How Christmas Continued #14

Andrew and I lived in Bethsaida, Galilee. A fisherman built a house on the eastside, where the Jordan River enters Lake Galilee. When others settled, they continued to call the place Bethsaida or House of the Fisher. Most of us made our living by fishing. The Simon family and the Zebedees were partners. I am John Zebedee and I am the brother of James. Andrew was the brother of Simon, who would become Peter. Simon married a lady in Capernaum, just a short distance west and south from Bethsaida on Lake Galilee. Capernaum was a major small city with a Roman Garrison, a Synagogue and a tax office where Matthew was employed. The Roman officer in charge of the town was friendly toward our people and tolerant to our religion. He gave us the impression that he preferred our religion to his own and we soon learned that his faith was more visible than ours. He was the one who did not feel worthy that our Teacher should enter his home. All He had to do was say the word and his servant would live. Our Teacher also snatched his daughter from dying.

How Christmas Continued #13

I am John, the man that introduced the Christ to the public. I was predestined, born and prepared for that task. For that purpose, I was endowed with the spirit and power of Elijah. It was still in my mother's womb and He in his mother's womb, that I felt that my Cousin was the future Christ. From that day on, I knew who He was, but I had to wait thirty years to announce Him to the world as the "One" chosen to take away the sins of the world. Even then, I was uncertain as to what the Christ had planned to do for us. I had mistakenly expected different things from our Messiah. We were hoping and praying for a man with the power of Moses or for one with the military skills of David. When Jesus appeared before me and demanded to be baptized, He did not carry a miracle rod, but was accompanied by a dove - the symbol of peace. Then, when He began to preach and the crowds grew around Him and there was no indication when He was going to move against our enemies, I became disturbed and send some of my students to ask Him directly whether He was the One or were we to wait for another?

How Christmas Continued #12

I am pleased to be remembered as the Other Mary or as the sister to Mary mother of Jesus. Actually, we were sisters-in-law. Mary was married to Joseph and I was married to Alphaeus, Joseph's brother. Mary and I grew up together in Nazareth. We played together and we shared our secrets together. Mary and Joseph were away for a time and then returned to Nazareth with a little boy named "Jesus" and we continued our friendship. I was privileged to watch Jesus grow up. He played with our children. Our son James was very close to Jesus. Their friendship would impact us greatly. He began to follow Jesus long before they became adults. He also looked up to Jesus and we were pleased that he did. Jesus had a way of staying out of childish mishaps. Jesus kept often to Himself and He appeared lost in thinking. Even when He was little, He puzzled us with His questions. By the age of twelve, He began to instruct our leaders. He had an unusual desire to be in the house of God, in our synagogue and in the Temple in Jerusalem. He disagreed with His parents once and then was the most obedient child in the neighborhood and He did well in his father's trade. Jesus was somewhat of a peacemaker among the children. There was less disagreement and fighting among them when He was around. There was something secret about Jesus until He made it public Himself, when He went on His mission trip into the desert. After He returned, He stirred up our people by announcing that He was acting in behalf of God. He was almost killed. He left Nazareth and our son James went with Him. Shortly thereafter, I, too, did followed Jesus and our son.

How Christmas Continued #11

I am James and I was born and raised in Nazareth. Jesus and I grew up together. We were much more than playmates - we were family like cousins. My mother, the other Mary, was married to my father Alphaeus who was a brother to my uncle Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus. We played as children and wrestled as boys. We were loved and respected, not just by our parents. I tended more toward mischief than Jesus. He was not always as playful as I wanted Him to be. Still, I felt attached to Him and for good reasons. He kept me out of many things that could have embarrassed me. Jesus seemed to sense what we could and could not do. I liked to follow Him and learned the way He behaved. Unlike other children and the boys, He tended to occupy Himself more and more with what adults did and talked about. It did not take long and the adults were surprised with what He knew about morality and religion. I was not surprised when He challenged our religious leaders at the age of twelve in the Temple. In our local synagogue, Jesus began to read early and our teachers encouraged Him. I felt elevated in His company because He made me feel smarter that the other boys. At that time, I had no idea that our attachment would last endlessly. Even the notion that Jesus, my cousin, would grow up, leave town and start a new movement was not on my mind. That announcement would take us all by surprise. But because of our friendship, I remained faithful to Him after the town tried to throw Him off a cliff. Because of me, my mother, the other Mary also joined our small group that began the new mission of Jesus. Uncle Joseph had passed away, but my aunt Mary and my cousins were not ready to regard Jesus as the One whom God had called. Gradually, my mother must have convinced Mary, mother of Jesus and her sons to follow her Son. At the end, my mother stood by her sister-in-law Mary while her Son was being crucified.