A Disciple’s Diary, Entry 2 of 7

Note: For Easter Week, based on the canonical gospel accounts and, particularly John 20, my imagined journal entries in an equally imaginary recently discovered mid-first century manuscript, translated from the original Aramaic, of a previously unknown and yet unnamed follower of Jesus of Nazareth.

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I cannot…I will not believe it! All of the good Jesus said. And did. Still, they killed him!

If only they beheld and believed the beauty of his nobility. And his humility. How he took time with people. Always. Blessing children. Always. Honoring women. Always. Greeting strangers. Always. Welcoming sinners. Always. Healing the sick. Always. Seeking the least, the last, the lost. Always.

And more! When we followed him to Bethany, there, he raised Lazarus from the grave! Until, then, I thought I had seen everything!

And, oh, what a teacher! Jesus taught not with the rote repetition of the scribes, but with internal, heavenly-conferred authority. And his parables! Camels and needles, sheep and goats, fig trees and vineyards, wheat and weeds, Pharisees and Publicans, prodigal sons and good Samaritans… All well-known images and ideas. Yet, from his mind and heart to his lips, elevated to the height of holy revelation! Incredibly, I remember each story. Each detail. Each point!

And never had I heard anyone preach like Jesus! As with his teaching, he spoke with authority. Like a prophet. From God’s mouth into Jesus’ ear and out of his mouth. Nay! Jesus spoke not only with authority, but with spontaneity. As if God’s word was coming straight up from the depths of his heart…his viscera. When he spoke, he turned God’s Law upside down. Nay! Inside out. Opening the Commandments to newer, truer interpretation. And opening us to deeper comprehension.

I remember when Jesus stood on the mount. A great crowd surrounding him. He amazed us all! “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” he said, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I did not and do not understand it completely. Though one thing I believe I know. Truest happiness is not about possessing all things, but only one thing. A heart for God.

This is the same lesson Jesus sought to teach that rich man who came to him inquiring about eternal life. “Go, sell everything,” Jesus told him, “give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” That man went away sad. It seemed to me earthly and perishable wealth meant more to him than heavenly everlasting treasure. In this one sense, I am blessed to be poor. For I need not…I need never worry about having to choose between the two!

I remember when the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus, asking whether it was lawful for a Jew to pay taxes to the emperor. Jesus, as always, answered a question with a question. Then took the dialogue to a higher – from a worldly to a spiritual – plane. Arguing not about earthly legalities, but affirming eternal loyalties. Jesus took a Roman coin – which he did not possess, rather asking and receiving the denarius from the pockets and hands of the Pharisees, thus, without a word, fingering them as participants in the greedy economics of the Empire! – and said, “Give to the emperor what belongs to the emperor and give to God what belongs to God.”

The Pharisees did not welcome Jesus’ teaching, hating him all the more.

© 2021 PRA

2 thoughts on “A Disciple’s Diary, Entry 2 of 7

  1. Paul,
    I love everything about this post. I never understood “Blessed are the poor in spirit” fully either. My spirit is always strong, but I’m certainly not rich in money. I have given away or sold so much of my life to fit into my current space, and I couldn’t be happier. Why did I have all that stuff anyway?? Jesus had so little, yet was an extraordinary human being, but as you pointed out, he was killed anyway. I have all the money I need, and thankfully have some left each month to give to others less fortunate. But I often feel like I should be doing more …but I do believe I’m doing what is asked of me “Give to the emperor what belongs to the emperor and give to God what belongs to God.
    Love

    Like

    1. Loretta, manifold are the interpretations of any…all scripture. In this sense, I think, there is and can be no right or wrong. Nevertheless, the value of being in community, I believe, when it comes to biblical interpretation, is that I no longer can hold my own view as “the” view, even for me. For I need…desire to put my perceptions side-by-side with those of others with whom I share the Christian pilgrimage, so to avail myself to a wider…the widest possible point of observation and comprehension.

      All this said, when I contemplate afresh Jesus’ teaching, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, ” I think of that state of my life, my being when I was (and am!) deeply aware of my lack…my poverty, my inability to see and know all things, my incapacity to fend and care for myself always. And, in the utmost case, my powerlessness to procure for myself my salvation — my rescue from myself, aye, my self and the inherent selfishness, the sin of my self-interest. In my poverty of spirit, I, by faith, know that I can and will trust God to provide all things that I lack. Therefore, if…when I act righteously on my poverty by surrendering myself, my self to God, then I know, also by faith, that the kingdom of God (God’s Self, God’s life) is mine to possess by grace.

      Love

      Like

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