Man of Consequence
Today, the Mount of Olives is one of the worst places in Israel to have your wallet stolen. Of course this is sad, but it isn't really that surprising. These days, the Mount of Olives is a crowded place, with lots of tourists carrying money, ripe for the opportunistic. We, my family and I, made the slow descent down the slope that leads from Bethphage to Jerusalem, as Jesus of Nazareth did in 33 C.E. Matthew 20:1-3 reports the instructions Jesus gave when he was at Bethphage, that he could fulfill the prophecy penned by Zechariah in the book bearing his name chapter 9, and verse 9. When you come down the slope of Bethphage, you truly get a wonderful, panoramic view of Jerusalem. And Jesus wept over all the people he saw as he came into town. Why was he crying?
My group had just left Egypt. Egypt today is a far cry from what it once was as the first world power, but even today, its former glory is keenly evident. They were madly intelligent, gifted artists, and had an insatiable thirst for worship. Their gods ran the gamete of all emotion, power, and circumstance. To be certain, some of their gods were kind, by the description of those that had created them, but some were bloodthirsty, cruel, and animalistic. Nearly all of the Egyptian gods demanded glory, and their deified men, the Pharaohs, just could not get enough of themselves. Some married their own daughters just to concentrate their blood line. At the abuse of the people they commissioned shrines, temples, statues, artwork, all to satisfy their blinding egotism.
But this Jesus of Nazareth came quietly, and humbly. And upon being an eyewitness to the work of the hands of man-made gods in Egypt, I was more sure then ever that whatever Jesus of Nazareth was offering, I wanted in. It is nearly impossible to hear what Jesus said, what he was selling, and not want to buy. Whatever pollution has occurred to his teachings that cause the average person to run from the word Christianity, or a discussion about Christianity, is a pitiful shame. But no sane person can know anything relevant of Jesus, and hate him. I don't share the beliefs of most who were on the Mount of Olives with my family and I. I know this because many on the way down to Jerusalem wore their beliefs on their hats, or matching shirts, or vests, things like these. But I watched the vast majority of them ignore an elderly, poor man on the slope. He was hunched over, stood in the middle of the slope with a cup in his hand, saying 'good morning' in English. Us, those touring, we're not hurting for money. It is no small financial feat to make it to the Bible lands, and no matter how any tourist is doing financially, their worst day likely outdid this man's best by a long shot. But so many of the people, with their Christianity declared across their chest, scurried off to sing songs, and say prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane about Jesus. I'm not judging, I just found this mystifying. What makes a "christian" able to do something like this? I wondered if the majority were only there where Jesus walked for photo-ops.
But, another writer made his comments on Jesus, better then I ever will when he said the following:
"Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty and then for three years was an itinerant preacher. He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put his foot inside a big city. He never traveled more than two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of those things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but himself….
"While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed on (wood) between two thieves. While he was dying his executors gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth - His coat. When he was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
"Nineteen long centuries have come and gone and today He is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever were built, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life."