Jesus the Son of Man
Jesus the Son of Man is a life of Jesus as told in the words of seventy-seven of his closest contemporaries, both friends and enemies: Syrians, Romans, Greeks and Jews; Persians, Priests, Publicans and Poets.
Part 1: Chapters 1 thru 10
JAMES THE SON OF ZEBEDEE; ON THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD
UPON A DAY in the spring of the year Jesus stood in the market-place of Jerusalem and He spoke to the multitudes of the kingdom of heaven.
And He accused the scribes and the Pharisees of setting snares and digging pitfalls in the path of those who long after the kingdom; and He denounced them.
Now amongst the crowd was a company of men who defended the Pharisees and the scribes, and they sought to lay hands upon Jesus and upon us also.
But He avoided them and turned aside from them, and walked towards the north gate of the city.
And He said to us, "My hour has not yet come. Many are the things I have still to say unto you, and many are the deeds I shall yet perform ere I deliver myself up to the world."
Then He said, and there was joy and laughter in His voice, "Let us go into the North Country and meet the spring. Come with me to the hills, for winter is past and the snows of Lebanon are descending to the valleys to sing with the brooks.
"The fields and the vineyards have banished sleep and are awake to greet the sun with their green figs and tender grapes."
And He walked before us and we followed Him, that day and the next.
And upon the afternoon of the third day we reached the summit of Mount Hermon, and there He stood looking down upon the cities of the plains.
And His face shone like molten gold, and He outsretched His arms and He said to us, "Behold the earth in her green raiment, and see how the streams have hemmed the edges of her garments with silver.
"In truth the earth is fair and all that is upon her is fair.
"But there is a kingdom beyond all that you behold, and therein I shall rule. And if it is your choice, and if it is indeed your desire, you too shall come and rule with me.
"My face and your faces shall not be masked; our hand shall hold neither sword nor sceptre, and our subjects shall love us in peace and shall not be in fear of us."
Thus spoke Jesus, and unto all the kingdoms of the earth I was blinded, and unto all the cities of walls and towers; and it was in my heart to follow the Master to His kingdom.
Then just at that moment Judas of Iscariot stepped forth. And he walked up to Jesus, and spoke and said, "Behold, the kingdoms of the world are vast, and behold the cities of David and Solomon shall prevail against the Romans. If you will be the king of the Jews we shall stand beside you with sword and shield and we shall overcome the alien."
But when Jesus heard this He turned upon Judas, and His face was filled with wrath. And He spoke in a voice terrible as the thunder of the sky and He said, "Get you behind me, Satan. Think you that I came down the years to rule an ant-hill for a day?
"My throne is a throne beyond your vision. Shall he whose wings encircle the earth seek shelter in a nest abandoned and forgotten?
"Shall the living be honored and exalted by the wearer of shrouds?"
"My kingdom is not of this earth, and my seat is not builded upon the skulls of your ancestors.
"If you seek naught save the kingdom of the spirit then it were better for you to leave me here, and go down to the caves of your dead, where the crowned heads of yore hold court in their tombs and may still be bestowing honors upon the bones of your forefathers.
"Dare you tempt me with a crown of dross, when my forehead seeks the Pleiades, or else your thorns?
"Were it not for a dream dreamed by a forgotten race I would not suffer your sun to rise upon my patience, nor your moon to throw my shadow across your path.
"Were it not for a mother's desire I would have stripped me of the swaddling-clothes and escaped back to space.
"And were it not for sorrow in all of you I would not have stayed to weep.
"Who are you and what are you, Judas Iscariot? And why do you tempt me?
"Your priest and your emperor would have my blood. They shall be satisfied ere I go hence. I would not change the course of the law. And I would not govern folly.
"Let ignorance reproduce itself until it is weary of its own offspring.
"Let the blind lead the blind to the pitfall.
"And let the dead bury the dead till the earth be choked with its own bitter fruit.
"My kingdom is not of the earth. My kingdom shall be where two or three of you shall meet in love, and in wonder at the loveliness of life, and in good cheer, and in remembrance of me."
Then of a sudden He turned to Judas, and He said, "Get you behind me, man. Your kingdoms shall never be in my kingdom."
And now it was twilight, and He turned to us and said, "Let us go down. The night is upon us. Let us walk in light while the light is with us."
Then He went down from the hills and we followed Him. And Judas followed afar off.
And when we reached the lowland it was night.
And Thomas, the son of Diophanes, said unto Him, "Master, it is dark now, and we can no longer see the way. If it is in your will, lead us to the lights of yonder village where we may find meat and shelter."
And Jesus answered Thomas, and He said, "I have led you to the heights when you were hungry, and I have brought you down to the plains with a greater hunger. But I cannot stay with you this night. I would be alone."
Then Simon Peter stepped forth, and said:
"Master, suffer us not to go alone in the dark. Grant that we may stay with you even here on this byway. The night and the shadows of the night will not linger, and the morning shall soon find us if you will but stay with us."
And Jesus answered, "This night the foxes shall have their holes, and the birds of the air their nests, but the Son of Man has not where on earth to lay His head. And indeed I would now be alone. Should you desire me you will find me again by the lake where I found you."
Then we walked away from Him with heavy hearts, for it was not in our will to leave Him.
Many times did we stop and turn our faces towards Him, and we saw him in lonely majesty, moving westward.
The only man among us who did not turn to behold Him in His aloneness was Judas Iscariot.
And from that day Judas became sullen and distant. And methought there was danger in the sockets of his eyes.
ANNA THE MOTHER OF MARY: ON THE BIRTH OF JESUS
JESUS THE SON of my daughter, was born here in Nazareth in the month of January. And the night that Jesus was born we were visited by men from the East. They were Persians who came to Esdraelon with the caravans of the Midianites on their way to Egypt. And because they did not find rooms at the inn they sought shelter in our house. And I welcomed them and I said, "My daughter has given birth to a son this night. Surely you will forgive me if I do not serve you as it behooves a hostess."
Then they thanked me for giving them shelter. And after they had supped they said to me: "We would see the new-born."
Now the Son of Mary was beautiful to behold, and she too was comely.
And when the Persians beheld Mary and her babe, they took gold and silver from their bags, and myrrh and frankincense, and laid them all at the feet of the child.
Then they fell down and prayed in a strange tongue which we did not understand.
And when I led them to the bedchamber prepared for them they walked as if they were in awe at what they had seen.
When morning was come they left us and followed the road to Egypt.
But at parting they spoke to me and said, "The child is not but a day old, yet we have seen the light of our God in His eyes and the smile of our God upon His mouth.
"We bid you protect Him that He may protect you all."
And so saying, they mounted their camels and we saw them no more.
Now Mary seemed not so much joyous in her first-born, as full of wonder and surprise.
She would look upon her babe, and then turn her face to the window and gaze far away into the sky as if she saw visions.
And there were valleys between her heart and mine.
And the child grew in body and in spirit, and He was different from other children. He was aloof and hard to govern, and I could not lay my hand upon Him.
But He was beloved by everyone in Nazareth, and in my heart I knew why.
Oftentimes He would take away our food to give to the passerby. And He would give other children the sweetmeat I had given Him, before He had tasted it with His own mouth.
He would climb the trees of my orchard to get the fruits, but never to eat them Himself.
And He would race with other boys, and sometimes, because He was swifter of foot, He would delay so that they might pass the stake ere He should reach it.
And sometimes when I led Him to His bed He would say, "Tell my mother and the others that only my body will sleep. My mind will be with them till their mind come to my morning."
And many other wondrous words He said when He was a boy, but I am too old to remember.
Now they tell me I shall see Him no more. But how shall I believe what they say?
I still hear His laughter, and the sound of His running about my house. And whenever I kiss the cheek of my daughter His fragrance returns to my heart, and His body seems to fill my arms.
But is it not passing strange that my daughter does not speak of her first-born to me?
Sometimes it seems that my longing for Him is greater than hers. She stands as firm before the day as if she were a bronzen image, while my heart melts and runs into streams.
Perhaps she knows what I do not know. Would that she might tell me also.
ASSAPH CALLED THE ORATOR OF TYRE: ON THE SPEECH OF JESUS
WHAT SHALL I say of His speech? Perhaps something about His person lent power to His words and swayed those who heard Him. For He was comely, and the sheen of the day was upon His countenance. Men and women gazed at Him more than they listened to His argument. But at times He spoke with the power of a spirit, and that spirit had authority over those who heard Him.
In my youth I had heard the orators of Rome and Athens and Alexandria. The young Nazarene was unlike them all.
They assembled their words with an art to enthral the ear, but when you heard Him your heart would leave you and go wandering into regions not yet visited.
He would tell a story or relate a parable, and the like of His stories and parables had never been heard in Syria. He seemed to spin them out of the seasons, even as time spins the years and the generations.
He would begin a story thus: "The ploughman went forth to the field to sow his seeds."
Or, "Once there was a rich man who had many vineyards."
Or, "A shepherd counted his sheep at eventide and found that one sheep was missing."
And such words would carry His listeners into their simpler selves, and into the ancient of their days.
At heart we are all ploughmen, and we all love the vineyard. And in the pastures of our memory there is a shepherd and a flock and the lost sheep.
And there is the plough-share and the winepress and the threshing-floor.
He knew the source of our older self, and the persistent thread of which we are woven.
The Greek and the Roman orators spoke to their listeners of life as it seemed to the mind. The Nazarene spoke of a longing that lodged in the heart.
They saw life with eyes only a little clearer than yours and mine. He saw life in the light of God.
I often think that He spoke to the crowd as a mountain would speak to the plain.
And in His speech there was a power that was not commanded by the orators of Athens or of Rome.
MARY MAGDALEN: ON MEETING JESUS FOR THE FIRST TIME
IT WAS IN the month of June when I saw Him for the first time. He was walking in the wheatfield when I passed by with my handmaidens, and He was alone. The rhythm of His steps was different from other men's, and the movement of His body was like naught I had seen before.
Men do not pace the earth in that manner. And even now I do not know whether He walked fast or slow.
My handmaidens pointed their fingers at Him and spoke in shy whispers to one another. And I stayed my steps for a moment, and raised my hand to hail Him. But He did not turn His face, and He did not look at me. And I hated Him. I was swept back into myself, and I was as cold as if I had been in a snow-drift. And I shivered.
That night I beheld Him in my dreaming; and they told me afterward that I screamed in my sleep and was restless upon my bed.
It was in the month of August that I saw Him again, through my window. He was sitting in the shadow of the cypress tree across my garden, and He was still as if He had been carved out of stone, like the statues in Antioch and other cities of the North Country.
And my slave, the Egyptian, came to me and said, "That man is here again. He is sitting there across your garden."
And I gazed at Him, and my soul quivered within me, for He was beautiful.
His body was single and each part seemed to love every other part.
Then I clothed myself with raiment of Damascus, and I left my house and walked towards Him.
Was it my aloneness, or was it His fragrance, that drew me to Him? Was it a hunger in my eyes that desired comeliness, or was it His beauty that sought the light of my eyes?
Even now I do not know.
I walked to Him with my scented garments and my golden sandals, the sandals the Roman captain had given me, even these sandals. And when I reached Him, I said, "Good-morrow to you."
And He said, "Good-morrow to you, Miriam."
And He looked at me, and His night-eyes saw me as no man had seen me. And suddenly I was as if naked, and I was shy.
Yet He had only said, "Good-morrow to you."
And then I said to Him, "Will you not come to my house?"
And He said, "Am I not already in your house?"
I did not know what He meant then, but I know now.
And I said, "Will you not have wine and bread with me?"
And He said, "Yes, Miriam, but not now."
Not now, not now, He said. And the voice of the sea was in those two words, and the voice of the wind and the trees. And when He said them unto me, life spoke to death.
For mind you, my friend, I was dead. I was a woman who had divorced her soul. I was living apart from this self which you now see. I belonged to all men, and to none. They called me harlot, and a woman possessed of seven devils. I was cursed, and I was envied.
But when His dawn-eyes looked into my eyes all the stars of my night faded away, and I became Miriam, only Miriam, a woman lost to the earth she had known, and finding herself in new places.
And now again I said to Him, "Come into my house and share bread and wine with me."
And He said, "Why do you bid me to be your guest?"
And I said, "I beg you to come into my house." And it was all that was sod in me, and all that was sky in me calling unto Him.
Then He looked at me, and the noontide of His eyes was upon me, and He said, "You have many lovers, and yet I alone love you. Other men love themselves in your nearness. I love you in your self. Other men see a beauty in you that shall fade away sooner than their own years. But I see in you a beauty that shall not fade away, and in the autumn of your days that beauty shall not be afraid to gaze at itself in the mirror, and it shall not be offended.
"I alone love the unseen in you."
Then He said in a low voice, "Go away now. If this cypress tree is yours and you would not have me sit in its shadow, I will walk my way."
And I cried to Him and I said, "Master, come to my house. I have incense to burn for you, and a silver basin for your feet. You are a stranger and yet not a stranger. I entreat you, come to my house."
Then He stood up and looked at me even as the seasons might look down upon the field, and He smiled. And He said again: "All men love you for themselves. I love you for yourself."
And then He walked away.
But no other man ever walked the way He walked. Was it a breath born in my garden that moved to the east? Or was it a storm that would shake all things to their foundations?
I knew not, but on that day the sunset of His eyes slew the dragon in me, and I became a woman, I became Miriam, Miriam of Mijdel.
PHILEMON A GREEK APOTHECARY: ON JESUS THE MASTER PHYSICIAN
THE NAZARENE WAS the Master Physician of His people. No other man knew so much of our bodies and of their elements and properties. He made whole those who were afflicted with diseases unknown to the Greeks and the Egyptians. They say He even called back the dead to life. And whether this be true or not true, it declares His power; for only to him who has wrought great things is the greatest ever attributed.
They say also that Jesus visited India and the Country between the Two Rivers, and that there the priests revealed to Him the knowledge of all that is hidden in the recesses of our flesh.
Yet that knowledge may have been given to Him direct by the gods, and not through the priests. For that which has remained unknown to all men for an eon may be disclosed to one man in but a moment. And Apollo may lay his hand on the heart of the obscure and make it wise.
Many doors were open to the Tyrians and the Thebans, and to this man also certain sealed doors were opened. He entered the temple of the soul, which is the body; and He beheld the evil spirits that conspire against our sinews, and also the good spirits that spin the threads thereof.
Methinks it was by the power of opposition and resistance that He healed the sick, but in a manner unknown to our philosophers. He astonished fever with His snowlike touch and it retreated; and He surprised the hardened limbs with His own calm and they yielded to Him and were at peace.
He knew the ebbing sap within the furrowed baark -- but how He reached the sap with His fingers I do not know. He knew the sound steel underneath the rust -- but how He freed the sword and made it shine no man can tell.
Sometimes it seems to me that He heard the murmuring pain of all things that grow in the sun, and that then He lifted them up and supported them, not only by His own knowledge, but also by disclosing to them their own power to rise and become whole.
Yet He was not much concerned with Himself as a physician. He was rather preoccupied with the religion and the politics of this land. And this I regret, for first of all things we must needs be sound of body.
But these Syrians, when they are visited by an illness, seek an argument rather than medicine.
And pity it is that the greatest of all their physicians chose rather to be but a maker of speeches in the market-place.
SIMON WHO WAS CALLED PETER: WHEN HE AND HIS BROTHER WERE CALLED
I WAS ON the shore of the Lake of Galilee when I first beheld Jesus my Lord and my Master. My brother Andrew was with me and we were casting out net into the waters.
The waves were rough and high and we caught but few fish. And our hearts were heavy.
Suddenly Jesus stood near us, as if He had taken form that very moment, for we had not seen Him aproaching.
He called us by our names, and He said, "If you will follow me I will lead you to an inlet where the fishes are swarming."
And as I looked at His face the net fell from my hands, for a flame kindled within me and I recognized Him.
And my brother Adrew spoke and said, "We know all the inlets upon these shores, and we know also that on a windy day like this the fish seek a depth beyond our nets."
And Jesus answered, "Follow me to the shores of a greater sea. I shall make you fishers of men. And your net shall never be empty."
And we abandoned our boat and our net and followed Him.
I myself was drawn by a power, viewless, that walked beside His person.
I walked near Him, breathless and full of wonder, and my brother Andrew was behind us, bewildered and amazed.
And as we walked on the sand I made bold and said unto Him, "Sir, I and my brother will follow your footsteps, and where you go we too will go. But if it please you to come to our house this night, we shall be graced by your visit. Our house is not large and our ceiling not high, and you will sit at but a frugal meal. Yet if you will abide in our hovel it will be to us a palace. And would you break bread with us, we in your presence were to be envied by the princes of the land."
And He said, "Yea, I will be your guest this night."
And I rejoiced in my heart. And we walked behind Him in silence until we reached our house.
And as we stood at the threshold Jesus said, "Peace be to this house, and to those who dwell in it."
Then He entered and we followed Him.
My wife and my wife's mother and my daughter stood before Him and they worshipped Him; then they knelt before Him and kissed the hem of His sleeve.
They were astonished that He, the chosen and the well beloved, had come to be our guest; for they had already seen Him by the River Jordan when John the Baptist had proclaimed Him before the people.
And straightway my wife and my wife's mother began to prepare the supper.
My brother Andrew was a shy man, but his faith in Jesus was deeper than my faith.
And my daughter, who was then but twelve year old, stood by Him and held His garment as if she were in fear He would leave us and go out again into the night. She clung to Him like a lost sheep that has found its shepherd.
Then we sat at the board, and He broke the bread and poured the wine; and He turned to us saying, "My friends, grace me now in sharing this food with me, even as the Father has graced us in giving it unto us."
These words He said ere He touched a morsel, for He wished to follow an ancient custom that the honored guest becomes the host.
And as we sat with Him around the board we felt as if we were sitting at the feast of the great King.
My daughter Petronelah, who was young and unknowing, gazed at His face and followed the movements of His hands. And I saw a veil of tears in her eyes.
When He left the board we followed Him and sat about Him in the vine-arbor.
And He spoke to us and we listened, and our hearts fluttered within us like birds.
He spoke of the second birth of man, and of the opening of the gates of the heavens; and of angels descending and bringing peace and good cheer to all men, and of angels ascending to the throne bearing the longings of men to the Lord God.
Then He looked into my eyes and gazed into the depths of my heart. And He said, "I have chosen you and your brother, and you must needs come with me. You have labored and you have been heavy-laden. Now I shall give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn of me, for in my heart is peace, and your soul shall find abundance and a home-coming."
When He spoke thus I and my brother stood up before Him, and I said to Him, "Master, we will follow you to the ends of the earth. And if our burden were as heavy as the mountain we would bear it with you in gladness. And should we fall by the wayside we shall know that we have fallen on the way to heaven, and we shall be satisfied."
And my brother Andrew spoke and said, "Master, we would be threads between your hands and your loom. Weave us into the cloth if you will, for we would be in the raiment of the Most High."
And my wife raised her face, and the tears were upon her cheeks and she spoke with joy, and she said, "Blessed are you who come in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the womb that carried you, and the breast that gave you milk."
And my daughter, who was but twelve years old, sat at His feet and she nestled close to Him.
And the mother of my wife, who sat at the threshold, said no word. She only wept in silence and her shawl was wet with her tears.
Then Jesus walked over to her and He raised her face to His face and He said to her, "You are the mother of all these. You weep for joy, and I will keep your tears in my memory."
And now the old moon rose above the horizon. And Jesus gazed upon it for a moment, and then He turned to us and said, "It is late. Seek your beds, and may God visit your repose. I will be here in this arbor until dawn. I have cast my net this day and I have caught two men; I am satisfied, and now I bid you good-night."
Then my wife's mother said, "But we have laid your bed in the house, I pray you enter and rest."
And He answered her saying, "I would indeed rest, but not under a roof. Suffer me to lie this night under the canopy of the grapes and the stars."
And she made haste and brought out the mattress and the pillows and the coverings. And He smiled at her and He said, "Behold, I shall lie down upon a bed twice made."
Then we left Him and entered into the house, and my daughter was the last one to enter. And her eyes were upon HIm until I had closed the door.
Thus for the first time I knew my Lord and Master.
And though it was many years ago, it still seems but of today.
CAIAPHAS: THE HIGH PRIEST
IN SPEAKING OF that man Jesus and of His death let us consider two salient facts: the Torah must needs be held in safety by us, and this kingdom must needs be protected by Rome. Now that man was defiant to us and to Rome. He poisoned the mind of the simple people, and He led them as if by magic against us and against Caesar.
My own slaves, both men and women, after hearing him speak in the market-place, turned sullen and rebellious. Some of them left my house and escaped to the desert whence they came.
Forget not that the Torah is our foundation and our tower of strength. No man shall undermine us while we have this power to restrain his hand, and no man shall overthrow Jerusalem so long as its walls stand upon the ancient stone that David laid.
If the seed of Abraham is indeed to live and thrive this soil must remain undefiled.
And that man Jesus was a defiler and a corrupter. We slew Him with a conscience both deliberate and clean. And we shall slay all those who would debase the laws of Moses or seek to befoul our sacred heritage.
We and Pontius Pilatus knew the danger in that man, and that it was wise to bring Him to an end.
I shall see that His followers come to the same end, and the echo of His words to the same silence.
If Judea is to live all men who oppose her must be brought down to the dust. And ere Judea shall die I will cover my gray head with ashes even as did Samuel the prophet, and I will tear off this garment of Aaron and clothe me in sackcloth until I go hence for ever.
JOANNA THE WIFE OF HEROD'S STEWARD: ON CHILDREN
JESUS WAS NEVER married but He was a friend of women, and He knew them as they would be known in sweet comradeship. And He loved children as they would be loved in faith and understanding.
In the light of His eyes there was a father and a brother and a son.
He would hold a child upon His knees and say, "Of such is your might and your freedom; and of such is the kingdom of the spirit."
They say that Jesus heeded not the law of Moses, and that He was over-forgiving to the prostitutes of Jerusalem and the country side.
I myself at that time was deemed a prostitute, for I loved a man who was not my husband, and he was a Sadducee.
And on a day the Sadducees came upon me in my house when my lover was with me, and they seized me and held me, and my lover walked away and left me.
Then they led me to the market-place where Jesus was teaching.
it was their desire to hold me up before Him as a test and a trap for Him.
But Jesus judged me not. He laid shame upon those who would have had me shamed, and He reproached them.
And He bade me go my way.
And after that all the tastesless fruit of life turned sweet to my mouth, and the scentless blossoms breathed fragrance into my nostrils. I became a woman without a tainted memory, and I was free, and my head was no longer bowed down.
RAFCA: THE BRIDE OF CANA
THIS HAPPENED BEFORE He was known to the people.
I was in my mother's garden tending the rose-bushes, when He stopped at our gate.
And He said, "I am thirsty. Will you give me water from your well?"
And I ran and brought the silver cup, and filled it with water; and I poured into it a few drops from the jasmin vial.
And He drank deep and was pleased.
Then He looked into my eyes and said, "My blessing shall be upon you."
When He said that I felt as it were a gust of wind rushing through my body. And I was no longer shy; and I said, "Sir, I am betrothed to a man of Cana in Galilee. And I shall be married on the fourth day of the coming week. Will you not come to my wedding and grace my marriage with your presence?"
And He answered, "I will come, my child."
Mind you, He said, "My child," yet He was but a youth, and I was nearly twenty.
Then He walked on down the road.
And I stood at the gate of our garden until my mother called me into the house.
On the fourth day of the following week I was taken to the house of my bridegroom and given in marriage.
And Jesus came, and with Him His mother and His brother James.
And they sat around the wedding-board with our guests whilst my maiden comrades sang the wedding-songs of Solomon the King. And Jesus ate our food and drank our wine and smiled upon me and upon the others.
And He heeded all the songs of the lover bringing his beloved into his tent; and of the young vineyard-keeper who loved the daughter of the lord of the vineyard and led her to his mother's house; and of the prince who met the beggar maiden and bore her to his realm and crowned her with the crown of his fathers.
And it seemed as if He were listening to yet other songs also, which I could not hear.
At sundown the father of my bridegroom came to the mother of Jesus and whispered saying, "We have no more wine for our guests. And the day is not yet over."
And Jesus heard the whispering, and He said, "The cup bearer knows that there is still more wine."
And so it was indeed -- and as long as the guests remained there was fine wine for all who would drink.
Presently Jesus began to speak with us. He spoke of the wonders of earth and heaven; of sky flowers that bloom when night is upon the earth, and of earth flowers that blossom when the day hides the stars.
And He told us stories and parables, and His voice enchanted us so that we gazed upon Him as if seeing visions, and we forgot th cup and the plate.
And as I listened to Him it seemed as if I were in a land distant and unknown.
After a while one of the guests said to the father of my bridegroom, "You have kept the best wine till the end of the feast. Other hosts do not so."
And all believed that Jesus had wrought a miracle, that they should have more wine and better at the end of the wedding-feast than at the beginning.
I too thought that Jesus had poured the wine, but I was not astonished; for in His voice I had already listened to miracles.
And afterwards indeed, His voice remained close to my heart, even until I had been delivered of my first-born child.
And now even to this day in our village and in the villages near by, the word of our guest is still remembered. And they say, "The spirit of Jesus of Nazareth is the best and the oldest wine."
A PERSIAN PHILOSOPHER IN DAMASCUS: OF ANCIENT GODS AND NEW
I CANNOT TELL the fate of this man, nor can I say what shall befall His disciples. A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible. Yet should that seed fall upon a rock, it will come to naught.
But this I say: The ancient God of Israel is harsh and relentless. Israel should have another God; one who is gentle and forgiving, who would look down upon them with pity; one who would descend with the rays of the sun and walk on the path of their limitations, rather than sit for ever in the judgment seat to weigh their faults and measure their wrong-doings.
Israel should bring forth a God whose heart is not a jealous heart, and whose memory of their shortcomings is brief; one who would not avenge Himself upon them even to the third and the fourth generation.
Man here in Syria is like man in all lands. He would look into the mirror of his own understanding and therein find his deity. He would fashion the gods after his own likeness, and worship that which reflects his own image.
In truth man prays to his deeper longing, that it may rise and fulfil the sum of his desires.
There is no depth beyond the soul of man, and the soul is the deep that calls unto itself; for there is no other voice to speak and there are no other ears to hear.
Even we in Persia would see our faces in the disc of the sun and our bodies dancing in the fire that we kindle upon the altars.
Now the God of Jesus, whom He called Father, would not be a stranger unto the people of Jesus, and He would fulfil their desires.
The gods of Egypt have cast off their burden of stones and fled to the Nubian desert, to be free among those who are still free from knowing.
The gods of Greece and Rome are vanishing into their own sunset. They were too much like men to live in the ecstasy of men. The groves in which their magic was born have been cut down by the axes of the Athenians and the Alexandrians.
And in this land also the high places are made low by the lawyers of Beirut and the young hermits of Antioch.
Only the old women and the weary men seek the temples of their forefathers; only the exhausted at the end of the road seek its beginning.
But this man Jesus, this Nazarene, He has spoken of a God too vast to be unlike the soul of any man, too knowing to punish, too loving to remember the sins of His creatures. And this God of the Nazarene shall pass over the threshold of the children of the earth, and He shall sit at their hearth, and He shall be a blessing within their walls and a light upon their path.
But my God is the God of Zoroaster, the God who is the sun in the sky and fire upon the earth and light in the bosom of man. And I am content. I need no other God.
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Jesus the Son of Man by Kahlil Gibran