Jesus in and Around Lesser Sephoris. His Different Ways of Curing the Sick
Jesus went from Capharnaum to Nazareth, the Galilean disciples accompanying Him for about five hours. He instructed them on the way concerning their future vocation. He counseled Peter to leave the borders of the lake, take up his abode in his house near Capharnaum, and give up his business. They passed several cities, also the little lake with the country seats around it. In a shepherd field two possessed men came running to Jesus and implored to be cured. They were the owners of the herds browsing around, and were only now and then tormented by the devil. Just at that time they were free from his influence. Jesus would not cure them, but commanded them first to amend their ways. He made use of an example: If a man was sick from overloading his stomach, and wanted to get well in order to indulge in new excesses, what would they think of him? The men turned away quite ashamed. The disciples left Jesus a couple of hours from Sephoris and returned to Peter’s, Saturnin among them. There were only two with Him now. They were from Jerusalem, and were on their way home. Jesus went to Lower Sephoris, or Lesser Sephoris, and put up with the relatives of St. Anne. It was not, however, at Anne’s paternal home, for that was between this Sephoris and Upper Sephoris, the latter distant about an hour. There were many houses lying around in a circle of five hours, all belonging to the city of Sephoris. Jesus did not go at this time to Upper Sephoris, where were schools of the various sects and tribunals of justice.
There were not many rich people in Lower Sephoris. They manufactured cloth and the rich women made silk tassels and laces for the service of the Temple. The whole region was like an enchanting garden, consisting of many little hamlets with country seats, gardens, and walks scattered among them. Greater Sephoris was a far more important place; it was very large and possessed many castles. The country around was lovely and abounded in springs. The cattle were of extraordinary size.
Jesus’ relatives had three sons, one of whom, by name Colaja, was His disciple. The mother wanted Jesus to admit the others also into the number of His disciples, and brought forward the sons of Mary Cleophas as an argument in her own favor. Jesus gave her room to hope. After the death of Christ, these sons were ordained to the priesthood at Eleutheropolis by Joses Barsabas, the Bishop of that place.
Jesus taught in the synagogue before a great concourse assembled from the country around. He went also with His cousins out of the city, and gave instructions here and there to little crowds of people that followed Him or were waiting for Him. On His return He cured many sick persons outside the synagogue, then entering, He taught of marriage and divorce. He reproached the Doctors with having made additions to the Law. He pointed to a certain place in a roll of parchment, accused one of the oldest among them of having inserted it, convicted him of fraud, and commanded him to erase the passage. The old man humbled himself before Jesus, even prostrating at His feet in presence of all the others, acknowledged his fault, and thanked for the lesson just received.
Jesus spent the night in prayer. From the house of His relatives in Lesser Sephoris He went to that which had in former times belonged to Anne’s father. It was situated between Lesser Sephoris and Greater Sephoris. There was now only one disciple with Him. The present occupants of the house were, in consequence of frequent marriages, no longer related to Jesus. There was only one old woman who could still claim relationship. She was dropsical and bedridden. Her usual companion was a little blind boy, who sat by her bedside. Jesus prayed with the old woman, making her repeat after Him. He laid His hand for an instant on her head, then on the region of the stomach. She began to grow faint, remained unconscious for about a minute, and then found herself quite relieved. Jesus ordered her to rise. The dropsy had not entirely disappeared, but the woman could walk, and soon
after, without difficulty, through copious perspiration and the healthful action of nature, she was entirely freed from her trouble. She interceded with Jesus for the blind boy. He was about eight years old, and had never seen nor spoken, although he could hear. The old woman praised his piety and obedience. Jesus put His forefinger into the child’s mouth, then breathing upon His thumbs or moistening them with saliva, He held them upon the closed eyes of the boy while He prayed, His eyes raised to Heaven. Suddenly the child opened his eyes, and the first object he beheld was Jesus His Redeemer! Out of himself with joy and amazement, he threw himself into Jesus’ arms, stammering his thanks, and then fell weeping at His feet. Jesus admonished him affectionately to be obedient and to love his parents. He told him that if, when blind, he had exercised those virtues, he should more faithfully practice them now that he could see, and never use his eyes to sin. Then in came the parents and the whole family, and there were intense joy and thanksgiving.
Jesus did not always operate His cures in the same manner, though performing them in much the same way as the Apostles, the saints, and the priests after them down to our own day. He laid hands upon and prayed with the sick, but His action was quicker than that of the Apostles. He performed His cures and other miracles as models for His followers and disciples. He always made the manner of their performance conform to the evil and the special needs of those that had recourse to Him. He touched the lame, their muscles were loosened, and they stood upright. The broken parts of fractured members He placed together, and they united. He touched the leprous, and immediately at the touch of His divine hand, I saw the blisters drying and peeling off, leaving behind the red scars. These, little by little, though more quickly than was usual in ordinary cures, disappeared. The greater or less merit of the invalid often determined the rapidity of his cure. I never saw a humpback instantly become straight, nor a crooked bone suddenly become a perfectly formed one. Not that Jesus could not have produced such effects, but His miracles were not intended as spectacles for a gazing multitude. They were works of mercy, they were symbolical images of His mission, a releasing, a reconciliation, an instruction, a development, a redeeming. As He desired man’s cooperation in the work of his own Redemption, so too did He demand from those that asked of Him a miraculous cure their own cooperation by faith, hope, love, contrition, and reformation of life. Every state had its own manner of treatment. As every malady of the body symbolized some malady of the spiritual order, some sin or the chastisement due to it, so did every cure symbolize some grace, some conversion, or the cure of some particular spiritual evil. It was only in presence of pagans that I saw Jesus some-times operating more astonishing, more prodigious miracles. The miracles of the Apostles and of saints that came after them were far more striking than those of Our Lord and far more contrary to the usual course of nature, for the heathens needed to be strongly affected, while the Jews needed only to be freed from their bonds. Jesus often cured by prayer at a distance, and often by a glance, especially in the case of women afflicted by a bloody flux. They did not venture to approach Him, nor dared they do so according to the Jewish laws. Such laws as carried with them some mysterious signification He followed, others He ignored. Jesus went afterward to a school situated at an equal distance from Nazareth and from Lesser Sephoris. Parmenas, the disciple from Nazareth, went thither to meet Him. He had been one of the companions of Jesus’ boyhood, and he would have joined the disciples at once, were it not for his aged parents at Nazareth. He supported them by executing commissions.
There were many Doctors and Pharisees in the school of Lesser Sephoris and Greater Sephoris, also some people who had assembled to argue with Jesus on that passage relating to divorce which He had declared unlawful, and for the insertion of which passage He had reprehended the Doctor in the synagogue. That reprehension of Jesus had been very badly received in Greater Sephoris, for the addition made to the Law on that point was in keeping with the teaching of the Pharisees. In this city divorces were obtained on most insignificant pretexts, and there was even an asylum for the reception of repudiated wives. The Doctor who had been guilty of the interpolation had transcribed a roll of the Law and inserted little false interpretations here and there. They disputed a long time with Jesus, affirming that they could not understand how He could presume to expunge that passage. He reduced them to silence, though not to the acknowledgment of their error, as He had done the first. He showed them the prohibition against any interpolation, and consequently the obligation of expunging such a passage. He demonstrated to them the falsity of their explanations, and sharply rebuked them for the facility with which the marriage bond was dissolved in their city. He enumerated some cases in which it would be quite unlawful for the husband to put away his wife, but said that if one party could not live in peace with the other, they might with permission separate. The stronger party, however, ought not without cause drive away the weaker one against the will of the latter. But Jesus’ words did not effect much among His opponents. They were vexed and proud, but they could not gainsay His arguments. The Doctor of the Law who had been reprimanded and converted by Jesus in Lower Sephoris separated entirely from the Pharisees and made known to the people that he would for the future teach the Law without addition. If they were unwilling to retain him on those conditions, he would withdraw. The interpolated passage in the Law of divorce ran as follows: “If before marriage one of the parties has had illicit communication with a third person, the marriage is invalid. The third person has the right to claim the one with whom he or she has sinned, even though the parties of the present marriage desire to remain united.” Jesus inveighed against this, and declared the law of divorce to have been given to a barbarous people only. Two of the most distinguished Pharisees engaged in the dispute were precisely in that predicament. They were preparing to avail themselves of that interpolation with regard to divorce, and therefore had they been zealous in proclaiming that part of their so-called law. This fact was not publicly known, but Jesus knew it and therefore He said to them: “In defending this distortion of the Law, are you not perhaps defending your own case also?” at which words they fell into a fury.
Jesus in Nazareth. The Pharisees Want to Cast Him Down a Mountain
Jesus went from this place to Nazareth, the distance being about two hours. He taught outside the city in the dwelling belonging to the children of His deceased friend, Eliud the Essenian. They washed His feet, gave Him some refreshment, and remarked how rejoiced the Nazarenes would be at His coming. Jesus replied that their joy would be of short duration, since they would not care to hear what He must say to them, and then He went into the city. Someone had been appointed to wait for Him at the gate. Scarcely had He made His appearance when several Pharisees and a crowd of people came forward to meet Him. They received Him very ceremoniously and wanted to conduct Him to a public inn where they had prepared for Him a feast of welcome before the Sabbath. But Jesus refused to partake of it, saying that He had just now other work on hand. He went immediately to the synagogue, whither He was followed by the Pharisees and a concourse of people. The hour of the Sabbath had not yet sounded.
Jesus taught of the coming of the Kingdom and the fulfillment of the Prophecies. Asking for the Book of Isaias, He unrolled it and read as follows: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because the Lord hath anointed Me: He hath sent me to preach to the meek, to heal the contrite of heart, and to preach a release to the captives, and deliverance to them that are shut up.” ( 61:1). The manner in which Jesus read this text gave His hearers to understand that it was spoken of Himself, that the Spirit of God had descended upon Himself, that He Himself had come to announce salvation to poor, suffering humanity, that all wrong should be made right, widows should be consoled, the sick cured, sinners forgiven. His words were so beautiful, so loving that, wondering and full of joy, they said one to another: “He speaks as if He Himself were the Messiah!” They were so carried away with admiration for Him that they became quite vain of the fact that He belonged to their own city. Jesus went on teaching after the Sabbath began. He spoke of the voice of the Precursor in the desert, and said that all things should be made even, the crooked ways straight, etc.
The instructions over, Jesus accepted a meal that had been prepared for Him. The people behaved toward Him in a very friendly manner, and told Him that they had many sick whom He must cure. Jesus excused Himself. But they thought that He meant: “Not today. Wait till tomorrow.” After the meal, He returned to the Essenians outside the city. As they were congratulating Him upon the kind reception He had received, He told them to wait till the following day when they would have another story to tell.
When Jesus went next morning to the synagogue, a Jew whose turn it was to read was about to take the roll of Scriptures. But Jesus desired them to hand it to Him. He taught from Deuteronomy, chapter 4, of the obedience due to the Commandments, from which nothing must be taken and to which nothing must be added. He reminded them that, although Moses had zealously repeated to the Children of Israel all that God commanded, yet they had frequently violated His ordinances. The Ten Commandments presented themselves in the course of the reading, and Jesus explained the first, that on the love of God. He spoke very severely, reproaching them with the additions they made to the Law, laying burdens upon the poor people, and not fulfilling the Law itself. He assailed them so sharply on this point that they became angry, for they could not say that He was uttering falsehood. But they murmured and said one to another: “How does He dare all at once to speak so boldly! He has been away from His native city only a short time, and now He wants to pass Himself off for some extraordinary personage. He speaks as if He were the Messiah. But we know His father, the poor carpenter, well, and we know Him too. Where did He learn the Scriptures? How can He dare presume to interpret for us?” And so they went on, growing more and more excited against Him, for they were mortified to have been thus convicted before all the people.
But Jesus quietly continued His teaching, and went when it suited Him out to the Essenian family. Here He was visited by the sons of the rich man, the youths who some time previously had so earnestly asked to be received among the disciples, and whose parents were aiming only at worldly renown and science for them. They pressed Jesus to dine with them, but He declined. Then they renewed their entreaties to be received among His followers, saying that they had fulfilled all that He had on a former occasion commanded them. Jesus replied: “If ye have done that, there is no need of becoming My pupils. You are yourselves masters,” and with these words He dismissed them.
Jesus ate and taught in the family circle of the Essenians, who told Him in how many ways they were annoyed by their neighbors. He counseled them to remove to Capharnaum, where He Himself would dwell in the future.
Meantime the Pharisees had consulted together, had incited one another against Jesus, and had come to the determination that, if He spoke so boldly again that evening, they would show Him that He had no right to do so in Nazareth, and would perpetrate upon Him what had so long been desired in Jerusalem. Still they were not without hope that He would yield to their wishes and, through respect for them, work some miracle in their presence. When He returned to the synagogue for the close of the Sabbath, He found lying in front of it some sick who had been brought there by order of the Pharisees. But He passed through them without curing any. He went on with His discourse in the synagogue, speaking of the plenitude of time, of His own mission, of the last chance of grace, of the depravity of the Pharisees and the punishment in store for them if they did not reform, and impressed upon them the fact of His own coming to help, to heal, and to teach. They became more and more displeased, especially when He said: “But ye say to Me, ‘Physician, cure Thyself! In Capharnaum and elsewhere, Thou hast wrought miracles. Do the same here in Thy native city!’ But I say to you no prophet is accepted in his own country.” Then comparing the present to a time of famine and the different cities to poor widows, He said: “There was great famine throughout the land in the time of Elias, and there were many widows in those days, but the Prophet was sent to none but the widow of Sarepta. And there were many lepers in the days of Eliseus, but he cleansed none but Naaman the Syrian,” and so Jesus compared their city to a leper who was not healed. They became terribly furious at being likened unto lepers, and, rising up from their seats, they stormed against Him and made as if they would seize Him. But He said: “Observe your own laws and break not the Sabbath! When it is over do what you propose to do.” They allowed Him to proceed with His discourse, though they kept up the murmuring among themselves and addressed scornful words to Him. Soon after they left their places and went down to the door.
Jesus, however, continued to teach and explain His last words, after which He, too, left the synagogue. Outside the door, He found Himself surrounded by about twenty angry Pharisees who laid hands on Him, saying: “Come on up with us to a height from which Thou canst advance some more of Thy doctrines! There we can answer Thee as Thy teaching ought to be answered.” Jesus told them to take their hands off, that He would go with them. They surrounded Him like a guard, the crowd following. The moment the Sabbath ended, jeers and insults arose on all sides. They raged and hooted, each trying to outdo his neighbor in the number and quality of his scoffing attacks upon Jesus. “We will answer Thee!” they cried. “Thou shalt go to the widow of Sarepta! Thou shalt cleanse Naaman the Syrian! Art Thou Elias? And art Thou going to drive up to Heaven? Well, we’ll show Thee a good starting place! Who art Thou? Why didst Thou not bring Thy followers with Thee? Ah, Thou wast afraid. Was it not here that Thou, like Thy poor parents, gained Thy daily bread? And now that Thou hast whereon to live, wilt Thou turn us to scorn! But we will listen to Thee! Thou shalt speak in the open air before all the people, and we will answer Thee!” and thus shouting and raging they led Jesus up the mountain. He, meanwhile, quietly went on teaching as usual, answering their vain talk with passages from Holy Scripture and significant words that sometimes put them to shame, and at others threw them into greater rage.
The synagogue was in the western part of Nazareth. It was already dark and two of the crowd bore torches. They led Jesus around by the eastern side of the synagogue, then turned into a broad street that ran westward out of the city. Ascending the mountain, they reached a lofty spur which on the northern side overlooked a marshy pool, and on the south formed a rocky projection over a steep precipice. It was from this point they were in the habit of precipitating malefactors. Here they intended once more to call Jesus to account, and then to hurl Him down. The abyss ended in a narrow ravine. They were not far from the scene of action when Jesus, who had been led as a prisoner among them, stood still, while they continued their way mocking and jeering. At that instant I saw two tall figures of light near Jesus, who took a few steps back through the hotly pursuing crowd, reached the city wall on the mountain ridge of Nazareth, and followed it till He came to the gate by which He had entered the evening before. He went straight to the house of the Essenian. The good people had not been anxious about His safety. They believed in Him and were expecting His return. He spoke to them of the late occurrence, reminded them that He had foretold it, again bade them go to Capharnaum and, after about half an hour, left the city in the direction of Capharnaum.
Nothing was more laughable than the perplexity, the alarm, the silly plight of the Pharisees when, all on a sudden, they found Jesus no more among them. The cry was raised: “Halt! Where is He? Halt!” The crowd came rushing on, the Pharisees pressed back upon them, the narrow path became a scene of confusion and uproar. They laid hold of one another, they squabbled and shouted, they ran to all the ravines, and poked their torches into the caves, thinking that He had hidden therein. They endangered neck and limb in their fruitless search, and one upbraided the other for having allowed Him to slip away. Quiet was not restored until long after Jesus had left the city, and then they set guards upon and around the whole mountain. Returning to the city, the Pharisees said: “Now we have seen what He is—a magician. The devil has helped Him. He will soon spring up again in some other place, and throw all around Him into confusion.”
Jesus had ordered His disciples to leave Nazareth at the close of the exercises in the synagogue, and await Him at a certain place on the road to Tarichaea. Saturnin and other disciples from Capharnaum had received the same directions. All met Jesus at dawn and with Him took a little rest in a retired vale. Saturnin had brought some bread and honey. Jesus told them of what had taken place at Nazareth, and bade them be calm and obedient, in order not to interfere with His work by stirring up too great excitement among the populace of different cities. Then they took a retired route through the valleys and past cities toward the effluence of the Jordan from the Sea of Galilee. A large, fortified city lay at the southern extremity on a tongue of land not far from the outlet of the Jordan. A large bridge and a dam led to it. Between the city and the lake was a gently sloping plain covered with verdure. The city was called Tarichaea.
Cure of Lepers at Tarichaea. Jesus Instructs His Disciples In Similitudes
Jesus did not go into the city. Taking a bypath, He drew near the southern wall not far from the gate. On the exterior side of this wall was a row of huts built purposely for the leprous. As Jesus approached them, He said to the disciples: “Stand at some distance and call out the lepers. Tell them to follow Me, and I will cleanse them! When they come out, do ye stand at a distance that ye may not be alarmed nor contract stain. Moreover do not speak of what ye shall see, for ye remember the fury of the Nazarenes. Ye must not scandalize anyone.” Then Jesus went on a little toward the Jordan while the disciples called to the sick: “Come out and follow the Prophet of Nazareth! He will help you!” When the disciples saw the poor sufferers coming out of their huts, they hurried away. Jesus, turning out of the road that led to the city, walked slowly toward the region of the Jordan. Five men of different ages answered the disciples’ invitation and issued from the cells in the city wall. They were clothed in white garments long and wide, but wore no girdle. On their head was a cowl from which fell over the face a black flap with holes in it for the eyes. They followed Jesus in single file to a retired spot, where He paused. There the first threw himself at His feet and kissed the hem of His robe. Jesus turned, laid His hand upon the leper’s head, prayed over him, blessed him, and bade him step aside. He did in like manner to the second, and so on even to the fifth and last. They now removed their masks, uncovered their hands, and the crust of the leprosy peeled entirely off. Jesus warned them against the sins by which they had brought upon themselves that sickness, told them how they should henceforth conduct themselves, and commanded them not to say anything about His having cured them. But they replied: “Lord, Thou didst come so suddenly to us! So long have we hoped for Thee, so long sighed for Thee, and we had no one to tell Thee of our misery, no one to bring Thee to us! Lord, Thou didst come to us so unexpectedly! How can we restrain our joy? How can we be silent about Thy miracle!” Jesus repeated that they must not speak of it until they had fulfilled the Law. They should show themselves to the priests that they might see they were clean, offer the prescribed sacrifices, and perform the prescribed purifications; then they might proclaim their cure. At these words the five men again fell on their knees giving thanks, and then went back to their cells. Jesus continued His way to the Jordan and there rejoined the disciples. These five lepers were not closely confined. There was a certain space marked out for them around which they could go. No one went near them, and it was only from a distance that anyone spoke to them. Their food was deposited in a certain place on platters, which were not used a second time. The lepers broke and buried them. A new dish of little value was given them with every fresh supply of food.
Jesus walked with the disciples some distance toward the Jordan through delightful groves and avenues, and in a retired spot rested and took some refreshment. After that they crossed the river in a little boat. Boats of this kind lay at intervals along the shore for the accommodation of travelers, who could by that means ferry themselves over. The workmen, living at different distances along the shore, saw that the boats were taken back to where they belonged. Jesus, with the four disciples, did not journey close to the lake, but up toward the east, to the city of Galaad. The four disciples with Him were Parmenas of Nazareth, Saturnin, and two brothers: one called Tharzissus, the other Aristobolus. Tharzissus afterward became the Bishop of Athens. Aristobolus later on was associated to Barnabas. I heard that with the word “brother”; but he was his spiritual brother only. He was a great deal with Paul and Barnabas, and I think he became a bishop of Britany.1 Lazarus had brought the two brothers to Jesus. They were foreigners, I think Greeks, whose father had settled lately in Jerusalem. They were shipping merchants. Some of their slaves, or servants, when journeying with a caravan, had gone with their beasts of burden to hear John’s teaching and had been baptized by him. It was by means of these servants that the young men’s parents heard of John and Jesus. Taking their sons, they went themselves to John, and both father and sons were baptized and circumcised, after which the whole family removed to Jerusalem. They were not without means, but later on they relinquished all their wealth in favor of the rising community of Christians. Both the young men were tall, dark-complexioned, and clever; both had received a polite education. They were fine-looking young men, active and skillful at arranging things and making all comfortable on journeys.
A little river watered the country up which Jesus was now journeying, and at a certain place He crossed it. The Prophet Elias had once been in these parts. Jesus recalled the fact and, during the whole journey, instructed the disciples in simple similitudes borrowed from various conditions of life, from the several professions, from the groves and stones and plants and places that presented themselves on the road. The disciples questioned Him upon all that had happened to Him in Sephoris and Nazareth. He spoke to them of marriage in connection with the dispute He had had with the Pharisees, at Sephoris, upon the question of divorce. The conjugal bond is indissoluble. Divorce was granted by Moses in favor of a barbarous, sinful people only.
The disciples questioned Jesus also upon the reproach made Him by the Nazarenes, that He had no love for His neighbor, and in His own city, which ought to be the nearest and dearest to Him, He would work no cures. They asked if one’s fellow townsmen should not be looked upon as neighbors. Then Jesus gave them a long instruction upon the love of the neighbor, proposing to them all kinds of similitudes and questions, the former of which He drew from different states of life in the world. He dwelt long upon them and pointed out place after place that rose up in the distance, and said in which such or such an industry was especially pursued. He spoke, too, of those that were to follow Him. They were, He said, to leave father and mother, and yet obey the Fourth Commandment. They must treat their native city as He had done Nazareth, if so it deserved of them, and still exercise the love of the neighbor. God, their Heavenly Father, and He who had been sent by Him, had the first claim to their love. Then He spoke of the love of the neighbor such as the world understands it, and of the publicans of Galaad (which city they were then passing), who loved those most that paid them the highest tax. He pointed afterward to Dalmanutha, which lay to the left, and said: “Those tentmakers and carpet-weavers love as their neighbor those that buy many tents from them, but their own poor they leave without shelter.”
He then borrowed a comparison from the sandal makers, which had reference to the vain curiosity of the people of Nazareth. “I have no need,” He said, “of their homage which they clothe in beautiful colors like the variegated sandals in the workshop of the sandal maker, but which will afterward be trodden underfoot in the mud.” And again, pointing to a certain city, He said: “They are like the sandal maker of that city. They slight and disparage their own children, and so the latter are forced to go abroad. But when among strangers they have learned a new style of making beautiful, green sandals, their fellow citizens recall them through desire to see their work. They boast of the new-fashioned articles which, like the glory attached to them, are soon to be trodden underfoot.” Then Jesus put the question: “Suppose a traveler tears one of his sandals and goes to a sandal maker’s to buy one. Will the latter present him with the other one, also?” In this way Jesus drew comparisons from fishermen, architects, and other avocations.
The disciples asked Him where He intended to fix His abode, whether He would build a house in Capharnaum. He answered that He would not build upon sand, and He mentioned another city that He had to found. I could not so well understand the conversation between Jesus and the disciples when they were walking; when they were seated I could hear better. I remember this much, however, that Jesus expressed His desire for a little boat, that He might go here and there upon the lake. He wanted to teach on water as well as on land.
They now went into the country of Galaaditis. Abraham and Lot had sojourned here, and even at that early period had divided the country between them. Jesus referred to that circumstance. He told the disciples also that in order to avoid scandalizing anyone, they should not speak of the lepers who had lately been cleansed. He warned them to be particularly circumspect now to cause no excitement, for the Nazarenes would certainly stir up alarm and hatred. He told them that on the Sabbath He would again teach in Capharnaum. They should then have a chance to see the love of the neighbor and the gratitude of men exemplified, for the welcome extended to Him this time would be very different from that received on the occasion of the cure of the Centurion’s son.
They may have been journeying for some hours to the northeast around a curve of the lake, when they arrived near Galaad to the south of Gamala. As in most of the cities in this district, the population was made up of heathens and Jews. The disciples were disposed to enter the city. But Jesus told them that, if He went to the Jews of the place, they would neither welcome Him nor give Him anything; and if to the heathens, the Jews would be scandalized and would pursue Him with calumny. He predicted the entire destruction of the city, saying that iniquity abounded in it.
The disciples spoke of a certain Agabus, a prophet living at that time in Argob, a city of that region. For a long time, he had had numerous visions of Jesus and His doings, and had lately uttered some prophecies regarding Him. Later on Agabus joined the disciples. Jesus informed them that Agabus was the son of Herodian parents, who had reared him in the errors of their sect, but he had afterward rejected them. He called the sects beautifully covered sepulchers full of corruption.
The Herodians were numerous on the west side of the Jordan in Perea, Trachonitis, and especially in Ituraea. They lived very privately and had some kind of mysterious organization by which they secretly helped one another. Many poor people applied to them, and received immediate relief. These Herodians were outwardly great sticklers for the prescriptions of the Pharisees; in secret they aimed at freeing Judea from the Roman yoke, and consequently were closely attached to Herod. They were something like the modern freemasons. I understood from Jesus’ words that they feigned to be very holy and magnanimous, but in reality they were hypocrites.
Jesus and the disciples remained at some distance from Galaad at an inn resorted to by publicans. Quite a number of them were gathered there at the time, to whom the heathens paid taxes on their imported goods. They did not appear to know Jesus, and He did not address them. He taught, however, of the nearness of the Kingdom, and of the father who had sent his son into the vineyard. He gave them very clearly to understand that He Himself was the Son, adding that all who do His will are children of the Father. But these last words perplexed them. Jesus exhorted them to Baptism. Many were converted, and asked whether or not they should be baptized by John’s disciples. He answered that they should wait patiently until His own disciples baptized in those parts. The disciples also asked their Master today whether His Baptism was different from that of John, because they had received the latter. Jesus, in His answer, made a distinction between the two, calling John’s a baptism of penance.
In Jesus’ instruction to the publicans, something entered relating to the Trinity, something about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost in their Unity, though expressed in other terms. The disciples were not at all reserved before the publicans of this place.
As Jesus when in Nazareth had stopped with the Essenians, a circumstance that drew upon Him the reproaches of the Pharisees, the disciples put questions to Him concerning that sect. I heard Jesus answering in sentences expressive of praise, though interrogative in form. Mentioning various ways by which justice and fraternal love might be wounded, He asked after each: “Do the Essenians do this? Do the Essenians do that?” etc.
Near Galaad some possessed, who were running around in a desolate region outside the city, began to cry after Jesus. They were perfectly abandoned. They robbed and killed anyone that ventured within their reach, and committed diverse kinds of excesses. Jesus looked back after them and gave them His blessing. They instantly ceased to rave, were freed from the evil spirit and, hurrying to Him, fell at His feet. He exhorted them to penance and Baptism, though bidding them wait for the latter until His disciples should go to Ennon to baptize. The country about Galaad was rocky, of a white, brittle formation.
Jesus and the disciples went from here across the mountain, to the south of which lay Gamala, and took a northwesterly direction to the lake. He passed Gerasa which, at about one hour’s distance, lay between two ridges of the mountain. Nearby was a kind of morass formed from a brook whose waters were dammed up, and whose only outlet into the lake was through a ravine. Jesus related to the disciples some incidents connected with this place: The people of Gerasa had once upon a time ridiculed a Prophet, on account of his misshapen form, whereupon he had said to them: “Listen, O ye that insult my misfortune! Your children shall remain obdurate when One greater than I shall teach and heal in this place. Troubled at the loss of their unclean herds, they will not rejoice at the salvation that is offered them.” This was a prophecy regarding Jesus Christ and the driving of Satan into the swine.
Jesus told the disciples what awaited Him in Capharnaum: that the Pharisees of Sephoris, exasperated by His teaching upon divorce, had sent their emissaries to Jerusalem; that the Nazarenes had joined their complaints to theirs; and that a whole troop of Pharisees from Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Sephoris was now dispatched to Capharnaum, to be on the watch for Him and to dispute against Him.
Just at this moment they encountered several immense caravans of heathens with mules and oxen. The latter had great, thick jaws, broad, heavy horns, and went along with lowered head. It was a trading caravan going from Syria into Egypt. They had come over into the country of Gerasa partly in ships, and partly over the bridge of the Jordan higher up. There were many among them who had joined the caravan for the purpose of hearing the Prophet. A company waited upon Jesus to know whether the Prophet would teach in Capharnaum. But He told them that they should not now go to Capharnaum, but encamp on the declivity of the mountain to the north of Gerasa, whither the Prophet would soon go. There was something in Jesus’ tone and manner that made them respond: “Master, Thou too art a Prophet!” and His glance roused in them the doubt as to whether He might not Himself be the one for whom they were in search.
When Jesus entered the inn outside Gerasa with His disciples there to lodge, the crowd of heathens and travelers was so great that He left at once, but the disciples stayed with the heathens, talking to them of the Prophet and instructing them.
Gerasa lay on the declivity of a valley about an hour and a half from the lake. It was larger and cleaner than Capharnaum and, like almost all the cities of these parts, it had a mixed population of heathens and Jews. The former had their own temples. The latter formed the poor and oppressed portion of the inhabitants, although they had their synagogue and Rabbi. There was much business carried on and the trades were numerous, for the caravans from Syria and Asia passed through Gerasa going down into Egypt. I saw before the city gate a long building, seven and a half minutes in length, wherein were manufactured long iron bars and pipes. They forged the bars flat, and then soldered them together into a circular form. Leaden pipes also were made. The furnaces at which they worked were not fed with wood, but with some kind of a black mass dug out of the earth. The iron they used came from Argob.
The heathens of the caravan had encamped to the north of Gerasa and on the southern side of the rising mountain. To the same place some heathens belonging to the city had come, also some Jews; but these latter stood apart by themselves. The heathens were differently clad from the Jews, their tunics reaching only halfway down the lower limbs. Some of them must have been rich, for I saw women who had their hair so braided with pearls as to form a perfect cap. Some wore it on the top of the head above their veil, braided with pearls into a little basket.
Jesus ascended the mountainside, where walking about He taught the crowds. He went among them, here and there, and at times He stood still, keeping up a kind of conversation with the travelers. He addressed them questions, which He answered Himself in words full of instruction. He asked, for instance: “Whence are ye? What impelled you to take this journey? What do ye expect from the Prophet?” and then He taught them what they must become, in order to share in salvation. He said: “Blessed are they that have journeyed so long and so toilsome a way, to seek salvation! But woe to them among whom it arises and who will not receive it!” He explained the Prophecy of the Messiah and the call of the heathens, told of that of the Three Kings (of whom these people knew) and also of their expedition in obedience to it.
In the caravan were some people from that country and city where the envoy of Abgarus of Edessa had stayed overnight near the brick kilns, on his return journey with Jesus’ picture and letter. Jesus did not cure any sick here. The strangers were for the most part well-disposed, but there were some among them who regretted having undertaken such a journey. They had expected to hear something very different from the Prophet’s words, something more flattering to the senses.
After these instructions, into which Jesus introduced many similitudes, He went with His four disciples to dine with a Jewish Doctor of the Law, a Pharisee, who dwelt outside the city. He had invited Jesus to be his guest, though his pride prevented his appearing at the instruction given the heathens. There were present at table some other Pharisees from the city. They received Jesus in a friendly manner which, however, was only feigned, for they were hypocrites. A circumstance occurred during the course of the meal that gave Jesus a suitable opportunity for telling them the truth. A heathen slave, or servant, laid upon the table a beautiful dish of many colors filled with confectionery, made of spices kneaded together in the shape of birds and flowers. One of the guests raised the alarm. There was, he said, something unclean on the dish, and he pushed the poor slave back, called him opprobrious names, and put him last among the other servants. Jesus interposed: “Not the dish, but what is in it is full of uncleanness.” The master of the house replied: “Thou mistakest, those sweetmeats are perfectly clean and very costly.” Jesus responded in words like these: “They are truly unclean! They are nothing else than sensual pleasures made of the sweat, the blood, the marrow, and the tears of widows, orphans, and the poor,” and He read them a severe lesson upon their manner of acting, their prodigality, their covetousness, and their hypocrisy. They grew wrathy, but could make no reply. They quitted the house, leaving Jesus alone with the host. This latter was very smooth and affable toward Jesus, but it was all hypocrisy. He was hoping in this way to entrap Him and get something at last to report against Him to the committee at Capharnaum.
Toward evening Jesus again taught the heathens on the mountain. When they asked Him whether they should be baptized by John and expressed a wish to settle in Palestine, Jesus counseled them to put off their Baptism until better instructed. He told them, moreover, to go first of all across the Jordan to Upper Galilee and into the region of Adama, where they would find good people and heathens already instructed, and where He Himself would again teach. It was dark and Jesus taught by torchlight. The instruction over, He left His hearers, and went to the shore of the lake and down to the spot where Peter’s men were waiting for Him with a boat. It was late. The three sailors made use of lights when they disembarked about half an hour below Bethsaida-Julias. Peter and Andrew, with the help of their servants, had built especially for His use the little boat in which Jesus had crossed. They were not only mariners and fishermen, but shipbuilders also.
Peter owned three vessels, one of them very large, as long as a house, Jesus’ little boat held about ten men. It was oval in form, almost like an egg. In the forepart and stern were enclosed places for storing, and affording accommodations for washing the feet. In the center rose the mast with poles extended from it to the sides of the vessel for support; above and around these poles swung the sails. The seats were ranged around the mast. Jesus often taught from this little barque, which He used likewise to cross from point to point and to sail about among the other ships. The large vessels had around the lower part of the mast decks formed like terraces, or galleries, one above another. They were supported by posts placed at regular intervals, so that a view could be had through them from side to side. They were furnished with canvas curtains that could be drawn so as to form separate compartments like little cells. The poles supporting the mast had projecting rounds to facilitate climbing, and on either side of the vessel were floating chests, or barrels like wings or fins, to prevent its being overturned in a storm. They could be filled with water or emptied, according as it was necessary for the ship to ride more lightly or sink to a greater depth. The fish caught was sometimes preserved in them. At either end of the vessel were movable planks which, on being shoved out, facilitated access to the casks, to neighboring boats, or to the nets. When not in use for fishing purposes, the vessels were held in readiness to transport caravans and travelers across the lake. The sailors and servants of the fishermen were, for the most part, pagan slaves. Peter owned some.
Jesus in Peter’s House. Measures Taken by the Pharisees. Cures
Jesus landed above Bethsaida not far from the house of the lepers where Peter, Andrew, John, James the Greater, James the Less, and Philip were awaiting His coming. He did not go with them through Bethsaida, but took the shorter route over the height to Peter’s dwelling in the valley between that city and Capharnaum, where Mary and the other women were assembled. Peter’s mother-in-law was in bed sick. Jesus went to see her, but did not cure her yet. They washed the Master’s feet and then sat down to a meal, during which the conversation turned principally upon the fact that, from the several most famous schools in Judea and Jerusalem, fifteen Pharisees had been sent to Capharnaum to spy Jesus’ actions. From the larger places, two had been sent; from Sephoris only one; and from Nazareth came that young man who had several times begged of Jesus to be admitted to His disciples, and whom Jesus had again rejected at His last visit to His native city. He had married lately, and was now appointed Scribe of the commission. Jesus said to the disciples: “Behold, for whom you interceded! He desired to become My disciple, and yet he is now come to lay snares for Me!” This young man wanted to join Jesus through a motive of vanity and, not being allowed to do so, he took part with Jesus’ enemies. The Pharisees forming the commission were empowered to remain for some time in Capharnaum. Of those that came in pairs, one returned to report, the second remaining to spy Jesus’ conduct and teaching. They had already held a meeting before which the Centurion Zorobabel, the son, and father had to appear and answer interrogatories respecting the boy’s cure and Jesus’ doctrine. They could neither deny the cure nor challenge the doctrine, nevertheless they could not reconcile themselves to what had happened. They were angry because Jesus had not studied under them; they found fault with His frequenting the company of common people, such as the Essenians, fishermen, publicans, and sinners; they were indignant at His presuming to teach without a mission from Jerusalem, from the Sanhedrin; they were offended at His not having recourse to themselves for counsel and instruction; and they could not endure that He was neither Pharisee nor Sadducee, that He taught among the Samaritans, and cured on the Sabbath day. They were in short furious at the thought that to render Him justice would be to denounce and condemn themselves. The young man from Nazareth was a violent enemy of the Samaritans, whom he persecuted in many ways.
Jesus’ friends and relatives did not want Him to teach in Capharnaum on the Sabbath. Even His Mother was full of anxiety, and she expressed her opinion that it would be more advisable for Him to go to the other side of the lake. From such objections, Jesus turned aside with a few brief words and without explanations.
There were in Bethsaida and Capharnaum immense numbers of sick, of heathens, and Jews. Several troops of the travelers that Jesus had lately met on the other side of the lake were here awaiting Him. Near Bethsaida were large open inns covered with reeds, some for heathens, some for Jews. Above this place were the heathen baths; below were the Jewish.
Peter accommodated many of the Jewish sick in the precincts of his dwelling, and Jesus next morning healed a large number of them. Jesus had said to Peter the evening before that he should leave his fishery on the following day and help Him to fish after men; soon would He call upon him to quit it entirely. Peter obeyed, though not without some inward embarrassment. He was always of the opinion that life with the Master was too high for him, he could not understand it. He believed in Jesus, he saw His miracles, he shared freely his substance with the other disciples, he did willingly all that was enjoined upon him, but yet he felt unfit for such a vocation. He thought himself too simple, too unworthy, and to this was added a secret anxiety for the welfare of his business. Sometimes also it was very vexatious to him to find himself the object of such railleries as, “He is only a poor fisherman, and yet look at him going around with the Prophet! And his house is a perfect rendezvous for fanatics and seditious persons. See how he neglects his business!” All this made it a struggle for Peter since, though full of faith and love, he was not at that time so enthusiastic, so zealous as Andrew and the other disciples. He was timid and humble, attached to his ordinary occupations, and in his simplicity would have preferred being left in the peaceful discharge of them.
Jesus went from Peter’s dwelling over the mountain ridge to the north side of Bethsaida. The whole road was full of sick, pagans and Jews, separate however, the leprous far removed from all others. There were blind, lame, dumb, deaf, paralytic, and an exceedingly large number of dropsical Jews. The ceremony of curing was performed with the greatest order and solemnity. The people had already been two days here, and the disciples of the place, Andrew, Peter, and the others whom Jesus had notified of His coming, had arranged them comfortably in the nooks, retired and shady, and the little gardens on the road. Jesus instructed and admonished the sick, who were carried or led and ranged around Him in groups. Some desired to confess their sins to Him, and He stepped with them to a more retired spot. They sank on their knees before Him, confessing and weeping. Among the heathens were some that had committed murder and robbery on their journeys. Jesus passed by some, leaving them lying unnoticed for a time while He turned to others; but afterwards coming back to them, He exclaimed: “Rise! Thy sins are for-given thee!” Among the Jews were adulterers and usurers. When Jesus saw in them proofs of repentance, He imposed on them a penance, repeated some prayers with them, laid His hands upon them, and cured them. He commanded many to purify themselves in a bath. Some of the heathens He ordered to receive Baptism or to join their converted brethren in Upper Galilee. Band after band passed before Him, and the disciples preserved order.
Jesus went through Bethsaida also. It was crowded with people, as if upon a great pilgrimage. He cured here in the different inns and along the streets. Refreshments had been prepared in Andrew’s house. I saw some children there: Peter’s stepdaughter and some other little girls of about ten years, two others between eight and ten, and Andrew’s little son who wore a yellow tunic with a girdle. There were also some females of advanced age. All were standing on a kind of covered porch outside the house, speaking of the Prophet, asking whether He would soon come, and running from side to side to see whether He were in sight. They had assembled here in order to get a glimpse of Him, though ordinarily the children were kept under greater restraint. At last Jesus passed, turned His head toward them, and gave them His blessing. I saw Him going again to Peter’s and curing many. He cured about one hundred on that day, pardoned their sins, and pointed out to them what they should do in the future.
I saw again that Jesus exercised many different manners of curing, and that probably He did so in order to instruct the disciples as to how they should act, also the ministers of the Church till the end of time. All the actions of Jesus, even His sufferings, appeared to be of a purely human nature. There were no sudden, no magical transformations in the cures He wrought. I saw in them a certain transition from sickness to health analogous to the nature of the malady and the sins that had given rise to it. I saw stealing upon those over whom He prayed or upon whom He laid His hand a certain stillness and inward recollection, which lasted for some moments, when they rose up as if from a slight swoon, cured. The lame rose without effort and cast themselves cured at His feet, though their full strength and agility returned to some only after a few hours, to others not for days. I saw some sick of the dropsy who could totter toward Him without assistance, and others who had to be carried. He generally laid His hand on their head and stomach and pronounced some words, after which they at once arose and walked. They felt quite relieved, the water passing from them in perspiration. The leprous, on being cured, immediately lost the scales of their disease, though still retaining the red scars. They that recovered sight, speech, or hearing, had at first a feeling of strangeness in the use of those senses. I saw some swollen with gout cured. Their pains left them, and they could walk, but the swelling did not go down at once, though it disappeared very soon. Convulsions were cured immediately and fevers vanished at His word, though their victims did not instantly become strong and vigorous. They were like drooping plants regaining freshness in the rain. The possessed usually sank into a short swoon from which they recovered with a calm expression of countenance and quite worn out, though freed from the evil one. All was conducted quietly and methodically. Only for unbelievers and the malevolent had the miracles of Jesus anything frightful in them.
The heathens present on this occasion had been influenced to come chiefly by people that had been to the baptism and teaching of John, and by other heathens from Upper Galilee where Jesus had formerly taught and cured. Some had already received John’s baptism, and some had not. Jesus did not order them to be circumcised. When questioned on this point, He instructed them upon the circumcision of the heart and the senses, and taught them how to mortify themselves. He spoke to them of charity, temperance, frugality, ordered them to keep the Ten Commandments, taught them some parts of a prayer like the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, and promised to send them His disciples