I was still trying to get my head around Jesus’ story of his wilderness encounter with the one he called the schemer. Really? What had I gotten myself involved in? Midnight fishing on Galilee was sounding better all the time.
“Peter? Peter?” Jesus’s voice broke through my fog, “Come on, we have a date at the synagogue.” The synagogue, I suppose it was the Sabbath, and it wasn’t like there was a lot to do on the Sabbath.
When we arrived, Jesus introduced us to the leader of the synagogue, a man named Jairus. But to be truthful, even though Jesus knew Jairus, it didn’t seem like Jarius knew Jesus. Or maybe he had just forgotten that he had met the carpenter.
Usually, when Esther dragged me to the synagogue, I saw it more of a break than she imagined. She would sit with the women in the outer courtyard while I joined the men for the reading from the Torah and the prayers. At least in theory, but in practice, it was an opportunity to close my eyes and snooze.
Not today though, as soon as we went through the door Jesus grinned at me and said, “Try to keep your eyes open, ok?”
Andrew smirked and John snickered. I stared at him with my mouth open, it seemed that I was doing a lot of that lately. How did he know? We had never been in synagogue together before today.
Well, Jesus didn’t have to worry about me nodding off. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced before.
As the law was being read, Jesus would comment and expand on it, as if he had written it himself. And people just sat, mesmerized, no one questioned his opinions because they made so much sense.
And it wasn’t dry, and it wasn’t boring, it was almost as if he made the words come alive.
When the time came for prayers, while others repeated the words by rote, it seemed as if Jesus was having a conversation with God himself.
I knew Jesus wasn’t talking to me, but I clung to every word when suddenly shouting from the back of the room interrupted his prayer.
Every head whipped around to see who had the nerve to disrupt the Sabbath service.
Standing in the back was a man who obviously wasn’t in his right mind. His hair was long and matted and his eyes focused on something nobody else in the room could see.
Instead of one robe, he wore several layered over one another, and if the rest of them were as tattered as the first one, the reason for the layers was apparent.
And there he stood, like a statue inside the door, spitting out his words like venom from his mouth.
“Why are you here? Why have you come to destroy us?”
While the rest of us stared, Jesus walked up to the man and quietly said: “Let’s go outside where we can talk.”
“Oh, you’d like that, wouldn’t you? Oh, we know who you are, Jesus of Nazareth, why have you come to torment us? Why can’t you leave us alone? Have you come to destroy us?”
“Easy my friend, there’s no need to bother the rest of the group, this is just between us.”
“You’re right it between us, it’s always been between us. You’re the Holy One who’s come from God. Why can’t you leave us alone?”
And Jesus looked him in the eye and said, “Stop it, leave him alone, he’s been yours long enough, get out.”
And with that, the man crumpled to the ground and began to convulse. His entire body was jerking and shaking and the sounds, it was terrifying, like nothing I’ve ever seen or heard.
And then a purple haze surrounded him. I had no idea where it came from. If I didn’t know better, it seemed to come from the man himself. And vile, the smell was enough to make me gag, and as a fisherman, I’ve been around some gaggy smells.
And then, just like that, it was over. The haze was gone and the man sat up, confused about where he was and what had been going on but other than that he seemed fine.
Then voices began across the group, “Who is he?” “Where does his authority come from?” “Even the evil spirits obey him.”
That was still the question, who was this man and what had I gotten myself into? I still wasn’t sure if what was happening was amazing or spooky.