The man from Nazareth had been speaking for quite some time on the mountain side. They had a clear view of the valley below that lead into the Sea of Galilee, where several of the men made their living fishing the small lake. The rabbi had just finished a discourse that flummoxed the minds of those listening regarding the heart of following the Torah. His speech was plain and convicting. He did not condemn, but his very words pierced to the heart of each man there as they sat in front of their small fires or huddled together in the various clichés still trying to decide if this could really be the Messiah. Few could look the Rabbi in the eye at this point. How many of them had lusted for another man’s wife, swore an oath before the gate elders, or consumed the last few years with hatred for the Romans who occupied their sacred land?
“No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of Elohim and of money.”
Jesus stopped walking in front of the crowd at this point and stooped down. It seemed like an eternity as the words sank into their very soul. He stood, putting something into the satchel that he carried, quickly crawling on top of a large rock that protruded from the hillside.
“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. He grabbed his tunic and pulled it back and forth at his belly as he emphasized, “Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?” He dropped down off the boulder and when he landed a couple of fowl flew up into the sky. “Look at the birds of the sky, they don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” This was said almost sarcastically, but still with enough gentleness that we began to understand his point without taking offense.
He looked directly into the eyes of several disciples as he continued, “Aren’t you worth more than they?”
Suddenly he ran at full speed back up the hillside and took a leap onto the boulder. “Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying?” He said as he stood on the toe edge of his worn sandals. “And why do you worry about clothes?” He pulled off the sash of his shirt holding it against the noon-day sky which revealed several holes in his garment. He looked at the holes and then turned his head back at them with a huge smile on his face.
They had all been there. After all, they were the outcast of society, the ones the Pharisees made the separate entrance into the temple complex for because of how ritually and physically unclean they were. Many had struggled to provide for their families under the present occupation. Roman taxes, temple taxes, taxes for every person who had the authority and power to collect. It was amazing that any Israelite was able to remain in the Promised Land. Now here this teacher was telling them not to worry about provisions? Is he crazy or onto something that they were eager to follow and find for themselves?
Jesus reached into his satchel and pulled out a bushel of wildflowers, holding them up in front of him with an outstretched arm. “Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow; they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these!” With that he twisted the flowers together into a sort of crown and placed them on his head, sticking out his chest with his hands at his side pretending to be a king. Several disciples chuckled.
He jumped back down from the rock as he looked over the crowd. Motioning at the flowers that surrounded them, his tone changed. His eyes gleamed with passion and intensity as he firmly spoke, “If that’s how Elohim clothes the grass of the field which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow.” Then he tossed the crown into the fire of those in his innermost circle. It was quickly consumed as a small thick cloud of smoke rose into the air, “won’t He do much more for you – you of little faith?” This last comment seemed directed at three of the Twelve but it resonated with any who were honest within themselves.
He turned and scanned the eager faces again proclaiming, “ So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” He emphasized the word need and his face seemed torn with agony as though he could feel the hunger, fatigue, and concern of each man there.
Then the strangest thing happened. He sort of looked down at the ground and a smile began forming on his face as he meandered back to the rock again. By the time he was standing on top of the boulder he appeared as though he was about tell us how to see past our need and to tap into the joy that he was feeling. With both arms outstretched towards the crowd he almost gleefully shouted, “But seek first the kingdom of Elohim and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
He let his arms down and looked at us like we didn’t get it, and that is the thing, we didn’t. “Therefore, don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself.” With this he opened his satchel to dump out the contents but nothing fell out. We all laughed at him as he quipped, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
– Matthew 6:24-34 with my own narrative of how Jesus might have taught