This man. Jesus.
“Men of Isra’el! Listen to this! Yeshua from Natzeret (Jesus from Nazareth) was a man demonstrated to you to have been from God by the powerful works, miracles and signs that God performed through him in your presence. You yourselves know this. This man was arrested in accordance with God’s predetermined plan and foreknowledge; and, through the agency of persons not bound by the Torah, you nailed him up on a stake and killed him!
“But God has raised him up and freed him from the suffering of death; it was impossible that death could keep its hold on him.
Acts 2:22-24 (CJB)
As Oak Hills embarks on a series on the miracles of Jesus, I too want to take a closer look at this man, the one we call Savior, Messiah, the Christ. But I’d like to get up close and personal, to see the dust he raises as he walks, to see the sweat upon his brow, to see the emotion in his eyes. I’d like to hear to hear the murmurs, the cries, the arguments of the crowds. I’d like to see the miracles, talk to those Jesus healed, touch their healed bodies, hear their testimonies, and wonder at it all.
Yeshua (Jesus) went about all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and weakness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harried and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 9:35-36 (CJB)
I follow from a distance. For what would this Rabbi, this healer, this prophet have with me? But I, I want what he had to offer. So I follow. I have followed him from one little town to the next. Down dusty roads. Up steep inclines. Through ravines. Across rocky terrain. And I’m not the only one. With each town, this man, Jesus, adds to the number of people following after him.
If news of his arrival reaches the town before he does, which is often the case, the crowds come out to greet him. I usually find a place, something I can climb up, somewhere I see over the mass of humanity and watch. They bring with them everyone who is ill, those suffering from various diseases and pains, and even the demon possessed.
And he stops. He listens to each one. He touches them. And it happens. I’ve seen it. A lame man walks. A blind woman sees. A child with a withered hand is made whole. Even the ones tormented by evil spirits are freed. So many. So many. It’s amazing to watch.
I squint my eyes in the hot afternoon sun, shading them with a grimy hand, trying to get a glimpse of him through the swarming, pressing crowds. Several of his disciples stand around him and urge the people to leave some room, to keep a space cleared for him, to provide a place where he can teach. But the people are desperate. They are lost, overwhelmed, hurting, sick, broken, hopeless. And his words have Life. Power. Promise. So, they press in.
This town is different than the others. Natzeret. The crowds say its where he grew up. Surely the people must be excited to have him home. Undoubtedly they will have some sort of feast in his honor. Certainly he will do great things here.
He is speaking, but in this place, unlike the hillside outside the last town, his words do not carry enough for me to hear so far away. Against my better judgment, I slip between those in front of me. For my efforts I receive a jostle, an elbow in the face, a shove backward. But I’m not angry. They suspect who I am. And if they don’t, I know they, like me, must also want what he has to offer.
I cast a quick glance around the area, then scramble up and perch on the side of a nearby cart. I can see better, but instead of hearing him, I only hear the murmurs of those around me.
“Where do this man’s wisdom and miracles come from?” one man asks. But it’s skepticism in his voice, not curiosity.
“Isn’t he the carpenter’s son?” a young woman comments.
An older woman nods. “Isn’t his mother called Miryam? and his brothers Ya‘akov, Yosef, Shim‘on and Y’hudah?”
Heads bob up and down. And another woman adds, with a sweep of her hands toward a young women standing with a couple of older girls. “And his sisters, aren’t they all with us?”
A older man crosses his arms and glares toward Jesus and his disciples. “So where does he get all this?”
The murmurs work their way forward, jumping from lips to lips, until they reach the front.
From my adventageous position, I see him with a furrowed brow. He slowly turns, eyes moving from face to face. “Who will come?” he calls.
The crowd buzzes, but no one steps forward, no one cries out.
No one? No lame? No deaf? No demon possessed? Don’t they want healed? Don’t they want what he has to offer?
With a visible sigh, he shakes his head. “The only place people don’t respect a prophet is in his home town and in his own house.”
The crowd buzzes all the more loudly, like a swarm of angry bees. He says nothing more. He leaves, followed only by his disciples, and heads into town.
As the crowd disperses, I remain where I am. And I wonder.
Why could this man not perform any miracles in this place?
Grace & Peace