by Bob Wickizer

Small Steps for Justice
Rev. Bob Wickizer
Acts 4:5-12; Psalm 23; 1 John 3:16-24; John 10:11-18
4 Easter

Modern Israel today is a land of contrasts and surprises. Near Capernaum, the ancient city at the north end of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus is believed to have preached the Sermon on the Mount on the neighboring hillsides. Because of this tradition, in the 1930's a beautiful little chapel was built at the site. An order of Italian nuns maintains the chapel to this day and if you study the building carefully you will find a plaque noting that this chapel was built by none other than the Mussolini. The second surprise at Capernaum was the ruins of the first century synagogue. It is likely that Jesus himself walked through the doors and worshiped at this building. The remains are typical archaeological stuff - a few columns, the outlines of walls, and remains of the stone structure that were too heavy to be carried off. One of those remains was the stone lintel or the structural piece above the main entry door. Carved into that limestone lintel was a seven branched candelabra at one end, a Star of David at the other and in the middle was a grape vine with clusters of grapes.

I can well imagine Jesus passing under that doorway and giving his discourse about Jesus being the vine, God the vinedresser and we the people being the branches. The scripture he had in mind surely included the passage from Isaiah chapter 5.

1 Let me sing for my beloved
my love-song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
on a very fertile hill.
2 He dug it and cleared it of stones,
and planted it with choice vines;
he expected it to yield grapes,
but it yielded wild grapes.

3 And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem
and people of Judah,
judge between me
and my vineyard.
4 What more was there to do for my vineyard
that I have not done in it?
When I expected it to yield grapes,
why did it yield wild grapes?

5 And now I will tell you

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