After a long night of fruitless work on the Sea of Galilee, my tired crew and I returned to shore for some rest. But before we headed back home, we stopped at the market for a little sustenance. I bought two loaves of bread and sat down on a low wall facing the sea that my life depended on. A crowd had gathered around and sat at the base of the hill as a man stood up to speak. Thinking of nothing better to do, I listened to what the man had to say.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven . . .” he began. What? I thought. Why would they be blessed? But he continued to speak blessings upon people unworthy of blessings. I was perplexed at the meaning of these words, so I moved closer to where he stood.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden . . .” How could I possibly be the light of the world? I’m nasty and dirty and I catch dirty, nasty fish for a living. What could he mean by this?
This man spoke with such authority and calmness; not like the scribes and teachers. They were very formal and passive. But this man, there was something different about him. “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. No, duh, I thought. Maybe he is just like them . . .
I was just finishing my breakfast and getting ready to leave the area when something the man said caught my attention, “. . . when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” He’s going to get in trouble for saying stuff like that, but I can’t stop listening to him. He must not be a Pharisee. But why is he here with all these poor and needy?
As he began to speak about praying correctly and about not being a hypocrite in doing good deeds I realized that he just wanted to help everyone. He began to speak about not worrying about life. The things that we worry about God has provided for. It’s so true and I wanted to believe every word that he said. I needed to know this man.
My buddies were leaving and they laughed and cursed at me, seeing the way I was intrigued with the “great teacher.” They mocked and made fun of him. I bet he gets that a lot, I thought.
Little did I know that the mocking and disrespect was not even close to over. As I watched Him die on the cross for me and for everyone, I was astonished at how low the Father had to bring Him to accomplish His will. But now I’m free in the Christ I once thought would never come. That day that I first met Him, I was stubborn and disbelieving, but I soon came to love Him more than anyone who ever lived and ever would live. His words cut me to the heart and I took them to heart, trying to live out every principle in His wake after He left us to do His work. Now He is all I live for, and I couldn’t have asked for more.