And so Jesus went down to Capernaum where he had friends and disciples, and afterward His mother and His brothers went to Him there, but Nazareth knew him no more.
It was about this time that it is supposed that Jesus went alone to a religious feast at Jerusalem, and while there cured a poor man who could not walk. He lay on his mat near a spring called Bethesda. It was covered by a roof, and had five porches. Here the sick were brought by their friends that they might, when they saw the waters bubble up, step in and be cured. They believed then an angel came down and made the moving of the waters, but it was probably one of the kind called intermittent springs. There is one at Jerusalem now called the "Fountain of the Virgin" which rises at certain times.
Jesus saw the poor friendless man who had waited for thirty-eight years for the chance of stepping into the waters when they were moving, and had been disappointed for others stepped in before him. Looking at him, He said,
"Wilt thou be made whole?"
The man explained why he could not be cured, for there was no man to help him. Then Jesus said,
"Rise, take up thy bed, and walk."
He rose at once, and walked, carrying the mat on which he lay.
The Jews were angry when they heard of it for the man had been cured on the Sabbath, but Jesus told them that they were all refusing eternal life because of their unbelief, saying,
"Ye will not come unto Me that yet might have life."
AMONG THE FISHERMEN.
Capernaum was on the shore of the beautiful lake of Galilee. There were villages clustered around the lake then and all Galilee was swarming with busy life, but now there are few inhabitants, and Capernaum is only a heap of stones. Some of these stones, which may now be seen, are carved in such a way that we may know that they are a part of an ancient synagogue. This was the synagogue, perhaps, that a good Centurion built whose servant Jesus cured when he was near death, and here in Capernaum lived the nobleman whose son Jesus cured by a word, and here lived His first disciples, Peter and Andrew, and James and John, and here Matthew, who sat in his little office taking the taxes that the people had to pay, may have seen Jesus pass, and may have heard him speak before he became a disciple.
The beautiful plain of Gennesaret spreads out from one end of the lake, and there is a white beach of shells there, while at other points on the lake there are hills and great rocks close to the water.
On this white beach Jesus stood one spring morning teaching the people. As the fisher-folks and others gathered close around to hear Him, He was pushed so near the water that He stepped into Peter's boat, which was near the shore, and asked him to push it out a little way into the water, and there in the stern of the boat Jesus sat and taught the people who stood thick upon the shore.
The boat of Zebedee, the father of James and John was near by, for they were the partners of Peter and Andrew. They had washed their nets and had given up fishing until night again, for morning was not a good time for fishing, but Jesus said to Peter and Andrew,—
"Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught."
The disciples were surprised at this, for it was not the hour for fishing, and Peter said,
"Master, we have toiled all night and have taken nothing; nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net."
When they had done this they found that their nets were filled with fishes, so that they called to James and John to come and help them, for their nets were breaking. When they had emptied the nets into the two boats they were filled so full that they began to sink.
Then Peter fell down at Jesus's knees and cried out,—
"Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" so wonderful did the miracle seem to him.
But to Peter Jesus said,—
"Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men." James and John He also called, and showed them that the time had now come for them to help Him in founding the Kingdom.
They did not wait to sell the great draught of fishes that they had brought to land; and they did not wait to sell their fishing boats and nets, but they forsook all and followed Jesus. They did not know that their names would be known forever as the founders of the Christian Church with Him who was its divine Head.
THE HEALING HAND OF JESUS.
The Jewish church, or synagogue at Capernaum was very beautiful. It was of white marble, and richly carved, and was the gift of a Roman officer to the Jews.
One Sabbath morning Jesus went in and sat among the learned Rabbis, for He wished to speak to the people as He had near Nazareth. The people knew and loved him, and the place was crowded to hear Him speak. He sat there through the singing, and the prayers, and the reading.
The parchment rolls of the law and the prophets were in a case behind Him; and there was the curtain, and the branched candlesticks. Then He went to the Teacher's seat, and while all the people stood He sat and taught them. People wondered, as they always did, at his words, for they were not like the words of the Rabbis,—they were as if God Himself were speaking through a man.
In the midst of it there was a loud cry from a man who looked like a maniac. He had followed the people in, and the words of Jesus had disturbed the evil spirit that was in Him,
"Let us alone," it cried, "what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth. Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who Thou art,—the Holy One of God."
"Hold thy peace, and come out of Him," said Jesus, and the poor man fell headlong on the marble floor, but in a moment he was free, for the evil spirit had obeyed the word of Jesus, and this astonished the people so much that they told it through all the town and the country round about.
When He went home from the synagogue, for Peter's house was one of His homes, He found the mother of Peter's wife very ill of fever, and they brought Jesus to her bed. He bent over her and said some words to that which had caused the fever, and at once it was gone.
She seemed to be quite well again, and her first wish was to do something for this wonderful man whom Peter had been following, and she rose and helped to prepare food for Him.
The people did not dare to come to Jesus for healing while it was yet the Sabbath, for the Rabbis said it was wrong to cure people on the Sabbath day, but as soon as the sun had set the Sabbath ended, and then the streets were filled with people who came for themselves, or bringing their sick friends to be touched by the hand of Jesus. All around the little house of Peter they crowded, while He walked among them looking at them with pitying love, and "He laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them."
The next morning Jesus went out among the hills alone. All day He was pressed upon by the poor, the sick, the blind, and the lame, or those who were hungry for the word, and so at night or early morning He went out to be alone, to think of the great work he had come to do, and to pray or talk to the Father, for Jesus and the Father were one. But the people followed Him, and begged him not to leave them.
"I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also," He said, "for therefore am I sent." And He took his disciples and started on a journey from village to village through Galilee. There were about two hundred of these towns, and they were near together. It was the springtime, and the fields and hills between the villages were beautiful with flowers and growing grain. Sometimes He taught in their churches, and sometimes under their trees or trellises, and wherever He went the common people heard him gladly.
Once as He drew near a town a leper followed Him. He followed Him into the town, which was against the law, for the leper was not allowed to live inside a town, or to come near the people, as the touch of a leper would give the disease to another. But so earnest was he to see Jesus that he came through the crowd and fell on his face before Jesus, saying,
"Lord if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean."
Jesus put forth His hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be thou clean."
Suddenly the leprosy left the man, and his dead and filthy skin became as healthy as a child's, and Jesus sent him to the priest to offer that which the law commanded for the cleansing of lepers. It was a long, and often costly process that a leper must pass through to be cleansed from his disease, but the word of Jesus was with power, and brought divine life to take the place of death, for leprosy was a slow death.
When the Lord came back to Capernaum the people thronged Him, and when He rested in the shaded court of a friend's house it was soon filled with the eager people who longed to hear His word, or be healed by His touch.
Once it was so crowded in the court that some men, who were bringing a friend to Jesus who was helpless with palsy, took him up by the outside stairs to the housetop. There, by taking up a few tiles, they made an opening just over the place where Jesus sat, and the people soon saw the man lying on his mat before Jesus, for they had let it down by cords through the opening.
Jesus saw the faith of the four men who had let their sick friend down at His feet, and it touched His heart. He also saw the longing in the soul of the sick man to be good and pure, and He said,
"Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee."
The Scribes, who were always copying the Scriptures—for there was no printing done in those days—were always watching to hear Jesus say something contrary to the Law of Moses, that they might tell it to the priests, and some who were sitting there looked at each other and said in their hearts,
"Who can forgive sins but God only?"
Jesus heard their thoughts and asked them why they reasoned in this way with themselves, and which seemed to them the easier, to forgive sins or to heal the body.
But that they might know that He had power over the body as well as the soul He said to the sick man,
"Arise; take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house."
The man rose and rolled up his mat and carried it out, the people falling back astonished to let him pass, for his palsy had left him and he walked out strong and well.
"We have seen strange things to-day," the people said among themselves for they could not understand how a man could forgive sins or heal disease.
When Jesus left the house to go down to the sea-shore He passed the Custom-house, where the tax-gatherers, or "publicans," gathered money from the Jewish people to pay to their conquerors, the Romans.
The Romans were very hard in their dealings with the Jews, and made themselves rich by taking money from the poor of their provinces.
The people did not like the tax-gatherer, and his was not a pleasant office.
Levi, also called Matthew, was a rich tax-gatherer at Capernaum, and as he sat in his office looking out upon the market-place he saw Jesus passing by. Perhaps he had often heard Jesus teach by the shore and in the market-place, and longed to follow Him. He saw the Teacher stop at his open door, and heard Him say,
That was enough; Matthew left all, rose up and followed Jesus. He had a business that made him rich, but he was ready to leave it all to be a disciple of Jesus.
He wanted all to know that he had chosen a new life, and so he gave a great dinner to his friends, and invited Jesus and His five disciples that he might confess before them all his faith in Jesus.
The Pharisees looked down upon the publicans and thought them a people unfit to associate with, and when they passed by and saw Jesus sitting in Matthew's house at the feast they asked His disciples as they went in and out why their Master ate with "publicans and sinners," a thing they felt themselves too good to do.
Jesus Himself answered them in words that have helped many sinful people to come to Him since.
"They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."
And then He turned to talk with Matthew and his friends, who listened to every word that fell from His lips, and did not try to find fault with Him as the Pharisees did.
Matthew had made a rich feast, and his table was no doubt piled with the beautiful fruits of the plain of Gennesaret, but the eyes of all and the thoughts of all were fixed upon the wonderful Teacher, and Matthew, the publican, who had become His disciple.
FRIENDS OF JESUS.
Jesus had a good and true reason for choosing just twelve men to help Him to begin to build the first Christian Church, or the Kingdom of Heaven on the earth. We cannot yet understand the reason for everything He did, but quite enough to help us to believe in Him, and to give us a place in His kingdom. He had called half that number and soon He called six more to join them, and named them apostles.
Before He called them He went up into a mountain to be alone. He left Capernaum and went up through a rocky vale to a high plain where the grass lay thick and the wild flowers were coming up among it, for it was spring-time. Two hills, or peaks rose out of this plain, and there was a grassy hollow between. They were called the "Horns of Hattin." From one of these hills Jesus could see the lake with its cities, and the plain dotted with villages below, and beyond them the great Mount Hermon crowned with snow. Here Jesus stayed all night, and the next morning came down into the grassy dale between the peaks where the people were gathering. The disciples went to meet Him, and He told them that He had chosen twelve of them to be with Him in His work, and to preach the Good Tidings to the people.
He called to His side Peter and Andrew, and James and John—the two pairs of brothers who were His first friends; then Philip, of Bethsaida. Bartholomen, from Cana, and Matthew, the tax-gatherer of Capernaum, who afterward wrote the first gospel. He also chose Thomas, of Galilee; James and Jude, two brothers from Capernaum; Simon, of Galilee, and Judas Iscariot, who came from the country near Jerusalem. Five of these, it is said, were His cousins. More than half of them were fisherman, and none of them were learned men, unless Bartholomew might be called one. How wonderful it must have been to see these twelve earnest young men gathered around Jesus, ready to go where He should send them, or follow Him to death. No kings or emperors on earth ever had so great honor given them as that which Jesus gave to these men, for they became the Lord's spiritual brothers, and princes in His spiritual kingdom.
Then Jesus came down among the people. Some had brought sick friends up the rocky gorge for Jesus to touch; or they had brought poor souls possessed by devils for Him to set free, and He healed them all.
Then He sat down and taught the people. The sayings of that wonderful day are kept in the gospels, and are called the "Sermon on the Mount." There was no choir, no organ, no church made with hands, but the words are now read in every Christian church in the world. The preacher sat on a green hillock, His dark cloak thrown back showing His white tunic, and the spring sunshine lay on His holy, beautiful face and flowing hair. All this the people saw, but they saw much more than this. They saw something divine in His face. His form, and the light around Him, and what they heard seemed to them to be the words of a Divine Man. He looked lovingly on the little group of disciples near Him, and blessed them in beautiful words that we call the Beatitudes, or the Ten Blessings. He said to them and to us that the "blessed" (happy) are the good, humble, pure souls who have little of this world's wealth and friendship, but much faith and love.
If you will read the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of Matthew you will know much that Jesus taught that heavenly day on Hattin Mount. He taught them the law of love and forgiveness; the law of purity and truth. He taught them to be humble and simple, especially in prayer, and not like the Pharisees. He gave them a wonderful prayer that we call "the Lord's Prayer," though it is a prayer to the Lord, for all Christians in all ages to bring to Him. He told them that if they were children of God they could not be worldly, loving themselves and the world best; neither could they serve two masters. Then He taught them a beautiful lesson of trust in the Heavenly Father by pointing to the birds that flew above them, and reminding them how they were fed and cared for; and also by pointing to the wild field lilies that grew near by, their scarlet petals shining in the sun.
"Consider the lilies of the field how they grow," he said, "they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these," and then He asked them if God, who clothed the lilies, would not clothe His own children, and told them to have no fear for the future, but to seek the Kingdom of God first and always, and all needed things would be given to them.
Then He looked away from the birds and the lilies into the eyes of the people and saw their need of love and truth, for he could read their hearts. He told them that they should not judge each other, or look long upon each other's faults, but rather upon their own, and showed them how they might ask God for love and truth, and it would surely be given them, because the Heavenly Father is more just, and kind, and loving than an earthly father can be.
And here is the Golden Rule of Christ, which, if we live by it, will bring heaven down to earth.
"Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them."
He told them that the way of the world was wide, and many were crowding into it, while the heavenly way was narrow in this life, and few were finding it, though many talked much about it, and seemed to have found it. He said that it would be shown in the day when we all appear before God who has truly followed Him. He said that the true men were like the wise man who built his house upon a rock, and when the winds, the rain, and the flood came it stood fast, because it was founded on the rock; and the false were like the foolish man who built his house upon the sand, and when the winds, and the rain, and the floods came it fell, and great was the fall of it.
The people went away from this great meeting among the hills to think it over. It was so new and so wonderful, not at all like the teaching of the scribes, for the young carpenter of Nazareth spoke like a Teacher of teachers. Ever since that day when the Lord sat and taught the truths of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the people stood upon the grassy plain among the spring flowers and the wild thyme to hear his words, the Sermon on the Mount has been known as the greatest sermon the world has ever known.
THE LORD OF LIFE.
Jesus came down to Capernaum again and found the same crowds of needy people, who were like sheep having no shepherd. The rich as well as the poor had their wants and their troubles.
A good Roman officer, called a Centurion, because he was captain over a hundred men, had a servant who was so faithful to him that he was very fond of him. The servant was very sick, and when the Centurion heard that Jesus was again in Capernaum he went to the chief men of the city and asked them to get Jesus to come and cure his servant. He feared to ask the favor himself, for he thought Jesus was a Jew who would not like to have dealings with the Romans. So the Jews spoke to Jesus about it saying that the Centurion was the good man who had built a beautiful synagogue for them. Jesus did not need to be urged to be kind to a Roman for He loved all the people of the earth alike.
While He was on His way some friends of the Centurion came to meet Him with a message.
"Lord, trouble not Thyself," he said, "for I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof; Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto Thee; but say in a word and my servant shall be healed."
Jesus told the people who followed Him that He had not found such faith as this among their own people. And when the men returned to the Centurion's house they found the servant cured of his sickness.
But some of the Jews were offended because Jesus had said that a pagan Roman could have more faith than a Jew, and that they would enter the Kingdom of Heaven while the Jews would be left out.
The next day Jesus and His disciples went to a little city called Nain, set up among the hills, more than twenty miles away. When they were near the city gate they met a funeral procession coming out. They were going to the burying ground on a hillside not far away. There were hired mourners, as is the custom in that country, who made many doleful noises, and behind them came a weeping woman—the mother of the young man who had died.
His body was borne by friends and followed by many more, for all felt sorry for the poor woman who had lost her only son.
As the procession passed Jesus said two little words to the woman—"Weep not," and then He put forth His hand and touched the bier. The men who bore it set it down before Jesus who looked down into the face of the dead, saying,
"Young man, I say unto thee, arise!"
In a moment the young man opened his eyes, sat up, and began to speak, and Jesus gave him back from the grave to his happy mother.
While Jesus was near Nain some of the disciples of John the Baptist came to see Him. John was in prison still, down in the low, hot country by the Dead Sea. He had heard strange stories about Jesus from the disciples who came to see him, and because they were not settled in their mind about Him, John sent them to find Him and to say,
"Art thou He that should come, or do we look for another?"
Jesus told them to go and tell John what they saw.
"The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them, and blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me."
Then Jesus taught the people who stood by, and the lesson ended with these words which he speaks to the whole world,
"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest; take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls; for my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
This is the loving invitation of Jesus to every one of us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and it is the King Himself who invites us.
MARY OF MAGDALA.
There was a Pharisee named Simon, who was very curious to know what Jesus taught, although he had no wish to be His disciple. He was a rich man and lived in a beautiful house with a court. Beyond the court was a banqueting room with couches on which guests sat leaning upon the tables in the Eastern fashion. There were other guests invited to hear Jesus talk, the friends of Simon, and it is quite probable that when they came the servants of Simon met them and took their sandals and washed their feet and arranged their hair as was the custom, and were also heartily welcomed by Simon. When Jesus came He had no such service or welcome given Him, for Simon did not love Him; he was only curious about Him.
While they were at the tables a beautiful young woman came in through the open door and passed swiftly by the couches on which the guests were reclining until she came to the place where Jesus was. No one spoke to her or about her, for they all knew that she had been a sinful woman. But soon they saw that she bent weeping over the feet of Jesus where He lay upon the couch, and soon they knew by the odor of costly perfume that she was anointing His feet. As her tears fell she wiped His feet with her long hair, and kissed them again and again.
Simon looked at her severely, but said nothing, though he wondered in his heart why Jesus did not know that a sinful woman was touching Him. Then said Jesus,
"Simon, I have somewhat to say to thee." And Simon replied, "Master, say on."
Then Jesus told a little story of a man who had two debtors; one owed him five hundred pence, and the other fifty; and when they had nothing to pay he frankly forgave them both. Then he asked which of them will love Him most?
"I suppose that he to whom he forgave most," said Simon, and Jesus told him that he was right.
Then He turned and pointed to the woman, saying,
"See'st thou this woman?" and the eyes of all were fixed on the weeping Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus had told Simon that he had failed to bring water for His feet, though she had washed them with her tears, and wiped them with her hair; that he had given Him no kiss of welcome, and she had not ceased to kiss His feet; that he had not anointed His head with oil, but she had anointed His feet with costly ointment, He added,
"Her sins which are many are forgiven; for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven the same loveth little." And turning to the woman He said,
"Thy sins are forgiven; thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."
As Jesus went through the villages of Galilee He found many friends and many enemies. The twelve were with Him, learning daily the wonderful lessons He taught, and preparing to be preachers of the glad tidings also.
Not only Mary of Magdala, but Susanna, and Joanna, the wife of King Herod's steward who had been cured by Him, were His grateful friends. Some priests came down from Jerusalem to watch Him, and to tell the people that He was not a true teacher, and this pleased the Pharisees. They saw that He did wonderful things that no man could do, but they said that He did it by the power of the spirit of evil, and they asked Him to show them a sign that he was from God.
The Lord spoke words to the Pharisees that must have burned like coals of fire, for it showed how false and wicked their hearts were while their outward life seemed to be very religious.
He told them that no sign should be given them except that of Jonah; as he was three days and three nights in the great fish, so should the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, and though the men of Nineveh were wicked, yet they repented at the preaching of Jonah, but the men of Jerusalem did not repent, though a greater than Jonah was among them.
Mary and her sons had come from Nazareth hoping to take Jesus away from the crowds, perhaps, for a rest among the hills, for the summer heat was great down by the lake and along the Jordan. Some one sent word to Jesus, as He sat teaching within the court of a house, that His mother and brothers were outside, and wished to speak with Him. The crowd was too great for them to enter. Before Jesus rose to go out to his mother, He paused a moment to teach the great lesson He had come to bring to the world. Looking at His disciples He said,
"My mother and my brethren are these which hear the Word of God and do it."
STORIES TOLD BY THE LAKE.
Jesus was glad to go among the fishermen and teach the people by the Lake, for their hearts were like the good ground into which the farmer loves to drop his seed, while the hearts of the rich, proud Pharisees were like the rock on which seed cannot grow. Perhaps he was thinking of this as He walked out one morning from Peter's house along the pebbly shore and sat down to talk with the people. The crowd always grew large around him there, and He had to again enter a fishing boat and sit a little out from the shore that the people might see and hear Him more easily. He taught them as no man had ever done before. He told them short stories, often taking the subject from something the people could see. Perhaps this morning as He looked over the lovely plain of Gennesaret, He saw a sower casting seed into a brown and furrowed field, for it was the time of the year for sowing the winter wheat. This is the story of "The Sower:"
"A sower went out to sow his seed," said Jesus, "and as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
"And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
"And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it.
"And other fell on good ground, and sprang up and bore fruit an hundred fold."
And then He said, "He that hath ears to hear let him hear," for He knew that some could understand with the heart that He was talking of the Word of God, but there were many who could not.
His disciples asked Him to make the story plain to all, and so He said,
"The seed is the Word of God. Those by the wayside are they that hear; then cometh the devil and taketh away the Word out of their hearts lest they should believe and be saved.
"They on the rock are they which, when they hear, receive the Word with joy, and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
"And that which fell among thorns are they which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
"But that on the good ground are they which in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."
He also told them a story called "The Wheat and the Tares," of a man who sowed good seed in a field, but when it sprung up and bore grain there were weeds growing among it called tares, for an enemy had sowed the seed at night and it had grown up with the wheat. The man's servants wished to pull out the tares, but the master of the field said both should grow together until the harvest, that the wheat might not be uprooted with the tares. At the end of the harvest the tares would be burned and the wheat gathered into the barn. In this way he taught them why good and evil are allowed to grow together in this world.
He also taught them in the story of "The Mustard Seed," that the growth of the Lord's Kingdom in the heart is like a mustard seed sowed in a field—which is the least of seeds—but which becomes a great plant, so large that birds light on its branches. He told them other stories also that were to show them that the Kingdom of Heaven was life, and not a written law, and that it grows in the hearts of people as a seed grows in a field, one seed bearing many seeds, until the time when the Lord's Kingdom shall fill the earth as the ripe wheat fills the field in harvest.
One of the stories told that day was about "The Treasure." He told them of a man who, when digging in a field, found a treasure, a mine of gold, perhaps, and went and sold all that he had to get money enough to buy that field. Another one was the story of "The Pearl," which a pearl-hunter found. It was so large and beautiful that he sold all he had to be able to buy it. Both these stories were to teach that heaven in the heart is worth more to us, when once we find it, than all the treasures or pleasures of this world.
He also told a story of a "Fishing Net," which caught fish of every kind, but when it was drawn to shore the fishermen gathered the good fish into baskets, but threw the bad away. This story was something like that of the "Wheat and the Tares," showing how good and evil are at last separated.
This was a wonderful day by the blue waters of the Lake of Galilee. The people went home thinking much about the new Teacher and His stories of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The great Sower of the Seed had been dropping it into their hearts, and He alone knew which hearts were "good ground."
STILLING THE STORMS.
When Jesus was very tired from teaching the people and healing the sick He used to cross the lake and go up among the rocks of Gadara, a wild region where there were few villages. After the last long day of teaching by the shore Jesus needed rest, but neither at Peter's house, nor any where on that side of the Lake could He get away from the crowds that followed Him to hear Him, or to be healed by Him.
In the evening, when the people came back to Him, He took the large fishing-boat with His disciples, and set out for the other side. Several beside His disciples wished to go with Him. A scribe wished to follow Him, but Jesus told him that He had no home, no place to lay his head, though the foxes had holes and the birds of the air had nests. Perhaps Jesus saw that the scribe was not ready to leave all and follow Him. Another wished to go, but thought he ought first to bury his father, but Jesus said to him,
"Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead." This He said of the Jews who were spiritually dead.
After they had gone far out upon the Lake a great wind storm rose. It came sweeping down upon them from the hills, rattling the ropes and swelling the sails so that they had to bring them down and fasten them, and then take the oars. Every part of the little ship was covered with spray from the rising waves, and the disciples began to feel afraid.
Where was Jesus? He was asleep. They had brought a cushion for His head, and He had fallen asleep in the stern of the ship. As a wave fell upon them and they were in danger of sinking they woke Jesus saying,
"Master, Master, we perish!"
Then He rose and spoke to the winds and waters, and the storm ceased, and there was a great calm.
The fishermen had never seen anything so wonderful as this, and they looked at each other, almost more afraid of Jesus than they had been of the storm.
"What manner of man is this," they said, "that even the wind and the sea obey Him!"
Jesus also wondered, and said,
"Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?"
As soon as they had landed in Gadara a strange man came out of the rock tombs to meet them. He was naked and wounded, for he was always wandering in the mountains and among the tombs, crying and cutting himself. Jesus was sorry for him for He knew that it was the evil spirits within him that made him so unhappy. The poor man tried to worship Jesus, and the evil spirits only cried out the more, begging to be let alone.
When Jesus asked "What is thy name," he answered, "My name is Legion, for we are many."
Jesus made the poor man free by commanding the evil spirits to come out of him. They entered into a herd of swine near by, and the frightened creatures ran down a steep place into the lake and were drowned. The men who kept them were afraid and ran away, telling all whom they met of the thing that had happened. Some people came to see for themselves, and they found the wild man of the tombs clothed and quietly sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to His word. They were afraid of Jesus and begged Him to go away. They did not understand that He wished to bless and not to harm them.
As He went back to the ship the man who had been cured of his insanity begged to go with Him, but Jesus told him to go instead to his friends at home and tell them what the Lord had done for him.
The next morning the people of Decapolis heard a strange story from the wild man of the tombs, but was now a reasoning man again.
And so Jesus stilled the storm of wind on the Lake and the storm of evil in a soul.
When Jesus came back to Capernaum He found the crowd of friends at the little wharf full of concern about Him, and glad that no harm had come to Him during the storm. Among them was one who had watched anxiously for the boat, for he had a little daughter at home very ill indeed, so ill that she was "at the last breath." His name was Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue. He was so troubled that he fell at the feet of Jesus, begging Him to come and lay His hand on his child that she might live.
Jesus went with him, a throng of people with them, hoping to see Him do a great work.
While He was on the way a woman who had been sick twelve years followed close behind Him, and put forth her hand timidly toward Him.
"If I may touch but His clothes I shall be whole," she said to herself, and she touched them with faith in her heart.
Jesus, who knew all hearts, turned straight around and said:
"Who touched My clothes?"
How the woman shrank back and trembled when she heard that, for she was afraid she had done wrong.
The disciples thought it strange that He should ask this, as the people thronged so close that they could not help touching Jesus But the woman knew what He meant and she came and fell down before Him, fearing and trembling, and told Him all the truth.
Jesus did not look sternly at her as she thought He would do, but He said gently,
"Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague."
While the woman was still at His feet full of gratitude and love because she felt herself cured, some friends came from the ruler's house to bring sad news.
"Thy daughter is dead," they said, "why troublest thou the Master any further?"
Jesus saw the looks of grief on the father's face and said quickly,
"Be not afraid, only believe."
So they went to the ruler's house, and into the inner room where the little maid lay. Many wished to press in after them to see what Jesus would do, but he took only Peter and James and John with the father and mother of the maiden into the quiet, darkened room. As He went in He said to some who were mourning noisily in the outer room,
"Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth." Jesus loved to call death a "sleep," for He knew that we never die. Then He took the little maid by the hand and called her. She had not gone so far into the country we cannot see that she could not hear a divine Voice calling to her,
"Talitha cumi!" ("Maiden, arise!") At once she rose and walked. She was a little girl of twelve, and very dear to her father and mother, and there was no doubt great joy as well as wonder in the house of the ruler that bright morning after the storm. In their joy and wonder there was danger of forgetting to give her the food she was in need of, and so Jesus gently reminded them, commanding that something should be given her to eat, but he charged them not to talk about the return of their little daughter.
TWO BY TWO.
Jesus had a desire to once more speak to the people of His own little town of Nazareth, and so He came again to His own, but His own received Him not. Once more he went into the Nazareth Synagogue where He had listened to the reading of the law all through His childhood and to teach as He had done nine or ten months before. They did not rise up and thrust Him out as they did then, but they cast cold looks and scornful words upon Him. They could not understand His great power and wisdom, but they would not believe in Him.
"Is not this the carpenter, the Son of Mary," they said, "the brother of James and Joses, and of Juda and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?" They were offended with Him. Jesus, knowing their faults said,
"A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house."
He wondered why they were so unbelieving, when in His great love for them He was ready to do works of mercy among them, and to tell them the glad tidings of the Kingdom of Heaven, but He laid His hands on a few sick folk and healed them, and that was all.
As He went away to come back no more, His heart turned toward the many who were waiting for the tidings that His old friends had rejected, and He called the twelve together to send them out, two by two, into the world around them. He gave them power to cast out evil spirits, and to heal the sick; and He put the preaching power within them so that they could tell to others the wonderful truths of the Kingdom of Heaven. He told them that they must take nothing for their journey, except a staff, with which to walk over the steep mountain paths. He told them also to bless the house that sheltered them, and to leave the house or the city that would not receive them. He said that they would have many trials, and that their lives would be sought by wicked men, but that they need not fear, for the very hairs of their head were numbered, and that even a sparrow could not fall to the ground without their Father, and they were of more value than many sparrows.
He said many other words to them that gave them comfort and strength. They had left all to follow Him, and He showed them how, in losing their all in this life they were finding much more than that—even eternal life.
So, two by two, they went forth and left Jesus alone.
That great and good man, John the Baptist, was still in the prison of King Herod Antipas, down by the Dead Sea. He had been there more than a year, but no word came from the king saying that he was free. Queen Herodias wanted him to be put to death for he had spoken against her marriage with King Herod. She was a wicked woman, and the evil hate the good. Herod believed in his heart that John should go free, but for the Queen's sake he kept him in prison, but allowed his friends to see him, and sometimes sent for him secretly to hear him talk of the Kingdom of Heaven.
On the king's birthday he gave a great feast to his lords and captains, and when they had been served with dainty food in dishes of silver and gold, and had tasted the rare fruits and the costly wines, the dancing girls came in to flit over the polished marble floor, and wave their airy scarfs to please the king and his guests.
At last a young girl came in and danced alone. She was dressed like a princess, and she was a princess.
Queen Herodias had sent her young daughter, Salome, where an innocent girl and a queen's daughter should not have gone.
She pleased the king and his lords greatly, and when she had finished, and had knelt before the king to hear what he had to say to her, he cried,
"Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee," and with an oath he declared that he would certainly do it if she should ask the half of his kingdom.
She did not decide for herself, but ran to her mother, saying,
"What shall I ask?" And the cruel mother said,
"The head of John the Baptist."
King Herod did not expect this. He thought she might ask for some jewel of great price, or perhaps a royal palace for her very own, and when he heard her request he was very sorry. But an oath made before his lords could not be broken.
He sent men to the prison, and the good prophet, who had never known fear, went home to God, and they brought his head to the princess who gave it to her mother. The king's feast ended in gloom, and the poor girl, who only obeyed her wicked mother, had nothing but a dreadful memory to keep forever as the king's gift.
And the king himself—what trouble followed him during the rest of his life! Riches and honors were all taken from him, and he was sent out of his own country, while John had gone to his Father's house in the Heavenly Country to suffer no more forever.
John's disciples buried the body of their beloved master, and then went and told Jesus. Only Jesus can give real comfort in trouble.
The disciples—now called apostles, or teachers—who had been out teaching among the villages, heard, perhaps, of the death of John the Baptist, and came back to Jesus two by two, as they had gone out. They had been preaching, healing the sick, and casting out evil spirits. They often said "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand," and the people wondered if it would not be best to rise up and make Jesus their king.
Herod heard of the work of Jesus and the apostles, and was afraid. He half believed that John whom he had killed had risen from the dead. He tried to see Jesus, but the One who had come to preach the gospel to the poor had no time to give to Herod.
As Peter, and John, and Andrew and all the rest came back they were full of stories of the wonderful things that had been done through the power that the Lord had given them. Many came with them to find Jesus. He saw that they needed to come away from the crowds that were always around them so that He could speak to them of their work, and so that they could rest, and think, and pray.
They took a boat and crossed the Lake. The shore was crowded with people who wished to be with Jesus, and when they knew that He was going to Bethsaida-Julias at the northern end of the Lake they resolved to follow Him, for it was only a few miles away.
At the end of the Lake they entered the Jordan river, and sailing up a little way to the landing-place they saw the people coming, some in boats, and more in groups along the shore—men, women and children—and Jesus, filled with love and pity for them, led them to a green hillside where He sat down to teach them as He had often done before.
It was spring, and the grass was like a great green carpet sprinkled with bright wild-flowers, while the river, lined with bushes flowed below, and beyond lay the beautiful blue Lake. The disciples stood around their Master while He taught the people in simple language that they could understand the greatest truths the world has ever heard. All the afternoon He spoke to them, and when the sun was slowly going down over the hills of Galilee they still wished to stay. They were as sheep having no shepherd. The disciples were troubled about them, for they were far from the villages where bread could be bought, and they had nothing to eat. They begged Jesus to send them away.
"Give ye them to eat," said Jesus. Then the disciples were astonished, for there were about five thousand men, beside the women and children. "Shall we go and buy two hundred pennyworth of bread, and give them to eat?" said Philip. Then Jesus, who knew what He would do, said, "How many loaves have ye? Go and see."
They went among the people, and Andrew came back, saying,
"There is a lad here which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes; but what are they among so many?"
Then Jesus told His disciples to seat all the people in order upon the green grass, and soon there were little companies of fifty, and larger ones of an hundred sitting all over the hillside with their faces turned toward Jesus, who stood looking out upon them as a father would look upon his children. What were they waiting for? No one knew, but they saw Him take the little lad's basket of bread and the two little fishes and look up to heaven, blessing them as He did so. Then He began to break the bread and divide the fishes. As He broke the bread and gave to the disciples they took it away to the people sitting on the grass, and when they came back to Jesus there was still more waiting for them. In this way all the people were fed.
When they were satisfied Jesus said to His disciples,
"Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost."
And they filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the barley loaves that were left.
What a silent and wonderful supper of bread fresh from the hand of its Creator!
At last they began saying to each other in a low voice,
"This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world!" and they began to ask each other if it would not be best to take Him at once and make Him king whether he would or would not consent, but when He saw what they wished to do, He slipped away and went farther up among the hills to rest.
Evening had now come, and the people not finding Jesus, went away to their homes, and the disciples in their little ship returned to Capernaum. The people could not understand, nor could His disciples, that Jesus did not come to be an earthly king over the little nation of the Jews. Not until the Holy Spirit came to make all things clear did they understand that He was to be the Spiritual King of all the world.
WALKING THE WAVES—THE TWO KINGDOMS.
While Jesus was alone on the mountain side the disciples were trying to reach Capernaum in their fishing boat. It was not a long sail, but a contrary wind had risen and was blowing them out into the Lake away from the landing place.
They had taken down their sail and were rowing, but by three o'clock in the morning they were still out upon the Lake.
Jesus, who knew all things, saw them struggling with the oars, and coming swiftly down the mountain side He went to them walking upon the water.
The disciples saw a form through the darkness drawing near to them, and strangely enough they did not think of Jesus, but cried out in terror, saying,
"It is a spirit." Then the clear sweet voice of their Master rose over the sound of the wind and the waves, "Be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid." And Peter, full of glad faith, cried out, "Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water."
When Jesus said "Come," Peter climbed over the side of the boat and began to walk toward Jesus, but when a strong wind drove the waves upon him he lost sight of the Lord for a moment, and he was afraid.
"Lord, save me!" he cried, and began to sink.
Then Jesus stretched out His hand and caught Peter, saying, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"
When they both entered the ship the wind ceased, and while the disciples wondered and worshipped, saying, "Of a truth Thou art the Son of God," they found themselves at the land not far from Capernaum.
It was on the white beach of pebbles and shells that bordered the plain of Gennesaret where they moored the boat in the early morning, and as soon as the people saw them they began bringing their sick friends to Jesus. Many were too ill to walk, and were brought on little beds or mattresses and laid at Jesus's feet, and there they were healed if they but touched the hem of His garment.
Many of those who brought the sick to Jesus had been with Him on the mountain side, and had eaten of the wonderful bread of heaven that He had broken for them. They believed that He could do anything that He would.
The people whose hearts were set upon making Jesus their king followed Him wherever He went. Some who had been with Him when He made bread for the great company on the hillside at Bethsaida-Julias found Him teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.
"Teacher, when camest thou hither?" they said. Jesus, knowing that they cared more for His gifts than for His teaching, said, "Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled," and told them that they should not labor for the food that perishes, but for that which endures forever.
They still wished Him to do some wonder, or show them how to work wonders, for they asked Him what they should do to work the works of God.
"This is the work of God," He said, "That ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." Still they remembered the miracle of the bread.
"What sign showest Thou?" they said, "Our fathers did eat manna in the desert." Then He spoke plainly to them of Himself.
"The bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world." One more spiritual than the rest said reverently, "Lord, evermore give us this bread."
Then Jesus spoke those words about Himself that turned many away from Him. He showed them that He could never be what they expected Him to be—an earthly king. He had only the things of the Spirit to give them, and He called them to a kingdom that could be seen only with spiritual sight.
"I am the bread of life," He said, "He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
The Jews were offended with Him because He had said, "I came down from heaven." "I am the living bread which came down from heaven," He said. "If any man eat of this bread he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh which I will give for the life of the world."
Then the Jews were vexed and turned to talk among themselves. They could not understand what He meant, but they saw plainly that He was not going to agree with their plan to make Him the King of the Jews, who would lead them out of their bondage to the Romans, and establish them forever as a nation.
They did not want to follow Him, but they wanted Him to follow their plan. And as for His talk about being the "bread of life,"—"This is an hard saying," they said, "who can hear it?"
While they murmured Jesus said,
"Doth this offend you? What and if you shall see the Son of Man ascending where He was before?"
"It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life."
Then they knew that He meant something above what they could see, or what they wanted, and many turned away from Him and went to their homes disappointed. He had said, "there are some of you that believe not," and it was true. Jesus turned to the twelve who stood in silence near Him,
"Will ye also go away?" He said.
Loving, impulsive Peter cried out,
"Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life, and we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God."
"Did I not choose you twelve," said Jesus, "and one of you is a devil."
Already evil spirits had tried to turn Judas away from the Lord by tempting him, and he had let them into his heart. And Jesus, who knew all men, saw them there.
A JOURNEY WITH JESUS.
Jesus went away with His disciples into the "borders of Tyre and Sidon." He did not go to the Passover feast, for the anger of the Jews had been growing more violent toward Him and His disciples, and he took the twelve away from the crowded towns around the Lake into the parts that bordered upon a heathen country. He could do far more for the simple-hearted heathen than for Jews who believed themselves to be wise and religious.
When it was known that the young teacher of Nazareth was among them some came to Him who were not Jews. One was a Syrian woman whose daughter was troubled by an evil spirit, and she begged Jesus to have mercy upon her. The disciples were not pleased to have her follow them with strange cries in another language. They believed that the works of Jesus were for the Jews only, and so they begged Him to send her away. Jesus was silent, for He knew all hearts, and saw faith growing in the heart of the poor woman.
He said, trying her faith,
"It is not meet to take the children's bread and cast it to dogs."
"Truth, Lord," she said, "yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table."
Then Jesus hid Himself no longer from her faith, but said,
"O woman, great is thy faith! be it unto thee even as thou wilt." And her daughter was cured that very hour.
Jesus did not go down by the great sea, though He could see it lying like blue and silver across the west whenever He came to a hilltop as they journeyed, but He went northward to the hills that lie around the mountains of Lebanon. Upon these mountains grew the cedars that Solomon's servants cut down and carried to Jerusalem for the building of the Holy House. They stopped in the Lebanon villages, and came at length to the foot of Mount Hermon, and to the Jordan, crossing over and passing near the place where the great company who followed Jesus had been fed. As they came into Decapolis on the east side of the lake of Gennesaret the people came to Him in crowds again for healing. There He healed a man who could neither hear nor speak.
Coming to Gadara He found crowds coming with their sick for healing. Eight months before He had healed a poor man in whom was a legion of devils, casting them out into a herd of swine, and they had begged Him to leave their coast for they were afraid of Him, but now they were glad to come to Him for healing. No doubt the man who had been healed had told them of the gentleness of Jesus, and of His wonderful words, and had brought many to Him.
It was in Bethsaida-Julias that Jesus once opened the eyes of a blind man. He did not see clearly at first, but when Jesus laid His hand a second time upon his eyes he saw quite well, and was so grateful that he wanted to go and tell all his friends about it, but Jesus told him to go quietly home.
Two blind men followed Him also, crying, "Thou Son of David, have mercy on us!" They followed Him into a house and there Jesus asked, "Believe ye that I am able to do this?" "Yea, Lord," they said.
"According to your faith be it unto you," He said, touching their eyes, and their eyes were opened at once.
Though Jesus had said, "See that no man know it," yet they told it through all that country.
THE CHRISTIAN SABBATH—PETER'S CONFESSION OF FAITH.
Jesus was walking with His disciples one Sabbath day and talking of the Kingdom of Heaven when they came to a field of ripe grain. They had been gathering food for their souls from the teachings of Jesus, and had forgotten to take food for their bodies until they saw the ripe grain and knew that they were hungry. Some of them began to take the heads of wheat (or barley), to rub them in their hands to separate the grain from the chaff, and eat the kernels of wheat.
Following close after them were some men who had been told to watch Jesus and His disciples, and see if anything could be brought against them.
They held very strict views about keeping the Sabbath, as all Pharisees did, and here they saw something that might be called breaking the Sabbath, for were they not really reaping the wheat, and sifting it through their hands?
"Behold thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the Sabbath day," they said. "The Son of Man," said Jesus, "is Lord even of the Sabbath day."
Another Sabbath He entered into a synagogue and taught. Among the people stood a man who had a helpless and withered hand. The same Pharisees who had followed Jesus as spies when He walked through the grain-fields were watching Him in the Synagogue to see if He would heal on the Sabbath. He knew their thoughts, and called the man, saying, "Rise up and stand forth in the midst."
The man rose, and while he stood waiting, Jesus turned to the Pharisees who were eagerly watching to see if Jesus would do something that was forbidden in their law, and said,
"Is it lawful on the Sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? To save life or to destroy it?" The Pharisees dared not answer, and Jesus, looking round upon them all, said to the man, "Stretch forth thy hand."
The man obeyed. Although he had not been able to raise his hand, he stretched it forth, and it became as whole and as strong as the other.
The Pharisees went away very angry, and tried to make a plan among themselves for bringing Jesus into trouble.
Jesus came to fill the law about the Sabbath full of the spirit of heaven; to teach love and service to the neighbor, as well as the love and worship of God, but they could not understand Him.
Jesus was near the end of His ministry to the people east of the Jordan in the country called Decapolis. They were not like the Galilean Jews, they were half heathen people who lived among the wild, rocky hills of that region. They were poor and ignorant, yet they were more ready to accept the gospel than the wise and wicked Pharisees had been.
He had been kind to them in their sickness and poverty, and they followed Him with their sick, and lame, and deaf, and blind, leaving them at His feet until they arose praising God that they had been saved from their sufferings.
Jesus had been teaching in the wild mountain country, and the people would not leave Him to go away to their homes. After three days Jesus said to His disciples, "I have compassion on the multitude because they continue with me now three days and have nothing to eat, and I will not send them away fasting lest they faint by the way."
The disciples did not remember the Lord's power to create bread, and wondered where they should find it in the wilderness to feed such a great multitude.
But when Jesus knew that they had seven loves of barley bread and a few little fishes He told the people to sit down on the ground, and after giving thanks over the loaves and the fishes, He divided them and gave to His disciples, and the disciples gave to the people. There were four thousand men beside women and children who took the bread that came from the Lord's hands. After all had eaten and were filled they took up seven baskets of the food that was left.
Jesus, though He could create food for the people, taught them to use it wisely and waste nothing.
When the people had been sent to their homes, Jesus, with His disciples, took a fishing boat and crossed the Lake only to find the Pharisees there ready to question Him, and to tempt Him to show them some great sign from heaven.
He told them that they could read the signs of the coming weather in the sky, but they could not see the signs of the times.
Only a wicked people look for a sign, He said, and no sign should be given except the sign that Jonah gave to the Ninevites—a call to repentance.
Then He left them, for He saw the hardness of their hearts.
Again they took their journey in the little ship to the northern end of the Lake, and after landing, followed the east side of Jordan until they passed near the place where the five thousand had been fed by a miracle as they sat on the green hillside.
The disciples found that they had forgotten to bring bread with them. They remembered, perhaps, that they had here eaten the bread that the Lord had created; but the heart of Jesus was heavy with the thought of the unbelief of the people He had come to save, and He said,
"Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees."
The disciples did not understand Him, and wondered if He spoke thus because they had not brought bread.
Then Jesus, seeing that they had but little faith, reminded them of the supper on the hillside, when more than five thousand were fed, and of that later meal among the rocky hills of Decapolis, when four thousand and more were fed, and that they did not need to be concerned about food for the body so much as to beware of the false teaching of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
They walked still further north, directly toward that beautiful mountain that lifts its head, white with the glistening snow, high above the hills that lead up to it, so that it may be seen over the larger part of Palestine.
They came to Caesarea Philippi, one of the most beautiful places in the world. It lay in the green lap of Mount Hermon high above the sea, and shut in by cliffs and forests. The upper springs of the Jordan are here. They leap out of a great cavern in the side of the mountain—a river of clear, cold water.
The old Greeks loved the place, and built there a temple to the god of nature, but after the Romans came it was named for the Emperor and Philip the Tetrarch. Here there were more Gentiles than Jews, for it was a gay town in the summer, and people from other towns came to this city of palaces, temples, baths, theatres, and statues. These people did not wish to hear the words of Jesus, but the coolness and beauty of the country around this birthplace of the Jordan made it a fit place to bring His disciples where they could talk over the things of the kingdom without being disturbed by the Pharisees. Here He was able to pray alone, and once, after prayer, He questioned His disciples about Himself.
"Whom say the people that I am?" He asked. They remembered their talks with the people and said, "John the Baptist, but some say Elias, and others say that one of the old prophets is risen again." "But whom say ye that I am?" He asked. Then Peter, the believing disciple, made his confession of faith,—
"Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus was glad to hear this, for many had come to doubt Him, and many had gone away from Him since they knew that He would not be an earthly king.
"Blessed art thou Simon, son of Jonas," He said, "for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in Heaven."
He saw that Peter's faith in the truth was like his name, which means "a rock," and so He said,
"Thou art Peter, and on this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
Peter's faith in the truth was also in the hearts of the other disciples for whom He spoke, and Jesus saw that they could now bear what he had to say to them without going away.
He told them that He must soon go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders, and that He should be killed by them, and rise again from the dead the third day.
Even Peter's faith was shaken by this. How could the Son of God be killed? He could not believe His Master meant it so.
"Be it far from thee, Lord," he said, "this shall not be unto thee."
Jesus saw the spirit of fear and unbelief rising up in Peter, and to this—not to Peter himself—Jesus said,
"Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offence unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."
Then He plainly told them what they must be ready to meet if they followed Him. They must not hope for any earthly honors or riches, and they must put aside their own wishes and obey the Lord alone.
He told them that whoever wished to live for this world alone would lose all, but whoever was willing to lose all for His sake should find eternal life.
"For what is a man profited," He said, "if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
"AND WE BEHELD HIS GLORY"—A FATHER'S FAITH.
Jesus stayed near Caesarea Philippi with His disciples for a week. The villagers were cutting the ripe grain, the vineyards were rich with clusters of the rich grapes that grew on the Lebanon hills, and the olives were ripening for the time when they would be put in the presses to make the delicious "oil olive." In that week He must have had many wonderful talks with the villagers.
One evening, as they had come over the lower hills of Hermon, Jesus left the disciples to wait for Him below, taking only Peter and the brothers James and John with Him up the mount. They did not go to the very top but rested on one of the lower peaks. While Jesus went a little distance from them to pray, the three disciples, wrapped in their thick mantles, lay down to wait for Him. In that high clear air they seemed very near heaven. The stars seemed almost as near as the lights in the villages below. They were tired, and watching their Master in prayer, they fell asleep. While they slept they seemed to see a change in the face of Jesus as He prayed. It grew light with a strange inward glory, and all His garments became white and glistening like the snows of Hermon in the sun. They also saw two men with Him whom they seemed to know were Moses and Elias, who had gone to heaven centuries before.
They also heard them talking with Jesus, and they spoke of the same thing that had troubled Peter when Jesus had spoken of it—that He should die at Jerusalem.
They awoke out of sleep, but the vision did not pass away like a dream, they still saw it all.
But as it began to melt away, Peter said, hardly knowing what he said,
"Master, it is good for us to be here, and let us make three tabernacles, one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias."
Then the glory around Jesus grew until it seemed like a bright cloud at sunset, and it came and wrapt them around in its soft brightness, and they were afraid.
In the silence they heard a Divine voice, saying,
"This is My beloved Son; hear Him."
When the voice was passed they looked up and saw Jesus there alone. He was bending over them, touching them tenderly, and saying,
"Arise, and be not afraid."
As they came down the mountain He told them to tell no one of the vision until after He had risen from the dead.
It seemed to the disciples, no doubt, like coming down from heaven to earth when after a long walk and talk with Jesus in the summer morning they came near the village they had left, and found the people—among them some Jewish lawyers—disputing with the group of disciples there. As soon as they saw Jesus they all ran to Him, and greeted Him.
One of the men explained what they were disputing about.
"Master," he said, "I have brought unto thee my son which hath a dumb spirit," and he described the frightful state into which it had brought his boy, and added that the disciples could not cast it out.
"Bring him to me," said Jesus, and they brought him, the evil spirit within him throwing him into convulsions as they laid him at Jesus' feet.
"How long is it ago since this came to him?" said Jesus.
"Of a child," said the father, "and ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire and into the waters to destroy him, but if thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us." Jesus said,
"If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."
Then the poor father cried out with tears, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief!"
The Lord did not wait for greater faith than this. He charged the evil spirit to come out of the boy, and after a great struggle it left him as one dead, but Jesus took him by the hand and he arose.
"Why could not we cast him out?" said the disciples afterward.
"This kind," said Jesus, "can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting."
As they turned their steps toward home—the Lake side in Galilee—Jesus again spoke of the work that lay before Him. The disciples listened sadly, but could not understand why He should speak of being killed, and of rising again from the dead, and they dared not ask Him questions about it.
THE LORD AND THE LITTLE ONES—LEAVING GALILEE.
As the Lord and His disciples walked over the hills into Galilee some of them fell behind wondering among themselves what He could mean when He spoke of being killed and of rising again. Perhaps they thought it only a sadness that would pass away, and so full of faith in His power were they that they could not believe that One who could raise the dead could Himself die.
"He will be a King," they thought, and began to wonder who among them would be chosen to be greatest in His Kingdom, and even to quarrel about it.
After they had reached Capernaum, and were at home again—probably in Peter's house—Jesus said to them,
"What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?"
There was no word from any one of them, for they were ashamed. Then the Lord sat down, and calling the twelve around Him, said gently,
"If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all."
A little child stood near listening, and wishing, perhaps, that he might be a grown man so that he also could be a disciple.
Making room for him in the midst of them all, He called the child, Peter's child, perhaps, who came joyfully to Him. Taking Him tenderly in His arms He said,
"Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name receiveth me, and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but Him that sent me."
And He taught His disciples to be humble as a little child in these beautiful words:
"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven."
"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones, for I say unto you that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven."
He also told them of the love of the Father in seeking His lost children. That if a shepherd had but lost one of his hundred sheep, he would leave all the others to go out into the wild mountains to look for the lost sheep. How much more would the Father do for His own, and especially for His little ones.
"Even so," He said, "it is not the will of your Father, which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."
Before going to the Feast at Jerusalem the Lord Jesus said many things to His disciples that would help them to be loving and forgiving toward each other and all the world, for they were very soon going to meet trouble which would try their love and their faith. He told them to deal gently with those who had done wrong, that they might win them back to the right way. He told them that they should have help from heaven when they asked for it, even if there should be only two to ask.
"For where two or three are gathered together in my name," He said, "there am I in the midst of them."
"How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?" asked Peter, "till seven times?"
"Until seventy times seven," said Jesus, and He did not mean that we should even count the number of times that we forgive.
Then He told them a story of a forgiving king and an unforgiving servant that you may read in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew.
At the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, the people went up to Jerusalem to offer gifts in the golden Temple for the harvest that the Lord had given them, and to join in a praise service there.
They brought oil, and wine, and wheat, and barley; dates, pomegranates, and figs—something of all they had gathered, and while they marched toward the holy city they sang joyful songs that David had written long before. When they reached Jerusalem they built bowers of branches cut from the trees and lived in them for a week.
Even in the city the people came out of their houses and lived in bowers on the streets and public squares, or upon the flat roofs of the houses, and the hillsides round were covered with the green booths.
The brothers of Jesus came down to Capernaum on their way to the Feast at Jerusalem, and they asked their elder Brother to go also into Judea and show Himself to the world, that His miracles might be seen of all, for they did not believe in Him yet. But Jesus said,
"My time is not yet come, but your time is always ready."
So they went on their journey, and Jesus stayed in Galilee.
After a few days He set His face toward Jerusalem, taking the shortest way through Samaria. The Samaritans were not friendly to the Jews, and the disciples, who had been sent on before to find lodging for the company in a village, were not allowed to bring their Master there.
The gentle John and his brother James were angry that unkindness was shown to Jesus, and wished to call down fire from heaven to destroy the villagers, but Jesus said,
"Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of, for the Son of Man has not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."
And they went to another village. On the way they found men who wished to follow Jesus as the disciples did but while some were ready to leave all, others wished to first bid their friends farewell, or bury their dead, but Jesus saw something in their hearts that showed that they were not fit for the Kingdom of God.
There were many beside the twelve who fully believed in Jesus, and were ready to tell others of the coming kingdom, so He sent them out to all the places where he intended to go, until there were seventy of them preaching the good news. They went, saying, "The Kingdom of God is come unto you," and they healed the sick in Jesus' name. When they returned they were full of joy, saying,
"Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name." But Jesus said, "Rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."
AT THE HOUSE OF MARTHA—THE GOOD SHEPHERD.
While Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem a lawyer came and asked Him questions. He did not want to be a disciple, yet he asked what he should do to have eternal life.
Jesus asked him what the commandments said about it, and the lawyer repeated the two great commandments concerning love to the Lord and to the neighbor.
"Thou hast answered right," Jesus replied. "This do and thou shalt live."
"And who is my neighbor?" said the lawyer.
Then Jesus told a story of a man who went down to Jericho, and was nearly killed by thieves. A priest came that way and when he saw a man who needed help he passed by on the other side of the road. So did a Levite, one of the helpers in the temple worship, but a Samaritan (and the Samaritans were despised by the Jews) came that way, and he stopped in pity for the poor man, dressed his wounds, set him upon his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him. When he left the inn he also left money for his care, with the promise of more if it should be needed. Then Jesus asked the lawyer which of these three men was neighbor to him who fell among thieves.
"He that showed mercy on him," said the lawyer. Then said Jesus unto him,
"Go thou and do likewise."
As Jesus came near to Jerusalem He passed through Bethany, a little town at the foot of the Mount of Olives, where perhaps some of His disciples had been preaching the new gospel before Him. There He was gladly received into the house of Martha, who prepared the table with her own hands to offer the best in her house to her honored Guest. She had a brother named Lazarus, who was probably at the feast in Jerusalem, and a younger sister named Mary who loved to listen to every word that Jesus spoke. As every family built a bower of branches during this feast to remind them that for forty years they lived in such houses in the wilderness while coming out of Egypt, there must have been one in the court of Martha's house, and there, perhaps, Jesus rested while Mary sat at His feet and heard His word.
Martha was very busy serving her honored guest, and thought Mary ought to help her in the house, but Jesus said, "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things; but one thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her."
When the Feast of Tabernacles was at its height Jesus came up to the Temple at Jerusalem. The people had been looking for Him, and as soon as the noble, earnest-faced young Teacher was seen walking in the marble court of the Temple they thronged around Him to hear Him teach, or to see if He would do any miracle.
Some wondered at His wisdom and His doctrine, and asked where it came from, "My doctrine is not mine," He said, "but His that sent me. If any man will do His will he shall know of the doctrine."
He taught them many things that day, and hinted at the same thing that had troubled His disciples, and these were His words,
"Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto Him that sent me. Ye shall seek me and shall not find me, and where I am thither ye cannot come."
The priests, the scribes, and the Pharisees were listening, and He knew that their hearts were too full of pride and self-love to receive His word. They could not go to Him, for they would not let Him come into their hearts.
On the last day, the great day of the Feast, Jesus stood and cried to the people who were about to go back to their homes. His great heart was breaking to bring them into the Kingdom of Heaven, and He knew that they would be scattered as sheep having no shepherd.
"If any man thirst," He cried, "let him come unto me and drink." And He then promised to such as believe the Holy Spirit to dwell in them, and to flow out toward all the world like rivers of living water.
So wonderfully did He preach that many said, "Of a truth this is a prophet," and others said, "This is the Christ," while others were filled with anger and wished to arrest Him. Indeed, when the priests and Pharisees urged the officers to take Him, they said,
"Never man spake like this man," and they would not lay hands on Him.
But Nicodemus, a learned doctor of the law, was a friend of Jesus. He it was who had a talk with Him one night under the olive trees about the Spirit—the breath of God, and he with wise words turned the hatred of the Jews away from Jesus for the time, and they went to their own houses.
Jesus taught in the Temple again the next day, and all the people came to listen.
It was here, perhaps, that the wicked Scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a poor woman who had sinned. They told Him that according to the law she ought to be stoned, and asked what He would say about it. He did not answer, but seemed to be writing on the ground before Him as though He did not hear them. At last, because they would have an answer He looked at them saying,
"He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone," and He wrote again on the ground. No one answered Jesus, but one by one they went away too much ashamed to speak. "Hath no man condemned thee?" asked Jesus of the woman standing sorrowful and alone.
"No man, Lord," she said.
"Neither do I condemn thee," He said, "go and sin no more."
Then Jesus sitting in the Treasury of the Temple said,
"I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life."
Many other things He said that His enemies tried to turn against Him, and the healing on the Sabbath day of a man who had been born blind stirred the anger of the Jews against Him, so that they sought by much questioning to accuse Jesus of sin, not knowing that they were themselves spiritually blind.
But He turned from them to call to the people again as He did on the last day of the Feast, for in His love and pity He longed to bring the lost children of Israel to Himself that He might bless them, as a shepherd brings back the sheep that stray from the fold.
"I am the Good Shepherd; and I know my own, and my own know me," said Jesus, "even as the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep, and other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and they shall become one flock, one Shepherd."
Other beautiful and blessed words He said about the Shepherd and His flock which are written in the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John, but the learned Jews would not listen to Him, and thrice tried to kill Him by stoning Him, but they could not harm Him, for His time had not come.
Then he went away beyond Jordan, where John first baptized, and many believed on Him there.
THE LESSON STORIES OF JESUS.
When Jesus was at prayer His disciples stood reverently apart from Him, and one day a disciple came near when he had ceased and said,
"Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples."
Then the Lord taught them the beautiful prayer that is now said daily all around the world, and known to every one of us, beginning, "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name."
And He told them how pleased God is to have His children ask Him for what they need, or come to Him in trouble.
"Ask, and it shall be given you," He said; "seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you."
"If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?"
"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give good gifts to them that ask Him?"
It was while the Lord was teaching in the country called Peraea, east of Jordan, that He told many things that His disciples remembered and wrote in a book afterward, when the Holy Spirit had come to "bring all things to their remembrance," as He had promised.
He had been teaching three years, and was thirty-three years of age.
Some of the people who lived, at Bethabara, by Jordan, were present when He was baptized by John, and they were glad to have him stay among them and teach, for they were a kindly people, and though not learned like the men who were often to be found in the Temple courts and in the Synagogues, they were the common people who, hearing the word and loving it, were wiser than the Pharisees.
The Lord told many stories that these people would remember, and afterward understand by the teaching of His Spirit which He said would be given to them. You will read all of them in the Gospels, but here we cannot tell them all.
The story of "The Fig-tree in the Vineyard," "The Great Supper," and "The Foolish Rich Man" were stories of warning to those who were turning away from the things of heaven to the things of the world, and they were meant for all who should read them in the ages of the world.
So were the three stories—they are called "parables" in the Gospels—of the lost things; "The lost sheep," "The lost piece of money," and "The lost son." They were given to us to show the great love of the Heavenly Father for His children, and His constant care in seeking for them when they are wandering away from Him. These stories are the voice of the Father always and everywhere calling His children home, and many a poor soul has turned homeward with tears of repentance after reading them.
One of these stories of lost things will be told here, but it is far more beautiful in the language of the Scriptures.
There was once a rich man who had two sons, and the younger one came to him and said,
"Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me."
And so the father divided his property, and gave the younger brother his share. In a few days he had gathered it all together and settled his affairs so that he could go away. He went into a distant country, and there he spent all that he had among bad people who seemed to be his friends, but were really his worst enemies.
When all that he had was spent there came a time of great trouble. There was very little food in the land, for there was a famine, and he was obliged to go to work for the little he could get. It was not easy to find work, for the only thing he could do was to hire himself to a man who kept pigs. His work was to stay in the fields and feed them with husks, the hard pods of the carob tree. Sometimes he was so hungry that he would have been glad to eat even these, but "no man gave unto him." Then the young man "came to himself."
"How many hired servants of my father have bread enough and to spare," he said, "and I perish with hunger!"
"I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.'"
The father must have been watching for his lost boy, for while he was yet a great way off he saw him, and ran to meet him. He put his arms around him and kissed him without once speaking of his sins, and he called his servants to bring the best robe and put it on him, and a ring for his hand, and shoes for his feet, and then to kill the fatted calf to make a feast for all,
"For," he said "this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found."
The elder son had been away in the field but when he came home heard music and dancing, and called to a servant to ask what these things meant. When he had heard he was very angry, and would not go in. His father came out to beg him to come in and greet his brother, but he said,
"Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment, and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends." But the father said,
"Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry and be glad, for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again, and was lost and is found."
There are other stories told by Jesus while in Peraea, which you will find in the gospel by Luke, the beloved physician. One is about the "Unjust Steward," and another is the story of the "Unjust Judge." Still another is called "Dives and Lazarus," or the "Rich man and the Beggar."
The parable of "The Pharisee and the Publican," describes two men who went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
The Pharisee prayed with himself, thus, "God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, or even as this publican. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all I possess."
And the publican, standing afar off, dared not even lift his eyes to heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"
"This man," said Jesus, "went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
THE VOICE THAT WAKED THE DEAD—THE CHILDREN OF THE KINGDOM.
While Jesus and His disciples were still east of the Jordan trouble fell upon the happy home in Bethany where Jesus had been an honored guest. A messenger was sent to Jesus in great haste, saying,
"Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick."
It was from Mary and Martha concerning their brother Lazarus.
Jesus sent the messenger back with this message,
"This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby," and He remained two days longer where He was. Then He said,
"Let us go into Judea again."
The disciples reminded Him that the Jews there had tried to take His life.
"Our friend Lazarus sleepeth," said Jesus, "but I go that I may awaken him out of sleep."
The disciples thought that if he slept he was doing very well, until Jesus told them plainly,
"Lazarus is dead."
Then Thomas was full of sorrow and said,
"Let us also go that we may die with him."
Bethany was not far from Jerusalem, and when they reached the house of Martha, Lazarus had been dead four days, and was placed in a rock tomb. Many Jews from Jerusalem had come out to Bethany to comfort Mary and Martha, and to mourn for their friend Lazarus.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming she ran to meet Him, but Mary sat still in the house. She thought, perhaps, that He had come too late, and the same thought may have been in Martha's mind when she said,
"Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died, but I know that even now whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee."
"Thy brother shall rise again," said Jesus.
"I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day," she said.
Then Jesus spoke those heavenly words that have been the comfort of the sorrowful ever since,
"I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"
"Yea, Lord," answered Martha, "I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God which should come into the world."
Then she called Mary quietly, so that the people who were noisily wailing should not hear.
"The Master is come and calleth for thee," she said.
Then Mary rose quickly and went to meet Jesus The people who were trying to comfort her followed her, for they thought she was going to the tomb to weep there; but they saw her go to meet Jesus and fall at His feet saying, as Martha did,
"Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died."
When Jesus saw the tears of Mary and her sister and their friends He wept also, not for Lazarus, but His heart was moved for them, and He shared their sorrow.
They brought Him to the tomb—a cave with a stone lying upon it. When He asked them to take away the stone Martha's faith began to fail; but the stone was rolled away, and when Jesus had prayed He called with a loud voice,