Historical setting: Remembering the First Century, Bethany
I mentioned the Gospel of Luke used our family as characters in stories, but that author didn’t even know us.
Nic says, “I did notice there was that part in Luke where your sisters squabbled and Jesus got in the middle of it. And of course one of your sisters, Mary, was a prostitute.”
“What? That’s not true! Not even Luke says that!”
“Okay, Laz, don’t get riled, I was only kidding, sort of. It must have been a different Mary.”
“Please Nic, I really want to tell you about my father, because fathers matter to everyone’s life stories.”
“Except that my father was dead before I was born.” Nic reminds me.
“… And yet you bore his name and wore his armor, and marched in step with his fellow soldiers for all those years of your adult life.”
“He marched, I rowed.”
“Whatever. As I was saying, my father was a Pharisee. He was a Jew who followed the letter of the Law. He became wealthy making his lucrative trade with all sorts of visitors to Jerusalem. Some of these were devout pilgrims, others gentiles visiting Jerusalem because Jerusalem was a hub of business in that day. Every day he was in the porticos of the Temple selling and trading – making his deals. The gift for his success was his ability to respect and listen to all varieties of languages and ethnicities and to know people for who they were, not just for the social stereotypes.”
Nic wonders, “I always thought Pharisees were aloof and just sort of stayed with their own ultra-righteous kinds.”
“Some were like that I suppose. For my father though, his constant and mindful obedience to the Law allowed him an assurance of righteousness that couldn’t be shaken or flawed in dealings with pagans and all varieties of gentiles. In a certain way, his narrow faith allowed him open-mindedness in dealing with so many peoples of foreign lands and so many languages of trade. It was his sharp mind and his ability to know people well that made him so successful. He called his flow of wealth ‘God’s blessing.’ But then, the blessing soured as will blessings measured by material wealth.”