Yeshua stretched forth his arms in supplication, his eyes closed and head tilted up to the sky. His voice reached up to the heavens in prayer:
“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the Earth,
as the Gates of Heaven are opened unto them.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for the Power Above will comfort them.
Blessed are the humble,
for they shall receive the greater glory of the Power Above.
Blessed are the servants of the Power Above,
for the Power Above shall serve them in turn sevenfold.
Blessed are those who show mercy to others,
for the Power Above shall be merciful unto them.
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for only their hands shall touch the Power Above.
Blessed are those who work towards peace,
for the Power Above shall call them as children.
Blessed are those who are persecuted
because they do what the Power Above asks of them.
The Gates to Heaven are open to them.
Blessed are you all.
Cries of “Amen!” rippled through the crowd.
Yeshua’s eyes opened and he stared into the depths of the souls surrounding him. He began to speak.
“The prophets before us were persecuted for spreading the Gospel of Truth. Like out forbearers, we must set our example as a light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. Its wonders are there for all to see. Thieves and kings will ache to tear down its walls. They will gnash their teeth and curse its existence, and will never rest until they have reduced the walls to rubble and plundered its treasure. Too late, they will see the true wonder of this great city was the flesh and blood of those who lived within its walls. Long after our bones have crumbled to dust, only the purity of our hearts will remain. Our example will stand for all to see, and our hearts shall burn as beacons to light the world.
We must be counted by our deeds and the purity of being. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl. Instead she puts it on a lampstand where it gives light for everyone in the household. In the same way, our light must shine before the people, so that they will see the good things we do and learn from them.
Many of you think I have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. Lend me your ears, and I shall tell you this: I have come not to bury the prophets, but to praise them. I have no argument with them. It is for us to fulfill the teachings and make them come true. Remember that for as long as heaven and earth last, not the tiniest jot of the smallest letter of the Law of the Power Above can be done away with. Whoever disobeys even the least important of the commandments and teaches others to do the same will never enter the Realm of Heaven. I tell you, then, that you will be able to walk through the gates of Heaven only if you are more faithful to the Law than the holiest of holy rabbis. Who amongst us truly knows the depth of the Law that Moses has given us?
You have heard that in the past, we were taught: ‘Thou shall not kill’. Anyone who does will be brought to trial. But I ask you now, when does the act of killing begin? As the sword pierces the heart? As the blade slices the skin? With the unsheathing of the sword? No. The deed begins in the heart and bowels of the man who takes up the sword against his brother. Whoever is angry with his brother will be brought to trial. So I say to you all, whoever calls his brother a ne’er-do-well will be brought to trial, and whoever calls his brother a worthless fool will be brought to trial. This is the full meaning of the Law.
You cannot offer your gift to the Power Above at the altar when you know your brother has something against you or you against him. You are better to leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once to make peace with your brother; only then have you offered a true gift to the Power Above.
You have heard that it is said ‘Do not commit adultery’ But now I tell you: anyone who looks at a woman sworn to another and wants to possess her is guilty of committing adultery in his heart for it is also written: ‘Thou shall not covet another man’s wife, nor desire his house, his land, his slaves, his cattle, his donkeys, or anything else he owns.
It is the possession that is the evil. It is the creation of lies that is evil. The man who takes a woman against his oath, the woman who lies with a man against her oath, these commit adultery. For any who lie together must be able to say to their brethren: I have lain with her or I have lain with him, and none may be ashamed.
If you have sworn to sacred marriage, then obey your oath as you have declared it. Do not defile that which you have consecrated before the Power Above and your clan. As in all things, but especially between a man and a woman, allow your partner your own weaknesses and expect nothing more from them than you would demand of yourself. It is between a woman and her husband to determine the depth of their commitment to each other and to the Power Above. But for those who do bond together, remember this:
Whether you marry or consent to be given in marriage, your Soul must be given over to the Power Above, and it is from the Power that we have a Soul. Thus, it is not for the love of the husband that a husband is dear; it is for the love of the Soul in the husband that a husband is dear. It is not for the love of the wife that a wife is dear; it is for the love of the Soul in the wife that a wife is dear. It is not for the love of the child that a child is dear; it is for the love of the Soul in the child that a child is dear. It is not for the love of the All that all is dear; it is for the love of the Soul in All that the All is dear.
If you betray your spouse, you betray the Power Above. If you lie to your spouse, you lie also to your very Soul. If your actions cause pain to your spouse, you cause pain to your the Power Above. It is not for others to judge our faith to each other nor to the Power Above, for the Power Above is All and sees all. The Power Above hears all, and the Power Above shall judge you. Hold yourself and your spouse in the same sacredness that you hold the Power Above!
Thou shall not steal!
You must remove that which causes you to sin. It is not your right eye causes you envy or causes greed. If you pluck it from its socket and cast it out, you will still desire that which you have seen. It is your heart that craves the object of your desire. It is your heart that must change. You must let go of that which you crave most. If the Power Above wills, you will receive your just reward. If your right hand causes you to steal from the widow or smite the orphan, then your left hand must give back what you have taken sevenfold!
It was also said that people were told in the past: ‘Do not break your promise, but do for the Power Above what you have vowed to the Power Above to do’ And it is written: ‘Do not use my name for evil purposes, for I the Power Above your the Power Above, will punish anyone who misuses my name.’
But now I tell you, do not make a vow when you make a promise. If you fail to deliver your promise, then you bring name of the Power Above into disrespect. We cannot know what is the purpose of the Power Above nor do any of us command greater ear to the Power Above than any other. Therefore we cannot promise by the name of the Power Above, nor by Heaven, nor by the Earth for it is the resting place for his feet; nor by Yerushalayim for it is the holy city of David.
Do not swear even by your own head, because you have no power to make a single hair black or white. Just say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Anything else could bring the curse down on you, your family and even to the Power Above, and could only serve evil. There is only Doing or Not Doing.
It is written: ‘Bear Not False Witness.’ And so it should be.
We have all heard many advocate against mercy, ‘In transgression,’ they say, ‘the punishment is a life for a life, or an eye for and eye, a tooth for a tooth, hand for a hand or a foot for a foot.’ But I tell you now: do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you across the right cheek, turn the left cheek to him.
And if one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one mile, do so respectfully and offer to carry it two miles. He will be as disarmed as if you had taken his weapons and shields from him by force. Do not resist an overwhelming force, but step aside without fear, and use it to carry you to another spot on the road. Wherever you are, the Power Above will provide you with comfort.
When someone asks you for something, give it to him; when someone needs to borrow your favourite possession, lend it to him. It is written: ‘Do not be selfish and refuse to help’. Instead be generous and lend him as much as he needs. Do not refuse to lend to him something because it is near the jubilee when your debts will be forgiven. Do not let such evil thoughts enter your mind. If you refuse to make the loan, he will call on the Power Above and the Power Above will hold you accountable for your actions. And I say to you: if someone takes you to court to sue you for your tunic, let him have your robe as well. Give to him freely and unselfishly and the Power Above will bless you in the spirit you have entertained those around you.
It is written: ‘Do not bear a grudge against anyone, but settle your differences with him so that you will not commit a sin because of him.’
Understand this: If you bring a lawsuit against someone who has wronged you and you take him to court, settle the dispute with him while there is still time. Once he is in court, the judge will hand him over to the authorities to be thrown into prison. There he will stay, unable to pay the first penny of your fine, let alone the last!
The law says: ‘Do not take revenge on anyone or continue to hate him, but love your neighbour as yourself.’
And now I have heard it said ‘Love your friends; hate your enemies.’ But I tell you now: this is not the Law nor the Spirit of the Law. I say: Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you, so that they may become children of the Power Above in Heaven. Does the Power Above not make the sun shine on bad and good people alike, and give rain to those who do good as well as evil?
‘Should the Power Above reward you if you love only those who love you back? You have already received your reward for doing what is right. Even a tax collector can do that! And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the Kittim can do that! You, you are the Chosen few of the Power Above and must attain perfection! The Power in the Heavens is perfect, and you must make yourself perfect! You cannot do less for the Power Above than give anything but the purity of your own soul.
It is written: ‘Thou shall have no other the gods before me.’ and ‘Thou shall not make graven images of anything in heaven, on Earth nor in the waters beneath the Earth. Do not bow down to any idol or worship it for the Power Above tolerates no rivals.’
These are the first of the commandments. Yet since the end of the Exile, the Sadducees and Levites insist that we can only worship in one place. Before the altar in Yerushalayim. Others claim we still have high places here in the true Israel!
I tell you this: Those who limit the places to where the Power Above is to be praised insult the Power. Does the Power Above not hear me as I speak now? Can the Power Above not hear my thoughts when I meditate silently on the cliffs of Arbel? As I walk along the road to Kefar Nahum? As I tend the vines in the vineyard in Tarichae? Or as I sit and eat with any of you in your houses? Are we not setting up the very Temple as a graven image? The places themselves are revered as holy, and have become the cult objects as surely as any idol. The same commandment says: ‘I bring punishment on those who hate me and on their descendants down to the third and fourth generation. But I show love to thousands of generations of those who love me and obey my laws.’
And if we do not pay the temple tax, does the Power Above strike us down?
No, it is not the angels of the Power Above who appear at our doors demanding payment! It is the agents of the High Priests and members of Herod’s secret police!
And why do the Priesthood of Yerushalayim insist on punishing us, we who fear and respect the Power Above, when the Power Above has promised to do so? The temple itself has been built and paid for by the Idumean fox, a hand puppet for the Kittim! Is this the work of the Power Above? Did Herod not hang a golden eagle over the Holiest of Holies? Is this the reason for the temple tax?
Which is the holier place?
A temple built by a Gentile? Or the hills of Galilee created by the Power Above? Who would you rather serve? The Saduccees or the Power Above? Let those who have eyes to see, know we serve the Power Above no matter where we pray!
Why do I say this?
Because you must make certain that you do not perform your religious duties in public simply so people will see what you do. If you do these things publicly, you will not have any reward from your the Power of Heaven. You have already received the adulation of others and the Power Above will know you are worshipping for earthly reward and not that which only the Power can give. The Power hears you no matter whether you stand before the altar in Yerushalayim or on the shores of the Kinnereth. All the thoughts within you are revealed to the Power Above. You are heard even when your lips do not move. Whisper to from your heart and you will be heard. You have no need of priests to gain an audience with the Power Above.
So also, when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the patricians who donate largess to the houses of worship and sprinkle prutahs on the streets at the feet of beggars. They do it so others will sing their praises. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. But when you help a needy person, do it in a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. And the Power Above, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.
When you pray, do not be a hypocrite! If you love to stand up and pray in the houses of worship and on the street corners, so everyone can see you, you have already been paid in full. Far better when you pray, to retire to your room, close the door and pray unseen. The Power Above knows what you do in private and will fill your cup more than your cup can hold!
And when you fast, do not wear a sad face for others to see as hypocrites may do. They neglect their appearance so that everyone will see that they are fasting. I assure you that they also have already been paid in full. When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair, so that others cannot know you are fasting. The Power Above, unseen, will know. Remember, you are fasting for the Power Above, and should do so with a glad heart! A holy fast is not a trial by ordeal, but a sign to the Power Above that you will deny everything to follow the Pth of Righteousness. You should rejoice for the Power Above, who sees what you do in private, and will reward you.
When you pray, do not use a lot of meaningless words learned by rote as the priests do, thinking that the Power Above will hear them because their prayers are complicated and the words long. Do not be like them. You do not need priests to intervene on your behalf. The Power Above already knows what you need before you yourself. So speak to the Power directly. Ask for what you really need without artifice. This, then, is how I would pray:
‘Our Father, who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread
Forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation
And deliver us from evil
Forever and ever.
What is so direct about my prayer? Do I ask for gold? Do I ask for special favour above all others around me? These are not things that are important to you or me or the Power Above.
I ask first: ‘Give us this day, our daily bread.’
I do not need wine. I do not need figs. These are not needs. They make the meal more pleasant, but they do not fill me like bread. But if you receive more than bread, then by all means thank him for the wine. Thank him for the meat and the vegetables and the honey and dates and fish. But do not ask the Power Above for that which you don’t need and he will provide you with what you deserve.
This is why I tell you not to be worried about food and drink you need in order to stay alive, or about the clothes on your back. After all, isn’t your life worth more than food? Isn’t your body worth more than the clothes that cover it? Consider the birds, they do not sow, neither do they reap; yet the Power Above in Heaven takes care of them! Aren’t you worth more than a bird? Will any of you live longer by worrying about what life has in store for you?
And why worry about clothes? Consider the wild flowers; they neither toil nor weave for themselves. Yet, not even King Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as only one of these wild flowers. It is the Power Above who adorns the wild grass - grass that is here today and gone tomorrow, burned up as fuel in the oven. Wouldn’t he be all the more sure to clothe you? How little faith you must have!
Do not start worrying: Where will my food come from? Or my drink? Or my clothes? These are things that pagans are concerned about. The Power Above knows you need these things. Instead be concerned above all else with what the Power Above requires of you, and the Power Above will provide you with all other things. So do not worry about tomorrow; it will carry enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the worries each day brings.
Ask and you shall receive; knock and the door will be opened. Would any of you who have children, give your child a stone when he asks for bread? A snake when he asks for fish? Of course not! You know to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will the Father give to those who ask him!
So there is no need to store up riches for yourself here on Earth, where moths, rust and mildew, and robbers and tax collectors will take them from you. Instead, give to others what you do not need and store up riches for yourselves in Heaven, where moths, rust and mildew cannot destroy, and where robbers and tax collectors cannot break in and steal. Your heart will be where your riches are.
No one can be a slave to two masters; he will hate one and love the other; he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both the Power Above and money.
Then I ask: ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.’
What have I said? I ask only that the Power Above treat me as I treat others. If you forgive others the wrongs that they have done to you then you can expect the Power Above in Heaven to forgive you also. But if you do not forgive others, then how can you expect forgiveness from the Power Above?
I have said: ‘Do not judge others, so that the Power Above will not judge you, for the Power Above will judge you in the same way as you judge others.’ Why, then, would you look at the mote in your brother’s eye and ignore a stick in your own? Would you say to your brother: ‘Let me take that speck from your eye,’ when you pay no attention to the log in your own. You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye.
The Rabbi Hillel has said: ‘Don’t do unto others what you would not have them do unto you’, but I say to you: ‘Do unto others what you would have them do to you!’ This is the full meaning of the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. Do not wait for the Power Above to point the way. It is not easy to follow this rule with your heart as well as your head. So narrow is the gate to Life and treacherous the way that few people find it. The gate to Sheol is wide and always open and the road to which it leads is easy. Many travel it and many lie in wait there to seduce and steal from the unwary traveller.
So, be on your guard against false prophets. They come to you as sheep on the outside, but under their fleecy woolen coats they are like ravenous wolves. You will know them by what they do. Thorn bushes do not bear grapes, and briars do not grow figs. A healthy tree bears good fruit, but a poor tree bears poor fruit. A tree that is barren is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know false prophets by what they do.
It is written: ‘If a prophet speaks in the name of the Power Above and what he says does not come true, then it is not the Power Above’s message. The prophet has spoken on his own authority only and you need not fear him.’ For those who act in Faith, there is no need to proclaim their deeds are sanctified by the Power Above; the act itself will shine with the light of the Power Above for all to see.’
I tell you these things because the Power Above cares for us all, and the Power Above knows how good you can be. You do not give sacred scriptures to dogs, for they will only rip them to pieces and defecate upon them; then turn and attack you for they find no nourishment there! You do not cast pearls before swine, for they will only trample them underfoot into the mire without ever knowing their true value.
So then, anyone who hears these words of mine and follows them in his heart is like the wise man who builds his house upon rock. When the rain pours down, the rivers overflow, and the wind blows hard against the house, you will not fall because you have built upon rock!
But if you listen and do not hear like the foolish man who built his house on sand, when the rain pours down, the rivers overflow, and the wind blows hard against the house, you will fall because you have built upon sand!”
A scholar from the House of Shammai who had been listening in the crowd stepped forward. ‘Yeshua,’ he said softly, ‘It is written: ‘Observe Shabbat and keep it holy, as I, your the Power Above, have commanded you. You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one will work. Neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country. Even your slaves must rest just as you do. Remember that you also were slaves in Egypt, and that I rescued you by my great power and strength. That is why I command you to observe the Sabbath.’ Is that not so?’
‘Of course,’ replied Yeshua with a smile, sensing a challenge rising from the young scholar.
‘I have seen you heal a woman on the Sabbath,’ stated the scholar, ‘then return to her house for sustenance, is that not receiving payment for healing?’
‘It would seem to be,’ replied Yeshua, ‘Yet although I am the one to stoop and lift the woman from her bed, it is the Power Above who heals her not I. I have only reached out to her. The Power Above lifts the curse from her limbs. The act of healing does not come from me, but from the Power Above.’
Heads nodded in the crowd in agreement. Yeshua had neatly side stepped the challenge, for he did not complete the act of healing and was therefore exempt from transgressing the law.
‘Yet,’ countered the scholar, ‘you still received nourishment from the woman’s household. Who are you to receive that which is offered as payment for work performed as you say by the Power Above?’
‘Just as the Power Above healed the woman, so he feeds me,’ replied Yeshua. ‘The woman asked me to recite the blessing over the breaking of bread and sharing of wine. I could not refuse such an honour.’
Grayed heads nodded at Yeshua’s wisdom. Yeshua placed his hand on the young scholar’s shoulder. “Do not quibble over the meaning of work. Why do you fret for hours upon hours splitting hairs over which actions constitute work? The outcome of the act determines its nature.
I ask you this: if a sheep falls into a deep hole on the Sabbath, what shepherd would leave it to die and be eaten by wild animals? Would it be work to pull the sheep from the hole? Of course not! If I stoop to pull an old woman who has collapsed, to her feet, and brush off her robe, am I working? Of course not!
But you are right about one thing: if I charge even the smallest fee for healing a man on the Sabbath, then I am working. If I heal him for nothing then I serve only the Power Above by healing others. Work involves material profit.”
The scholar could feel the unity of agreement in the people around him, but still opened his mouth to argue the point but a friend came behind him and placed his hands on the scholar’s shoulders and whispered into his ear, and the two retired into the crowd.
Yeshua continued his sermon. “I say to you all, open your ears to the truth of what I say; do not be concerned by the letters of the Law, but listen to what is written between the lines.
It is written: ‘Honour your father and mother, as I, the Power Above, command you so that all may go well with you and so that you may prosper in the promised land.’
This is how it has been for aeons, but I ask you now: ‘How can you respect the wishes of your mother on father if they ask you to betray the Law of Moses? Who is the higher authority? Your parents? Perhaps Moses! Surely the Power Above is the higher authority? If you were to follow the commandments and the teachings of the Prophets, would your father let you go? Or would he say to you: ‘There are others more learned in The Law than you. Let them take vows to the Power Above. I need you here to manage my nets.’ Would your mother praise your purity? Or would she say: ‘Very nice, dear, but first bring in the corn and feed the sheep, then you can go and fulfill the scriptures.’
The Law does not say ‘Obey thy father and mother’. You can only obey your own heart. Always remember a wise man learns seven times more from a single fool than a fool will learn from all the wise men who ever lived. And so a parent must learn from the child also, and respect the child. Only in this way can the parent expect respect from the child.”