The enlightenment teaching of the Essene was known as THE WAY. The Way became the final interpretation of the Law and the Prophets, as revealed by Yeshua Messiah. The Way also became the enlightened transitional teaching into the early church.
This article deals with Jesus’ initiate ministry.
Finally it is in Lk. 5: 9-11, we observe: “For he (Simon) and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken; (10) and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” (11) So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed him.”
Jesus calls those who have been waiting,
his friends: “Simon called Peter, Andrew his brother… James the son of Zebedee, and
John his brother,” Mt 4.18.
Previous to the formal calling of brothers Simon and Andrew and brothers James and John, Jesus would have taught in the area of Capernaum. His reputation as a Rabbi (teacher) seems without question, as scripture clearly indicates. A certain preparatory practice is always initiated before formal ministry proceeds, and the Galilean ministry now begins:
Lk. 4.14, “Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of him went out through all the surrounding region. (15) And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.”
“Glorified,” tells us people were well aware of Jesus. Of course, there were no newspapers, so village to village the people would spread the word, and some would follow him even from one village to the next. In Lk. 4.42: “…and tried to keep him from leaving them: (43) but he said to them, ‘I must preach the Kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.’ “Glorified by all,” tells us Jesus became quickly known even from the beginning.
A succinct history of the Jesus ministry is given in the fourth edition of The Dictionary of the Bible, John Davis, “The news came that John the Baptist had been cast into prison by Herod Antipas. The work of the herald was over. The old Jewish church had been sufficiently called to repentance and reformation, and she had refused to listen. Jesus began forthwith in Galilee to preach the kingdom of God, to announce the germinal principles and the new dispensation, and to gather the nucleus of the future church. The great Galilean ministry of Jesus lasted about sixteen months. He took for his center the busy mart of trade, Capernaum. In Galilee, he was in the midst of a population prevailingly Jewish, yet in a region removed from interference by the religious authorities of the nation.”
Reading further the basic ministry is laid out for us: “His evident purpose was to set forth the true, spiritual kingdom of God, and by mighty works convince men of his own authority and of the character of the kingdom. He asked for faith in himself. He unveiled the real character of God and his requirements of men. He did not apply to himself the name Messiah, for it would have been too easily misunderstood by carnal minds. He generally called himself the Son of Man.”
Son of Man refers to godly authority, godly glory and God’s sovereign power, all of which Jesus demonstrates during his ministry. Messiah was at that time believed to be the one who will deliver us, the King of the Jews, and in this case was usually attributed to removing the Romans, which most believed was the only problem. The new ministries of John and Jesus saw past the belief that the Romans were the problem, and saw the corruption within the nation, the lack of enlightenment into the Spirit of God, and that an internal cleansing, or conversion, would be necessary.
Although the above may seem a very religious description, it is rather the revelation into the next step God is taking with the human race. Buddhism is a fine teaching (est. 600 BC), but excluded women and common people. Its practitioners were only of the royal families, the moguls. Nor is it a personal teaching proposing a personal God. Anathema to Jesus, the caste system practiced throughout India left the poor without higher understanding. These spiritually destitute conditions Jesus was about to set out and fix.
EARLY MINISTRY: SECRETS OF THE WAY
Early in Jesus’ ministry, Jesus would elevate the basic principles of the Way. These principles would be belief-faith, love-forgiveness, and knowledge-wisdom. These elements had been taught by the prophets, but the final interpretation-edification had not yet been given. The Essene believed only Messiah could accomplish this task. Jesus was not the first to state that we should love the stranger (Dt. 10.18-20), just to name one example.
Yet, this new exposition of knowledge-enlightenment principles, never cohesively taught to the population, would require a whole new foundation: the law will reveal everyone’s sin, but it will be love which heals them, and grace which forgives them. Nor had such teachings been interpreted by the person of the Messiah, which will become a much higher level of understanding than the prophets. Soul-identity, child of God, the inclusion of women, acceptance of everyone who comes forth, none of these principles concerning soul nature and the treatment of others had been fully explored.
The early ministry would ground the disciples in these principles: Matthew the tax collector is accepted as a disciple (Mt. 9.9), demonstrating that anyone may be chosen, anyone called; Jesus heals a centurion’s servant (Mt. 8.7), anyone might be healed, especially should they ask; in chapter five of Matthew, Jesus gives the Beatitudes and speaks of universal love, to be merciful toward others, to seek purity of heart to see God. In 7.7-11, Jesus urges the people to keep asking and seeking, offering a message of hope and to not abandon God. Following in Matt. 7.12: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” He explains the law of spiritual love and gives us the law of reciprocity, wholeness, to which the Law and the Prophets are subject.
Jesus is beginning to reveal the secrets of God’s kingdom. Previous prophets had only hinted at such things. Even though at times mysterious, Jesus is more often explicit as he explains the enlightenment into God, or what later becomes known as walking in the Way. He tells us that if the kingdom of God is within you [and a king must inhabit his kingdom], then God is with you always, and not just outside of self as the Jews of that day believed, yet ever-present within. That God’s kingdom lives within will later become the revolutionary teaching for the world.
These are secrets that those of the high Essene priesthood would not want to be revealed, for these secrets are for the elect and not to be shared outside the priesthood. “He shall conceal his counsel among the men of injustice, but he shall impart true knowledge and righteous judgment to those who have chosen the way, to each according to his spirit and according to the rule of the age, guiding them with knowledge,” Community Rule, VIII, Cave 4 (IQS ix, 15-x, 3), translation Geza Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English. What Jesus begins to reveal are the very secrets meant not to be revealed! In the eye of those who perceive themselves as holy, Jesus is the Wicked Priest, indeed.
“For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light,” Lk. 8.17, known as the Parable of the Revealed Light (also Lk. 12.1-3). (Lk. 8.18) “Take heed how you hear (understand). For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.” The Sadducees ‘seem to have’, yet they will become diminished. For the Pharisees a similar fate awaits them. Jesus tells the people how to walk with God and reveals the attributes of the true pathway, the basics of which are faith and wholeness with God, bound by love and forgiveness. The power of love compounds itself. Faith upon faith is still preached in many churches every Sunday (Mt. 9.22). Knowledge and wisdom begin to complete the journey all souls travel. For the follower of Jesus thus more is promised, thus more will be added.
The mechanics of the enlightened thought-teaching are now being made public. The love teaching had been mentioned by other prophets, but never taught with the same clarity and wisdom. Love predominates over all other aspects of the pathway: knowledge is important, but without love rings hollow, academic; faith may accomplish great achievements, but not done within love the achievements slowly drift into the past—love is eternal. “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly,” (Jn. 10.10), provides an intent as well as a summation. ‘Follow me’, he says, ‘for this abundant life’ that you carry with you always, and which no one can steal.
The disciples gather-in the authority of his message. In Matt. 10.1 the disciples are given the power over unclean spirits, allowing them to “heal all kinds of sickness.” They have now tasted the truth of Jesus’ anointing. They, each in their own way, have experienced anointing power, bringing life (healing) where before there was spiritual and physical death. In 8.26 Jesus rebukes the wind and brings calm. Not only does this act express authority, but offers a powerful and practical example pointing to the storms which afflict each man or woman. How a person speaks, even within themselves, that they may rely on the spirit of God who calms the turbulent winds.
People seldom read the Bible with the thought that Jesus is teaching enlightenment. Some read scripture with a sense of excitement, sometimes becoming exalted by the words themselves. Still, others read as a literalist, and miss the broad-based allegorical meanings. For instance, I have never heard of a Rabbi who believes Jonah was swallowed by a big fish, but rather for a non-seagoing people the giant of the sea represents a convicting and horrible entrance into mammon and conviction. Storm-tossed seas are friendly to no one, requiring repentance or a return to the pathway God has for each person.
Others read the words but can understand only the superficial meaning. Still, others understand more, but they miss the enlightenment message (see Mt. 13.10-17). They become those who hear but do not comprehend or comprehending do not do. They remain under the law, as well as the laws they have imposed upon themselves, and cannot truly awaken. Following the Matthew scripture, Jesus reveals one of his most primary principles: he delineates the Parable of the Sower. Understood as the enlightenment teaching itself, the principles of sowing good seed need only be practiced, and God will begin to reveal himself from within. By practicing this parable, the greater and greater revelation will follow as to when to sow, what to sow for and who to sow into.
The Jesus enlightenment teachings always unite two fundamental functions, the one which we denote as practical in the physical, and the other which more obviously expresses spirituality. The Parable of the Sower illustrates common sense, or practical knowledge applied in our physical world, but clearly illustrates that we should sow relative to spiritual matters as well. No farmer plants seed merely to enhance the ground, he plants or sows so he may reap a crop! So above, so below, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven,” Matt. 18.18. The interrelationship of heaven and earth is practical and whole on every level.
Jesus’ message seeks that plain of enlightenment which asserts a profound cause and effect teaching and moves to the core of the man, his very thinking. Jesus’ teaching has no formal rules as we observe with the Pharisees. Their cleanliness rituals and accompanying prayers are either wrongheaded or mere shadows and reflections of the true enlightenment. Jesus arrives instead at the root of mind and spirit, thought itself. Actions bring accountability, but attitude, intent, and purpose reveal the heart, and must now be taken into account.
A foundational disciplined ministry now takes form. If Jesus spent time in Capernaum, then Simon,* Andrew, James, and John would have had ample time to have heard Jesus teaching beforehand. The Jesus ministry was from the beginning much like John’s ministry,** bursting out of itself and expanding rapidly. The disciples would have viewed the spiritual authority of Jesus, had already accepted him to some degree, and were ready and prepared to move forward when called.
Jesus speaks by the sea.
Capernaum is modern for its time.
A fairly new city, it developed into
a bustling trading center. Many different
peoples would have visited Capernaum.
Jesus heals paralytic
* NIV Lk. 4.13, notes: Capernaum a sizable town; Simon Peter’s house was a base of operations; fulfills Messianic prophecy from Isaiah, as the public ministry is near Zebulon & Naphtali.
** John’s ministry is thought to have occurred during a Sabbatic year, as was the beginning of the Jesus ministry, which allowed for less labor than normal, in turn allowing for increased spiritual seeking. For this reason, John attracted large listening audiences, touching many thousands. Those who visited the Jordan River would undoubtedly have spoken of John or Jesus to others.
We know that crowds pursued him, for right after the calling of the four fishermen:
Mt. 4.24, “Then his fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, epileptics, and paralytics; and he healed them. (25) And great multitudes followed him—from Galilee, and from Decapolis*, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.”
*Decapolis is a district of ten cities, mainly of greek influence, located south and east of the Sea of Galilee. Syria (Acco, Acre) is only two days journey. Decapolis an hour by boat from Capernaum.
This cannot be a ministry ill-planned, rather it seems well-planned, well thought out, well guided. This is a ministry that stone by stone became built and initiated into an active and committed ministry force. The idea of Jesus taking his small bedraggled band of disciples from one village to another is simply not true. Although Jesus obviously had not revealed all, it seems only reasonable to conclude that Andrew and Simon, John and James, knew Jesus fairly well, and may have studied under him for as long as a year before being called into ministry. The early proving out of Jesus is now accomplished. We see no random acts; we see acts of purpose. We see men who are familiar with Jesus, and then we see them called into discipleship. It would only be then that the ministry would take its next steps.
It should be noted that the disciples were also younger than Jesus, who is thought to have been thirty. None of the older thinking, the older generation, would be able to function in this new environment. The tradition of younger disciples compared to the age of the teacher is found in Judaism somewhat throughout, even though those who are older may convert into the new discipline. In the whole of it, Jesus would instruct in love and forgiveness, knowledge and wisdom, and his ever-present faith to walk in the Way. These teachings would later form the thought structure and denote the practice of the early church.