Daybreak. The village of Bethsaida. The air is hot and dry and still. And something is astir. Jesus has come to the “house of fishing”.
You hurry down to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Your husband and his brother have been fishing long before daybreak. You carry with you a clay jar full of water and a cloth.
Along the shore are baskets of fish. The village women and merchants have come to purchase the salted tilapia. You know that your husband will reserve some for his family and for the widows. And though there over two hundred boats on the water, you spot your husband’s and his brother’s boat.
At the edge of the water you hear “The time is fulfilled! God’s Kingdom is arriving! Turn back and believe the good news!” Jesus, walking along the shore, is coming toward you.
Trying to get your husband’s attention, you wave. He and his brother are busy casting nets. You shout. “Look! Jesus is coming this way!” Your husband finally hears your voice and turns toward you.
Jesus walks up to you. From the same vantage point he calls out to your husband and his brother, “Follow me! I’ll have you fishing for people!”
At once, your husband and his brother let go of their nets and bring the boat to shore. At once, they begin to follow Jesus along the shoreline. You follow them, two steps to their one, with the clay jar of water. You soak the cloth in the water. With it your husband proceeds to wipe his brow and then his beard to remove the crusted salt – sweat from his brow. You hand him the clay jar. Dehydrated, he gulps half the water down and then hands the jar to his brother.
Further down Jesus calls “Follow me!” to two men mending their nets. You know them – James and John, the sons of Zebedee. The brothers leave their boat and their father and the hired servants behind.
At this point, you’ve run out of breath and are not able to keep up. You call to your husband, “I’m going home. My mother is not feeling well.” Your husband acknowledges but goes on, determined to keep his eyes on Jesus.
As you watch him and the fellowship of fishermen continue down the shore, you remember the words of the prophet Isaiah that were read in the synagogue last Shabbat:
The Lord God helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame
Zebedee calls to you. “I will have my hired hands take care of your boat. I will sell the fish you husband caught and bring you fish for you and the widows.” You thank him. Carrying the clay jar and the cloth you head home pondering all that has happened. Every woman in Bethsaida knew what Mary had said about Jesus. Something begins to stir in your heart.
An hour or so later your husband and his brother are at the door. They tell you that they are going to Capernaum with Jesus and are not sure when they will return. You give them some bread to take with. Before your husband takes off, you stop him at the door. “Could he be the one? He’s talking about a kingdom. I don’t want you getting killed. What’s his plan?”
Your husband responds. “Woman, there is only one way to find out.”
Sweat runs down his temples to his beard. The midday sun is blazing. You hand him his mantle, which he throws over his shoulder. He races off with his brother Andrew. He calls to John and James who are already fifty paces ahead of them and Jesus is ten paces ahead of them. He wants them to wait up. Your husband is a big man with a big heart and is impulsive to a fault. He takes strides in all directions. And today, you wonder what will become of him and the fishing business as he takes off in a new direction.
On your way home you stop and give the widows the salted fish and to hear rumors. You learn that many were repenting and were being baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, Jesus among them. And that when he came out of the water there was a dove and a large booming voice that said “You are my son! You are the one I love! You make me very glad!” There is so much more for you to ponder.
At home you prepare for Shabbat which begins just before nightfall. You sweep and clean your home from top to bottom. You cover the sales money so it is out of sight. You make sure there is oil in the two lamps.
The night settles in. You eat food prepared earlier. You care for your mother who now has a fever. As you wipe her head with a damp cloth you talk with her about Jesus until you can’t stop yawning. You go to your bed. You are glad that you and your husband sleep in separate rooms, for when your husband sleeps, he snores – a nightly ritual even on Shabbat. Tonight, there will be the moaning of your delirious mother.
As you fall asleep you imagine your husband walking to Capernaum. He would walk two hours in the hot sun. Did he have water? Maybe the journey would take less time with the strides Jesus takes. When will he return …?
Your husband and his brother and James and John return the next day. They are all at the door with Jesus. He had been told about your mother and her illness. Jesus goes in, takes your mother by the hand, and raises her up. At once, her fever is gone and she was well enough to feed them. How is this possible, you ask yourself? But there is no time to wonder as you want to feed them all. Your heart is brimming with thanksgiving.
Outside your home there is large crowd – people from all over Galilee have followed Jesus. Jesus goes out to them. People with all kinds of diseases are brought to him and he heals them. Inside, the four fishermen sit down on the floor. You place bread and fish and water before them. As you do you ask them for details of what happened in Capernaum. They all begin to talk at the same time, but your husband has the loudest voice and so the rest wait their turn:
“We went into the synagogue and Jesus began teaching from the scrolls….’
“None of us had heard anything like this teaching before. He has his own authority, “John interjected. The other three agreed. Your husband continues.
“We are sitting there looking at each other astonished by what he is saying. You see that crowd out there. There was a large crowd around the synagogue. The people were pressing in from all sides trying to hear him. Anyway, we are sitting there when all of a sudden this guy starts shrieking “What business have you got with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: you’re God’s Holy One!”
“He had an unclean spirit living in him,” James tells you. As he says this they hear another shriek outside. And another. Andrew got up to see what was happening. “Jesus is casting out those spirits right outside our door!” Your husband continues.
“You know what he said to that unclean spirit in the synagogue?” Wide-eyed, you ask, “What?”
“He says, ‘Be quiet! And come out of him! The man jerked and writhed like a snake and then screamed and then the unclean spirit came right out of him!”
“We were all shocked, “John continued. “Jesus not only speaks with authority, he even tells unclean spirits what to do, and they do it! The demons talk like they know who he is. He tells them to shut up.”
“We know who the unclean spirits are, where they come from,” Andrew added. “They are from Belial, the kingdom of Belial.”
Noticing two centurions keeping an eye on the crowd, your husband asks, “Do you think that the coming kingdom Jesus talks about will rid us of the tyranny of the Roman dogs?
James is quick to respond, “I hope so. Right now, he appears to be overthrowing the kingdom of Belial.”
“I’m good with that!” John chimes in. “Look around. Those spirits wreak havoc on everyone and everything. The Essenes at Qumran have been battling them for years.”
Nodding in the direction of the two centurions, James wondered out loud, “If Jesus has power over the kingdom of Belial, shouldn’t the Romans be shaking in their caligae?”
Your mother, upon hearing this, went out and offered the two centurions water from the clay jar, which they guardedly accepted. She then offered Jesus some and invited him in for a meal and a place to sleep for the night. He accepted.
Very early – the middle of the night, actually – Jesus got up and went out. You woke your husband and he roused Andrew and James and John. They went looking for Jesus. When they found him praying, they said, “Everyone is looking for you!”
“Let’s go off to the other towns around here,” Jesus replied, “so that I can tell the news to people there too. That’s why I came out.”
The next morning you hurry down to the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Men have been fishing long before daybreak. You carry with you a clay jar full of water and a cloth. You want to do what you can to prepare the way of the Lord.
Adapted from Mark Chapter 1