Palestinian Jew of the first century of the Common Era
ever COULD advise his fellow countrymen to render anything at all to
Caesar without appearing to be the grossest kind of Benedict Arnold. Here
we see then the  real man from Nazareth who undertook the fatefull jouney
which dramatically changed the course of human history.

       And now, Jesus told his disciples that he had made the decision
to go up to Jerusalem and there reveal himself as messiah. He would now
carry his ministry out of Galilee down into the heart of Israel, and in
G-d's own Holy City, confront the enemy and vanquish him.

       This time, resolute in their convictions and unafraid, they entered
a Samaritan village, something a Jew would imperil himself by doing.
Naturally the Samaritans were less than cordial to a group of Jews on their
way to Jerusalem which the Samaritans considered to be the impostor rivalto
their own holy city of Shechem. Thereupon the sons of Zebedee wished to
wreck upon the Samaritan town for the insult to their master: "Lord, wilt
thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even
as Elias did?" (Luke 9:54). This is a euphemism asshown by the mention of
the name of Elijah; Elijah is identified with Phineas the zealot, and it
is certain that the "sons of wrath" wished to practice their own brand of
zealotry in "bringing down fire" upon that Samaritan town. However Jesus
would not allow this impractical waste of energy (but later he himself
said: "I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be
already kindled?" - Luke 12:49), and they continuedon their way to Judea.
On route, they encountered a man who wished to join them. Jesus' response
to him shows that his fame had already made his situation precarious
vis-a-vis the authorities:

     "And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air
      have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head."
                          Luke 9:59

       Moreover, as if fate would re-enforce what he had told his
disciples about the possibility of facing martyrdom before the final
battle with the enemies of G-d, some of his followers brought him dis-
tressing news:

     "There were present at that season some that told him of the
      Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacri-
                          Luke 13:1

       Nevertheless, he remained optimistic, believing that the days of the
kingdom of Arrogance were numbered, telling his disciples of his vision:
"And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scor- pions, and
over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you."
(Luke 10:18-19).

       With hope in their hearts and full confidence in their G-d who had
redeemed their ancestors from Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece,
and now shortly from Rome, Jesus and his Jewish followers marched southward
to the City of G-d, to redeem Israel and all mankind with her. There he
would keep his appointment with destiny and with history, and he would
carry the world and the future with him, although not in the way he then
believed he was doing.

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