Marty Delmon Sample Stories
Hello, allow me to introduce myself, I am Martha and I live in the first Christian century of Israel. I am not the Martha you read about in the Bible; she lives down in Bethany. I have to be quick to tell people that, otherwise they confuse me with her. My husband’s name is Simon and he is a tanner. But he is not Simon the tanner in the Bible, either. That Simon lives in Joppa; you can see how confusing it could get. Simon and I and our three boys, Nathaneal 12, Jason 10 and Tobias 8 live in Capernaum the north shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Capernaum is one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire. If you’ve been to Israel your tour guide showed you where Peter lives in Capernaum and we live right down the block from him. Between us, on the other side of the street is the house of Jesus.
I remember the day He moved in. He came from Nazareth with all his belongings in a cart pulled by a donkey. No one paid much attention; I was out in my courtyard beating a rug, that’s how I happened to notice him. I’m a rather shy person but I do like to keep up on what is happening in the neighborhood. That house always had interesting people staying in it. The house is owned by some rich landowner down in Cana. I don’t even know his name but he sends his friends to stay in his house quite often, although he rarely comes himself.
Nobody much noticed Jesus when he arrived but from that day on everyone began noticing him. He right away started teaching in the synagogues, first in ours then in all the neighboring ones. He not only taught he performed actual miracles. People were getting healed, personalities were changing, disciples started attaching themselves to Jesus. Even our neighbors Peter and his brother Andrew and their business partners James and John started following Jesus leaving James and John’s father Zebedee to run the fishing business all by himself. You would think that with four of the five partners all following Jesus around that the business would fail, but it didn’t, in fact it flourished.
Pretty soon, whenever Jesus was in town, there was a mob scene at his house. It was hard to get a cart through the crowds in the street. The Sadduccees and the Pharisees, the scribes and the rabbis all came to question him. They tried to trap him in his teaching but you know they never could. Then in front of his house people brought their sick and dying loved ones for Jesus to heal.
I never spoke to Jesus but I witnessed everything that happened there. I would watch out the window or stand in the crowd. Signs and wonders were always happening. We believed Jesus to be a great teacher and a great mystical master and here he was living right on our street. It was a wonderful time to be alive. Excitement fairly rippled through the air.
News travels fast in Israel. I know you think your television gets news to you quickly, but you have nothing on us. When something important happens, like down in Jerusalem, runners take off for each village and by the end of the day everyone in Israel knows about it. Word of mouth is still the best way to pass information around.
One time, Jesus went down to Jerusalem for one of the feasts. While he was there we heard that John the Baptist had been beheaded. We were accustomed to the Romans crucifying people but never had we heard of beheading. Not in Israel. We were horrified! How barbaric! But the biggest tragedy was that it had happened to Jesus’ first cousin.
Late the next day Jesus and his disciples came into town and as an act of respect we all came out of our homes and our shops and stood by the road, some of us crying as he passed by. Jesus and his disciples looked tired by they smiled kindly at us. They went into Jesus’ house and shut the door. All of us from the neighborhood milled around in the street, not knowing what to do for this beloved man.
Rufus, the candle maker, had his ear up to the window to hear what was going on inside. He heard Jesus tell his disciples that early the next morning they would take the boat and sail over to the Golan Heights and go up into the hills for a rest. Rufus whispered this news back to all of us and a great stirring took place among the people. We all wanted to go with him and mourn with him over this terrible loss.
I ran home and found Simon in his tanning shop and asked if we could go up to the Golan Heights with everyone else. He said he had work up to the eyeballs but I could take the boys if I wanted to go. So before dawn the next day I packed lunches for each of us, put them in knapsacks, giving each boy his own to carry,
set out meals for Simon and the boys and I headed around the lake to the Golan Heights.
We weren’t the first ones to leave the city. Many others were making the same trip. Lake Galilee isn’t that large so we could see Jesus and his disciples push off from the shore in one of Peter’s fishing boats. We watched them catch the wind and sail to the shore of the Golan Heights. There must have been thousands of us walking around the lake.
We found Jesus and his disciples about mid-morning. They were seated up in the hills in a little valley and all of us scattered across the hillside above them. My boys took off with their friends. They were safe and they had their lunches with them. I worked my way to the edge of the crowd to be near to Jesus. He and his disciples watched us gather and when the bulk of us had arrived about mid-day Jesus compassionately stood to teach us about the Kingdom of God.
He said it was as close to us as our fingertips. Merely for the asking we could enter the Kingdom of God. He taught us that God loves us passionately and God’s heart’s desire is to become one with us, to live in us and be closer than brothers. He said God wants to meet us on a very personal level and speak with us intimately about all our desires and needs. Then Jesus began healing people, calling them out from the crowd, telling them what the matter was and pronouncing their healing over them.
As the day wore on and evening was approaching Jesus asked one of his disciples, I believe his name is Philip, “How will we feed all these people?” I could see by the look on Philip’s face that he was dumbfounded.
He said, “Lord, we have 200 denarii, but I would have to go all the way back to Capernaum to find this much bread. There must be 5000 people here.”
And Jesus asked, “What do you have to eat?”
And then to my utter horror I saw my youngest son, little Tobias, walk up and hand Jesus the lunch I had packed for him. I wondered why he hadn’t eaten it at noon like I’m sure his brothers did but more than that I wondered how my son could shame me like this! I knew what was in that knapsack! Two dried fish and five little barley loaves! That was no kind of a lunch for a great master. Jesus should be given fig cakes and sugared dates, at least fresh fish and maybe roasted lamb.
I was blushing so much I put my apron over my face and peeked around to see what Jesus would do. Jesus took the lunch from Tobias, smiled at him and said, “This is enough.” He told the disciples to have us sit in groups of fifty and a hundred. We looked like a great army. We didn’t understand we just obeyed the master, and then Jesus lifted those two dried fish and five little barley loaves to heaven. He could hold it all in his two hands and he blessed it.
He started breaking it into little pieces and he gave the pieces to his disciples to pass among the people. They kept passing and passing and passing until all five thousand people were not only fed, but satisfied. I rose up on my knees while they were passing, watching them. I knew what a small lunch that had been. It came from my cupboard. I had dried that fish and baked those loaves with my own hands. What could be the explanation for this abundance?
My mouth had dropped open, my hands hung limp at my side and then I looked at Jesus. He was looking straight at me. His eyes seemed to pierce me and suddenly I knew. Still today I know it in my heart better than I know my own name. Jesus is more than a great teacher, He is more than a great mystical master, He is the Messiah! The One we have been waiting for, the King come down from heaven, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace! Love shown in His eyes, love that melted my heart. I committed myself to Him at that moment and I have never pulled back.
Jesus asked my son to stand up. He turned Tobias to face the crowd and put his hands on his shoulders. He asked if anyone knew the boy. Many neighbors indicated that yes, they knew Tobias. And Jesus asked if they would loan the boy their basket so the disciples could collect the leftover pieces of bread. That way the baskets could be returned and twelve baskets were passed to the front.
And when the disciples collected the remaining bread all twelve baskets were completely filled to overflowing. Then Jesus dismissed us. He said, “Go home. This is a time of rest for my disciples and myself.” Many people rebelled; they started chanting about making him King. It almost turned into a riot until Jesus sent the disciples back to the boat to go home and he himself slipped away into the rocks in the mountains.
I went up front to collect my boys. My Messiah had said go home and I was going to obey him. Tobias’ face shown with excitement, “Did you see what he did, Mom?”
Nathanael and Jason came running to us, “How did he do that?”
“He’s God!” I told them, “He can do anything He wants.”
Each of my sons and I carried three baskets. We didn’t know what to do with all the bread but as we started down the mountain and around the Sea of Galilee we stopped at all the little villages along the way. We passed out the morsels of bread to everyone we saw and told them what Jesus had done that day with Tobias’ lunch. By the time we arrived home only one fragment of bread was left which I had saved for Simon.
It must have been midnight when we arrived. The boys were so tired they could barely walk. A lantern was shining through the windows of our house which I thought was strange until I opened the door. Every possible surface of the room including the floor was covered with parcels and containers of food. There were fig cakes, sugared dates, dried fish, almonds, olives, olive oil, lentils, onions, leeks, capers, grape leaves, apricots, oh much, much more than that.
I shook Simon to wake him up. I asked him, “Where did all this food come from?”
“I don’t know, Martha, I thought you would know. I closed up the tannery about nine o’clock and came into the house. I ate the supper you had left for me and was sitting at the table, yawning, about to go to bed when someone knocked on the door. He said he had just ground some meal and wanted to share it with us. When he left someone else came and handed me another parcel. And then a whole stream of people began knocking on the door one at a time. It seemed like when one left another came. I didn’t have time to sit down in between. When I would answer the door they would thrust their package in my hand and say something like, ‘I was thinking of you and wanted to share this with you.’ Then they would be gone.”
Tears filled my eyes. I understood. It was so simple. My son, in childlike innocence, had given Jesus all he had to give. Jesus multiplied that gift to the people and back to us as well. We took those twelve baskets of bread and gave them with simplicity and sincerity of heart to all we could reach on the way home. Jesus, my Messiah, is my provider. My own Jehovah Jireh had multiplied our giving back to us. Everything I will ever need is to be found in Him. There will never be a lack in my life. I will give Him my simple little gifts and He will make them into something beautiful.
My friends in the 21st century, you in the listening audience, let me ask you a question. Is Jesus your provider? He can only be your provider if you do things his way. Is your heart simple and sincere, or do you try to get something for nothing? Are you a giver? Or are you a manipulator for your own gain? The Bible says “Give and it will be given unto you good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will he put into your bosom. For with the same measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
My son Tobias gave a simple little gift, two fish and five loaves. But it was what Jesus needed at the time. Ask Jesus what He needs at this time. He needs gifts for His people. If you measure your gift with stinginess and manipulation then that is how you will receive in return.
If you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, say a simple prayer like this: Jesus, I want you to be my Lord. Please forgive me of my sins. I give you the gift of my life right now. Amen.