Bethlehem Morning Times (AP)
Special report by Saul Levy
June 12, 32 A.D.
ITINERANT PREACHER DRAWS LARGE CROWDS AT EVENT
For the second day in a row, crowds numbering over 500 gathered on the hills of
Bethlehem to listen to an itinerant preacher, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who claims to be the
Son of God, the Messiah for whom the Jews have long waited.
Simply dressed and without the accoutrements of well-known speakers or government officials, this slender young man was immediately surrounded by the very young as well as the elderly and the infirmed.
Skeptics stood on the perimeter taking notes, trying to determine what motivates a man to
make such bold and dramatic claims. Believers, however, reached out to Him in desperation, begging for deliverance from a variety of illnesses.
Jesus Christ, soft-spoken yet with a commanding voice and demeanor, was born in Bethlehem, the son of a local carpenter. Relatives and friends interviewed for this article indicated there was always something “different, something special” about Jesus since his birth 32 years ago in Bethlehem where bystanders contend angels and shepherds gathered to celebrate his birth. The local inn-keeper stated that no reservations had been made, thus no rooms were available in his very modest facility.
His mother, Mary, and his father both claim Jesus’ birth was supernatural, his conception “by the Holy Spirit and a fulfillment of prophecy.” Others interviewed in his former neighborhood scoffed at the idea, insisting Jesus was just an ordinary boy, though admittedly an exceptionally bright and polite one.
A local steering committee in Bethlehem responsible for bringing Jesus back to this city of His birth for a series of meetings, expressed disappointment that Jesus had no booking agency representing him nor any publicity chairman to provide the necessary
background material on him. “I go where my Father leads me,” he replied in response to a question about an itinerary.
Unlike most outdoor services of this nature, there were no musical instruments, no choirs
or soloists. Instead, as one local witness stated, “Jesus just showed up and within minutes,
people were gathering around him. He greeted each one warmly, inquired about their health and seemed to startle people with the minutia he possessed about their families.”
When several small children climbed onto his lap and stroked his beard as he talked, their embarrassed mothers quickly removed them. Jesus softly admonished the young mothers and told them that it was children such as theirs who made up the kingdom of heaven.
Every person who came to Jesus was healed instantly which caused Jewish leaders
to retort that magicians and sorcerers can heal as well.
“Jesus put his hand on my shoulder and prayed for my father who is very ill at home,” stated Seth Bakel of Bethlehem. “He seemed to know all about him and said when I went home I would find my father well and sitting up in bed.”
Several men on crutches came forward asking Jesus to bless them. Without fanfare he touched them and instantly they were healed. One enterprising teenager stacked the abandoned crutches into a tall pile and tried to sell them to the highest bidder before one of Jesus’ associates, a fisherman named Peter, insisted that he desist.
As the crowd grew larger, Jesus stood up so that everyone could see him and hear his message. He spoke in terms unfamiliar to most of his audience: forgiveness, turning the other cheek, loving your enemies, and a variety of concepts not usually addressed even in religious meetings. Many were visibly moved to tears when he spoke to them in parables, those simple stories illustrating a moral or religious lesson.
When one elderly man was healed of his blindness, Jesus asked him not to spread the news of his healing around the city. “Why not? I’m so excited that I want people to know of your healing powers,” the gentleman replied. Jesus answered, “Because I don’t want people coming just to be healed. There is a greater message I want to leave them with and that’s the message of God’s grace and the good news of salvation. Healing is temporary but grace and salvation are eternal.”
Jewish leaders who were interviewed after the meeting, dismissed Jesus as demented and an affront to the established Jewish community. They vigorously refuted his Messianic claims.
Note: This reporter accepted this assignment with skepticism but after what I have witnessed tonight, I now declare that I am a follower of Jesus Christ.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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