February 15th, 2002
Received by H.
Hello, my dear brother. As I promised you yesterday, here I am,
keen to continue my narration about how Jesus gathered his disciples. In the last installment of my story, I told you how Jesus healed
Peter's mother-in-law, and how the Barjona brothers, the sons of
Jonah, being Peter and Andrew, invited him to live with them in their
In fact the two brothers were not born in Kpar Nahum, but in another
village at the opposite shore of the lake, at Bethsaida. It is interesting
how the authors of biblical topics paint Peter as the prototype
of a Galilean, when in fact he was not at all. Bethsaida did not
belong to Galilee, but to Philip's tetrarchy. However, they spoke the same northern dialect as those "authentic"
Galileans did, and the frontier between the tetrarchies of Antipas
and Philip was like a border between provinces, since both territories
belonged to the Roman Empire.
After breakfast, Peter told Jesus that they should go aboard his
boat in order to cross the lake. He wanted to present him to some
important friends in their native village. Jesus had already heard
of a rich family that lived there, owners of several fishing boats.
And so, the three men pushed Peters boat into the water and
began to cross the short distance towards the opposite bank.
Bethsaida looked better than Kpar Nahum did. Herod Philip had this
place restored and built, and perhaps it is unfair to call it a
village. It was really a small town. The biggest house belonged
to the family of Zebedee, a wealthy man who possessed
several fishing boats, lands, olive groves, vineyards, etc. And
it was exactly to this house that Peter guided Jesus.
Zebedee was a very kind and simple man in spite of the wealth
he enjoyed. Gathering together all his family, he listened to
what Peter had to tell them. Yes, it was Peter who spoke. Andrew
had relapsed into his habitual silence. And this is not surprising,
because Peter used to talk so much that it was not necessary for anyone
else to open his mouth. He even related how John the Baptist had
declared that Jesus was the Messiah awaited by the Jews. Andrew
only agreed by nodding his head.
Zebedee sent out a message to call two friends of the family, Simon
and Philip, so that they might also listen to what Peter so eloquently
presented and to share lunch with them.
If among all the gathered people there was one who more or less
understood what the Master explained, then it was Zebedee. The others would need much time to sound the depths of the Master's elucidations. When the night approached, Zebedee took Jesus by his arm, separating
them from the others.
"Master," he said," I wish to tell you something
about two of my sons, who consider themselves disciples of John.
They have spent much time with the Baptist, and thanks to God, our
business goes well, so we can afford the luxury of offering spiritual
education to members of our family. But in fact, things have a much
more complicated background..."
Zebedee told how his two sons James and John had come ever closer
to the ideology of the zealots, those militant radicals, whose goal
was the expulsion of the Romans from Palestine and the re-establishment
of a theocracy among the Jews. As Zebedee explained, he also agreed
with this desire, but what he could not tolerate were the methods
they used. The zealot movement had degenerated into groups of bandits
of all levels, who sowed terror, not only among the foreigners,
but also among their own people, often murdering people for personal
reasons, to get rich, to win favors, for whatever reason,
disguising these acts as political murders, presenting false accusations,
Nothing good can be born from evil, Zebedee mused.
"And I have spent a lot of effort to convince my sons that
this was not the way they should choose. Many people here in our
town have joined these radical groups secretly. Fortunately,
it seems I have been able to take my sons out of this dangerous
current and to awaken in them a spiritual interest, wherefrom the
good really may be born."
He related that his sons James and John were very impulsive, as
easily inflammable as matches, as you would say today, and for that
reason people had nicknamed them "Boanerges", or "sons
of the thunder." Also the two other guests, Simon and Philip,
had belonged to radical groups, but in the same way as the "Boanerges",
they had been able to cut off their bonds with evil and awaken in
them some spiritual interest. They still used to call Simon the
"I do not know, Master," he continued," if you accept
disciples. But if you do, I would feel honored if you would accept
my two sons, and also Simon and Philip. I have talked with them,
and I know that it is their desire to follow you. And I am convinced
that if they have found righteousness in the Baptist, in you they
will find perfection."
He was wrong, poor Zebedee. They would find much more than perfection.
I have said that, if among all the gathered people there was one
who more or less understood what the Master explained, then it was
Zebedee. I said "more or less", because he did not understand
Jesus accepted joyously, and also accepted the invitation to spend
the night in Zebedees house.
Now he had six disciples, Andrew, Peter, James, John, Simon and
Philip. Using modern words, we could say that they were four former
terrorists, whose instruction would be very difficult, and two fishermen,
whose ideas lacked a little of their friends radical concepts.
And when he went to bed, Jesus smiled thinking of the first lesson
he would impart to them on the following day.
Meanwhile, Peter's mother-in-law told everybody of her miraculous
healing, informing all those who wanted to hear it, and all the others
as well. Jesus' fame grew overnight in Kpar Nahum. Jesus created
That is today's story. If you agree, we will continue
tomorrow. I wish you a happy day, and God bless you.