Their young eyes open wide. They stop breathing as they listen closely. I want them to know about a rule of law that can easily put them in prison for a lifetime.
I explain this to every juvenile I represent, but that law can also hit your child or grandchild, no matter how well you’ve reared them. Here’s the felony murder rule, although it can vary state to state.
Let’s say your son is with a friend, who decides to play a prank on the old man working at Tom Thumb.
Your son hesitates. The friend laughs and explains, saying no one will get hurt. So your son drives there.
The friend goes inside, buys snacks, and pays for them. While the register is still open, he points to a dollar he’s previously dropped on the floor.
“Is that yours?” the kid asks.
As the oldster steps sideways and reaches down, the kid gently nudges him and the man falls to his knees. The kid then pockets a dollar from the register.
“Let me help you up,” the kid says.
“No, I tripped over my own dang feet!” the embarrassed old man says.
Later, both boys are arrested for murder. The old man died on the floor, and such a death in the commission of a robbery is felony murder.
“Know who you’re with.” My mom said those words daily.
The Gospels of Matthew and Mark suggest that Jesus randomly chose His disciples, calling four fishermen as He walks along the sea. My Bible labels both sections: “Jesus Begins His Ministry.” (Matthew 4:12, Mark 1:14)
But that call to the fishermen occurs after John the Baptist has been arrested and a lot happened before John was arrested that Matthew and Mark don’t tell us. John gives us that part of Jesus’ life in the fourth Gospel. It seems that Jesus first met Andrew and then his brother, Peter, by the Jordan while John is baptizing there.
Immediately, they believe He’s the Messiah. Jesus then calls Philip, who lives in Bethsaida where Peter and Andrew live, and then Philip brings Nathaniel. Later we learn that James and John are fishing partners with Andrew and Peter. (John 1-3)
See how interrelated the first six are? Not random choices. And Jesus probably knew James and John as relatives, which I’ll discuss in detail in a minute.
On top of that, we learn that all 12 of the disciples have another thing in common. Days after the Resurrection, when Jesus leads his disciples to a mount near Jerusalem and ascends to heaven, an angel appears to the disciples. Listen to what he says: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?” (Acts 1:11)
See anything unusual? Look again.
They’re in Judea which is in the south. Jesus ministered throughout Judea, but he lived far to the north in Galilee. Read the angel’s words once more. “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?”
See it now?
All of the disciples are Galileans. They aren’t Judeans, they’re from where Jesus lived. In other words, those Jesus chose, those he surrounded himself with are boys from the ‘hood.
We think John is the youngest of the 12, yet it’s only Peter, James, and John whom Jesus takes to certain sacred events. Why would Jesus trust the youngest?
It’s the first evidence that John and Jesus are cousins.
We know that Zebedee is John’s father (Matthew 4:21), and Salome is probably John’s mother. (Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40)
John carefully protects her, never mentioning Salome by name in his Gospel. John doesn’t mention himself by name either.
He doesn’t mention Salome at the Crucifixion nor the Resurrection. But she was there. Both Matthew and Mark clearly state that John’s mom was at the Crucifixion. And despite John’s determined silence, Mark says Salome went to the tomb early that morning with Mary Magdalene. (John 20:1, Mark 16:1)
John does name three of the four women at the Crucifixion but carefully substitutes a description for the fourth woman, presumably his mother. And he calls her the sister Jesus’ mother. That would make Salome Jesus’ aunt. (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25)
That relationship would explain why Jesus oddly leaves his mother to John’s care instead of the care of his brother, James. It would be so Mary could be with her sister, Salome.
We also know that it’s John’s mother who knelt before Jesus, asking that her two boys sit on Jesus’ right and left hands. That sounds like a relative, boldly asking that Jesus choose His relatives to be His closest. (Matthew 20:20 ff)
We’ll never know all the reasons Jesus chose His disciples, but He had one friend who was bad news—Judas the thief. Judas betrays Him.
Teach your children to choose friends wisely. Innocent people go to prison every day because of bad companions.
Surround yourself with devout Christians. Make your ‘hood those strong in the Lord.
Copyright 2019 R.A. Mathews.
The Rev. Mathews is a faith columnist, attorney and the author of Reaching to God. Write to her at [email protected].