Pilgrimage to Yerushalayim:
Yahshua’ First Feast of Tabernacles, 8 A.D.§

A Sermon in Narrative with Hymns and Readings
Jackson Snyder 

 

 

PREVIEW Rabbi Yahshua   by Bruce Chilton

 

PRODUCTION NOTE:  This is a story-like narrative about the family of Miryam (Miryam) making pilgrimage from Natzeret to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Tabernacles in 8 AD.  The story is based in the facts we know about the family and the time.  It contains many Hebrew names and terms and a glossary.    It is also interspersed with Psalms, prophetic readings and hymns to be used in unison with the congregation.  For the sake of the narrative, we understand that Yahqov and Yahuda were sons of Yosef and a first, deceased wife, that Yahshua’s birth was considered by Jewry to be outside the Law of Moses, and that Shimon, Joses, Shalome and Yochana were children of Miryam and Yosef, the latter is deceased by this time.  The story is based loosely on a chapter from Rabbi Yahshua by Bruce Chilton, but with far different conclusions.

 

THE PRAYER OF YAHSHUA  (unison)

Psalms 42 (NJB) Lament of a Levite in exile

For the choirmaster Poem Of the sons of Korah

Note: that Yahshua knew “God” as “Elohim” is clearly demonstrated in Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:46.

   As a deer yearns for running streams, so I yearn for you, my Elohim. I thirst for Elohim, the living Elohim; when shall I go to see the face of Elohim?  I have no food but tears day and night, as all day long I am taunted, "Where is your Elohim?"  This I remember as I pour out my heart, how I used to pass under the roof of the Most High. used to go to the house of Elohim, among cries of joy and praise, the sound of the feast.  Why be so downcast, why all these sighs?  Hope in Elohim! I will praise him still, my Savior, my Elohim.  When I am downcast?  I think of you: from the land of Yarden and Hermon, I think of you, humble mountain.  Deep is calling to deep by the roar of your cataracts, all your waves and breakers have rolled over me.  In the daytime Elohim sends his faithful love, and even at night; the song it inspires in me is a prayer to my living Elohim.  I shall say to Elohim, my rock, "Why have you forgotten me?  Why must I go around in mourning, harassed by the enemy?"  With death in my bones, my enemies taunt me, all day long they ask me, "Where is your Elohim?"  Why so downcast, why all these sighs?  Hope in Elohim! I will praise him still, my Savior, my Elohim.

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THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES lasts from Sabbath (yesterday) to Sabbath – one full week.  The first day is a holiday, and work is forbidden.  The next six days consist of a harvest festival in which peoples from all over the world get together to rejoice in the blessings of Yahweh.  A “tabernacle” (sukkah in Hebrew) is a temporary dwelling.  Tabernacles were to be made from things found on the ground.  I think of them as “lean-tos” in the woods.  The people of Yahweh prepare their sukkah the week before the feast – so Tabernacles is a time of camping and rejoicing – a vacation from the work of farming or whatever. 

   Yahshua kept Tabernacles all his life.  The prophet says that Tabernacles will be observed by all people forever.  When the Pilgrims enjoyed their first harvest in the Jamestown colony, though many had died that year, they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles, which we now call Thanksgiving.  Currently, the Feast is observed by both Jews and Christians worldwide, with delegates of the Christian world returning yearly to Yerushalayim to keep the feast with the like-minded in accordance with the commandment of Yahweh.

   Much of the Snyder family made pilgrimage to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Tabernacles in 1989.  It was the only reunion our family ever had and ever shall until we meet in Heaven.  And it was wonderful to spend this holy time in worship and recreation with brothers and sister from all over the world – tens of thousands of Christians kept the feast there – and to experience the sites and sounds of the Holy Land.  But one need no longer go to Yerushalayim to keep the Feast; there are several churches in the area that allow us to gather for this time of blessing.

 

The Family, People, Places, Things

 

The Family

Yosef = Joseph – husband of Miryam, father of Yahqov & bar Yosef

Miryam = Mary – mother of Yahshua and the rest

Yahqov = James – eldest son of Yosef and his first wife (deceased)

Yahuda = Judas– son of Miryam and Yosef

Yahshua = Jesus – eldest son of Miryam

Shimon = Simon – son of Miryam and Yosef

Shalome = Salome – daughter of Miryam and Yosef

Yochana = Joanna – daughter of Miryam and Yosef

bar Yosef = Joses – second son of Yosef, brother to Yahqov

 

People

Yahweh Tzaviot = “Lord” of hosts (armies) – King of the World

Shimon bar Cleopas = Simon the Leper of Bethany

Marta = Martha – daughter of Shimon

Miryam = Mary – daughter of Shimon

Eliazar = Lazarus – young son of Shimon

Banyah = a baptizer mentioned in history books

 

Places

Yerushalayim = Jerusalem, the location of the Temple

The Galil = Galilee – the northern province of Israel

Natzeret = Nazareth – Yosef and Miryam’s home village

Shomron = Samaria – the forbidden land between Galilee and Judea

Yarden = the Yarden River, located east of Jerusalem

Beit Anya = Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem

Olivet = Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem

Zion = Mount Moriah – the hill upon which the Temple is built

Hinnom = Gehenna or “hell” – the burning trash heap around the city

 

Things

Mamzer = a person born of an illegal union – Yahshua was thought a mamzer.

Tabernacle = a lean-to shelter made of whatever is nearby; a tent

Nazarite = a person vowed to Yahweh (from birth)

Abba = Aramaic for the Hebrew word “Avi” – meaning “Father”

 


{Traditional Jewish Song, “Yerushalayim the Golden”}


Part 1 – From Natzeret to the Wilderness

   Yahqov, at twenty-five years of age, had long before accepted the vow his parents made on his behalf at his birth – since he was the first-born of a religious family, they dedicated his life to Yahweh’s service in chastity and poverty.  But now, as an adult, it seems to him that his primary ministry is to be the spiritual leader of his late father’s wife’s five children – Yahshua, Shimon, Yosef, Shalome and Yochana.  You see, Yahqov is only two years younger than his “stepmother,” Miryam, and her children nearly young enough to be his own.  Yahqov’s only full brother, Yahuda, took over his father Yosef’s construction business, which made Yahuda the family financier at age 23.  Their father, Yosef, died just last year.

   We’re visiting this Galilean family just before the Feast of Tabernacles in the year 8 AD, when Yahshua is about fourteen years of age and Miryam is twenty-seven.  There’s nothing unusual about a mixed family in the first century – life expectancy in rural Galil was short, so families came together.  And there is respect for this family in Natzeret.  Yahqov is already a leader in the local synagogue.  Yahuda is a businessman, though his out-of-town building projects keep him absent much of the time.  Miryam is too young to be a stepmother to her husband’s adult children, but she became the wife of the widower Yosef when she was thirteen, and therefore her children were conceived in an acceptable union. 

   All but one child, that is – her oldest.  The religious authorities consider Yahshua’s conception to be unlawful, which prohibits him from attending any local religious services or schools.  It’s for this reason that Yahshua would later become known as “the carpenter” (tekton – “builder”), for he was schooled under the strict hand of his elder half-brother Yahuda, with whom he’d gone to work since he was able to walk.  Yahuda was teaching him the family trade and carried him all over the province to work, where Yahshua learned things not taught in schools, met people not seen in Natzeret, and got acquainted with a heavenly Father not found in any temple or synagogue.  Now Yahshua is fourteen, attaining the age of manhood without benefit of any ceremony, yet ascribed as worthy by his Father in Heaven and the angels of glory.  This is why Yahshua is so anxious to get to Yerushalayim and its Temple.  He’d heard in the Scripture that this Temple contained the throne room of his Father.  He just knew that when he got there, all the rejection would crumble away and he’d finally feel acceptable and accepted.  His vision would indeed come to pass, but not at all as he’d planned.

   After consulting with the elders of Natzeret, the family was given leave to go on pilgrimage to Yerushalayim for the Feast of Tabernacles.  It would be a difficult journey, not only because of the hard travel for a large family, but because Galileans had very little money – they did all their business by trade – my wheat for your wine, my building for your weaving, my fish for your writing. 

   The Yerushalayim Temple to which the family was heading was by far the largest religious structure in the entire world, known from the ends of the earth for its wealth and grandeur.  It was the focal point for the worship of the Creator of the Universe, and its magnificence proved to all people the potency of the Almighty Yahweh. 

   The trip will take at least five days, starting out before the first light, traveling not south, but east so as to cross the Yarden river and avoid journeying through Shomron.  Yahqov, Yahuda, Miryam, Yahshua and the children pass many ancient villages on the east bank of the Yarden when they turn south to follow the river.  On this route, the locals live off the revenue of pilgrims, wanderers and soldiers.  Though some are nominal Jews, they don’t much share the close-knit family morality of rural Galileans.  Yahqov and Yahuda set up their family tabernacle in the wilderness outside these towns rather than pay an inn or risk slick city thieves.  The family of Yosef was, in fact, camping in Canaan’s Land as had their ancient ancestors.

 

{Gospel Song, “Camping in Canaan’s Land”}

 

Part 2 – Spying Out the Kingdom

    But staying in tabernacles in the wilderness also has its dangers.  The unexpected autumn rainstorms could sweep the family right down into the Yarden valley to their deaths.  There are leopards and jackals at night seeking prey – fully able to carry off one of the younger children.  Some say there’re still lions in those parts.  But there’s a more dangerous beast to be wary of – the human beast!  For thugs often lay in wait for campers, even in the wildest regions.  After eating a little bread with stew made from leeks, onions and maybe a little meat, the family douses their fire and huddles together beneath their tabernacle, protected only by their cloaks, their staffs and their vigilance. 

   Breakfast at dawn is more coarse bread, hummus and oil.  The little group then continues south, observing the great cliffs on either side of the Yarden valley.  As they move on, the landscape noticeably changes – from the flatlands of Galil through the deep wadis of the Yarden to the occasional glimpse of the barren Yahudan mountains.  They’re climbing in altitude now – the going is rough – sweaty – slow – but they’re determined to be UP in Yerushalayim by feast time. 

   By late afternoon on the fifth day, they’ve almost reached the end of their hundred-mile journey.  Here are narrow, pebbly beaches on the cold Yarden River, places where they could have easy access to the water for bathing and rest for the last leg of their journey.  While the family relaxes there, Yahshua wonders off around the riverbank and beholds a site out on the river that greatly interests him.  In this most unlikely place, hundreds of pilgrims converge on the river, where they remove their clothing and enter into the shallows of the water.  They’re splashing and dunking and crying out and praying and repenting.  There’s one fellow with soaking wet hair way down to his waist who’s in the lead.  Yahshua knows this man is a nabi (or prophet) of Israel, and he’s strangely drawn toward the group, but timidly changes his mind and hurries back to Yahqov for an explanation.

   Yahshua asks Yahqov, “Brother, I see a thousand people swimming and a prophet like you with really long hair down the river.  What’s it all about and who is he?” Yahqov hastily explains, “Little brother, it’s probably Banyah.  People are being cleansed from their sins in that water.  I thought we might see Banyah hereabouts.  Show me where.”  Yahshua leads Yahqov to the site.  Yahqov says, “It’s Banyah, all right.  I’m going down to see him for awhile.  You go back and tell the family where I am.”  But Yahshua cries, “Brother, I want to see Banyah, too!” “No, boy,” scolds Yahqov.  “Remember – your place is with the girls.  Now go hence.”  Yahqov goes on to see Banyah the Baptizer.  But Yahshua doesn’t return.  He follows at a safe distance.  When he gets close, Yahshua hears Banyah cry, “Repent, you all, for the Kingdom of Yahweh is nigh!”  “Yes,” thinks the young Yahshua, “the Kingdom is nigh indeed, and I am nigh unto the Kingdom.”  Yahshua wants to go down to the river, but he fears Yahqov.

 

{Hymn 724, “On Yarden’s Stormy Banks”} 

 

Part 3 - The Harvest at Beit Anya

   The next morning, the troop walks the day to the west, into a suburb of Yerushalayim called Beit Anya, where they would stay with their widowed uncle, Shimon bar Cleopas, and his family, Marta, Miryam and the young Eliazar.

   Shimon’s house is situated on a broad street in a highly populated area, and there are people constantly passing by on their way to and from Yerushalayim; many pilgrims from all over the world are seen, both the rich camel trains and the poor foot-wanderers, rich and poor both making ready for the Feast.  The house itself is grand by rural Galilean standards, with a large common room, a second story and a flat roof.  It’s on that roof where Miryam and her family will stay.  In Galil, a man would always see where he’d left off in the fields from his roof.  Here, all that could be seen were more roofs.  Miryam’s strange son, Yahshua, looks out over the vast city from that roof in Beit Anya.  And though there’re no fields to be seen, he still sees fields white with harvest.  After all, the Feast of Tabernacles is the time to thank Yahweh for the plentiful harvest: of wheat and barley, figs and grapes, sheep and cattle, and souls of men.

 

{Hymn 694, “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”}

 

Part 4 – Yahqov at the Market Stall

   Before dawn, the young man Yahqov sets out for Yerushalayim alone to buy a goat for sacrifice.  By sun up, he’s at the Market Stall south of the temple on the hill called Olivet.  His sacrifice on behalf of his family and his hometown has to be a perfect animal without blemish.  Yahqov finds the prices for sacrificial animals to be very steep and he wishes it were legal to bring his own.  As a Nazarite, Yahqov can judge the perfection of goats with his own eyes and hands.  Yet the vendor makes it perfectly clear that the only acceptable goats, blemished or not, were the ones the priests had specially marked with paint.  This corruption is disgusting to Yahqov, but if he’s to sacrifice, he has no other choice but to do it in the way of corruption.  At least for now.

   Yahqov takes his goat directly through the north gate to the Temple for inspection by a priest.  The priest is very disappointed that Yahqov has no money to bribe him, but, seeing the paint on the goat’s coat, the priest confirms the animal for sacrifice.  In a threatening manner, Yahqov the Nazarite insists that though the goat is rigged, he must be allowed to bring his family’s own grain and wine offering.  At least that part of the sacrifice would be completely theirs.  Yahqov also asserts his right to lay his hands on the goat prior to its sacrifice.  To lay hands on one’s sacrifice is important for serious worshipers, since it indicates that the offering is personal rather than “boughten.”  But in spite of priestly assurances, Yahqov knows he’ll be lucky to get through the mob to touch any animal at all.

 

{The Offering and offertory solo, “Arise, Shine Out, Your Light Has Come,” 725}

 

Part 5 – No Respect for Zion

   Back in Beit Anya, Yahshua and the rest of the family, having eaten fresh fruit for breakfast, set out to meet Yahqov at the pool of Siloam, near the Temple.  As they wait at this popular attraction for Yahqov to join them, they’re all completely awed by the site of the parapet, or temple foundation.  The huge stones gleam absolute white in the sun, and fit together so perfectly that it’s nearly impossible to tell from a distance where one stops and the other starts.  It was beyond their ability to imagine that, fifty years in the future, Yahqov bar Yosef would be pushed from the top of this parapet to his death for the sake of his younger brother, Yahshua.

   The hill of Zion had become a thirty-five acre rectangular mountain of gleaming stone with magnificent porticos, columns and courtyards.  The reflection of daylight off the solid gold facade made the whole mountain appear to burn like a second sun.  They can’t see much of it from Siloam, but what they see they can scarcely take in.  Way off in the distance, they can actually see wisps of rising smoke from the first of the morning sacrifices.  They’re all extremely excited to be on the very outskirts of what they consider to be the very Kingdom of Elohim.  Yahshua is ecstatic.

   The family ascends up the steps from the pool toward the heights of Mount Zion.  The children, who’d never been in any city before, gawk at all the vendors’ offerings of fruits, nuts, grains, flowers, honey, wine and everything else imaginable on the way up the Mount.  And they also see scores of uniformed police – these “temple guards” are trained in police work by the Romans and wear uniforms much like them. 

   They also see non-Jewish tourists with guides going up.  Many women have no head covering at all, or bare-shouldered or barelegged, wearing see-through cotton tunics decorated with expensive purple scarves – and jewelry.  What are these godless, indecent foreigners doing, ascending to the Holy Place?  No wonder foreigners are resented in these parts; no wonder there’s so much armed conflict and terrorism.  Why do these tourists show so little respect for faith or g-d or the holy city?  Even many Levites and priests are wearing Roman-style clothing.

   Now, here’s Yahqov.  He approaches Miryam and Yahuda and says quietly, “There’s much fixing to be done here. It will take some time.”

 

{Afro-American Spiritual 655, “Fix Me, Yahshua”}

 

Part 6 – Ascending to the Holy Place

   All those, Jew or Gentile, Israelite or tourist, who plan on entering any part of the Temple first have to “be baptized.”  The southern slope of the Temple consists of a system of canals, water channels and cisterns, so that all might bathe and thus become ritually clean before approaching the presence of the Holy One.  Even tourists and Romans had to bathe before entering into the Courts of the Temple.  The various sects of Judaism had different understandings of baptisms, and different means of cleansing.  The Sadducees, Essenes and Pharisees all charged to use their pools.  The Pharisees had the most modern kind of pool.  Everyone wanted to try that.   There was a holding tank above the regular tank that could dole out a little clean water after someone bathed, thus fulfilling the requirement that the water be “living,” or running, water.  Of course, Banyah’s Yarden River experience was the only actual immersion in running water – and his was free. 

   After bathing, there were three courts to which the people would then progress – the Court of Israelites for the men of Israel, the Court of Women for women and children, and the court of the Nations, for tourists, animals and vendors.  (To go where one was not allowed incurred a death sentence upheld even by the Romans.) 

   Yahshua and his family find a simple pool and pay the required sum so that their clothes might be secured and they might receive a flax towel.  They could then approach farther only in a clean tunic with bare feet.  They start to climb the narrow staircase deep inside this gleaming pedestal they’d been looking at all along.  It’s a four-story, windowless climb, as dark as a cave, though torches light the way.  Their companions are fear and awe, since the air is so stagnant with smoke and there are so many others crammed into its half-light.  To ease their terror, Yahshua begins singing the family’s favorite hymn – they all join in, even the tourists:

Who shall ascend up to Yahweh’s hill?

Or who shall stand in his place?

Never the vain man, never the false, but

Those with clean hands; those with pure hearts;

They will receive Yahweh’s blessing then,
And justice from Elohim.    
(Psalm 24:3-5 my rhythm)

 

   When they crawl out of the staircase, they’re like ants flowing out of the mound.  The sunlight only adds to the blinding reflection of silver and gold from the temple edifice itself.  The worshipers and tourists peel off into their permitted courtyard – Yahshua, his mother and his younger siblings enter the Court of the Women, one step removed from the Great Court of the Israelites, where Yahuda turned in to meet Yahqov, who was already there.  Yahshua inches his way through the crowds of women and children to the edge of the Court of Women nearest the sanctuary.  This is what he’d been waiting for since he’d seen the Kingdom of Yahweh in a mustard seed back in Galil – this was his pilgrimage to the holiest spot on earth – his Kingdom.  He recalls the words written in the scroll of Zechariah:

 

Living waters shall flow from Yerushalayim,

And Yahweh shall be the king over all the earth.

So then all the nations shall go up year to year

To worship the King, our Yahweh Tzviot,

To keep the Feast in their Tabernacles there.

(Zechariah 14: 8ff)

 

Now Yahshua is actually seeing the white marble Sanctuary, the Holy Place.  The King would reign from within.  He knows that recessed within those walls is Yahweh’s throne room, the focal point of all heavenly energy, the link between the cosmos and the planet, between the temporal and the immortal -- the qodesh qodashim, the Holy of Holies, with its Seat of Mercies.

 

{Contemporary Gospel song, “The Mercy Seat”}

 

Part 7 – The Abomination

 

   Before this unseen throne, in the openness of the Great Court, an altar of unhewn stone towers twenty-five feet high, covered with ramps and ashes and baked-on blood.  Around it rages a fire high into the air fed by animal fat and huge logs.  Dozens of blood-spattered priests lead an unending throng of animals to the slaughter, slicing throats, disemboweling carcasses, dividing the meat between worshipers and priests, consigning the fat to the fire and the other parts to be hauled off the valley of Hinnom outside the city, where the trash fires continually burn and the worm consumes forever.  Flesh and fat pops loudly on the altar; wine boils and sputters.  Grain, thrown in the fire, explodes like fireworks, adding yet another awesome dimension to the spectacle.  Animals bellow, fervent prayers rise, songs of triumph fill the air in the midst of the stench of carcasses, sweat, excrement, burning flesh and deafening noise.

   Yahshua could see his older brother Yahqov in the Great Court flailing around trying to lay his hands on a loose goat while his unshorn hair catches fire.  Yahqov, like the other righteous folk of Natzeret, had never fully accepted Yahshua as an Israelite because Yahshua is a mamzer, a person born through a union that is forbidden by Mosaic Law, so they all thought.   They had no trouble accepting his younger siblings, Shimon, Yosef and the girls, because there is no question about their parentage.  Though the religious would always treat him as an outcast, Yahshua knows who his Father is and what Kingdom is planned for him, even at this tender age of fourteen.  He has a crazy plan, you see.

   Yahshua now looks back through the crowds of the Court of Women and spies his young mother and the rest of the brood.  She’d come so far to make this pilgrimage, to worship in the city of the great king, to sacrifice so much, and to preserve their Hebrew heritage – she’d come for all the right reasons.  Yahqov was only a year or two younger than Miryam, and certainly the Israelite of the family, but it was Miryam who gained permission for her family to make the trip, and it was Miryam who accumulated the provisions, even out of her penury.  Yahshua knows he will miss his mother and brothers and sisters if all works out.  But he wouldn’t miss Yahqov or Yahuda, that’s for sure.

   One more time Yahshua looks upon the sacrificial spectacle in horror.  No, this Temple isn’t at all like what he thought.  It’s a horror, a nightmare, to him.  There’s Yahqov, his hair ablaze, with his hands firmly on the goat.  A Levite slits its throat; another begins the butchery.  Yahshua stays to see the fat of the goat thrown in the fire, then the wine and the grain from Galil – a “thanksgiving offering” for a successful year.  But Yahshua doesn’t feel thankful or successful now as he should after the sacrifice.  The reality of this abomination in the name of his Father sets in upon him and he begins to weep like a baby.  He remembers Father’s words he’d heard recited time after time after time:

Isaiah 1:11ff   I am full up with burnt offerings of rams and fat beasts; and I do not delight in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.  Bring no more vain sacrifices; to me, the smell is an abomination; I cannot stand your holidays and your worship services.  I hate your feasts; I am tired of them all.  So when you pray, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood, says Yahweh.

His confidence in the whole system is shaken.

 

{Hymn 505, “When Our Confidence Is Shaken”}

 

Part 8 – The Deconstruction of Yahshua

   The young Yahshua looks again through the crowd to mother.  He remembers what she’d told him about his birth and the consequences of it for her; an old prophet had written to her that,

“This child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against. Yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Nobody notices this boy crying in the Court of the Women.  But as he dabs at his tears with his tunic, he hears the rest of his Father’s admonition:

Isaiah 1:17ff  “Go.  Learn well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.  Come now, says the I AM; let us reason together.  Though your sins are scarlet, they shall be white as snow.

   Yahshua goes to his mother.  There’s no point in conversation – there’s too much noise.  But Miryam sees that he’s crying.  “What is it, son?” she yells.  He only whispers, “I must be about my Father’s business” as he vanishes into the sea of people.  Somehow Miryam hears his whisper.  She sees him disappear.  She won’t see him again for many years.  {pause}

   Yahshua runs down the Temple steps, into the city, picking up his rude clothing on the way.  He sees the blood running down the gutters into the sewers and manure mixed with unmentionable grisly “parts” piled high in the cobblestone streets; yet the markets about are all open, selling every kind of harvest – leeks, onions, melons of many types -- and wool, linen, cotton, olives -- and oil, scented, drugged, medicinal -- and clay and copper lamps -- and clothing of every sort, tunics, mantles, togas, sandals.  Food is being cooked in the stink: stews, skewered meat, beef, goat, chicken -- and fish, pickled, boiled, dried, salted – even fresh (very expensive!).  There are donkeys, camels, mules – even horses in the street with carts and trains. 

   People of all sorts are massed in every living space – Yahshua hears Aramaic, Greek, Latin, Egyptian, Phrygian – even Hebrew, a language used exclusively in the Temple – these are the tongues of the world.  He recognizes languages from his travels with Yahuda.  Yahshua wanders for two hours -- wherever he is, he had only to look up to the rising column of smoke from the Temple altars.  This was a sign of the abomination that had forced him thither.  No matter where he went in the city, the smoke column was a constant reminder of the futility and ambiguity of killing and burning animals as a means to Elohim.

   But where will he go?  He certainly won’t return to Natzeret to be treated as an outcast.  He won’t go back to Yahqov, who taunts him, or Yahuda who enslaves him.  He can’t stay with Marta and Miryam in Beit Anya – they’d send him back to Natzeret.  His trade is far too primitive for this area.  He has no money.  He couldn’t go back and he couldn’t stay.  He was like Moses, a stranger in a strange land, even though this was supposed to be his kingdom.  Yet, even among all these strangers, he’s still a mamzer, an outcast.  He’d been conditioned from his earliest recollection that he didn’t really belong anywhere.  Yahshua falls to the filthy curb and cries out in tears, “Abba!  Abba!  Where shall I go?  What shall I eat and who will clothe me?”

   Then, through all the emotions, smells, cacophony of noise, fear, and inexperience of his youth, Yahshua’s mind suddenly clears, and he’s reminded by a still, small voice that he did indeed have a father, an “abba,” to which he could call upon.  His mother told him she’d named him after his Father in Heaven, Yahweh.  Yahshua (Yahshua) means: “the salvation of Yahweh.”  He is heartened some because he knows he’s special to Abba; yet if he’s special, why do his own people treat him so? 

   Now words he had heard his mother recite a thousand times make sense for the first:

Isaiah 61:2ff. paraphrase  The spirit of Yahweh shall rest upon him, of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and might, of knowledge and of reverence; And shall make him understand things quickly: he shall not judge by sight nor hearing, but with righteousness.  And righteousness shall gird his loins, and faithfulness his reins.

There’s a long pause and a silence in his mind despite the din.  Then Abba speaks only a few quiet words, but they are enough.  Abba tells his son, “Get out of town, son; back over the Yarden – get out to Banyah the Baptizer.”  Yahshua hears these words and there’s a sudden peace for his soul.  {pause}

   All of a sudden, all the confusion returns when a uniformed man severely kicks the boy Yahshua and threatens, (“Phaq, talya!”)  “Get out, boy.”  The kick knocks him over – he falls eastward, and he opens his eyes to see the sun, which is now rising high in the eastern sky.  “Isn’t this what Father just told me?  To get out?”  Yahshua muses.  Ignoring the pain, he gets himself out of the gutter and starts walking east, toward the sun, toward the Yarden.  A smile of hope crosses his face as he walks into the sun.

 

{Hymn 723, “Shall We Gather at the River,” verses 1 - 3}

{Prayers of the People} 

{Hymn 723, “Shall We Gather at the River,” verse 4}

{Benediction and Dismissal}

 October 11, 2002



§ Based on Chilton’s Rabbi Yahshua, pp. 23ff