Oct 26, 2011

Just a Story I Wrote Early This Morning for Some Reason or Other ...

Imagine for a moment being alive back when Jesus was preaching through the streets of Jerusalem.  He's healing people and setting captives free right in front of you. And you, the good Jew that you are, have been waiting for the Messiah ever since you could remember. Suddenly, you see him.  There he is! The Christ! The Messiah! Rushing toward him, you throw yourself at his feet and worship. He, being the loving Savior that he is, bends down and places his hand on your shoulder, assuring you that your sins are forgiven.  With tears of joy you begin shouting out praises to him. All in all, it's looking like a banner day in your life. 

A few days later, tragedy strikes your home. Your only child, your son Abram, came down with a high fever. The local doctor warned that it was most severe and may lead to death. Your heart sinks. But then, you begin to remember that Jesus was nearby. Perhaps, he would help. 

Two days later, you finally find Jesus and push through the crowd to talk with him. Since you have been hearing and seeing all of the miraculous wonders and blessings he has been bestowing onto all who ask, you reach out to him, on your knees, and beg him, if he would be so inclined, to heal your dying son. 

Jesus, with eyes filled with compassion, says to you that your son will not die. Overjoyed, thankful, and filled with a burning faith, you thank him and rush home to see your son. However, as you approach the house you can hear wails of anguish and tears of sadness coming from your tiny home. To your disbelief, Abram has died. You throw yourself upon your son’s body and weep. 

Confused, angry, and full of pain, you rush out to find Jesus. However, when you do discover him, it is impossible to talk with him because of the size of the crowd. You desperately want to shout out to him that he must have forgotten to heal your child, but there is just too much drama going on between him and the local Pharisees.  Tears of frustration stream down your cheeks. What happened? What went wrong?

A woman, who you've seen near the Messiah, walks up to you and asks if you are OK. You explain yourself to her and she smiles. 

"If the Master said your son will not die, then he will not die," she says. "And I should know. My very own brother, who is very close to the heart of our Master, once became deathly ill. We sent word to Jesus that the one whom he loved was sick, knowing that he would rush back and heal him. However, he sent word back and told us that the sickness would not end in death. Since our Master does not lie we trusted him at his word. But, our brother died anyway. We were so confused and hurt. Four days later the Master finally came to our house. We had already buried my dear brother Lazarus.  I ran out to meet Jesus and told him if he would have been here my brother would not have died."

"What did he say?" you ask.

"He said that my brother would rise again."

"At the resurrection, of course,” you interject.

"That's what I said. But then the Lord told me that he is the Resurrection and the Life and that any who believe in him will not die."

"Amazing," you say. "Then what happened?"

"He told us to remove Lazarus' tomb stone.”

“No way!”

“Yes way!” she says to you with eyes wide open. “And then he called him forth from the tomb and Lazarus came back to life!"

"Impossible," you say as you find yourself jumping up and down. 

"It's true," she says. "In fact, there's my brother Lazarus over there. Go and ask him. He'll tell you what it was like being called out from the land of the dead by the Master."

You stare at the crowd of people and pretend that you know which person she is pointing toward. 

"So you're telling me that because Jesus said my son would not die, but he did, he's going to resurrect him? And not just at the resurrection, but here and now?"

"That's how it worked for me," she said. "Do you believe Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life?"

"Of course I do." 

As you hear the words coming from your mouth you realize that hope and faith have returned to you. Visions of Jesus returning to your house to raise your son from the dead flood your mind and heart. 

After thanking Martha for her kind words, you strive to make eye contact with Jesus. He is engaged in great conversation with the local religious teachers. However, for just a moment, it seemed that he looked out toward you and smiled. With a renewed faith, you return home and encourage your friends and family.  For you know that, any day now, Jesus is going to show up and call your son forward from his grave. Your friends and family, out of compassion for your loss, encourage you and say they are hoping for this miracle as well. 

After four days you begin to worry.  You begin to wonder that, perhaps, the Master doesn't know where you live. You decide to head out and find him. 

Walking out the door, you are quickly greeted by a troubled neighbor. He tells you that Jesus had been arrested. You feel an odd relief realizing that his arrest explains his delay in coming to your house. Yet, panic and fear begin to ebb away at your remaining hope. 

"Well, I pray they release him soon," you say, "for my boy's sake."

Your neighbor gives you a wry smile and patronizingly pats you on your back.

The next day you find yourself in the throes of one of the most dramatic days in Jerusalem that you have ever experienced. There is a demand for Jesus to be crucified. More confusion fills your heart. You know he cannot die for he promised to heal your son. Plus, he's the Messiah. What is going on? 

The next day you watch your hope die as you see Jesus the Messiah crucified. You prayed for God to intervene, to stop the madness of crucifying the Master. How could God allow this to happen? During your humble laments toward God you beg him to save Jesus for his sake, the sake of others, and to fulfill his promise of raising your son back from the dead. 

An earthquake rattles you off your feet. 

Sitting there, angry, hurt, and sad, you see a friend of yours who you haven't talked with in some time walk over toward you. You begin to catch up on all that has happened since last you saw each other. He cries at the news about the death of your son and shakes his head trying to come to grips with the reality of all that was going on.

As the two of you sit on the ground among the large crowd that had gathered to witness the crucifixion, he begins to tell you about his life since last you’ve met. He had become one of John the Baptizer's disciples and followed him up to the time of his beheading. 

"It crushed me," he said. "How could Jesus allow John, who did everything he was supposed to, who was righteous and holy, to die?"

"I heard they were cousins," you say.

"Yeah. You know, John told us to start following Jesus. He said that he was the Messiah. The One he had been preparing the way for. But then John got arrested. At first, we thought it would not last. Herod would even have John come and preach to him and his guests. And Jesus was rising in popularity and doing miracles and teaching. So we knew Jesus would either rescue him or Herod would let him go."

"What do you think went wrong?" you ask.

"I dunno. But one thing happened that truly troubled me. I visited John from time to time in prison. One day he asked me, and a couple other brothers, to go to Jesus and ask if he truly was the Messiah."

"What?" you ask. "John's the one who told everybody that Jesus is the Messiah. Plus, think about all the miracles he performed!"

"I know. I didn't know what to tell John or Jesus. John was pretty worn down in prison. He was tired and losing faith. He couldn't see what was going on behind his prison's walls."

"So what did you do?"

"Well, I went and told Jesus what John said."

"That must have been awkward. What did Jesus say?"

"He said that no one who’s ever been born is as great as John. He told us that he is the Elijah who was to come. And then he told me to tell John that the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised, and the Good News is preached to the poor."

"The dead raised?" you say. "Jesus promised me that my son would not die. And he did. But now, Jesus is dying on that cross. What is going on? Jesus wouldn't lie to me. Would he? Why is God allowing all of this to happen? Did Jesus forget about my boy? Did Jesus intend to help but didn't know this was going to happen to him? Why won't God step in and fix all of this?"

"If it helps, let me tell you one other thing Jesus told me to tell John."

"What's that?" you ask, feeling the tears return to your eyes.

"He told us to tell John that blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of him."

"On account of Jesus?"


"What's that mean?"

"We came to the conclusion that, especially seeing how John was in prison facing the possibility of death, anyone is blessed who does not allow their situation to hinder them from following and praising God."

"Huh. That's interesting."

"It's also realizing that Jesus is saying he might actually be the one allowing or, as confusing as it sounds, causing the problems to happen in your life."

"That's crazy."

"It's a hard teaching, that's for sure," he says. 

At that moment, Jesus cried out in a loud voice and died.

The two of you head home in silence and grief. All of it was too much to take in. You hug your friend farewell and walk into your home and sit down. In total silence you stare out a small window. You cannot even formulate words to your thoughts. As a great feeling of hopelessness overpowers you, a growing anger begins to rise from within. How could the Lord allow any of this to happen? Has he abandoned you? Is there sin in your life that merited this outcome? Was Jesus just a man? Were you a simple fool to believe in miracles, hope, and God? If Jesus purposely allowed your son to die and, though he said it wouldn't happen, are you going to allow the falseness of Christ to keep you from following God? Or is there something you're forgetting? Maybe Jesus meant that he would, much like Martha said, raise your boy at the resurrection. But why did Jesus die? He did perform miracles. He taught like no one you have ever heard. The love and compassion that flowed out from him literally captivated your soul. You gave him your life. Your trust. Your hope. Your faith. And then you begin to realize that you have been ignoring the simple truth that your son, Abram, was dead. You have been ignoring this reality by trying to find out how Jesus was going to create a miracle in your life. 

You stay up the whole night crying out to God, remembering the life of your son, reflecting on all that has happened, and play your lute in order to find some form of comfort. Oddly, you find yourself singing about the great miracles of God. You sing of how he rescued the Israelites, using the very hands of Moses and Aaron. You cry. You laugh. You yell. And you sing. 

As the morning sun lights up your small home, you head outside to stretch your legs. An entire night of crying has left you parched, swollen, and depressed. You find yourself walking aimlessly around the city. Though the beauty of the morning would normally cause you to stare in wonder, it all looks dark and gloomy through your pained eyes. 

Curiosity or coincidence, you’re not sure which, takes you outside the city gates near Golgotha where Jesus was crucified. There seems to be some commotion. You can see people running each direction and shouting out to others. You discover that the body of Jesus is gone. The large stone placed before his tomb had been rolled away. There were Romans soldiers placed on guard throughout the night to prevent people from robbing his body, but they, crazy as it sounds, all fell asleep. Then you start to hear rumors that someone actually saw Jesus alive. However, you heard that it was a woman who saw him and you quickly put no faith in it being true. 

The one thing that truly fascinates you is how all of the soldiers fell asleep. You have heard stories about how they could be executed for such failure. 

Heading home, you see a group of people around the Ben Josef family's house. Itzak Ben Josef was a family friend who died last year. You haven't been to his family’s house since his funeral. Walking over to see what was the cause of all the ruckus, you realize that they are all hugging a man who greatly resembles Itzak. You introduce yourself to the man saying that you knew Itzak well and assume that he must have been a twin brother or close cousin. Instantly, the man hugs you and kisses you calling you by name and declaring that he is, in fact, Itzak Ben Josef. He has been raised from the dead. You start to laugh and push him gently aside. 

"Nice try," you say. "I admit you look just like him. But, come on."

Others gather around the man and you find yourself out of any conversation with him. Most of the people around Itzak are crying out and praising God. Some do not look convinced. You head home shaking your head. 

When you get to your house there is a group of people gathered around your home as well. You stop in your tracks. They are praising God, laughing, and crying. A man walks up beside you and asks what is going on in your home. 

"I'm not sure. But I think I know."

"That's an odd statement," he says. 

"Yeah. I really don't know what is going on. I feel …  weird."

"Well, don't let me keep you from experiencing any hope that might be rising up in your heart right now. I don't want to hinder you from following whatever the Lord has in store for you."

"Excuse me?" you say, half listening, and not really acknowledging the man. 

"Why don't you go find out what's going on in your house?"

"I think I will," you say to the man as you turn to him. But he is already walking in another direction. 

Gently, you walk toward your home. You listen to each comment made from those gathered around. You can hear your heart beating as you hope that the soon approaching reality of the situation is real. 

Suddenly, you hear one of your neighbors shout that you were home. The news of your arrival caused all of them to exit your house and surround you. 

"What is going on?" you ask, half knowing, half hoping. "Why are you all here?"

They clear a small path for you amidst the crowd. At the end of the path is your boy. He has come home. 

Joy explodes from within you as your squeeze your son and lavish him with kisses and tears. 

“Poppa,” he says, “I was dead. Now I’m not.”

“Apparently,” you say laughing, not quite able to take in the reality of the miracle you are experiencing. 

Then it strikes you. The man you saw on the road caused a strange burning inside you as if you knew who he was but could not bring yourself to acknowledge it. You look back down the street where you believe he went and, for just a brief second, see him looking back toward you and smile. 

“Poppa,” your son says while still being held in your arms.

“Yes?” you say.

“I’m hungry.”

“Well, then, why don’t we get you something to eat?”

Your friends and family gather around your tiny house as you prepare a meal for your son. You received your miracle. The Master kept his word. Unable to contain yourself anymore, you grab your lute and sing, and sing, and sing. Everyone starts dancing around you. It was as if heaven itself was in your home. And, perhaps, it was. 



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