Chapter 13

Jesus of Galilee

 

CHASTISING THE PHARISEES

 

One day Jesus boarded the boat of one of his disciples, and they crossed over to the eastern shore, opposite Galilee. In this area dwelt mostly Greeks and other Gentiles, and these had no taboo on swine such as had the Jews. As he stepped out on land, there met him out of the tombs a man who was possessed by demons; for a long time he had worn no clothes, and he lived not in a house but among the tombs. No man could bind him any more, even with a chain. For he had been bound often, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the fetters he broke in pieces; and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs, he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.

 

When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshipped him, crying out with a loud voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beseech you, do not torment me." For he had commanded the unclean spirits to come out of the man.

 

Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion," for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them leave. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and perished in the waters.

 

When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. Then the people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how he had been possessed with demons was healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of Gerasenes asked him to depart from them; for they were seized with great fear.

 

As Jesus got into the boat to return, the man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, "Return to your home and declare how much God has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you." And he went away, proclaiming throughout the cities of Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him; and all men marveled.

 

That which most astonished the Jews in the healing of those possessed, was not so much the fact itself as the way in which it was performed. Such cures were not unknown to them, but their own methods were entirely different, laboriously attempted by incantations and invocations of exorcism. Certain formulae for these were preserved in the Talmud, and before pronouncing them, the rabbi would pour a little oil on the head of the sufferer. One of the most efficient talismans was a sacred root called "baaras," which was of the color of fire and difficult to find. But the touch of this root could not be resisted by the evil spirit and was said to cure the individual.

 

It was the healing power of Jesus that struck the people. For he did not appeal to any extraneous forces; he only had to speak one word, to command the entity, which was subdued, and ejected by this superior divine power and immediately passed out of the person to bring him deliverance.

 

There was a blind and dumb demoniac brought to Jesus, and he healed him, so that when the demon had been cast out, the dumb man spoke and saw. And the crowds marveled, saying, "Never was anything like this seen in Israel. Can this be the son of David?"

 

But when the Pharisees heard it they said, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons." Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand; and if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?

 

"And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore, they shall be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.

 

"When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.'

 

"And when he come he finds it empty, swept and put in order. Then he goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. So shall it also be with this evil generation.

 

"Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

 

"Either make the tree good, and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.

 

"You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

 

"The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.

 

"I tell you on the day of judgment, men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned."

 

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees challenged him, "Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you."

 

The crowds were increasing as he answered them, teaching, "This is an evil and adulterous generation; it seeks for a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Ninevah, so will the Son of man be to this generation. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

 

"The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Ninevah will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

 

"No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a bushel, but on a stand, that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound, your body is full of darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light."

 

While he was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him; so he went in and sat at a table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner, for their laws contain also many rules for purification. And the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside your are full of extortion and wickedness. You fools! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you."

 

Indeed they outwardly washed themselves, performing the proper ablutions required by the symbolism of their theology, but their hearts and minds were left uncleansed, and not a worthy offering unto God.

 

"But woe to you, Pharisees!" he continued, "for you tithe mint and rue and every herb and neglect justice and the love of God; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others." Yes, they gave the tenth of their crop to the Temple. So also do modern businessmen write off large checks to the church. But do they love God and obey His teaching?

 

"Woe to you, Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and salutations in the market places. Woe to you; for you are like graves which are not seen; men walk over them without knowing it." Their bodies move about, but the spirit within them sleeps. They are the walking dead.

 

One of the lawyers answered him, "Teacher, in saying this you reproach us also." And he said, "Woe to you lawyers also! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! So you are witnesses and consent to the deeds of your fathers; for they killed the prophets and you build their tombs.

 

"Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, 'I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,' that the blood of all the prophets shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zacharias, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it shall be required of this generation.

 

"Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering." He was telling them that all the past deeds (Karma, if you will) of their nation had come to a head in that time in which he came to rectify all things for those who would accept him.

 

As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to provoke him to speak of many things, lying in wait for him to catch at something he might say.

 

Then in another place when so many thousands of the multitude had gathered together that they trod upon one another, he began to say to his disciples first, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops." Leaven is the ingredient put in dough to make it fill with gaseous bubbles and rise up increasing in bulk to lighten the density of the mass. That which interests or excites one becomes a leavening agent to him.

 

"I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear; fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

 

"And I tell you, every one who acknowledges me before men, the Son of man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And every one who speaks a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. And when they bring you before the synagogues, and the rulers and authorities, do not be anxious how or what you are to answer or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."

 

The Son of man is manifest in the flesh and anything in the physical realm is seldom perfect, so man might be forgiven for misjudging what little he sees. But the Holy Spirit which brings about manifestation one must not judge, for It is of God Himself.

 

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