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The Good Shepherd by Anonymous

CHAPTER VII A FRIEND FOR THE SORROWFUL

One day Jesus went to a town called Nain (or Beautiful), about twenty-five miles from Capernaum. A great crowd of people followed Jesus and His disciples; and when they came near to the gate of the city of Nain, they saw a funeral coming out. The dead body of a young man was being carried out on a bier to be buried.

When Jesus saw the poor mother crying and sobbing, He felt very sorry for her, and He said to her, 'Weep not.' And Jesus came and touched the bier, and the men who were carrying it stood still. And Jesus said, 'Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.' And life came back into that dead body again. He that was dead sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

A Pharisee, called Simon, once asked Jesus to come and have dinner with him. When anyone in that land went to a feast, the master of the house used to kiss him, and say, 'The Lord be with you,' and put some sweet smelling oil on his hair and beard, and the servants used to bring the visitor water to wash his feet. But none of those kind things were done to Jesus when He came to that Pharisee's house. Presently Jesus and Simon began to eat. In that country, people often lay down to eat. Broad settees, or couches, were put round the table, and the visitors used to lie down in rows on these settees. Their heads were near the table, and their feet were the other way. They lay down on their left side, and they had cushions to put their elbows on, so that they could raise themselves up while they were eating. While Jesus and Simon were at dinner, a woman came in out of the street. In the East, people walk in and out of other people's houses just as they like. But that woman had been very wicked, and Simon was not pleased when he saw her come in. But nobody said anything to her. So she came to Jesus, and stood at His feet, behind the couch on which He w as lying, and cried till the tears ran down her face. Then as her tears dropped on to the feet of Jesus, she stooped down and wiped them away with her long hair. And then she kissed the feet of Jesus many times, and put precious sweet-smelling ointment upon them. Perhaps she had heard some beautiful words which Jesus had just been saying to the people out of doors --

'COME UNTO ME, ALL YE THAT LABOUR AND ARE HEAVY LADEN, AND I WILL GIVE YOU BEST.'

Her sins were like a heavy load, and so she had come to Jesus.

But Simon thought to himself, 'If Jesus had really come from God, He would have known how wicked this woman is, and He would not have allowed her to touch Him.'

Jesus knew what Simon was thinking, and He said that once upon a time there were two men who owed some money. One owed a great deal of money, and the other owed a little. But when the time came for them to pay the money they could not do it. And the kind man forgave them both.

Jesus then asked Simon which of the two men would love that kind friend most.

Simon said, 'I suppose he to whom he forgave most.'

Jesus said that that was quite right. Then He turned to the woman, and said to Simon: 'Seest thou this woman? I came into thine house; thou gavest Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest Me no kiss, but this woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss My feet: My head with oil thou didst not anoint, but she hath anointed My feet with ointment. I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.' And then Jesus said to the woman, 'THY SINS ARE FORGIVEN. THY FAITH HATH SAVED THEE. GO IN PEACE.' And she left her heavy load of sin with Jesus, and took away instead the rest and peace He gives.

After Jesus had finished all the work He wanted to do in Nain, He went again into every part of Galilee to tell people the good news that a Saviour had come.

Jesus preached to the crowds out of a boat. He told them most beautiful stories. They liked these stories so much that they did not care to go away -- not even when it was evening. But Jesus and His disciples needed rest, so Jesus told the disciples to go over to the other side of the lake.

When the boat started, Jesus was so tired that He lay down at the end, out of the way of the men who were rowing, and put His head upon a pillow, and fell fast asleep. Soon the wind began to blow, and it blew louder and louder. Then the waves curled over and dashed into the boat till the boat was nearly full. But still Jesus slept quietly on. The disciples were afraid that their boat would sink, and they came to Jesus, and woke Him, and said, 'Master! Master! we perish! Lord, save!' And Jesus arose, and told the wind to stop, and He said to the sea, 'Peace, be still.' And suddenly the wind stopped, and the sea was quite smooth. Then Jesus said gently to His disciples, 'Where is your faith?' Those disciples might have known that the boat could not sink when Jesus was in it.

[Illustration: Ruins of Capernaum.]

When Jesus came back to Capernaum, a man, called Jairus, fell down at His feet and begged Him to go to his house, where his little girl, about twelve years old, was dying. So Jesus and His disciples started to go to Jairus' house, and a great crowd of people went with Him. But while they were going, someone came to Jairus, and said, 'It is of no use to trouble the Master any more. The child is dead.' But Jesus said to him quickly, 'Do not be afraid. Only believe, and she shall be made well.'

When Jesus came to the house of Jairus, He heard a great noise. As soon as anyone dies in the East, people come to the house, and cry and howl, and play wretched music. They are paid to do that. That was the noise which Jesus heard, and he asked, 'Why do you make this ado? The little maid is sleeping.' And those rude people laughed at Jesus, just as if He did not know what He was talking about. So Jesus turned them all out.

Then Jesus took three of His disciples -- Peter, and James and John -- and Jairus and his wife; and they went together to look at the child. There she was, lying quite still. Life had flown away from her body. But Jesus took hold of the girl's hand, and said, 'My little lamb, I say unto thee, Arise.' And life flew back to her body again, and she opened her eyes and got up, and walked. And Jesus told her father and mother to give her something to eat.

When Jesus came out of Jairus' house, two blind men followed Him, begging Him to make them well. Jesus waited till He had got back to the house where He was staying and then He touched their eyes, and made them see.

Just about this time Jesus had some very sad news. Herod Antipas, the son of wicked King Herod, had shut up John the Baptist in a prison, called the Black Castle, by the side of the Dead Sea. Part of that castle was a beautiful palace, with lovely furniture and a coloured marble floor. One day Herod gave a grand birthday party. Herod had married a very wicked woman, who was at the party. Her name was Herodias. Herodias hated John the Baptist, because he had said that she ought not to be Herod's wife. So she made up her mind to have John the Baptist killed. Herodias had a daughter called Salome, who danced beautifully. And on that birthday Herod was so pleased with Salome's dancing that he said, 'I will give you anything you ask me for.' Salome went to her mother, and said, 'What shall I ask?' And Herodias said, 'Ask for the head of John the Baptist.' And Salome came back quickly and said, 'I want the head of John the Baptist.'

Now, it is wrong to break a promise. But it is not wrong to break a wicked promise. It is wrong ever to have made it. Herod was sorry, but he was afraid of what other people in the party would think if he did not do what he had said. So he sent his soldiers to the prison, and had John the Baptist's head cut off to give to that dancing-girl.

Jesus had sent His twelve disciples out to preach to people He could not go and see Himself. When they came back they had a great deal to talk about, and they were very tired. But there were always so many people coming to see Jesus that they could get no quiet time at all, no time even to eat. They were all at the Lake of Galilee again, and Jesus told them to come away with Him into a desert place, and rest awhile. That desert place was near a town called Bethsaida, where Peter, and his brother Andrew, and Philip lived once upon a time.

Jesus and His disciples got into a boat as quietly as they could, and went away. But some people near the lake caught sight of the boat, and they saw who was in it; and they ran so fast along the shore of the lake that they got to the desert before Jesus was there. Jesus felt very sorry for these people, and He began to teach them many things. By and by it got late, and Jesus said to the disciples, 'How many loaves have you? Go and see.' And Andrew said, 'There is a boy herewith five barley loaves and two fishes; but what are they among so many?' And Jesus told him to bring the loaves and fishes. Then Jesus said, 'Make the people sit down.' So the disciples arranged the crowds in rows on the grass. And when every one was ready, Jesus took the five loaves and the two fishes in His hands, and He blessed them, and divided them, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. And there was plenty for everybody. Jesus made those loaves and fishes last out till everybody had had enough. And then He said, 'Gather up the fragments (that means the little pieces) that are left, that nothing be lost.' And the disciples picked the little pieces up, and put them together in baskets. And there were twelve large baskets full -- more than they had at first. There were five thousand men in that grassy place, and a great many women and children besides. And when the people saw the miracle that Jesus had done they said, 'THIS MUST BE THE MESSIAH;' and they wanted to make Him their king -- the king of their country, but not the king of their hearts.

Jesus did not wish to be made a king like Herod or Caesar. He was God, so He was King of kings already. He made His disciples go away at once in the boat to the other side of the lake, and He sent the crowds away Himself. When Jesus was alone, He went up into a mountain and prayed. But now a great wind began to blow, and the waves on the Sea of Galilee began to toss about. The disciples rowed hard, but they could not get on; the wind kept trying to blow them back. But Jesus saw them, and when the night was nearly over, He came to them walking on the sea. The disciples had never seen Him walking on the water before, and they could not understand who He was, and they cried out for fear. But Jesus was sorry for them, and He spoke kindly to them directly and said, 'BE OF GOOD CHEER (that means, 'Be glad'). IT IS I. BE NOT AFRAID.'

And Peter said, 'Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.' And Jesus said, 'Come.' And Peter jumped out of the boat, and walked on the water to go to Jesus. But soon Peter began to think of the rough wind and waves instead of thinking about Jesus, and then he could not get on at all, and he began to sink in the water, and called but, 'Lord, save me!' And Jesus put out His hand and caught him, and said, 'O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?' Then they both came into the boat, and the wind stopped blowing. And the disciples fell down at the feet of Jesus, and said 'THOU ART THE SON OF GOD.' Then, all at once, they saw that their boat was close to the land. Jesus had brought it there.

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