I had heard of this man Jesus (who hadn’t?) and I had seen and heard him in the temple, and when he was speaking to the crowds who flocked to listen to him. As teachers and officials in the temple, we were instructed that his ways and teachings were not God’s. In fact some of his teachings seemed to be contrary to temple laws. But, although I knew these laws inside out, there was something essential missing. Sometimes they seemed so petty and harsh. And the way temple officials treated those who could not pay them what they thought was their due….!! Power and money ruled in the temple. And it still does!
But there was something about Jesus that I could not ignore. A light seemed to shine through him as he talked to people and healed them. His words rang true. His actions spoke of someone who really listened and really cared. There was a wholeness and integrity and gentle strength about him that made people want to be near him. I wanted to be near him too. What if he truly was a man of God? What if the temple leaders were not right, and their laws and understanding of God’s truth needed to be challenged? What if I, a teacher of the law, needed to be challenged? What if he was the Messiah?
How could I go and talk to him? My colleagues in the temple would have called me a traitor. But I had an inner compulsion that grew stronger and stronger. I had to talk to this man. The only way was to go in the dark, so that no-one would see me.
Jesus knew I was afraid. I muttered something about knowing that God had sent him to teach us, and that his miracles were proof of that. I didn’t really know what I wanted to ask him, except that I wanted the ‘more of God’ that he seemed to have. It was as though he read my mind. He told me that no-one can enter the kingdom of God without being born again. I didn’t understand at first. I thought that one had to know the laws and keep them to enter God’s kingdom. This was different.
I’ve thought about it since. Many times. And I now know he is right. Knowledge of God is not just about keeping a set of laws. It’s about a change of heart. A change of orientation. I’ve learnt that being born again means being born into love, so that God’s love can fill me and flow out into the world which God loves. That’s what I saw in Jesus, right up to his cruel death – that incredibly deep love, even for the people who crucified him. I knew then that he truly was sent from God, and, with Joseph of Arimathea, I made sure he had a decent burial.
My life is different now. I can no longer follow Pharasaic teachings, and I’ve left the High Court of the temple. I’ve taken to fishing……………..
And I see the world so differently. I learnt so much about life and living from Jesus, and I now know that love is all that really matters – love of God , and all people. I sit down and talk with the temple beggars now, and feel closer to God than I ever did in my important role among the lawyers and teachers. Jesus is still teaching me how to live and to love. I still have questions. But I believe in this man more than I ever believed in the laws of the temple. They’re dead without a change of heart and understanding. What Jesus said works, and I am living proof. I’d stake my life on it!
Rev Adelene Mills