“…Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere. A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.” (Mark 1:45-2:2 NIV)
Y’shua sank down next to the door post, just inside,
in the shade at last, hidden from the sun and the crowd,
dropped his head, and covered it with his prayer shawl.
Father, why can’t I be what they want?
Can’t you see: they don’t want me?
They want a messiah, maybe,
someone to break the grip of Rome,
to trumpet rebellion and raise the people,
(what people they don’t ask, but some people, some other people)
to chase the soldiers and the tax men out
so they can get on with business as usual,
buying and selling, accumulating goods,
marrying and getting children,
scurrying off to the temple twice a year
to make it all right with a hasty sacrifice
bought in the outer court for a day’s profit.
They don’t want me.
They want miracles on tap,
someone to heal their hurts, right now,
send them home well, so, again,
they can get on with it,
with the slow abuse of the flesh
that made them sick in the first place.
And they get angry.
They can’t understand that there are limits
to what one man can do, even with the hands of God.
They don’t see that I can only touch those you are touching,
that it is not me, that it is not even about sickness, but souls.
They treat me like one of their doctors,
a quack who sometimes, beyond hope,
gets lucky, and besides,
is just crazy enough to work for free.
They don’t want to hear about repentance.
They don’t want to hear about turning their hearts to God,
or the narrow way, or feeding the poor,
or humility, or the demands of love:
loving God, being loved by you,
loving each other
They don’t want forgiveness if it means they have to forgive.
And they want me to be holy,
holier than they are, they want me to be perfect,
perfect by some measure, I don’t know where they got it,
some nitpicking measure in their minds
focused on all the things that don’t matter:
what I eat, and where, and how I dress,
and who I talk to, and when I work,
and whether I wash my hands before eating,
and how many times, and how far I walk on the Sabbath…
the outside, always the outside.
They can’t see what’s inside me.
They can’t see you inside me.
It’s like if they can catch me in a wrong
then they don’t have to believe in the good;
the good then, is just a fluke, just an aberration,
just such good as any sinner might do, by accident,
and doesn’t mean they should change,
far from it, just a bit of random good luck
that confirms the general hardness of the heart of God,
that keeps you up there safe in your heaven
and not right down here among them.
I can’t pick a barley head on the Sabbath,
let alone heal someone,
before they are all over me.
If I eat in the home of a tax collector
or talk to a centurion in the market, well then…
what can they expect, already I am a Galilean.
Galilee, Father? Why, of all places,
God forsaken Galilee?
And look who you give me to work with!
Rowdy fishermen and wild eyed zealots,
dreamers, idle market place philosophers and poets,
men of no account, unwashed, unlettered,
of no particular learning, poor,
poor, an offense to those who matter.
How can anyone take me seriously?
And even they don’t get it.
Thick skulled fisherman.
Blind prophets of rebellion.
Heads in the clouds, they don’t see
what is right in front of them.
After all the signs,
after I have shared my heart with them,
these men out of all men you have given me,
my disciples, I look in their eyes
and I see they don’t know me.
I am a wonder to them. The miracle man.
The story teller. The master. The stranger.
Just a little dangerous.
They never know what I am going to do or say.
They don’t know what to make of me.
And I don’t either.
I talk to women in public,
I belittle those who proclaim themselves holy,
I take the part of the poor,
I touch the sick;
I can’t help myself, I am dangerous.
I draw crowds.
They are right; I make trouble wherever I go.
Apprentices leave their masters to listen to me,
the bread burns on the hearth,
the stall goes untended,
the women forget the washing
and the water is left at the well.
Can I help that the children follow me,
and the lame and the poxed and the palsied?
I am surrounded by cripples and lepers half the time.
How are respectable people supposed to get near me?
Oh Father, I don’t even know how to be respectable!
Sometimes it seems that I am just a broom
you made to sweep up the broken shards,
to clean the dust out of corners,
to poke at cobwebs.
Father, no one loves a broom.
They wear it out, break it up, use it to start fires.
Or is that the idea? Is that what I am in the end?
Then Father, oh Father, let the fire come!
But it was James who came.
“Master, there are hundreds gathering outside.
They have brought their sick with them.
They are beginning to climb the roof.
It can’t be safe.
Will you come speak to them?”
He was nothing but a shape
there next to the door but he stirred.
James saw him throw his head and his shawl back
to lean against the wall.
He saw the gleam of his eyes in the half light,
then the hint of teeth as he slowly smiled.
Yes Father. I know.
Your love is enough.
Their love is enough.
I don’t mean to complain.
Your love is enough for me.
Love is enough.
It has to be.
It has to be.
He placed a hand on James’ shoulder.
“I am ready, brother.
Show me the way…”