A Contemplation written by our Priest Paul, and read on Easter Sunday:
Imagine the scene if you will:
There you are, an every-day person in first century Palestine, and although not one of the inner twelve of Jesus’ disciples, you were somewhat intrigued and interested at some of the things he was teaching over the course of his lifetime.
Some of what you heard him teach in the Temple – the most holy place to you, and the centre of your worship toward God challenged your views, and perhaps at times you were even a little concerned about what he said – after all you tried your best to follow the Law handed down from Moses, and lived according to it being guided by the doctors of the Law.
Concerned, because there were times when he seemed to be at odds with what the respected members of the worshipping community said or did themselves
And surely it is those people you should trust – isn’t it? After all, surely they’re in their positions of authority because they know exactly what they are talking about…?
But having said all this, some of what Jesus said, really did seem to make sense – truly loving your neighbour and all-that; and not bearing a grudge against each other – surely that somehow seems the right way in which we ought to live?
And more importantly – surely me, and my family will have a place in God’s kingdom at the end of this life – the next life which the Pharisees sometimes talk about.
Incidentally, this is one part of our faith that I think they are right about – believing in the life after this one. It was other lot – the Sadducees who’ve got it wrong who think that this life on earth is all we have. I guess that’s why they’re: Sad – you – See!
But anyway I really do try to live the best way I can – and it’s really not my fault I can’t always afford to pay my temple taxes; not with what I earn from olive growing – surly Jesus was right when he seemed to say it’s the intentions of the heart which matter?
I really did used to like the things that Jesus said.
Even though some it went against what our doctors of the law taught – somehow, he seemed more – well, real. Almost God-like I guess.
Although at times He was a bit of a rebel. Over turning the money changing tables in the Temple was, well just asking for trouble. And I also heard that there were times when he disregarded the Sabbath too, like when he and his disciples were picking the ears of corn from the fields to eat.
There were just too many times when he seemed to come into conflict with the Jewish authorities, and so in a way it is not surprising that they were plotting for a way to get rid of him.
But I don’t understand how most of his friends seemed to desert him too. In fact one of them even went so far as to deny having known Jesus, and yet this was one of the people who was with Jesus everyday as he went about his teaching.
And it made me very sad though when I saw Jesus carrying his cross through the crowds towards his execution. Crucifixion is a brutal and barbaric death for anyone, but I’m certain Jesus didn’t deserve what happened to him.
Now until today – I thought that was the end of him. He’s not the first person to have been got rid of in this was by the occupying Romans – after all, I reckon he might have started to become a bit a problem to them too.
But something happened today that I can’t quite explain, but which just seems too exciting and more importantly real for me to just ignore.
At morning I was up at sun-rise to pick my olives before the heat of the day set in. I then loaded the baskets of olives onto the donkey to set off for the local weekly market in the town.
Whilst I was setting up my stall, one of my friends came excitedly rushing over to speak to me. He told me that something incredible had happened and that he had seen Jesus walking through the market, and stopping to speak to some of his friends who were selling the fish they had caught this morning.
At first I didn’t believe him and wondered if he was drunk…
However, curiosity got the better of me and I wandered over to the other side of the market to see for myself. And it was true! Jesus was alive! I wanted to go up and speak to him myself but felt a little unsure of doing this, after all this man didn’t really know me. Or did he?
Jesus must have realised I was staring at him and looked directly over to where I was standing and started to walk towards me. At first I felt embarrassed, but then in a moment Jesus was standing right next to me and its hard to explain but suddenly something overcame my shyness and as I looked into his eyes I felt I had known Him all of my life.
But although it was Jesus he looked different somehow – somehow he was even more than he was before, I can’t explain it. We only held eye contact for probably only a few seconds, although it seemed a lot longer and suddenly he was gone. I turned around to see where he was, but he was no-where to be seen.
But I wasn’t the only one there, there must have been over five-hundred people in that market that day who saw the same thing, and so I knew I hadn’t been dreaming.
I have also heard that other people have seen him too in other places, including those who were his closest followers during the time he went about teaching and healing people.
I even heard he appeared in person to this man called Saul, or Paul as he is now calling himself. And he has gone from persecuting the followers of Jesus to claiming to be a follower himself.
I’m not sure if this Paul can be trusted, as he could be trying to trick us in some way. Only time will tell. But if he is telling the truth then perhaps Paul is someone to listen too right now…
So I have decided I am going to try to learn more about what Jesus was teaching, and understand what he was all about. I don’t have all the answers yet, but then, who does?
But if Jesus really has risen from the dead, then I think it’s something we ought to pay attention to, and maybe looked back at all he said over these last three years.
Maybe he was right about the doctors of the law who sit in our temple. Maybe they have had it their own way too long.
After all, they seem to like to tell others what to do but never seem to do it themselves. Hypocrites Jesus called them!
I realise I’m taking a huge risk here, listening to the teachings of someone people say is dead, however, I feel in my heart and believe that I did encounter Jesus, and that he’s not dead after all but is alive today, and so I want to learn more, and maybe to grow to become more like him too.