The miracle at Naym.
March 4th, 2002
Received by H.
My dear brother,
To begin this message, I just want to remind you of the news you heard today. In your country, an ex-commander of the police, a retired general, was murdered. Three thieves assaulted and robbed some peasants, who in turn went for help to this man. He pursued the criminals in what he considered his duty, and was killed by gunshot.
So often you complain about the police, you call them corrupt and inept. However in real life there are no black and white pictures. Do not criticize what you do not know. The only life that you know is yours. If you want to criticize, start there. But even in this case, do not criticize just for criticizing, but for improving and growing.
However, this is not the topic of today’s message. I wish to continue with the story of Jesus’ life. The wedding at Cana did not last just one day, as was the norm. We slept several nights in the ample house of Nathanael, having fun from sunrise to sunset. Finally, the moment came to say good-bye.
We did not return to Kpar Nahum, but we accompanied Jesus’ family to Nazareth. There I came to know Joseph’s house and prosperous workshop. We stayed one night as their guests in an atmosphere of hospitality, but on the following day, something unexpected happened.
In the Gospel according to Matthew 13:55, you can read:
And He came into His own country and proceeded to teach in their synagogue, so that they were filled with astonishment and exclaimed, “Where did he obtain such wisdom, and these wondrous powers? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers, James, Joseph, Simon and Judah? And his sisters — are they not all living here among us? Where then did he get all this?”
So they turned angrily away from Him. But Jesus said to them, “There is no prophet without honor except in his own country and among his own family.” And He performed but few mighty deeds there because of their want of faith.
You thought that this referred to Jesus’ discourse in the synagogue, where he proclaimed himself the Messiah, but in fact, here two very similar events are mixed.
The unexpected incident of the following day was simply that Jesus went out to the street and began to preach, in spite of his prior painful experience. And one more time, people faced him with rejection, incredulity and indifference. They began to insult him, and Jesus repeated almost the same words, that is, that a prophet is not accepted in his own country. And the crowd grew furious. They even brought a paralytic and ordered him to heal him, but Jesus showed not the slightest intent. He would not have been able to succeed, as you can understand now.
Almost the same scene repeated as on that Saturday in the synagogue, but this time, Joseph and his family and Jesus’ few friends came running and were not silent, defending the Master. And then Joseph said: “Leave him alone, don’t you see that he is crazy?” And all laughed with malice and went away.
[H.: Did Joseph really think so?]
He was not sure what to think of Jesus. He said this to save the situation, to calm down the tumult and to avoid bloodshed. But in fact, it was a reflection of his doubts and of his internal struggle. Well, he himself had experienced the events in Bethlehem that made him suffer one decade of exile in Egypt; he himself had tried to educate Jesus so that he could fulfill his function as the Messiah; he himself had inculcated his other children with the idea that Jesus would be the Messiah. And now Jesus simply did not comply with the ideas and concepts Joseph had developed. He doubted himself, the world, and Jesus. In other words, he was hopelessly confused.
Jesus looked at his father with sad eyes, and Joseph turned his head, avoiding his son’s look, and returned to his house. Then the Master asked his brothers James and Judas, “Do you still want to follow me?” They hesitated for a moment, exchanging glances, but finally they agreed. And so, we left Nazareth, without farewell and under the mocking laughs of the crowd that observed us.
The question is, whether Jesus had really acted with imprudence, or perhaps, his acting was the consequence of his nature, of always giving another chance, of never surrendering, as if a voice in him had called ceaselessly: “Don’t give up!”
We did not return to Kpar Nahum, but Jesus headed south. There, under the open sky, we camped some miles from Nazareth. We sat around the campfire, and Jesus spoke to us of the Kingdom of Heaven. He was not dismayed, but I know that deep inside he felt very sad.
On the following day, we arrived at a village called Nayn, near Mount Tabor, whose cone-shaped formation rose abruptly from the plains, towering majestically towards the sky.
The Bible tells us: (Luke 7:11-16)
Shortly afterwards He went to a town called Nain, attended by His disciples and a great crowd of people. And just as He reached the gate of the town, they happened to be bringing out for burial a dead man who was his mother’s only son; and she was a widow; and a great number of the townspeople were with her. The Lord saw her, was moved with pity for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then He went close and touched the bier, and the bearers halted. “Young man,” He said, “I command you, wake!” The dead man sat up and began to speak; and He restored him to his mother.
All were awe-struck, and they gave glory to God — some saying, “A Prophet, a great Prophet, has risen up among us.” Others said, “God has not forgotten His People.” And the report of what Jesus had done spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding districts.
And so it happened. You can also imagine the awe we felt. Jesus had raised a person from the dead! That was something unheard of, something wonderful, yes, a true miracle, unbeatable!
Of course, you understand that the young man was not dead. He lay prostrate in a deep coma, a case very similar to that of Lazarus or of Tabitha. You remember that once you saw on television, how more than one century ago they installed in the central cemetery of Vienna, an ingenious system, so that those buried ones could get the attention of the cemetery guards. Everybody was afraid at that time of being buried alive. That happened relatively frequently.
And Jesus saw that the young man was not dead, and he healed him. There is no doubt about it, his healing powers were enormous — and they still are, in fact even greater now.
Soon afterwards the funeral procession transformed into a great feast, with us as the guests of honor. Do you remember what I have told you of the ups and downs in life, of this roller coaster that first takes us up high, and then puts us down?
This event that is related only in passing in the New Testament actually was the key for the future development of Jesus’ ministry. Due to this feat, Jesus’ next visit to Nazareth would be very different, and very soon we could feel its effect.
However, there was also an immediate consequence. After having spent the night in the village, welcomed by grateful people, on the following morning when we got ready to leave, this young man approached the Master, asking him for permission to follow him. And Jesus granted it to him.
His name was Taddi bar Levi, and he is the apostle Thaddaeus, who is only mentioned twice in the Bible, in the listings of the apostles. Don’t get confused. Taddi was not Lebbaeus, and the mess with the names is due to the fruitless effort of the editors of the Scriptures to reconcile a relatively long list of the Master’s close followers with the number twelve, the symbol of the tribes of Israel. Now you can read that “it is supposed, comparing the lists of apostles, that Judas, Thaddaeus and Lebbaeus are one and the same person.” Yes, it is supposed, however, it is not correct.
Now we were already a considerable group of people that walked through Galilee, preaching the Kingdom of God: The Master, Andrew, Simon Kefa (Peter), John, James, Simon the Zealot, Philip, Matthew, I Judas, Nathanael, James Lebbaeus and Judas, Jesus’ brothers, and finally Thaddaeus. Now you can count twelve people besides the Master, but more would join us.
We left Naym, provided with food and wine, and the Master guided us toward the imposing Mount Tabor. But of that, we will speak on another occasion.
It is time to say good-bye. You have already received a lot. Tomorrow we’ll meet again.
Until then, God bless you always,
© Copyright is asserted in this message by Geoff Cutler 2013