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A Man Called Jesus

Three weeks later James took a walk with his brother.

“Why all the secrecy, James? Why didn’t Peter come to me directly?”

“I guess because he thought you would have more difficulty saying no to me.”

“This puts it right on the line for me. Who am I? What does God want me to do?”

“It is clear you have some special function, and we need to figure it out. Let’s go over here by this pretty stream and sit. I’m a little tired from all that clearing this morning. The winter is a good time to clear fields, but it is hard work. That sparkling water over there will refresh us.”

After sitting and reflecting some, Jesus looked directly at his brother. “I think of myself as a teacher, James, and I know there are people who call me a prophet. There’s a huge difference between the two vocations. A teacher is a role you choose. To become a prophet, you must be chosen by God.”
“You are right about that distinction,” James said smiling over at his brother. “Now think about Lazarus. Think about Susanna, that leper you healed who was living in a cave outside of Nain.”
“I do, brother, all the time. That is what is so confusing.”

“God must be working through you, Jesus. Lazarus is alive. God worked through you to bring him back to life. I certainly couldn’t have done that. You are much more than a teacher, my good brother.” Jesus embraced him.

“You may be right,” Jesus said after resuming his position on the rock. “I reach out to people and things happen. All I want to do is teach about God’s love. I’m scared, James.”

“I would be too, but don’t forget one thing. If God has given you this power, it is his power. He will see that you do the right thing. You know, my brother, so many of our prophets were reluctant to do God’s work. Just think of Jeremiah.”

“I have thought about Jeremiah. Rachel made the same point. But your point is helpful. If God has given me this power, I need not worry. He will make sure I do the right thing.”

“I think so, my brother. Now back to the meeting with Peter. Judas’s point is that of course you are a prophet, and the time has come for you to start acting like one.”

“That Judas is certainly one diamond in the rough.”

“He has an edge to him, but he is loyal with a sharp mind for getting things done.”

“What does he want me to do?”

“Some symbolic act of protest. Some act that people will remember. Some act that defines your message. Judas wants all of Israel to know you. He wants you to directly challenge our Temple-based religion.”

“Dear God, that’s a tall order.”

“He wants you to go to Jerusalem and free all those animals in the Court of Gentiles. I would add the moneychangers. They symbolize all the corruption and greed. That recent trip to Jerusalem was eye opening for me. The God of love you bring to me every day I’m in your presence must find that whole Temple scene an abomination.”

“So you’re with Judas in devising this strategy?”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because you want to add the moneychangers.”

“I think Judas is making a good point. He has no fear you will be arrested. The Romans could care less about the sacrifice system, Judas says. Or maybe it was Peter who made that point. He’s one hundred percent behind this plan, too.”

“I’m not afraid of Rome either. When does he want us to take action?”

“He’s not talking about us, Jesus. He’s talking about you. You are the prophet. Prophets are not like military leaders. They don’t lead people into battle. They speak the word of God and act out that word alone. I would love to free all those animals, but God has not called me to make that symbolic statement. He has called you.”

“I’m back to thinking this thing is a tall order.”

“I know. Maybe you should give it a little time. Think about it a bit.”

“No, James. I’m ready. I concluded I was called by God to perform some special function in that dream I had returning from Jerusalem. I can’t ignore the fact that I affect people.”

“All for the good,” James interjected.

“That seems to be true.”

“If you are affecting people for the good, God must be working through you.”

“I was coming to that conclusion on my own, but you have helped me clarify things. When does Judas want me to act?”

“The Capernaum group was thinking Passover would be a good time. There are thousands of people there, and the focus of the celebration is sacrifice and atonement.”

“I also want to somehow make the point about where God lives. I certainly don’t find him in that Temple.”

“Maybe you should break into the Holy of Holies and tell people it’s all a fraud.”

“That would certainly get the attention of Caiaphas, but I will start with the animals first.”

“Don’t forget the moneychangers,” James said as he got up from the rock. He was thinking it was time for him to get back to work.

“What should I do about them?” Jesus asked as he, too, got up from the rock.

“I would upset their tables and scatter all those coins.”

“You guys have planned this whole thing well. Now let me go back and get some tools so I can help you with that field.”

“That proves it, brother,” James said with a wide grin. “You are a prophet indeed. You have read my mind. I was hoping you would help me with that field.”