Matitias bar Zacharius (M.Z.): Good morning, Sir. I've been asked by my editor to obtain an interview with you. Theres a lot of interest generated by stories being circulated about you. I've heard youre turning water into wine, chasing merchants out of the Temple court, healing people on Sabbath, -- healing everyone in an entire town. Is any of this true?
Jesus Christ (J.C.): You're welcome to see for yourself. Come follow me for the day. You may get some of your questions answered.
REPORT 1: Boss, it's been a very eye-opening first day. I've never seen anything like this in my life. The assignment is going to take longer than I thought.
He's different, not at all like the religious leaders we've done stories on in the past. He speaks so well. Little children can understand him. At the same time, scholarly listeners say they are intrigued by the deeper meaning in his words. I'm charmed as I listen to him.
The stories He tells are from everyday life. Ill never again see a farmer planting his fields without remembering what he said about it. But you should see how He treats people. It's amazing. Bums flock to him. He touches them and treats them with such courtesy. That is so out of the ordinary. I don't get it. But more than that, He even touched the eyes of a blind man and the guy could actually see again.
I saw this beggar whose legs were so misshapen he couldn't walk. He had to scoot around in a sitting position on the ground, moving himself with his hands and arms. But when Jesus told him to get up and walk, this guy just stood up and his legs straightened out! It was like he had grown brand new legs! He started jumping all over the place and shouting praises to God.
A leper came to him asking to be healed. Jesus simply said, 'Be healed!' and every trace of white skin, every sore on his body was instantly healed. Every lost finger and toe was replaced with a new finger or toe. The gaping hole in his face where his nose used to be was remade, brand-spanking new, with a perfectly shaped new nose. It was almost as if the man had been reborn!
Youd better not print any of this, yet. Nobody would believe it. Something's going on here and Ive got to get to the bottom it.
Matitias bar Zacharius.
(M.Z.): Teacher, sir, may I ask you a few questions, please? Where did you come from? I know you grew up in Nazareth -- Ive heard the gossip about some strange circumstances -- but that's not what I am asking about. Where are you from, really?
(J.C.): Have you never read the Law and the Prophets?
(M.Z.): But teacher, sir, that old stuff is passé. We're under Roman occupation, now, and nobody but the Pharisees takes the Law that seriously anymore. Our forefathers promised wed be the head of all the nations of the world, and not the tail, but it hasnt happened. All fantasy aside, where are you from? Really?
(J.C.): If you are not prepared to accept the evidence of the Law of Moses and the writings of the prophets of old, little of what I might say to you would be of any value. On the other hand, if you really believe that your forefathers had a valid hope, where do you think that hope came from if it wasn't from God, for whom the holy men of old spoke?
You remember the other day when the boy gave me five small barley loaves and two dried fish? When I had thanked Our Father in heaven for the food, these meager rations became enough to feed the five thousand men who were present, in addition to all the woman and children -- with twelve baskets of food left over. Does that not remind you of what Moses wrote, that "Man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord does man live?"
(M.Z.): Yes, teacher -- sir. I think I'm beginning to see. May I stick around a while longer, sir?
(J.C.): Bar Zacharius, you are more than welcome to stay as long as you like.
REPORT 2: Boss, this Teacher is not like anyone you or I have seen before. I'm sorry my reports to you have been scattered and few. I've never been more busy trying to cover a story than in this assignment. From dawn to dusk, the sick, blind, lame, lepers -- all are made well. But thats not all.
The other night, I was sleeping on the ground with some of His followers. It must have been about the first watch of the night, when he got up and started off towards this nearby mountain. So I followed Him, quietly, in the darkness. He finally stopped, got down on His knees and kind of into a sideways sitting position. Then He raised His face towards the sky and began to talk. It was as if he was talking to someone, but no one was there.
And then I saw one of the strangest sights you could imagine. Slowly a shaft of light began to form out of the clear night sky and glow about him. There were times it seemed as if someone or something was talking back to him from that light. It was fascinating. I didnt even notice the passing of time. Then all of a sudden I was aware He had said my name and then again! And it seemed to me as if my whole life was laid out before the entire universe. Details of things I thought nobody knew were spoken of. He was praying for me!
As the first brush of dawn painted the eastern sky, the light around him faded. He seemed to be finished talking with this someone he referred to as "Father." He stood and came toward me. Then He spoke my name, and a strong sensation of something swept over my whole being. I couldnt tell you what it was, but something inside me changed in that moment.
You know, Boss, from the time when I first came to work with you, I have had nothing but contempt for the fraudulence and pretentious piety of the Pharisees -- even more so for the Sadducees. But this Teacher is not at all like them. And the grace with which He deals with them is amazing. And the stories He tells -- some call them parables -- are like nothing we've ever heard before.
But Im rambling. I need to stay on this assignment a while longer. Rumor has it that the religious leaders are plotting His death. If that is true, youre going to need to plan for a whole separate Sunday Morning edition of the newspaper just to begin to cover the story.
Matitias bar Zacharius.
(M.Z.): Teacher, Sir, I heard you say the other day that no human has ever seen the God you call "Father." Why? What is it about us that keeps us from being able to see Him?
(J.C.): It is not that He wants you to be unable see Him. But His rightness is so perfect that nothing imperfect can survive in His presence. There is nothing God would like more than for humans to be able to see Him as He really is. But by not letting you see His true form, God is actually doing you a favor. By not letting you see Him, He is preserving you alive. Thus you are given an opportunity to become acquainted with him as He has revealed Himself. And when you come to know Him as He truly is, you will want to become like Him.
(M.Z.): I dont understand. If God really wants us to get acquainted with Him, why doesn't He come? Why doesnt He just appear? Couldnt He shield himself so we could see Him at least a little bit? We're not that bad, are we? Yeah, there are people who pick fights with their neighbors, and take stuff that isnt theirs. But not all of us are like that. We don't all go around lying, cheating, stealing, and murdering, even though some do. But those people we put in prisons. So, what's so bad about us that keeps us from being able to see God?
(J.C.): That is why I am here. As the one who spoke the world into existence and then breathed into man my own life, I voluntarily put myself into a body like yours in order that you might see what God is like. Please understand that when you see me, you are looking at the human embodiment of my father, also. If you will watch me very carefully, you will see what my character is like. In seeing me, you will see what my father's character is like.
Originally, when I created humanity, humans could see God and talk with Him face to face. That was in the Eden Garden. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the forbidden tree, everything changed. Humans can no longer see God and not be hurt.
(M.Z.): What happened that made the difference? Why should eating a piece of fruit have anything to do with Gods presence?
(J.C.): Please understand that the problem is not with Gods presence; the problem is in humans. All have been created with intelligence and freedom of choice. God wants their loyalty, their love, their trust. The sin in the Garden was so much more than merely eating a piece of fruit; it had everything to do with loyalty. Could Eve and Adam trust that God loved them and was truthful in His portrayal of reality, or, as the serpent intimated, was God selfishly holding back something that was for their good? Eating the fruit was an outward manifestation of broken trust, a broken trust that would cut off humanity from life with God.
God is love, and trust can be maintained only through the highest principles of love. When I speak of that 'love,' I speak not of a warm, fuzzy sentimentalism. Love is a principle that seeks not its own interest but the interest of others. Love is opposite of self-centeredness. It is harmony and cooperation and order. Love is the only basis of mutual trust.
But the breaking of trust had an even more distant origin. The first angel ever created was brilliant -- Lucifer, Bright Morning Star, the Light Bearer. All these are names by which I too am sometimes known, names I have shared with him. He was as glorious as were his names, perfect in beauty, skilled in wisdom. If you are willing to read the prophets, you might be interested in how Isaiah and Ezekiel described him and the events surrounding him so long ago.
He stood with Me, then, at the center of the universe, a covering cherub at the very throne of God. However, in the course of time, he chose to become envious and jealous, discontented with the gifts I had given him. In his self-centeredness, he came to think that he should be adored and worshiped like God. He craved Gods creative power. He wanted to rule. Finally, he enlisted other angels through deception to follow him in rebellion. They intended to ruin God's reputation and dethrone His government.
Lucifer's efforts to deceive were very successful among his fellow angels. One-third of them ultimately sided with him. Friendships were shattered. The peace and harmony of heaven were replaced by suspicion and deceit and sorrow. And that first angel became Satan. Instead of bearing truth and light and love to the universe, representing God to all creation, he became the adversary, the accuser. Although his real character was, for the most part, cloaked in deceit, those who sided with him became like him. Consequently, he and all the angels who joined his rebellion simply had to be expelled from heaven.
(M.Z.): Teacher, Sir, if you were part of all this history, if you are, as you say, one with your father, this must have broken your heart! But why did it have to happen? Couldnt you have just blotted Lucifer out of existence? You couldve destroyed the rebellion before it spread!
(J.C.): God's government does not operate that way, Matitias. The principle of love never forces itself on others. And even if the destructive natural consequences of his rebellion had unfolded without hindrance, Satan's demise would have left even loyal angels with questions, even fear. Wondering what God had done to him, not realizing that the one who had been their friend had done it to himself. The seeds of Satan's rebellion would have remained, alive though dormant, ready to break out again at any time.
(M.Z.): I think I'm beginning to see what you mean, Teacher, Sir! But that was angels, heaven, way a long time ago. What does it have to do with us, here?
(J.C.): Well, Matitias, it was regarding the creation of this world that Satan's rebellion first erupted. As an ambassador to the universe, Lucifer had done a wonderful job. But in planning for this world, he simply had nothing to offer. He was an angel, a created being himself. Exalted, brilliant in light, highly intelligent, to be sure, -- but he was and is and always would be still a creature. Eternal God has life within Himself, life to share, and creative power in His very word. A creature does not. Lucifer sensed he was wrong for feeling the way he did. God saw it all and tried to help Lucifer to see that a creature must always be a creature, tried to help him return to gratitude and loyalty to God as the first and highest of the angels. Satan had imagined that he was hiding his jealousy and envy, and continued to spread lies and plant distrust among the angels. There was a point when he could have turned back from his rebellion; he could have been helped. But eventually he convinced himself that he was right. He had so turned the truth about the character of my father into lies, there was nothing more that could be done for him. There was no further truth that could be shown to him to undeceive him. He could be allowed no longer in heaven.
When this world was subsequently created, Satan made it his headquarters. By that time, he was a devil, and he schemed to trick the new creation of humans to doubt God's infinite love. He would bring them into his rebellion of distrust. He was successful in his venture and the consequence has grown into the evil that we see now in the world. Since that event in the Garden, Gods primary effort in behalf of this world has focused on revealing His love for humanity. It is truth that can break the bonds of deception. It is love that can win humanity back to harmony with God.
Satan claimed to have a better government than one based on the principle of love. He has been given an opportunity here to reveal the nature of his proposed government, to show how it would operate. This has been necessary so that all the created beings of the universe might make an informed decision regarding who they trust. Humanity also needs to be able to make that informed decision to trust, but humanity is still bound in the shackles of deception.
As for me, I have come to free humanity from slavery to Satan. I have come to heal the sick, the lame, the blind. More than that, I have come to heal peoples' hearts and minds, that humanity might be truly free. I have come that all might have life, and have it more abundantly. I want the Pharisees and Sadducees to have this more abundant life, but they won't come to me for healing.
Right now, Matitias, they are plotting to kill me. You have heard them say that I have blasphemed God, that I am possessed by a devil. In a few short weeks, I will be going up to Jerusalem to place myself at their disposal. You are welcome to stay and see for yourself what they do and how they do it.
You are also welcome to talk with Matthew over there about the genealogical record of my descent from King David. At the appropriate time, I will make my royal entrance into Jerusalem according to the tradition of kings. You will see the people welcome me as their king. Then only a few days later, those same people who had shouted 'Hosanna' will shout 'Crucify Him!'
The people simply do not understand. They are like sheep without a shepherd. They need to be shown the Truth. Sometimes words are not enough.
(M.Z.): Master, Teacher -- please don't do it, sir! Don't let them do that to you! You only need to speak the word like you did that night on Galilee, when the wind and waves obeyed your command. No man has ever done that before. I know you have power! Use it! If they kill you as you've said they will, how can they ever know what you came to tell them?
(J.C.): Matitias, you must not try to hold me back from what I have come to do. I am here to reveal the truth about right, about sin, about the choices each person must make. It is not an issue of power, but of Truth. Even you need the freedom that Truth can bring. You need to be freed from Satan's interference, that you might make right choices. You need to start life over again as a new person. You need to follow Me!