Jesus meets the Zebedee family.
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 house.
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 Peter’s 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, etc.
“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 zealot.”
“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 all, either.
Jesus accepted joyously, and also accepted the invitation to spend the night in Zebedee’s 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 expectations.
That is today’s story. If you agree, we will continue tomorrow. I wish you a happy day, and God bless you.
© Copyright is asserted in this message by Geoff Cutler 2013