Filming reenactment the Parables of Jesus in Israel

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Part One Filming reenactment

The mount of the Beatitudes overlooks the Sea of Galilee. It was here in the early days of his ministry that Jesus spoke clearly to his disciples. “If I knew what he saw as mission” that is known as the Sermon on the Mount.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted? Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Judge not that ye be not judged for with what judgment ye judge shall be judged.”

The Sermon on the Mount was one of few occasions, in which Jesus spoke to his disciples in such plain language. Most of the time he preferred speaking in parables. Even when he recruited his disciples here on the shores of the Sea of Galilee Jesus spoke to them in a language of hidden meaning. And Jesus saw two brethren Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother, ing a net into the sea for they were fishers and he said unto them, “follow me and I will make you fishers of man.”

It is perhaps no accident that one of Jesus’ parables likens the kingdom of Heaven to a net in the sea. “The fisherman”, said Jesus “gathered the good but away the bad.” This is how it would be said at the end of days – the angels would sever the wicked from the just.
In another parable, Jesus likened the Kingdom of Heaven to a treasure found in a field. The finder of such treasure does not waste it. He buries it where he found it and then sells all that he possesses. He who had found such buried treasures as the Kingdom of Heaven would give all he had in the world in order to acquire that field in which he had made his discovery. “What man”, Jesus asked, “losing one kid in a hundred would leave 99 in the wilderness and go in search of the one that was lost?”

Subtitles: “Rejoice with me for I have found my kid that was lost. What woman, Jesus asked, losing one piece of coinage out of ten would not search diligently until she found it? Rejoice with me for I have found the piece which I have lost.”
For many of Jesus’ disciples and followers, it was strange that he spoke to them in parables in what seemed to riddle that they themselves were expected to solve. They had been brought up and educated to accept the holy religious law. It was the clergy, not the congregation that determined just what it meant.

Subtitles: “Why speakest thou in parables?”
Jesus answered them by quoting the prophet Isaiah. “By hearing ye shall hear and not understand and seeing ye shall see and not perceive.” Jesus went on to say, “therefore I speak unto them in parables because they seeing see not and hearing hear not.” This could perhaps be constructed as a kind of code for the initiated but Jesus soon revealed his meaning by way of a parable anyone could understand.
Jesus compared those of his disciples who heard and understood and acted according to his preaching to a man who built his house upon a rock. A man who built his house upon a rock was wise. Jesus described the foolish man as one who built his home on sand. This was quite possibly the first parable that people readily understood. We read that the people were astonished at his doctrine.
The word it would seem had been heard. From now on it is written “he taught them as one having authority”. From now on the New Testament would be spread by means of speaking in parables.

Part Two Filming reenactment of the Parables of Jesus in Israel

Most of the preaching of Jesus was based on simple common sense interpretations of the ancient prophets. In his view, the various priestly orders had drifted away from, even distorted the fundamental morality of the laws of Moses. This was also the view of his elder cousin John, the son of Zacharias, who saw himself as the voice crying in the wilderness.
Subtitles: “Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. He that cometh after me is preferred before me. The law was given to Moses but grace and truth come by the Messiah.
Who art thou we may give an answer? What sayeth thou? I am the voice crying in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord as said Isaiah”.
The High Priest of the temple was deeply suspicious of the new style of the preaching of the messianic prophets mainly because of their mere gaining of a large spontaneous following among the people.
Subtitles: “By what authority does thou these things? And who gave thee this authority?”
In reply, Jesus posed them a question. If they could answer it he could answer theirs. Jesus asked them whence came, in their opinion, the baptism of John, from Heaven or from man.
Subtitles: “If we say from Heaven He will say, “why did ye not believe him? But if we say of man we fear the people for all hold John as a prophet. The baptism of John whence was it? From Heaven or from man? We cannot tell.
Since the priest had no clear answer Jesus gave his reply in the form of a parable. The parable of the two sons. A certain man had a vineyard that must be cultivated. He also had two sons.
Subtitles: “My son, go work today in my vineyard. I will not. My son, go today and work in my vineyard. I go, sir.”
It was the first son who refused and eventually repented and went to work in his father’s vineyard. Did Jesus ask the elders which of the two sons had, in their opinion, carried out his father’s wishes?
Subtitles: “The first”.
It was then that Jesus told them that even the simple people, even the charlottes would enter the Kingdom of Heaven before them. It was John who first approached the common people and had first been approached by them. Later, even the tax collectors, and even the Roman soldiers came to ask for his guidance and his blessing.
Subtitles: “Master, what shall we do? Do violence unto no man, neither accuse falsely and be content with your wages. I indeed baptize you with water but there come one mightier than I whose shoes I am unworthy to unlace. He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. He will purge his floor and gather his wheat but the chaff will burn with fire unquenchable.”
Jesus told the priest and the elders that John the Baptist had come to them in righteousness. They had not believed him but the people had. Even when they had seen this the priesthood, unlike the first of the two sons, had been incapable of repenting their decision.

Filming in the Holy Land

In the time of Jesus, the population of the Holyland consisted in the main of simple country folk accustomed to a system of barter, of trading goods for goods of equal value. But the economy was becoming steadily influenced by foreign rulers and their ways. Coinage was replacing the old system and the money lender became an almost indispensable figure in this new society. It is perhaps typical of Jesus’ style of free thinking that even in this situation he could spin a parable.

Another figure, even less popular in the rural society of that time was the tax collector. Ever since the days of King Solomon, the tax collector had been seen as a public enemy and the people were convinced that they were being cheated. This particular tax collector however is mentioned in the New Testament as being both honest and straightforward. His name was Zackai, which in Hebrew means pure.
Subtitles: “The sum is wrong. Your scribe is mistaken. I shall reckon it myself.”
When Jesus passed by on his way to Jerusalem his name had already gone before him. The crowds turned out to see their new prophet, whose preaching in Galilee had aroused such keen interest throughout the land. When Jesus saw Zackai he made him come down from his perch because he wished to spend the night at his home.
Subtitles: “Gone to be a guest with a sinner. Half of my goods I give to the poor. If I have taken from any man falsely I restore him fourfold.”
It was this incident that prompted Jesus to relate to his disciples the parable of the talent.
A certain man traveled to a faraway country and divided his wealth among his servants for safekeeping.
Subtitles: “To every man according to his ability. We will not have this man reign over us.”
The Servant who had been given five talents to care for lent them to the money lender for a good rate of interest. The servant who had been given two talents knew also how to make the best use of them. But the servant who had been awarded only one talent for safekeeping buried it in the earth.
After a long period of absence, the master of the servants returned to make a reckoning.
Subtitles: “Lord thou deliverest onto me five talents. Behold I have gained five talents more. Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things. I will make thee ruler over many. Thou deliverest onto me two talents. I have gained two others besides them. Thou has been faithful over a few. I will make thee ruler over many. I know that the art a hard man reaping where thou has not sown. I was afraid. I hid thy talent in the earth. Here is that which is thine. Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou oughtest to have put my money to the changers. At my coming, I should have received it with usury. Take the talent from him. Give it unto him, which hath ten talents. He hath ten talents. Unto every one that hath shall be given. But from he that hath not shall be taken even that which he hath. Cast ye the unprofitable into the outer darkness.”
Jesus summed up this parable with the words, “for the son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Part Four – Filming The Parable of the Wise Virgins

One of Jesus’ most important teachings to his disciples was – to watch, for ye knowest when the master cometh and even at midnight at the clock role or at midnight. Watchfulness, and vigilance – this was a recurring theme in the parables Jesus related. Jesus told the tale of a landowner who had gone away to attend a wedding and had left his property in the care of his servants.
Subtitles: “My Lord, delayeth his coming. How darest thou? Lord speakest thou this parable unto us or even to all?” Jesus told his disciples “what I say unto you I say unto all. Watch.” It was then that he related the parable of the wise virgin.
There were ten maidens invited to be bridesmaids at the wedding. Five of them were wise and five of them were foolish.
Subtitles: “Behold, the bridegroom cometh. Go ye out to meet him. Give us your oil. Our lamps are gone out. Not so, lest there be not enough. Go to them that sell and buy for yourself. Lord, Lord open unto us. Verily I say unto you I know you not.”
Watch, therefore, for ye know not either the day or the hour.

Part Five – Filming The Parable of the Vineyard

When Jesus was traveling through Galilee with his disciples there was one burning question that was the subject of constant discussion. What was it that made a man worthy of entering the Kingdom of Heaven? It was on one of these occasions that a rich young man came to seek him out with a similar question on his lips.
Subtitle: “Good master, what shall I do that I may have eternal life? Jesus told that the first and most important consideration was that he observed the ten commandments. All these things have I kept. What lack I yet?”
Jesus then told him he should sell his possessions and give them to the poor. Only thus could he lay out treasure in Heaven.
Subtitle: “I have great possessions”.
It was then that Jesus said unto his disciples, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.”
Subtitle: “Who then can be saved? We have forsaken all and followed thee, what shall we have?”
It was then that Jesus related unto them the parable of the vineyard.
A certain householder went out early in the morning. He decided that the time had come to hire laborers amongst those standing idle in the marketplace. He agreed to pay each man one coin per day and sent them out to work on his property. About three hours later there were others standing idle in the middle of the marketplace.
Subtitle: “Go ye also into the vineyard and whatsoever is right I will give you.”
Towards the end of the day, the owner of the vineyard returned to the marketplace once again.
Subtitle: “Why stand ye here all day idle? No man hath hired us. Go ye also into the vineyard. Whatsoever is right ye shall receive. Call the laborers. Give them their hire. These last wrought but one hour and they hast made them equal unto us? I do thee no wrong, didst thou that not agree for one single coin? Thou hast made them equal unto us? May I not do the way I will with my own? Is the eyes evil because I am good? Take that which is thine and go thy way, I will give to last even as unto thee.”
Jesus summarized this parable by saying “Many that are first shall be last and the last shall be first.

Part Six – Filming  The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Ever since the death of King Solomon the Land of Israel has been divided between the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judea. Somewhere between the two lay an alien territory – Samaria. Many held this to be a land of heathens. Jesus on his way to Galilee passed through Samaria and the well of the Patriarch Jacob. He met a Samaritan woman and asked her to give him water.
Subtitle: “How is it that a Jew asked to drink of me, a woman of Samaria? Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.”
Jesus told the woman had she been a true believer she would have asked him for the water of life.
Subtitle: “Thou hast nothing to draw with and the well is deep. From whence hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob which gave us the well and drank thereof?”
Jesus explained that he was offering water which he that drinketh that of shall never thirst.
Subtitle: “Give me this water that I thirst neither come hither to draw.”
And Jesus said unto her, “Go call thy master.” I have no master.
Jesus told the woman that she had at least five masters and even the master she acknowledged now was not the true one. And we read that the woman called unto the men of the city.
Subtitle: “I perceive that thou art a prophet. I know the Messiah cometh and he will tell all. Come see a man which told me all of the things I ever did. Is this not the Christ? Now we believe for we have heard of him. This is the savior of the world. I beseech thee tarry with us.”
And Jesus stayed in Samaria for two more days before going on his way to Galilee. Whatever he preached, it seems, there was always someone who remained dubious, someone asking a provocative question aimed at trapping Jesus into an unwise statement.

Subtitle: “Master what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered the question with a question. What was the man reading in written law?
Subtitle: “Thou shalt love thy Lord with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength and with all thy mind and thy neighbor as thyself. Master who is my neighbor?”
By way of reply, Jesus related the parable of the good Samaritan.
Jesus told a certain man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, a tough journey of some three days riding, which in those times was often dangerous. The first man to pass that way after the robbery was a temple priest. The next person to discover the victim was a Levite. It was perhaps his meeting with the Samaritan woman beside the wall that caused Jesus to relate that the third passerby was a Samaritan.
It was the Samaritan, Jesus-related, who had compassion brought the victim to an inn and took care of him.
Subtitle: “Take care of him. Whatsoever thou spendest I will repay thee.”
Jesus then asked which of the three was a true neighbor: the priest, the Levite, or the stranger – the Samaritan?
Subtitle: “He that showed mercy.”
Then Jesus said unto him, “go and do likewise.”

 Part Seven – Filming The Parable of the Prodigal Son

In many ways, the preaching of Jesus seriously offended the religious traditionalists of his time. They objected to his manner of speaking in parables rather than clinging to the orthodox and accepted texts. The Pharacies in particular, whilst unwilling to directly interfere with Jesus’ preaching, were constantly lying in wait, watching, listening, hoping to find the opportunity to accuse him of improper behavior.
Subtitles: “And eateth with them. And eateth with them. This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.”
It was announced that at such accusations Jesus related the parable of the prodigal son.
Subtitles: “Father give me the portion that falleth unto me.”
The father divided all the family property, as was the custom, between his two sons. He may have wondered why his younger son wanted this done before the appointed time, but the family fortune was fairly portioned. Only a few days after the division of the family property the younger son took all of his family possessions and traveled to a faraway country. It was there in that faraway country that he squandered everything he had on righteous living. Soon after there was a mighty famine in the land and the younger son found himself in dire straits. The only work he could find was at a swineherd. He was so famished he was tempted to eat the food that he was ordered to give to the pigs.
Subtitle: “How many hired servants of my father have bread enough and I perish with hunger? I will go to my father and say unto him, “I have sinned both against Heaven and thee.” “I am no more worthy to be called thy son. Make me as one of thy hired servants.”
“Father I have sinned against Heaven and in thy sight and I am no more worthy to be called thy son. Put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. Bring the fatted calf. Let us eat and be merry for this my son was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found.”
“What does this mean? Thy brother comes. Thy father hath killed the fatted calf because he is safe and sound. Many years I serve thee, neither transgress they commandments, yet thou never gavest me a kid that I might make merry. And for this thy son which hath devoured thy living with harlots thou hast killed for him the fattest calf. Son, thou art ever with me. All that I have is thine. It was a meal that we make merry, for thy brother was dead and is alive again, was lost and is found.
And Jesus said, “joy shall be in the Heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over 90 and 9 that need no repentance.

Filming The Parable of the Dishonest Steward

The majority of the religious establishments in Jerusalem in the time of Jesus were represented by the Phalacies. They saw themselves as the most faithful upholders of the laws of Moses. The Holy land, however, was little more than a colony ruled over by a vassal king who owed his firm to the patronage of pagan Rome. This was why, when the Phalacies trapped Jesus into some kind of indiscretion they recruited the king’s men. If he did not transgress religious law he might be tricked into talking about treason.
Subtitle: “Master, we know that thou teach righteously, neither acceptest the person of any man but teach the way of God. Tell us, therefore, what thinketh thou? Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not?”
Before answering Jesus asked to see what was given to tribute. Jesus then asked them whose image the coin bore.
Subtitles: “Caesars.”
It was then that Jesus said unto them, render onto Caesar that which be Caesars and unto God that which be Gods. This was the same message Jesus had delivered unto his disciples when he related to them the parable of the dishonest steward.
There was a certain rich man that was informed that his steward was cheating him, falsifying the records of his property. Once he was convinced that the rumors were true the rich man sent for the steward to confront him.
Subtitle: “How is it that I hear this of thee? Give an accounting of thy stewardship. Give an accounting for thou mayest be no longer steward. What shall I do? My Lord taketh from me the stewardship. I cannot dig. To beg I am ashamed. I am resolved. When I am put out they may receive me.”
The steward set out on a series of meetings to all those who owed money and goods to his employer.
Subtitle: “How much owest thou? A hundred measures of oil. Take thy bill. Write 50. How much owest thou? A hundred measures of wheat. Take thy bill. Write 50.
“Thou hast done wisely. Make yourself friends of Mamoun that when ye fail they receive you. The faithful in less is faithful in much. The unjust in less is also unjust in much. If ye be not trustworthy with false riches who will trust you with true riches?”
Jesus summed up his parable by saying, “no servant can serve two masters. The servant that serves two masters will be tempted. Either he will hold to the one and despise the other or he might be tempted in the opposite direction. He will hate the one and love the other. Jesus’ message was that he cannot serve both God and man. Render onto Caesar the things which be Caesar and onto God the things which be Gods.

Christian productions in Israel Part Nine – The Parable of the Wicked Husbandman

When Jesus returned to Jerusalem he was appalled at the way in which worship had become cheapened by trade, in the very courtyard of the temple. It was a similar scene in which the prophet Isaiah had preached so many generations ago saying to what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifice? I’m full of burned offerings, incense of abomination they are. The priesthood was not popular with the people and Jesus had antagonized the temple dignitaries even further by his already large following. We read in the gospels that the blind and the lame came to Jesus in the temple and that he healed them. When the priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things he did and the children crying, Hoshana, they were sorrily displeased. It was to the temple priest that Jesus addressed the parable of the wicked husbandman.
A certain man planted a vineyard and set a hedge about it and built a tower and built a wine press. And he let it out to husbandmen and went into a far country. When the next harvest season came around the owner of the vineyard sent a servant to his tenants to claim his share of the crop as agreed in the terms of the contract. They caught him, beat him, and sent him away empty. Then the owner sent other servants. Having but one son, his well-beloved, he sent him also.
Subtitle: “They will reverence my son. This is the heir. Let us kill him. Let us kill him and the inheritance will be ours.”
And Jesus asked the priests and the scholars, “What should the owner of the vineyard do to these wicked husbandmen? He will destroy them. He will give the vineyard unto others. He spoke this parable against us.”
And they sought to lay hold on him but they feared the people because the people took Jesus as a prophet.

Filming  in Israel –  The Parable of the Rich Man and the Beggar

Subtitle: “May the Lord bless you and keep you and grant you peace. May the Lord bless you and keep you and grant you peace. May the Lord grant you peace.”
“Father Abraham have mercy on me. Send Lazarus that he may dip his finger in water and cool my tongue for I am tormented in this flame. Son, remember that thou received good things and Lazarus evil things but now he is comforted and thou art tormented. Between you and us there is a great gulf. They that would pass from hence to you cannot, nor can they pass from thence.”
“I pray thee, send his to my father’s house. I have five brethren. Sends him that he may testify unto them. They also come unto this place. They have Moses and the prophets let them hear them. Nay, father Abraham, if one went to them from the dead they will repent. If they hear not Moses and the prophets they will not be persuaded, though one rose from the dead they will not be persuaded.”