“Show Us A Sign”; Learning Under Jesus

Note: This series is written as a first-person narrative in order to present Jesus in the context he walked with the unknown disciple that narrates presenting my thoughts and sparking more thoughts with his questions. Enjoy.

The Pharisees and teachers stared at Jesus, somewhat arrogantly saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”

Shocked, I thought to myself, he had just healed a guy in front of them. They seriously want a ‘sign’?

Jesus wasn’t amused. He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.

Inside I cheered as a few of the other disciples chuckled quietly. The Ninevites repented at Jonah’s preaching, not from seeing him get eaten. The Queen of the South was impressed by King Solomon’s wisdom, not a sign. Tradition has it God will allow the unrepentant no excuse on the day of judgment since others repented with less information.

“Greater than Jonah or Solomon…,” one Pharisee stammered.

Jesus continued, “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.

Yeah! Jesus turned the tables on them. They accused him of acting by Satan while he drove out demons and he says they’re allowing them to come back. Who’s acting by Satan now?

Someone ran up to Jesus with a message…

Matthew 12: 38-45
Jonah 3:10-4:2
1 Kings 10:1-13

Who Let Her In Here; Learning Under Jesus

Note: This series is written as a first-person narrative in order to present Jesus in the context he walked with the unknown disciple that narrates presenting my thoughts and sparking more thoughts with his questions. Enjoy.

We had been invited to a banquet, and by ‘we’, I mean Jesus. We get to tag along and get a free meal. It was hosted by a local Pharisee named Simon.

When we arrived at his home, I looked around for water to wash the dust off my feet. Jesus was only shown the way to the table where others were stretched out. There were none of the basic courtesies for guests or teachers. A rabbi staying or eating with you is considered a great honor.

While we were eating, a woman slipped in and stood behind Jesus with tears streaming down her face. Jesus reclined with one arm propping him up and the other one was free to reach for his food. His feet were stretched out behind him.

The crowd was silent, save for the weeping woman, whose tears began to fall and hit Jesus’ feet. She knelt, tenderly wiping them away with her hair. Then she kissed them, and pulled out an alabaster jar of perfume, broke it open, and poured the contents on his feet.

Simon was turning red, and while Jesus watched her I heard Simon say to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

Jesus looked at him. “Simon, I have something to tell you.

Simon, choking back a bit of his arrogance, replied, “Tell me, teacher.”

Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?

“500 denarii,” I thought. That’s more than a year’s wages. You could go to jail or be forced to sell yourself into bond slavery to pay that back.

Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Jesus looked towards the woman while still talking to Simon. “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.

Simon didn’t take that very well. He turned red, not expecting to be called out for his inhospitality or to be used as a negative example.

Jesus sat up, meeting the woman on her level. “Your sins are forgiven.

The table grew loud. “Who is this who even forgives sins?” “Only God can forgive sins.” What’s he doing?” “This is blasphemy!”

Jesus, ignoring them, reached up and wiped her tears away, saying, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.

When we left, Jesus led us from town to town while he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God. We twelve were with him, some other men, and a few women, all who Jesus had helped cure of illnesses and demon spirits.

Mary, also known as Magdalene, had seven evil spirits cast out. Then there was Joanna, wife of Chuza the manager of King Herod’s household, and a woman named Susanna, among others. They weren’t just following Jesus, but also supporting him through their money.

It’s not unknown or that rare to have female benefactors. I had heard more than one critic complain about it. Even doing good and healing people will still get you criticized. These ladies were all in though.

Luke 7:36-8:3

Eating With Sinners; Learning Under Jesus

Note: This series is written as a first-person narrative in order to present Jesus in the context he walked with the unknown disciple that narrates presenting my thoughts and sparking more thoughts with his questions. Enjoy.

While walking down the streets of Capernaum listening to Jesus teach, I sense one of the disciples tense up. Looking to see who it was, I discovered it was Simon the Zealot. He was staring at a booth not that far off.

“Traitor,” his voice filled with anger.

I looked, it was a tax collector. He appeared to be a fellow Jew which means he was working with the Roman Empire. They would even pat people down to see if they were withholding.

“That’s Matthew,” Peter told us. I thought I may have seen him come hear Jesus teach. I wondered what Jesus thought.

Jesus stopped us in front of the booth. Was this going to be a lesson on contrasts? Some rabbis compare good law-keeping Pharisees against tax collectors in moral teaching.

Follow me.
“What,” we collectively whispered.

Then without hesitation, Matthew got up, left his job and joined us. While they talked, I wondered why Jesus had asked a tax collector to follow him. I barely heard Matthew invite us to eat at his home the next night.

When the following day arrived, we walked in to find many tax collectors and sinners already there, eating. In our culture, to eat with people was to establish a covenant of friendship. The Psalms of David warned against eating with sinners lest they corrupt you.

Pharisees standing at the door, refusing to come in, asked us, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus overheard them and answered with a remez or hint–using a part of a scripture passage, assuming we would know the rest of it to see the deeper meaning.

It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

I had heard ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’ before. It was from one of the prophets…Hosea! It’s “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”

It was directed at Israel during the last days of the northern kingdom. They were going through the motions without acknowledging God.

“What did it mean now?” I said quietly.
Another disciple answered, “God wants us, not just rituals, a right attitude with compassion for others.”

Even lowlifes apparently, I thought.

Matthew 9:9-13