ABRAHAM: Say, have you fellows heard about this Jesus of Nazareth?

ISAAC: Who hasn’t? I just came from Galilee. That’s all they talk about up there.

ABRAHAM: Did you actually hear him?

ISAAC: No, but our caravan passed within sight of him. We could see a big crowd on a hillside. I asked my camel driver what the excitement was, and he said Jesus of Nazareth was teaching. I would have stopped and listened, but I was down on the program for the opening prayer here and just couldn’t.

JACOB: I’ve got a classmate who lives in Capernaum. He’s heard Jesus several times, both in the street and synagogue. He’s eloquent, but does present a real problem. He’s a lot better speaker than any priest or rabbi around, although he’s a carpenter by trade.

ISAAC: So I’ve heard. It is strange.

ABRAHAM: What I can’t understand is why so many people fall for him. One man told me of a sermon he preached to a couple hundred disciples up on some mountain top. Already they are calling it “The Sermon on the Mount.” I understand it was a hodge-podge of illustrations, ancient Jewish sayings beautifully spoken but not original, and some advice of his own. No organization or form or real content.

ISAAC: Yes, I’ve heard the same criticism from men I respect. They say he just tells stories without any explanation sometimes. And you can’t pin him down. When you ask him a question he doesn’t give a straight answer. He either tells a story or asks you a question back.

ABRAHAM: Some people told me the other day they heard him tell three fables and then he just walked off. They were about a lost coin, a lost sheep, and a wastrel second son. And yet, people go for miles to hear the man.

JACOB: Well, whatever his faults, he must have something. He really packs them in.

ISAAC: Packs them out, you mean. He’s taking a lot more people out of synagogue and the Temple than he’s taking in. His congregations are all out on some hillside or in some back alley.

JACOB: I understand his own friends in Nazareth tried to kill him the first time he read from the Scripture in the synagogue there. If that’s true, I don’t blame him for preaching out-of-doors.

ABRAHAM: I don’t object so much to his methods as to his following. Most of them are uneducated—rabble more or less. They can be swayed easily by any demagogue. Practically none of the priests are going for him. You can judge a man pretty well by the kind of following he has. I think Jesus is dangerous. At least he will be if he gets out of hand.

JACOB: Perhaps, Abraham, but he hasn’t attacked the law in any way. His group are better Jews than the average. In fact, most of them live better than the law.

ABRAHAM: Well, yes and no. From what I hear he’s teaching them to live by the law of love. Sounds good. But what will the results be? The 300 rules we have will soon be superseded by a vague, meaningless emotion or feeling. People will lose their sense of direction. They need to be told what to do. Then they’re sure of themselves. They need inner assurance. This man’s giving them too much freedom for the good of the law and, in the long run, for their own inner satisfaction.

JACOB: But, Abraham, if they’re fulfilling the law in every requirement how can you fear he’ll destroy the law?

ABRAHAM: Just wait. You’re young, Jacob. If this Jesus got control of things, all the laws and customs we consider sacred would have a hard time.

ISAAC: I’m inclined to agree, Abraham. The man himself is a good man, but I’m afraid he stands for something destructive.

ABRAHAM: Another thing. He has no respect for authority. Remember, he’s only thirty-three years old. But let me tell you something that happened only last week. Three priests from the Temple here, all good friends of mine, went to investigate him. They wanted to ask him some questions. They got up to Galilee, found him, and what do you think he was doing? Talking to a bunch of children. Hundreds of them. He took each child on his lap, asked its name, placed his hand on its head, and blessed it. Why, his own disciples got sore. They rebuked him and pointed out the Temple delegation. He kept right on with the children, saying something about “forbidding them not.” My three friends had to wait so long to speak to him they missed the caravan for Jerusalem and had to wait over another day. That just shows you how much respect he has for the religious leaders of our nation.

JACOB: True, it was a foolish thing. He hurt their pride so much they’ll now do anything to destroy him. I’ll bet they turned in some report.

ISAAC: The meeting’s getting under way again. Let’s hurry and get a back seat.…

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