Below we have the latest installment of Bob Dunne’s book, 909 Days that Changed the World. We will post two chapters a week for the summer months. We suggest reading it quietly and putting yourself in the scenes. You might be amazed at how closer you can get to Jesus! Should you be interested in your own copy, the book ($14.95 plus sales tax) can be bought from his publisher Leonine Press, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon. It is also available in Nook and Kindle. You may also get an autographed copy directly from Bob by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chapter 11: Jesus Calls the First Four; A Day of Miracles
One day, after so many months of quietly living in Capernaum, Jesus gets up early and walks along the shore of the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum to Bethsaida. As he nears Bethsaida, he watches from the shore as Andrew and Simon fish. After a long night of fishing, the fishermen begin sailing back towards the shore. Simon and Andrew see Jesus looking at them as they cast their nets one last time. They are close enough to shore to hear Jesus when he calls out, “Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Luke 1:16).
Andrew and Simon look at each other. They have seen and talked to him a number of times since he has moved to Capernaum, but never has he indicated he wanted them to drop everything and follow him. Both of them now interpret Jesus’ call as an invitation to do so, and without hesitation pull in their nets and bring their boat to shore. While they sort out the day’s catch and sell it to the local retailers, Jesus tells them he will be back shortly and walks further down the shore towards Bethsaida. He sees James and John mending their nets and calls them to follow him also. Like Andrew and Simon, they both immediately stop what they are doing, leave the boat, say goodbye to their father Zebedee, and follow Jesus. Zebedee calls out to his boys to wait, but they only turn back and smile, so all he can do is shake his head from side to side as he watches his boys go back up the shore towards Capernaum. Zebedee is not entirely surprised; his boys have spoken much about this man, and he knows they believe something great will happen with him. Although his wife very much agrees with the boys and welcomes the idea of her sons following Jesus, Zebedee is more skeptical. ‘Besides,’ he thinks to himself, ‘who is going to help me run this successful fishing business?’ How to react to a call one’s child receives from Jesus to follow him was as much an
issue for parents then as it is today.
Jesus, John, and James walk up the shore to where Andrew and Simon are wrapping up their business transactions, and the five of them proceed up the beach towards Capernaum. Jesus, smiling and clearly happy to be with these men, at first asks them questions about the day’s catch and then asks if they have a place to stay. Simon’s mother-in-law lives here, so he and Andrew tell Jesus they can stay with her. Simon’s wife, as it turns out, is already in Capernaum as her mother is ill, and she is taking care of her. John and James also have relatives in Capernaum. No one asks Jesus and he doesn’t say how long he expects them to remain in Capernaum. A day or two from now, though, the four will have a much clearer picture of what is in
The next Sabbath, Jesus takes the four, along with his mother, to the temple for services. As has become the custom, Jesus is asked to read and interpret the scriptures for the congregation. This morning, however, after Jesus has read the scriptures and is seated explaining the words, a man, with wild eyes and looking disheveled, and not a normal Sabbath attendee, cries out in a loud voice from the back of the temple, “What have you come to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?” (Mark 1:24). The crowd turns to look at him and then immediately turns back to Jesus to see how he will respond. They all know this crazy man and wonder what he is saying and how Jesus will react. Jesus, standing up slowly, with eyes of intensity and power, rebukes the man sternly. “Quiet! Come out of him” (Mark 1:25).
The man throws himself on the floor and starts screaming wildly. It only lasts a few seconds, but the sight and sound are horrifying. As quickly as it began, it ends. The man calmly gets up, sits back down, and looks at Jesus and at the congregation as if he has no idea what happened. Jesus walks down the aisle to the back of the temple, whispers something to the man, who smiles and leaves the temple. The rest of the crowd is left aghast. They ask themselves who this man is who both teaches with authority and “commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him” (Mark 1:27). This is the kind of miracle many have been waiting to see. Little do they know it is only a preview of what will be performed this day.
As they all file out of the synagogue, the people chatter among themselves about Jesus’ power. When they return to their homes, they share the news with their neighbors not lucky enough to be at the temple. “This Jesus is indeed a miracle worker, and he lives here in our village,” many exclaim. The excitement in the town is unlike anything before. Some even begin to think to themselves that, just perhaps, Jesus might be able to heal their mother who is not thinking clearly, their son who cannot walk because of a diseased leg, or their daughter who is unable to see.
Jesus, meanwhile, on leaving the temple, walks with his four disciples to the house of Simon’s mother-in-law. Some of the temple congregation follow behind them, anxious to see where he is going and what he might do next. As they enter the house, Simon tells Jesus about his mother-in-law’s illness. She has been in bed for days with a severe fever and seems to be getting weaker and weaker. Jesus goes directly to the bed on which she is lying. Sitting on the bed with the sick woman is Simon’s wife, gently stroking her mother’s hair. The sick woman is unconscious. When Jesus and the others enter the room, Simon’s wife turns first to Jesus and then to her husband, her burdened eyes pleading for help. Jesus steps forward and sits down on the bed. As he gently picks up the hand of Simon’s mother-in-law, the sick woman opens her eyes. Looking into Jesus’ eyes, hers brighten and, with an audible sigh, a smile comes across her face. She feels the illness leaving her body and begins to feel like her old self. Jesus smiles back at her and helps her to her feet. She thanks him profusely and insists that he and the others sit down while she prepares something for them to eat. Simon’s wife cannot contain her joy. She thanks Jesus and then runs over to her husband. As she embraces him, she can only say, “Oh Simon, I love you. This is a miracle!” A few of Simon’s other relatives, marveling at this scene, walk outside to the small crowd of people at their door and breathlessly announce that Jesus has rebuked the woman’s fever, and she is now cured. The people say to themselves, ‘What he has done for the Roman official’s son, he has now done to one of us, his fellow Jews. What more might he do…?’
Jesus and the others enjoy the modest but well-prepared meal offered by Simon’s mother-in-law. Afterwards, they spend the next few hours talking and enjoying one another’s company. The four disciples and the others in the household hang on Jesus’ every word as they wonder what will happen next. They will soon find out. As the sun sets and the Sabbath ends, Jesus and the others begin to hear the sounds of a large movement of people coming towards the house. There is a lot of commotion. As they look outside, they see many bringing their ill or those possessed by demons to Jesus. Some are even carrying their sick on their backs or in cots. They lay them all around the house and down the street. Jesus, looking back at his four disciples, walks outside. He puts his hand on a boy who cannot speak and instantly the boy talks, thanking Jesus for his favor while his parents weep for joy. He bends down to a woman on a cot who cannot walk and with a gentle smile touches her, and she immediately gets up, praising God in a loud voice at the joy of her cure. One by one, he cures all the people who have been brought to him. The noise level reaches a feverish pitch as the miracles are performed. On hearing the noise, many others bring their sick to Jesus for a cure. It starts at sunset and lasts long into the night, but he cures every last one of them. At long last, there are no more sick outside the door; the day of miracles has ended. The whole town is alive with what has just happened, and every household on returning home stays up late into the night discussing the day’s events. Jesus takes his mother back to the house where they are staying. Mary too stays up late and, as she lies in her bed, ponders deeply about the day. John and James also go back to their relatives’ house, and Simon and Andrew stay with Simon’s mother-in-law. The four new disciples and their families now believe they are on the “ground floor” of what is going to be a world-changing enterprise. John and James even discuss how proud of them their dad, Zebedee, will be because they have clearly made the right decision in following Jesus. Little do the four of them know how right they are, but how wrong their expectations will turn out to be. In any event, this day in mid-December, day 423 of the 909 days that changed the world, will be a memorable one indeed. Prior to day 423, there have only been three recorded miracles: the Cana wedding feast, the healing of the cripple at the pool in Jerusalem, and the healing of the Roman official’s son. On day 423, the miracles are too numerous to count.