Chapter 23

Jesus of Galilee

SIGNS AND MIRACLES

 

Sometimes we say it would be easier if only we had proof, in a physically-manifested sort of way, of the presence of the Master in our lives. Yet in many ways it is easier to believe in the spiritual perfection of one who is not manifest; then we do not have to approve of the way he combs his hair or takes his coffee.

 

To see Jesus appear in full form before you would be a glorious thing, and a proof of his spiritual power. But did the countrymen of his time, even those who saw his performances of miracles, believe that he was the Son of God and their promised Savior, or did they question why he healed a man on the Sabbath day, and wonder at his eating with persons not acceptable according to their religion?

 

Total perfection in anything at the physical level seems impossible. So it is easier to accept the ideal when there is nothing before our eyes to block the vision. One must take care not to be blinded in his own mission by the appearance of things, nor base his faith on misleading evidence.

 

These people were looking at Jesus, the outer man, expecting him "to show them," and to let him do all the proving -- while the real secret was that they were the ones being tried, and it was up to them to prove where they were. He already was. You have not only to accept him, but to begin to measure up yourself, no matter what appears. Regardless of the nature of your job, when that is being done to the best of your ability, then he will start looking at the real you, (and hopefully not at your mannerisms).

 

To compare his miracles as a child and the divine spiritual activity in word and deed in his youth and adult years, one may think of the tree from spring to autumn.

 

In spring the tree blooms wonderfully and a great activity prevails within it. After blossoms fall off, the tree seems to rest inactive, but toward autumn, it again appears to be fully active; the wonderful fruits are being seasoned, colored, even more beautifully than its former bloom, and matured.

 

The good they contain loosens their fetters and as such fall into the laps of hungry children. Only through using the eyes of the Spirit can man understand this. The questionable points can be explained as soon as one becomes pure from within the heart. Then will one readily understand that complete amalgamation of the fullness of Deity with the man Jesus was not perfected in one action, but was achieved progressively, similar to the gradual awakening of the divine spirit within the human heart.

 

Since everything develops that way under the guidance of God, this amalgamation was completed only on the cross. Although the Deity in all its fullness already dwelt in the child Jesus, it became manifested in miraculous activity only at the time of need.

 

Signs are distinct from miracles in that they are like signposts along a highway -- being designed to arrest attention and point towards deeds which symbolize spiritual truths, or lead the way to spiritual understanding. Most persons approaching the spiritual life experience some sort of private sign which interests them in the Path. Signs show what is ahead of you and point out the direction in which to go. But once their objective is accomplished, once you are there, what further need is there for signs? They cease, for you have arrived at the place which was sought.

 

Miracles, on the other hand, are spoken of as "mighty works," in which there is a putting-forth of Divine Power; or as "wonders," which indicate a wonderful act. Miracles are sometimes explained away by the skeptical as "natural cures," "the effects of mob psychology," or "natural events whose causes are as yet unknown to us." But they are actually events which appear neither as part nor result of any known natural law or agency and are, therefore, attributed to a supernatural or divine Source. Jesus did not break any of the Laws of Nature in the performance of miracles, but he knew the Laws as they really are, from the inner level, so it was easy for him to use them, relying on the Power of Spirit to do the work.

 

Not all of Jesus' miracles are recorded in the Bible, but all of them were performed for the benefit of others, not himself. He sometimes pointed them out as proof of his divine mission as the Messiah, but he would never perform a sign at someone's challenge; he would only refer such persons to the coming resurrection of his body as future proof. Certain of his miracles were performed with elaborate symbolism in order to teach some lesson.

 

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Soon after his great sermon, Jesus went to a nearby town called Nain (which means "pleasantness," as all the Hebrew names have a meaning). His disciples and a great crowd went with him. And as he drew near to the gate of the city, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large crowd from the city was with her.

 

And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, arise."

 

And the dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all; and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and "God has visited his people!" And this report concerning him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country. Jesus had performed miracles before this time, but he was now about to demonstrate wonders such as had never before been seen.

 

He had sent the twelve out on another mission of healing and preaching, and on their return the apostles told him what they had done. Then he took them and withdrew apart to the town called Bethsaida, where dwelt the families of the fishermen. When the crowds learned it, they followed him; and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing.

 

After this Jesus withdrew to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is also called the Sea of Tiberias, to a lonely place. But when the people heard of it, they followed him on foot from the towns because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased. So when he went ashore, he saw a great throng; and having compassion on them, he healed their sick. Then Jesus went up into the hills, and there sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand, which meant that many of these were en route to Jerusalem.

 

Now the day began to wear away; and when it was evening the twelve came and said to him, "Send the crowd away to go into the villages and country round about to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a lonely place."

 

"But he said to them, "They need not go away. You give them something to eat." Lifting up his eyes then and seeing that the multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, "How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?" This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.

 

Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get even a little." One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?"

 

Jesus said, "Bring them here to me." Then to his disciples, "Make the people sit down in companies, about fifty each." And they did so. Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then taking the five loaves and two fish, looked up to heaven, and when he had given thanks, blessed and broke them and gave them to the disciples, to set before the crowd, as much as they wanted. And all ate and were satisfied.

 

When they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost." So they gathered up and filled the twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten.

 

When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!"

 

Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the hills by himself to pray, first dismissing the crowds and directing his disciples to go before him to the other side. So his disciples went down to the sea, got into their boat and started across the sea to Capernaum.

 

It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. When they were many furlongs distant from land, the sea rose and the boat was beaten by waves, for a strong wind was blowing against them. When they had rowed about three or four miles, in the fourth watch of the night they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat. They were frightened and cried out for fear, saying, "It is a ghost!"

 

But he said to them, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid."

 

And Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water."

 

He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me."

 

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?"

 

And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going. And those in the boat worshipped him saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

 

And when they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret until the storm subsided. And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent round to all that region and brought to him all that were sick and besought him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched it were made well.

 

On the next day the people who remained on the other side of the Sea saw that there had been only one boat there and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. However, boats from Tiberias now came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the people saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

 

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal." Then they said to him, "What must we do to be doing the works of God?"

 

Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom He has sent."

 

So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' "

 

Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

 

They said to him, "Lord, give us this bread always."

 

Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him Who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

 

The Jews then murmured at him because he said, "I am the bread of life which came down from heaven." They said, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, 'I have come down from heaven.'

 

Jesus answered them, "Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father Who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that any one has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.

 

"I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh."

 

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"

 

So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

 

"As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever." This he said in the synagogue as he taught at Capernaum.

 

Many of his disciples, when they heard it said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, "Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe."

 

For Jesus knew from the first who it was that should betray him. And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."

 

After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.

 

Jesus said to the twelve, "Will you also go away?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God."

 

Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was to betray him.

 

It happened at another time in those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, "I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way, and some of them have come a long way."

 

And his disciples answered him, "Where are we to get bread enough in the desert to feed so great a crowd?"

 

And he asked them, "How many loaves have you?" They said, "Seven."

 

And he commanded the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish; and having blessed them, he commanded that these also should be set before them. And they all ate and were satisfied; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And those who ate were about four thousand men, besides women and children. And he sent them away; and immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha, or Magadan.

 

The Pharisees and Sadducees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and said, "When it is evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather; for the sky is red.' And in the morning, 'It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah." So he left them and getting into the boat again he departed with the disciples.

 

Now when they reached the other side, it was found they had forgotten to bring bread with them in the boat. And he cautioned them saying, "Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." And they discussed it with one another, saying, "We have no bread."

 

But Jesus being aware of this said to them, "O men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" They said to him, "Twelve."

 

"And the seven for the four thousand? How many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" And they said to him, "Seven."

 

And he said to them, "Do you not yet understand? How is it that you fail to perceive that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching or doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

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