Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
As I was writing an essay about the Hebrew covenants for my course assignment I must have dozed off.
What was I doing on the banks of this river flowing through the desert? Who were all these people listening to this wild-eyed, ranting, madman? I should be in class in the city studying the Torah or listening to the wise words of the Rabbi, since I was training to become a priest myself. Yet there is something mesmerising about this fellow. ‘Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is come near’ he is shouting. One of our group asked if he was Elijah for we know that Elijah will come again to foretell the coming of the Anointed One, the Messiah, but he said that he was not. He said that he was the one foretold by Isaiah ‘the voice crying out in the wilderness “Make straight the way of the Lord”’. What intrigued me was when he said that there was an unknown person in the crowd who was far greater than he. We’ve heard predictions like that before, Nehemiah said something similar many years ago, but we know that the Messiah will be one of us, not one of this ignorant rabble. Yet, I hung about for a while, I was in no hurry to get back to class. A long queue was building up for the wild eyed rabble rouser, whose name was John apparently, to baptise in the river. In the main they were all peasants from the surrounding area, but one man stood out. He was a tall chap who seemed to have a quiet air of authority about him. Someone said he was a local carpenter, but there was just something about him that made people pay attention. When it came to his turn John hesitated but the carpenter urged him to go ahead.
I had been with John for a few days when the carpenter passed by. John said that he knew this man was God’s chosen one because he saw a dove descend on him at his baptism. God’s chosen one? The Messiah? This ragged carpenter? At first I did not believe it, but John urged me to follow him. I found out where he was staying and went to listen to him. I think it was the dove descending on him that settled things for me. You see, all covenants God made with the Israelite nation in the past were confirmed with a sign, the rainbow in Noah’s case, for example. The dove was the sign that the carpenter was the new covenant of whom Nehemiah spoke, the Messiah.
I gave up my classes and followed the carpenter for the next three years. It all seemed to be going so well when we entered Jerusalem that last time, but as I hid in the crowd at the execution ground, everything had gone wrong. It was never supposed to be like this. Later He appeared to us again in that upper room. Thomas expressed all our feelings saying Him “My Lord and My God”. But Jesus asked a very pertinent question: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
I believe. What about you, you who have not seen?
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years