Having a precious jewel in one’s possession sounds great, the problem is holding onto the jewel.
Unfortunately, after I spent some quality time with Jesus that day, I kept running into what I will call the committee.
Those surrounding Jesus were a mixed bunch of people. There was an outer core of James, his brother, Mary (another Mary), his mother along with assorted cousins and half brothers and half sisters. There was also this Simon person. They also called him Rocky or Peter as a nickname, perhaps as an invention of sarcasm. It takes intelligence to understand and appreciate the dark humor of sarcasm. I learned that well from my Greek plays, especially the more formal comedies. In any case, sarcasm was completely lost on this Simon person. And lost on James too as well I might add. These were the original ones of his hard core
This outer core, with the exception of Rocky, were all family. This family did not seem to be a very close family that I could see.
The closest circle were what I called the worldly ones. They were Matthew the tax collector, and two brothers James (another James) and John.
James and John, the brothers, were called the “sons of thunder”. Whenever they were around, their loudness and boyish enthusiasm centered all attention about themselves and the subjects that they were to talk about or address.
When one brother spoke or preached, the other usually joined in to accent a point of conversation or start a play on words. And there were many words to choose from with many local dialects. In a way, if James got silence on any given line of a preaching idea and it went dead in the faces of the local native, it was John that then threw in an assortment of words, local, Hebrew, Greek, Latin or even Persian to finally get a response on the faces of those being preached to.
If I had not known differently I would have thought these two were theatre folk doing short comedies and using plays on words as comedic technique to emphasize some fact stated. That and using their gesture of the hands waving or slapping each other in the chest as each made points to a story or a debate within a story. They had the talent but not the polish of the theatre people I had recently met and associated with.
All in all, the best of them, this Jesus crowd, had a country bumpkin air about them. Even if the sophisticated
Jerusalem urban types would see this country cousin veneer, some could see through to the strength, self confidence and even arrogance of the northern Galilee local culture in these two brothers.
Even Jesus with his charisma could not compete with their energy and this horsing around of James and John once it was ignited. The only time I saw Jesus laugh was when James and John got together into their verbal mischief and childish pranks. It was they who went ahead of the group and scouted out any town or village that would be willing to welcome Jesus as a visiting preacher.
This Matthew, James and John sub-committee were also the one time followers of the martyred John the Baptist figure.
I have heard lately that Jesus was supposed to have been a cousin of this Baptist fellow. I heard no such thing when I first encountered Jesus.
The next layer surrounding Jesus had to do with the rabbis and scholarly crowd.
It was here that Jesus was most successful. His knowledge of most of the Jewish sacred and semi-sacred texts was phenomenal. He had a perfect memory.
I understood from my old friend Hiram that there were many sacred Jewish texts floating around. Some cults were focused on one or two ancient books. Only a handful of scholars had any idea what the true inventory of sacred books was in the Jewish culture.
There was something Jesus had once disclosed to me. As a recognized child prodigy with a perfect memory, he was made to recite volume after volume of Jewish law. In fact, Jesus looked back with regret. His name and fame as a child was that of someone more like a freak going from town to town and from synagogue to synagogue for a small fee or donation.
Jesus wept. He felt that he had been denied a childhood because of his talents. And like many children denied a childhood, he had seen too much of the complex and many times corrupt workings of the adult world.
Let us get back to the committee…
For more sample chapters:
Good News of Miriam