This month we’ve traveled a slightly different path as we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus. I hope you’ve enjoyed these historical fictional accounts of some of the events in Jesus’ life. But most of all, I hope you’ve been inspired to consider reading the gospels with fresh eyes. As you read, see what each person in the story might see. Feel what they might have felt. Become the director of the movie that will no doubt play in your head. Scripture wins the prize as the greatest adventure of all!
I’m taking some time off, but you’ll find me back here on January 9th. To read Part 4, the last of our “Just Jesus Stories”, head on over to Lean Into Jesus Ministries today. May your Christmas be filled with an abundance of love and peace.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
(a fictional account)
He lay motionless on the ground. Soft footsteps in the distance slowly replaced fading memories of cries and jeers. Comfort as warm as a soft blanket on an icy night washed over his once-mangled body. Light seeped through the edges of his closed eyes as his mind gently revived. Eyelids fluttered, struggling to protect themselves from the brightness. Footsteps, now closer, brought with them the form of a man.
“Hello, Friend. You can open your eyes now. We are both here.”
With squinting eyes, Friend looked up to see the backlit face he was hoping to see. “Jesus! Is it really you?”
“Yes. I told you we would be together.”
“So, this is … ?”
“Paradise. Just like I promised.” Jesus responded.
Friend sat up, trying to take it all in at once. His eyes darted around quickly, but then back at Jesus. He couldn’t bear to take his eyes off of Him. The last time he had seen Jesus He was hanging on a cross next to his.
They, along with one other man, had been tried, found guilty, and sentenced to die by crucifixion. Two were guilty, but Jesus’ only “crime” was claiming to be the Son of God. Friend certainly didn’t doubt that now.
“Jesus, thank you for saving me. I knew the day I saw you enter Jerusalem riding on that donkey, you were special. Being a runaway slave, I just wanted to blend in with the crowd of Jews coming to Jerusalem for Passover. That’s when I saw the crowd waving the palm branches, lining your entrance into the city. I had stolen a little food and money from my master to escape his abuse. Little did I know, he would also be in Jerusalem. I listened as the crowd shouted, ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’ I was so intrigued I sought out a couple of your followers, and they told me all about you healing the lame, the blind, and the sick. They explained that you really were the son of God. When they told me about how you raised a man named Lazarus from the dead, I began to believe their claims might really be true. That’s when I ran into my master, accompanied by some of my slave friends. They took hold of me, and had me thrown in jail. The court quickly condemned me to hang on a cross.”
By this time, Jesus had taken a seat next to Friend. Just being able to sit and talk as friends warmed both their hearts. Not only was there a smile on Jesus’ lips, but His eyes smiled like none Friend had ever seen before. He listened carefully as Friend continued.
“I was scared when they chained us to the post to be flogged and scourged. The soldiers seemed to enjoy the pain they were causing. When the crossbeams were tied to our shoulders, I didn’t think I’d be able to stand. There was such great relief when we finally made it to the top of the hill, even though I knew what came next. I can still hear the hammer striking the nails over and over again. I passed out at some point – the pain was too great. As I revived, we were all being lifted up. When I looked over at you, there wasn’t a spot on your face that wasn’t covered in blood. But, even through the pain, I saw paradise in your eyes. They reflected your Father’s love. There is so much I don’t understand. Please, tell me about your Father. ”
Talking about God the Father was a subject Jesus never tired of. He smiled at his friend, and said, “I’m the part of God that’s easier for you to understand. I became human, so you and all mankind would have something to relate to – a pattern to follow. The Father loves you so much He sent me to teach you a more excellent way of living. I was the last sacrifice. My blood cleanses past, present, and future sins. When I took my last breath everything changed.”
Friend responded, “I saw that last breath. The sky darkened and the earth shook. Even the centurion standing in front of you said, ‘Surely he was the Son of God.’”
Jesus continued, “As a man, I was limited by time and space, but now that I live again with God, He has sent my Spirit to live inside each believer. Each one is capable of sharing my heart and soul with non-believers. Wherever they go, I go. Their purpose is to share how my work on the cross set them free from their sins. When they tell their own stories of God’s redeeming love, some will think it sounds foolish …” Jesus eyes smiled even brighter as He finished, “But to those who are being saved it is the very power of God. That is why I was so proud of the way you stood up for me with your last few breaths. When you told the third man on the cross that I had done nothing wrong, you proved you had paid attention to what my disciples had said to you. I saw you in the crowd the day I entered Jerusalem, and I knew we would see each other again soon. Thank you for standing up for me. I am so glad you’re here.”
Jesus stood, and extended His hand to Friend to help him up. “Now, come with me. I have someone I want you to meet.”
As they walked, the light grew even brighter.
(Taken from Everyday Heroes: Old, New, and Even You by Donna Jackson)
” Who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5)
“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7)
To read part 4, click here.