YESHUA

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After a full quarter of an hour, long after anyone would have drowned in the relatively warm waters of the Jordan River, Yeshua bobbed to the surface once again. Yohanan and his disciples were amazed at the sudden reappearance of the man. They had thought him to be lost.

But soon they grow annoyed when no explanations are forthcoming from Yeshua. In a fairly short time the whole incident is nearly forgotten. Yeshua drifts into the crowd of hangers-on who watch from the bank of the Jordan as Yohanan resumes dunking sinners and preaching.

Some of the people are coming to be baptized because they believe God has made them sick as a direct result of their sin. But all Yohanan can do, after his disciples determine they are truly contrite, is baptize them and give assurance they are forgiven. He cannot heal.

But now when these unfortunate people come out of the water Yeshua lays his hands on them and they are indeed healed exactly as they hoped. Word spreads. Soon Yohanan has people taking numbers to be dunked and when he passes the plate around it overflows with shekels.

Yohanan does not stay on the banks of the Jordan. He is zealous for the Code of Moshe and often travels to the centers of power to verbally assail those he deems to be hypocrites. Yohanan's ardent preaching becomes embarrassingly personal to the tetrarch Herod Antipater.

After Herod has Yohanan arrested and executed, he and many others among the powers who fear his growing rabble feel greatly relieved. But Yeshua, who has become Yohanan's chief disciple, assumes leadership of the movement. Yohanan's original five disciples become own.

Yeshua recruits his own disciples in addition to original five. The first to join are Shimon, Andreia his brother, as well as Yakob the son of Zebedee, and Yohanan his brother. They use the Zebedee family's boat to haul in with nets the fish of a thirteen mile long lake.

Later the two sons of Alphaeus (also called Clophas), Yeshua's step-brothers Yakob and Yudah, join the group and call Yeshua their master. But their sister Miriam, their father Clophas, Yeshua's mother Miriam, and siblings Salome, Shimon, and Yosef Jr. refuse to join him.

They were of the opinion that Yeshua (and by extension, themselves) would be better served if he used his new healing powers to turn a shekel or two for his own family, not leading a heterodox spinoff of Judaism to wander around the back forty healing sick people for free.

Yeshua veers a bit off-message from the teachings of Yohanan. He says it is not enough to simply wait for God to usher in his rule by divine force. One must make the kingship of Yahweh present, here and now, and this requires active participation, not just lip service.

He said, "A man had two sons. He told the elder, 'Go and work in the vineyard today.' At first his son refused, but he thought better and went. The man said the same to his second son, who replied, 'I will go, sir' but he did not. Which of the two was the faithful son?"

Yeshua meets a man named Mattiyahu and dines in his house. Although Mattiyahu is a Jew he is also a tax collector for the Romans. Some of Jesus' followers consider him to be a collaborator with the Roman occupiers, and they loudly object to Yeshua eating with a sinner.

Yeshua rebukes them, saying "I treat people who are unwell, both in body and soul. It is not the the righteous but sinners that I call to repentance."

Mattiyahu says, "Master Yeshua, what signs shall portend when God takes direct rule over all the kingdoms of the Earth?"

He replies, "People will never say of the Kingdom of God, 'Here it is!' or 'Look over there!' because it is already present among you. But do not think I am changing the Law by any means. Every precept in the Code of Moshe shall stand for the duration of Earth itself."

Yeshua taught an intense form of Judaism that engaged a person's interior motives rather than merely those outward actions performed under the obligation of the Mosaic Law. He said, "Your righteousness must exceed that of the elders and scribes to attain the Second Life."

Matthiyahu leaves his position as tax collector behind as a condition of following Yeshua, answering the objections to Yeshua dining with a sinner quite neatly. So twelve disciples. Yeshua thinks the correspondence with the twelve tribes of Israel has prophetic resonance.

Yeshua heals a "leper" and orders him to make a gift to the priest in the temple of God according to the Mosaic Law, but he is saddened by the case because the man only had psoriasis and was not infectious in any way, yet the priests have required him to live in solitude.

Yeshua tries to control the growth of his fame by telling the people he cures to tell no one but they rarely obey. When he heals the male lover of a centurion who is paralyzed many of his followers loudly protest, thinking of the humiliation of Judea under the Roman boot.

Yeshua says, "To make the Kingdom of God present among you, don't dwell on the differences between Jews and Gentiles. If you love your enemies as much as you love your friends, then your enemy will naturally become your friend, and he will be destroyed as your enemy."

Sometimes Yeshua's healing touch restores health to the brain of unfortunate people suffering mental infirmities, for the brain is another organ just like the skin or the liver. But some of these victims display frightening symptoms, such as raving in graveyards at night.

It was said evil spirits possessed them but Yeshua knows they are only sick. And he knows if he tried to teach people there are no spirits it would not be accepted, and that it would be fruitless to reveal he was using ordinary medical nano from the b'nei elohim toolkit.

Some of the self-styled religious authorities begin hating Yeshua because his message is about breaking down barriers between human beings and God, and breaking down barriers between human beings and each other, while their livelihood consists of being paid interlocutors.

These scribes and Pharisees start criticizing everything Yeshua says or does, beginning with how he is often found in the homes of sinners and loose women, eating and drinking with them, and the self-discipline of Yohanan the baptizer seems to be very far from his mind.

Yeshua said, "Yohanan was an ascetic and you said he had a devil. I tip the wineskin a bit and you say, 'Look, a friend of Gentiles, one who dines with harlots.' Neither path is acceptable with you, it seems, and worse, you assume all unmarried women must be prostitutes."

So they move on to criticizing Yeshua after he cures a man with a withered hand on Saturday when no work should be done. Yeshua can hardly believe his ears. He says, "If your lamb falls in a hole on Shabbat, will you not fetch it out? This man is worth more than a lamb."

After that the Pharisees accuse Yeshua of casting out devils as a sort of false flag operation by Beelzebub himself. He says in reply, "That speculation makes no sense at all. If Beelzebub is giving me power to destroy his kingdom, his kingdom is still being destroyed."

So the Pharisees are silenced for a time and move off contemplating violence against Yeshua for making them look like the idiots they are. And Yeshua is fully aware of their intentions, so he starts walking toward his hometown of Nazareth, and the growing crowd follows.

When Yeshua arrives, his family commands him to stay in town and establish a healing cult with themselves as the toll-taking gatekeepers, but Yeshua flat-out refuses. After his family pushes matters further Yeshua refuses to receive any member of his blood kin at all.

The fixed location and lines of power proposed by his family run contrary to Yeshua's vision of the Kingdom of God. To him every day should begin anew, with people in direct prayerful contact with God and with each other through a radical, even reckless continual giving.

The Pharisees come back for another go at Yeshua, saying, "Show us a sign that you have authority to baptize to forgive sins."

He says, "God forgives the contrite the moment they grow contrite, the water is only the sign. You seek a sign to plug the hole in your belief."

The Pharisees murmur and depart once more but the Zebedee boys accept the terms defined by them. They ask Yeshua which of the two shall have the greater authority in the Kingdom of God. So Yeshua calls a little child to come him and sets him in the midst of the disciples.

He says, "Unless you become like this child and conform your mind to the will of God with the same unreserved acceptance, you shall not recline at the Banquet of God."

Then Yeshua orders the crowd to disperse and instructs his closest followers with all his doctrine.

He sends out the disciples in six pairs to bring the message of the Kingdom of God to the peasants. Yeshua knows he cannot lead them himself because thirteen men arriving in a village together, while the men are working the fields, would be received with great suspicion.

Instead, Yeshua commands they should stay no more than one or two days, and accept nothing but food and lodging in payment for baptizing and proclaiming the Kingdom. "For it is written in the Code of Moshe, 'You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.'"

And the message they have is happiness through freedom

For some the message is a bitter pill, because it is a profound affirmation of the imperative against covetousness and the peasants have next to nothing. But those who embrace Yeshua's teaching to be content with what they own discover they are more free than any king.

This message reaches so many towns in Galilee that when Herod Antipater learns of Yeshua's ministry he fears Yohanan the baptizer has been raised from the dead. Others say Elijah is come down from heaven. All agree he is a major prophet on the order of Isaiah or Jeremiah.

For a year Yeshua and his followers journey through the hamlets of Lower Galilee and Samaria on the west side of the Jordan river, and also visit Edom and Perea on the east side. Herod "Antipas" Antipater rules all of these lands. Yeshua's ministry then edges into Judea.

Yeshua and the twelve disciples spend their nights in Bethany at the house of Shimon, a leper who has been cleansed. Many in and around Jerusalem begin to see Yeshua heal and hear him teach for the first time, since prior to this he always remained in the north country.

Yeshua visits the temple and is angered to see the outer court has become a teeming marketplace. Animals for sacrifice are sold at a markup, and Roman coins are changed, for a steep fee, to special "temple money" conveniently acceptable to the priests for the temple tax.

Yeshua fashions a whip, posts his disciples on the perimeter as bouncers, then goes through the courtyard with genuine wrath, flipping over tables. He shouts, "The house of my Father is a place for worship and prayer, but you have turned it into a place to turn a profit!"

The Sadducees come down to finally confront this rabble-rouser the Pharisees had spoken of, because now he is striking at their own livelihood. A portion of the profits made in the temple are kicked upstairs to them. When they see what Yeshua is doing they take up stones.

Destroy this temple," he says, "and in three days I will rebuild it!

By this he is speaking of the "temple" of his body. But the priests choose to misunderstand him. Still, they cannot stone Yeshua for fear of the crowd and the disciples who close around their master.

But Yeshua isn't done playing with his food. He says, "Behold the priests, who crave to be seen in long robes, and to have salutations in the marketplace, and the best seats in the synagogues, and a place of honor at the feasts. Truly, they already have their reward!"

The Sadducess depart to avoid further humiliation by Yeshua and twist his words into threats to destroy the temple. They rack their brains trying to think of a way to have the man put to death, but they can think of nothing until they are approached by Yudah of Kerioth.

For a year and more Yudah had believed the words of the prophet Malachi were being fulfilled which said, "But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays." He could not deny the sick were being made well at the touch of Yeshua.

But Yudah knew Malachi had gone on to write, "'Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,' says the LORD Almighty," and Yeshua made not the slightest move to make that come to pass.

But Malachi had also gone on to write, "'Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,' says the LORD Almighty," and Yudah had grown frustrated when Yeshua made not the slightest move to make that come to pass.

So Yudah felt very much the same as the scribes and Sadducees and Pharisees who had run up against Yeshua, which is to say he realized he had been played for a fool. Yeshua would never allow himself to become the focal point of a violent revolt against the Roman masters.

Yudah also knew the enemies of Yeshua could do very little to harm him. His observance of the Code of Moshe was impeccable, as that of any rabbi must always be. But for twenty brass sestertii he revealed a thing that would get Yeshua in trouble with the Roman occupation.

Few outside of Yeshua's inner circle knew he sought out and recruited a tax collector, Mattiyahu, and convinced him to abandon his post. Yudah said subornation of tax officials was a crime under Roman law, and if a Jew committed the offense it was a capital one to boot.

The priests paid the twenty sestercii and kicked in ten more to use Yudah's name as a source. It was worth much more to them to be able to say the conspiracy against Yeshua began within his own circle. That way Yeshua himself would be discredited, not merely his movement.

With the eleven remaining disciples Yeshua shares the first of endless ritual meals where his followers gather together to drink wine in memory of his shed blood, break bread in memory of his broken body, and renew again their commitment to make the rule of God present.

It was the formal inauguration of the Banquet of God. In every nation on Earth and in every age without end this shared meal would be the central devotion of the people who called Yeshua their Lord and experienced a close prayerful relationship with his heavenly Father.

Yeshua tells them, "It is not enough to merely stop sinning against God and know God has already forgiven the offense against him. You must stop offending others, forgive others of their offenses against you, then join to repair the damage that all sin causes to mankind."

After the meal Yeshua walks in a grove of olive trees with some of his disciples. Out there in the night he knows Yudah must be making contact with the other disciples to learn where he is, and he knows the events he set in motion at the temple are rushing to a climax.

In years to come as the fire started by Yeshua continued to grow men would imagine Yeshua said and did certain things in that place, called Gad-Smane, and commit them to parchment, yet none of the disciples who accompanied him that evening remained awake to take note.

Yeshua was greatly troubled. He knew the time was soon upon him when he would yearn for death as only the Romans could make one do so, and he, as a member of the b'nei elohim, could choose to die at any moment, yet Chokhmah commanded that he wait for death to take him.

Yeshua is overtaken by despair. He begs Chokhmah to try to find another way to carry out his purpose, and at that moment a fold-door opens in Haaretz. Yeshua in union with Binah could have easily opened a matching fold-door and escaped the wretched death that awaited.

Too late, Yeshua sees that he had merely opened another way to disobey Chokhmah and made his errand nigh impossible. He said, "Nevertheless, beloved Parent, not my will, but yours be done."

In Haaretz the open globe collapses.

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