person reading Bible on top of brown wooden table

THE STORY OF THE MIRACLE WORKER

There was at Capernaum an officer of the Roman army, a man who had under
him a company of a hundred men. They called him “a centurion,” a word
which means “commanding a hundred”; but we should call him “a captain.”
This man was not a Jew, but was what the Jews called “a Gentile,” “a
foreigner”; a name which the Jews gave to all people outside their own
race. All the world except the Jews themselves were Gentiles.

This Roman centurion was a good man, and he loved the Jews, because
through them he had heard of God, and had learned how to worship God.
Out of his love for the Jews, he had built for them with his own money a
synagogue, which may have been the very synagogue in which Jesus taught
on the Sabbath days.

The centurion had a young servant, a boy whom he loved greatly; and this
boy was very sick with a palsy, and near to death. The centurion had
heard that Jesus could cure those who were sick; and he asked the chief
men of the synagogue, who were called its “elders,” to go to Jesus and
ask him to come and cure his young servant.

The elders spoke to Jesus, just as he came again to Capernaum, after the
Sermon on the Mount. They asked Jesus to go with them to the centurion’s
house; and they said:

“He is a worthy man, and it is fitting that you should help him, for,
though a Gentile, he loves our people, and he has built for us our
synagogue.”

Then Jesus said, “I will go and heal him.”

But while he was on his way–and with him were the elders, and his
disciples, and a great crowd of people, who hoped to see the work of
healing–the centurion sent some other friends to Jesus with this
message:

“Lord, do not take the trouble to come to my house; for I am not worthy
that one so high as you are should come under my roof; and I did not
think that I was worthy to go and speak to you. But speak only a word
where you are, and my servant shall be made well. For I also am a man
under rule, and I have soldiers under me; and I say to one ‘Go,’ and he
goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do
this,’ and he does it. You, too, have power to speak and to be obeyed.
Speak the word, and my servant shall be cured.”

When Jesus heard this, he wondered at this man’s faith. He turned to the
people following him, and said:

“In truth I say to you, I have not found such faith as this in all
Israel!”

Then he spoke to the friends of the centurion who had brought the word
from him:

“Go and say to this man, ‘As you have believed in me, so shall it be
done to you.'”

Then those who had been sent, went again to the centurion’s house, and
found that in that very hour his servant had been made perfectly well.

On the day after this, Jesus with his disciples and many people went out
from Capernaum, and turned southward, and came to a village called Nain.
Just as Jesus and his disciples came near to the gate of the city, they
were met by a company who were carrying out a dead man to be buried. He
was a young man, and the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.

When the Lord Jesus saw the mother in her grief, he pitied her, and
said, “Do not weep.”

He drew near, and touched the frame on which they were carrying the
body, wrapped round and round with long strips of linen. The bearers
looked with wonder on this stranger, and set down the frame with its
body, and stood still. Standing beside the body, Jesus said:

“Young man, I say to you, Rise up!”

And in a moment the young man sat up and began to speak. Jesus gave him
to his mother, who now saw that her son who had been dead, was alive
again.

And Jesus went through all that part of Galilee, working miracles and
preaching and teaching in all the villages, telling the people
everywhere the good news of the kingdom of God.

The children loved to gather around him, and when his disciples would
have driven them away he said, “Suffer the little children to come unto
me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

One Sabbath day, as Jesus and his disciples were walking in Jerusalem,
they met a blind man begging. This man in all his life had never seen;
for he had been born blind. The disciples said to Jesus as they were
passing him: “Master, whose fault was it that this man was born blind?
Was it because he has sinned, or did his parents sin?”

For the Jews thought that when any evil came, it was caused by some
one’s sin. But Jesus said:

“This man was born blind, not because of his parents’ sin, nor because
of his own, but so that God might show his power in him. We must do
God’s work while it is day, for the night is coming when no man can
work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

When Jesus had said this, he spat on the ground, and mixed up the
spittle with earth, making a little lump of clay. This clay Jesus spread
on the eyes of the blind man; and then he said to him: “Go wash in the
pool of Siloam.”

The pool of Siloam was a large cistern, or, reservoir, on the southeast
of Jerusalem, outside the wall, where the valley of Gihon and the valley
of Kedron come together. To go to this pool, the blind man, with two
great blotches of mud on his face, must walk through the streets of the
city, out of the gate, and into the valley. He went, and felt his way
down the steps into the pool of Siloam. There he washed, and then at
once his life-long blindness passed away, and he could see.

When the man came back to the part of the city where he lived, his
neighbors could scarcely believe that he was the same man. They said:
“Is not this the man who used to sit on the street begging?”

“This must be the same man,” said some; but others said: “No, it is some
one who looks like him.”

But the man said, “I am the very same man who was blind!”

“Why, how did this come to pass?” they asked. “How were your eyes
opened?”

“The man, named Jesus,” he answered, “mixed clay, and put it on my eyes,
and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash,’ and I went and
washed, and then I could see.”

“Where is this man?” they asked him.

“I do not know,” said the man.

Some of the Pharisees, the men who made a show of always obeying the
law, asked the man how he had been made to see. He said to them, as he
had said before:

“A man put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and my sight came to me.”

Some of the Pharisees said:

“The man who did this is not a man of God, because he does not keep the
Sabbath. He makes clay, and puts it on men’s eyes, working on the
Sabbath day. He is a sinner!”

Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such wonderful works?”

And thus the people were divided in what they thought of Jesus. They
asked the man who had been blind: “What do you think of this man who has
opened your eyes?”

“He is a prophet of God,” said the man.

But the leading Jews would not believe that this man had gained his
sight, until they had sent for his father and his mother. The Jews asked
them:

“Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How is it that he can now
see?”

His parents were afraid to tell all they knew; for the Jews had agreed
that if any man should say Jesus was the Christ, the Saviour, he should
be turned out of the synagogue, and not be allowed to worship any more
with the people. So his parents said to the Jews:

“We know that this is our son, and we know that he was born blind. But
how he was made to see, we do not know; or who has opened his eyes, we
do not know. He is of age; ask him, and let him speak for himself.”

Then again the rulers of the Jews called the man who had been blind; and
they said to him:

“Give God the praise for your sight. We know that this man who made
clay on the Sabbath day is a sinner.”

“Whether that man is a sinner, or not, I do not know,” answered the man;
“but one thing I do know, that once I was blind, and now I see. We know
that God does not hear sinners; but God hears only those who worship
him, and do his will. Never before has any one opened the eyes of a man
born blind. If this man were not from God, he could not do such works as
these!”

The rulers of the Jews, these Pharisees, then said to the man: “You were
born in sin, and do you try to teach us?”

And they turned him out of the synagogue, and would not let any one
worship with him. Jesus heard of this; and when Jesus found him, he said
to him:

“Do you believe on the Son of God?”

The man said:

“And who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him?”

“You have seen him,” said Jesus, “and it is he who now talks with you!”

The man said, “Lord, I believe.”

And he fell down before Jesus, and worshipped him.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD AND THE GOOD SAMARITAN

Soon afterward Jesus gave to the people in Jerusalem the parable or
story of “The Good Shepherd.”

“Verily, verily (that is, ‘in truth, in truth’), I say to you, if any
one does not go into the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other
way, it is a sign that he is a thief and a robber. But the one who comes
in by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. The porter opens the door to
him, and the sheep know him, and listen to his call, for he calls his
own sheep by name and leads them out to the pasture-field. And when he
has led out his sheep, he goes in front of them, and the sheep follow
him, for they know his voice. The sheep will not follow a stranger, for
they do not know the stranger’s voice.”

The people did not understand what all this meant, and as Jesus
explained it to them, he said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the
door that leads to the sheepfold. If any man comes to the sheep in any
other way than through me and in my name, he is a thief and a robber;
but those who are the true sheep will not hear such. I am the door; if
any man goes into the fold through me, he shall be saved, and shall go
in and go out, and shall find pasture.

“The thief comes to the fold that he may steal and rob the sheep, and
kill them; but I came to the fold that they may have life, and may have
all that they need. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd will give
up his own life to save his sheep; and I will give up my life that my
sheep may be saved.

“I am the good shepherd; and just as a true shepherd knows all the sheep
in his fold, so I know my own, and my own know me, even as I know the
Father, and the Father knows me; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must
lead; and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one flock and one
shepherd.”

The Jews could not understand these words of Jesus; but they became very
angry with him, because he spoke of God as his Father. They took up
stones to throw them at him, and tried to seize him, intending to kill
him. But Jesus escaped from their hands, and went away to the land
beyond Jordan, at the place called “Bethabara,” or “Bethany beyond
Jordan,” the same place where he had been baptized by John the Baptist
more than two years before. From this place Jesus wished to go out
through the land in the east of the Jordan, a land which is called
“Perea,” a word that means “beyond.” But before going out through this
land, Jesus sent out seventy chosen men from among his followers to go
to all the villages, and to make the people ready for his own coming
afterward. He gave to these seventy the same commands that he had given
to the twelve disciples when he sent them through Galilee, and sent them
out in pairs, two men to travel and to preach together. He said:

“I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no bag for
food, no shoes except those that you are wearing. Do not stop to talk
with people by the way; but go through the towns and villages, healing
the sick, and preaching to the people, ‘The kingdom of God is coming,’
He that hears you, hears me; and he that refuses you, refuses me; and he
that will not hear me, will not hear him that sent me.”

And after a time the seventy men came again to Jesus, saying:

“Lord, even the evil spirits obey our words in thy name!”

And Jesus said to them:

“I saw Satan, the king of the evil spirits, falling down like lightning
from heaven. I have given you power to tread upon serpents and
scorpions, and nothing shall harm you. Still, do not rejoice because the
evil spirits obey you; but rejoice that your names are written in
heaven.”

And at that time, one of the scribes–men who wrote copies of the books
of the Old Testament, and studied them, and taught them–came to Jesus
and asked him a question, to see what answer he would give. He said:
“Master, what shall I do to have everlasting life?”

Jesus said to the scribe: “What is written in the law? You are a reader
of God’s law; tell me what it says.”

Then the man gave this answer:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy
soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thou shalt
love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Jesus said to the man: “You have answered right; do this, and you shall
have everlasting life.”

But the man was not satisfied. He asked another question: “And who is my
neighbor?”

To answer this question, Jesus gave the parable or story of “The Good
Samaritan.” He said: “A certain man was going down the lonely road from
Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, who stripped him of all
that he had and beat him; and then went away, leaving him almost dead.
It happened that a certain priest was going down that road; and when he
saw the man lying there, he passed by on the other side. And a Levite,
also, when he came to the place, and saw the man, he too went by on the
other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he was going down, came where
this man was; and as soon as he saw him, he felt a pity for him. He came
to the man, and dressed his wounds, pouring oil and wine into them. Then
he lifted him up, and set him on his own beast of burden, and walked
beside him to an inn. There he took care of him all night; and the next
morning he took out from his purse two shillings, and gave them to the
keeper of the inn, and said: ‘Take care of him; and if you need to spend
more than this, do so; and when I come again I will pay it to you.'”

“Which one of these three, do you think, showed himself a neighbor to
the man who fell among the robbers?”

The scribe said: “The one who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him: “Go and do thou likewise.”

By this parable, Jesus showed that “our neighbor” is the one who needs
the help that we can give him, whoever he may be.

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