Category Archives: Resurrection

Peace with God

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled. (Psalm 6:2 ESV)

These words describe part of what Jesus endured as He was executed, hanging on the cross. When He was given to the Roman executioners, His physical torment began. They tortured Him to death. Roman executions began with the humiliation of scourging and ended with the beaten and broken body of the condemned hanging on a cross, exposed, until death. Pilate released a known criminal and Jesus, an innocent man, having never sinned, was murdered. “Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified” (Matthew 27:26 ESV; see Luke 23:25). 

Jesus knew what would happen to Him. On many occasions, He predicted His manner of death. “They will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified” (Matthew 20:19 ESV). During His execution, Jesus was so physically battered and weakened from the scourging He could barely walk, let alone carry the beam to which they would attach Him with spikes. “As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross” (Matthew 27:32 ESV; see Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26). 

Jesus died on the cross, but the two crucified with Him remained alive. Passover was near, so the religious leaders asked the Romans to break the legs of the others so they would die before Passover. The Romans did not break Jesus’ legs. His bones, His limbs and body, was troubled, stressed by the turmoil of the experience, but not one of His bones were broken. “For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken’” (John 19:36 ESV; see Psalm 34:20). 

David’s words perfectly describe Jesus’ experience. His body was abused to the point of exhaustion and death. He had no strength left to live, which was the intent of the Roman executioners. His bones were disjointed. But more than the physical torment of His body, He faced the immediate presence of sin and its eternal consequences, which is separation from God. Jesus bore the brunt of our condemnation for sin, both physically and spiritually. Jesus did not remain separated from God. He fulfilled the just sentence for rebellion, and then was resurrected by God and brought into His presence. 

God showered His grace and mercy upon Jesus once His sacrifice accomplished the purpose of God. Gracious means to show favor and pity, to have mercy upon. Healmeans to make healthy and restore to wholeness from the sufferings and injuries inflicted. Jesus died. Jesus was raised from death. Jesus now sits at God’s right hand making intercession for those who are His. “Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2 ESV). 

Paul also declares our Intercessor has God’s ear.

“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us”

(Roman s 8:33-34 ESV)

Isaiah, 700 years before the birth of Messiah, tells us the same.

“Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12 ESV).Though physically assaulted and executed, Jesus’ death purchased peace with God for those called by God into His presence. God is gracious to Jesus and those who have taken refuge in Him.

Head and Heel

Studies in Genesis 3

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 ESV)

What does the word “seed” or “offspring” mean? How is it used in relation to both creatures? What does it mean to “bruise” heel and head.

For the woman, the word offspring means children. But not just the immediate children of the woman. It means all of the descendants which will come from her because she is the first woman. It could also mean one individual who will come from her somewhere down the line of descendants.

For the Deceiver, the word seed or descendants is not it’s offspring through physical union of male and female but those who decide to follow, emulate and be trained by the Deceiver to hate God. Many of the descendants of the woman will also be descendants of the Deceiver.

To bruise means to fall upon or crush. God, through one of the descendants of the first woman, will finish the war begun against Him. The Deceiver will strike out and hurt the One who is coming. It will wound Him but will not defeat Him. He will fall upon the Deceiver’s head, crushing it and ultimately defeating the being who rebelled against God.

We now know this statement is a prophecy of Messiah, fulfilled in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. From the moment Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit the Deceiver began its assault against Jesus in the vain exercise of trying to kill Him.  From requiring a pregnant woman to move a great distance riding a donkey, to Herod seeking to kill Him when he was a child, to the temptations of Christ and His passion, the Deceiver sought ways to stop God from fulfilling His promises. Nothing can hinder God’s will. He used all of the devious tricks of the Deceiver to fulfill prophecy and finish His will.

Ultimately, the Deceiver struck at Christ’s heel, hurting Him but not killing Him. Jesus was tortured to death on a Roman cross. But His resurrection followed His death and finished His work of redemption.

We are still deeply embedded in a struggle, a rebellion, fueled by the hatred of the Deceiver. God has tried, judged and sentenced the Deceiver, who is not awaiting the execution of the sentence. During this time, the conflict rages as God separates those who are not His from those who are.

Breath of Life

Studies in Genesis 2

Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Genesis 2:7 ESV)

God filled Man’s nostrils with a puff of His breath and the dry clay and dust He formed into the shape of a Man came alive. That which was not alive, lived.

Ezekiel had a vision of a valley of dry bones. It was not uncommon for a victorious army to take their captives to the top of a cliff and throw them off. Exposed to the weather and the carrion it would not take long for the flesh to be stripped off the bones and the sun to bake them dry. God showed Ezekiel a pile of that which had lived but was now dead.

God’s question suggests a “yes or no” answer. “And he said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’” But that is not the answer Ezekiel gives. “And I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, you know’” (Ezekiel 37:3 ESV). Ezekiel cannot bring these who have died back to life. No one created by God can bring back to life that which has died. Does he think God cannot? Though we carry the image of God we are not God. Only God can give life.

Then God tells Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones. A prophet tells the truth, whether about what is before them or about the future. Only God can give the truth about the future. When God commanded Ezekiel to prophesy He was telling him to tell the truth about what will happen to these dead, dry bones.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 37:4-6 ESV)

 God assembled the bones into people and covered them with muscle and flesh. But they were not alive. They were still dead.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” (Ezekiel 37:9 ESV)

“Breathe on these slain, that they may live.” “Breathe” is the same word used in Genesis 2:7. “Live” is closely related to the word “living” used in Genesis 2:7.

God told Ezekiel to tell the truth about what God was going to do and then did. Only God gives life. Yet, God uses people to deliver His truth and act upon His will.

Jesus, when He sent out the twelve, instructed them to tell the truth about the coming of the kingdom of heaven. He told them to announce “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7 ESV). He then gave them authority to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay” (Matthew 10:8 ESV). His disciples raised the dead. Those who died and could not live were given the breath of life and lived.

God tells us the truth throughout Scripture. He took a handful of dust and breathed on it and Man lived. Adam, the first Man, knew God. He told Ezekiel to tell the truth and those who were slain were given life. When they were raised they knew God. “And you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 37:6 ESV).  Jesus gave His disciples authority to tell the truth and raise the dead. Jesus told the truth about His death and His resurrection. All of the circumstantial evidence, from the beginning of the history of Man to now, tells us the truth of His resurrection and validates every word God has said. Jesus’ disciples know God and are His witnesses of truth to the world.

God Finishes

Studies in Genesis 2

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:1-3 ESV)

God has accomplished the unimaginable. Finite minds cannot comprehend the eternal work of God, who surrounds the universe and has intimate knowledge of every atom and molecule contained therein.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 ESV). He began his work of creation. Nothing existed except God prior to creation. There was no universe. Then there was. He created matter, ex nihilo, out of nothing. Every atom and particle of matter came into existence at the direction and authority of God. Our universe is a closed system. Nothing inside of it can get out of it and nothing outside of it can get in. Except for God, the Creator.
What God begins He finishes. God uses the word “finished” twice in these verses.

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished.”

“God finished his work that he had done.”

“Finished” is a verb and is used 223 times. It is translated using a variety of English words in the King James version. It is also translated “consumed” or “consume” and “end” “fail” “done” “accomplished” “spent” “determined” and many other words. It can mean “consummated” “accomplished” “fulfilled” and “wasted away,” “exhausted,” “to come to an end,” “to perish” or “be destroyed.” What does God mean by describing what He has done with this word?

These are the first two instances of this word in the Scripture. Our tendency is to use all of the instances of the word to determine its meaning, with order and placement holding little account. Yet, this is the first time the word is used and God is using the word, twice, to describe what He has done. Perhaps we should give placement in Scripture more emphasis when seeking to understand the meaning of a word. Especially when the word is used by God in His description of Creation. He has not failed in His work but accomplished all He determined to do. He has not consumed anything but has brought all things into existence. His energy and resources are not spent because He cannot exhaust Himself. Does He finish creation to then simply destroy it?

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35 ESV). Jesus explicitly states there is an end to creation. That which has a physical beginning also has a physical ending. Yet, God did not created Man in His image for any to cease to exist.
Jesus also finished His work in tortured agony on the cross. “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30 ESV). “Finished” is an echo of what God has done in creation. There is no more to do because all He has determined to do has been accomplished.

There is a physical end to the physical universe. There is a physical death to that which lives in the physical universe. Jesus was raised from physical death to spiritual life. So, those who are His, when they physically die are raised to eternal spiritual life. A physical end to the physical universe does not mean the end of existence.

God finishes that which He begins and that which He accomplishes carries the eternal, unmistakably vibrant mark of God.

Illustrations of Righteousness

Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another. [Mark 9:50 ESV]

Illustrations used by Jesus are meant to drive home the point of His teachings.

Jesus has just come from being transfigured, changed back into who He really is, and then expels a demon from a child. He then explicitly tells His disciples what is going to happen. “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise” [Mark 9:31 ESV].

While they are walking, seeming to forget all which had just occurred, they argue amongst themselves about which of them is greater in the kingdom. Jesus tells them the greatest in the kingdom are those who serve, who place God before anything and anyone else. He draws a child into His arms and tells them whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me” [Mark 9:37 ESV]. They must be like a child, who naturally loves Him, to even enter the kingdom. Children are easily taught. People would be better dead than to teach a child to not love Him and to sin. He illustrates the gravity of sin by stating it would be better to physically cut off an appendage, which causes sin, than keep the appendage and continue to sin. By extension, whatever causes sin teaches sin and stymies God’s peace.

He tells His disciples that “everyone will be salted with fire” [Mark 9:48 ESV]. If I am correct in my assessment then “salt” is Christ’s righteousness, a fire which burns away sin.

Everyone is covered with Christ’s righteousness but not everyone stays covered. As the Holy Spirit convicts of sin and points to the grace offered by God through Christ the individual may respond with obedience or rebellion. God commands all to eat from the tree of life, which is Christ. His command is given but not repeated, issued by the direct command of the Holy Spirit to those created in the image of God and able to receive and understand the command. Obedience carries no merit but does bring the blessing of being in His eternal presence. On the other hand, disobedience does carry punishment, the consequence of existence away from the life sustaining presence of God.

Once righteousness has rooted itself in the citizen the affect is more righteousness. Pursuing righteousness produces righteousness. We are called to hunger and thirst after righteousness and in doing so God fills us with that which we need. Righteousness is not a desire or a want but a need. God has created us, and recreated us, in a manner which spiritually needs His moral character more than we need physical food and drink. We need His life to stay alive. It is the evidence of His life in us which the world sees. We are the “salt of the earth” [Matthew 5:13 ESV] which makes us the evidence God uses to show the unrighteous their sin. Because we pursue righteousness we love as only God will and we either draw people to God or they hate us because they hate Him.

But what happens to those who rebel. Salted with the fire of God’s righteousness they are snatched away by Satan because they do not understand it, or are enticed or driven away by the pressures of the world, or are choked and deceived by their own flesh. (See the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:18-23.) Mixed with the impurity of the world and sinful flesh the salt, through trial and testing, is leached away leaving worthless dirt. Those who had salt lost the salt through disobedience until what remains is a person condemned by God because of their one sin of rebellion.

It is no coincidence the last of the seven characteristics Jesus gives is peacemaker. He wants us to have peace with God which results in peace with those with whom we live and work. This is a dilemma. God’s righteousness in us will either draw people to God or drive them away. How can Jesus say “have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another”?

Jesus attracted people to Himself because He was righteous and at peace with God. Soon, others who pursued unrighteousness and hated Him would kill Him. Facing this depth of anger and hatred and bitterness from those who rebelled against God did not break His righteousness or His peace with God. He was willing to give everything to do God’s will and command. Again, we are faced with a mystery.  He cried out while on the cross “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” [Mark 15:34 ESV] and then “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” [Luke 23:46 ESV].

He rose from the dead, conquering death.

If our lifestyle and beliefs are not evidence of God’s righteousness as we go then we will either face God’s discipline or His wrath. Peace is the evidence of righteousness working in our life, first with God and then with those around us. Our peace with God, even while facing persecution for righteousness, is attractive. Being a peacemaker is a natural characteristic of the citizen of the kingdom of God.

So is eternal life.

“Rest in Peace”

I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!  Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.  And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. [Luke 12:4-9 ESV]

If there is anything consistent in the makeup of man it is the reality of sin and consequent physical death. In our rebellion we excuse and ignore sin. We cannot ignore or avoid death. We can refuse to acknowledge God all of our physical lives until we come before Him.

Jesus told His disciples of His impending death at the hands of His enemies in Jerusalem.

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’”[Matthew 16:21-22 ESV]

I think Peter spoke for the group. He pulled Jesus aside and rebuked Him, suggesting Jesus was not going to die as He described. While we could debate Peter’s motivations his refusal to accept the impending death of a loved one is more prominent. He could not imagine the man before him, robust, quick witted, strong, facing death. Jesus bested the Pharisees. He would continue to best them. There is no way Jesus would be murdered by anyone.

Jesus rebuked the liar who inspired Peter to believe the lie. “Get behind me Satan” [Matthew 16:23 ESV]. Wishful thinking is just that. It has no foundation in truth and therefore no substance.

Christians are probably more afraid of the process of dying than of actual death. If we knew when we were going to die would we not get our house in order? Would we tremble and quake because we do not know Him or face death with peace because we do know Him. Moses was told he would not enter the Promised Land so he prepared the people to follow God after his death. Then was gathered to his people atop a mountain overlooking the land he could not enter. There is no indication he feared dying.

Often it is not the one dying who is afraid but those around facing the reality of losing a loved who are the most distressed. Leaving loved ones, through death, might bring resignation and acceptance of one’s circumstance. Trapped by the world, those staying want to build a false peace to placate their emotional upheaval.

“Rest in peace” is an accepted euphemism stuffed with wishful thinking. Where there is no peace with God there can be no peace in death. Where there is no fear of God there is no desire to be right before Him. Death becomes a purposefully ignored unknown filled with superstitious possibilities based upon fantasy.

Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem where He would face a violent death at the hands of professional executioners. He knew this and He was at peace. He asked God to take away the cup, but submitted Himself to His Father, for He knew the peace He had could not be taken, even by death. How we face death, our own and the death of a loved one, is a test. Do we know we have peace with God? Do we know the person dying has peace with God? Do we live for God?

Death could not hold Jesus. He was raised from the dead. Those who are His need have no fear of death. Those who are not His should absolutely fear death.

The Path to Bethlehem

The Path to Bethlehem

A short story from

Encounters with the Christ

     “I was sitting on this stone looking down on Bethlehem,” the old man said, his white hair and beard flowing in the soft breeze, “when I saw the angel.” He looked up in the summer sky, his eyes sparkling with memory. Both hands rose from his side, palms up, into the air before him.

“He looked as big as this hill. It looked like he was standing on Bethlehem. But he was between the village and me. And when he spoke my whole body heard his words, not just my ears.”

I looked at my companion, momentarily lost in his memory, reliving a long ago night. Once again he heard the words of the angel. His body trembled slightly. I asked him if he had been afraid.

“Afraid,” he exclaimed. “Yes,” he said, and then quickly added “no.”

“I might have been afraid, startled at first, for a moment. I was as afraid as anyone who found himself standing in the very presence of the Lord. The angel wasn’t the Lord. He was the Lord’s messenger. He told to us to not be afraid, so I wasn’t.”

“The others were down the mountain, there, at that level place.” We had just walked up the mountain. I had heard many stories about that night. I wanted to know if the stories were true and finding opportunity to investigate I came to Bethlehem. This shepherd told me what he witnessed that night.

“The angel told us the promised Messiah had been born in Bethlehem.” He talked while we descended the mountain. “We would find him lying in a feeding trough. Suddenly, there were many more angels with the first. They filled the sky. They outshone the stars and hid the moon with their brilliance. They sang ‘Glory to God’ while standing in the Lord’s presence. They sang ‘peace on earth’ while standing in mine.”

“I was only a boy. A shepherd. We lived in the hills with our sheep. Not in the village. Many people avoided us. Only lepers are lower than shepherds. But, angels sang to me.”

“Look over there, in the distance. That is Herod’s Keep.” My companion pointed to a hill toward the east of Bethlehem. “They say you can see Jerusalem from that tower.” I looked at the structure, fortified and imposing. It stood between the sunrise and Bethlehem and would cast a long shadow on the town each morning.

“I would often go down to Bethlehem to see Jesus. He would toddle to me with a huge smile on his face. Then he would look at me, right in the eyes, and touch me.  He was barely walking when my own little brother was born.” He stopped talking and stared at the fortification on the distant hill. “He was a beautiful, lively little boy when the soldiers came. Herod was mad.” He stood silently for a long moment before continuing. “I thought they had killed Jesus, too. They killed all the little boys.”

He took my hand and I helped him down the hill a short distance. We stopped at the level place he had pointed to moments ago.

“We were here. My father, my brothers. When I got to them they were staring into the sky. I didn’t have to ask if they saw the angels or heard them singing. They had. I could see it in their faces. It was night but their faces shown with great light.”

“I said to them, ‘I’m going to Bethlehem’ and started down the hill. We all came leaving the sheep here. My father said the angels would watch them. I believed it.”

He led me along the path they had taken to Bethlehem long ago. It led down one hill and then up to the village, the birthplace of David a shepherd anointed king. The way led through a deep ravine.

“For thirty years I thought he had been killed by the soldiers,” the old shepherd continued. “The shadow of death lay heavy on Israel. Roman soldiers were everywhere. By the time I married I no longer thought of the murdered children. I had driven the memories from my mind but not my heart. My resentment toward the oppressors grew daily.”

“Then one day a great teacher passed by on his way to Jerusalem. My wife led me to see him. I was angry. I had been angry for years. My anger was bitter in my stomach. My wife thought I would be less angry if I could only hear this teacher.”

“‘Let us go listen to him,’ she said. ‘He heals people of their sickness,’ she said. I was sick with anger, so I went with her.”

“We found him outside of Bethany. He stayed there often. There was such a great crowd of people. I had never seen so many. But then I have never been very far from here. Only to Jerusalem where there were always many more people. I hated crowds. Give me sheep – not people.”

“I listened to him from across a great space. Everyone heard his words no matter how many or how far away. He told stories about God’s kingdom. His words were – wise. They struck me to my heart.”

“When he got up to walk he did not stop teaching. As he passed us he was talking about King David and being a shepherd. Then he stopped right in front of me.”

“‘Who among you who has a hundred sheep,’ he said, ‘will he not, if he loses one, leave the ninety-nine on the hill?’ And he took my hand and gazed into my eyes. He knew I was a shepherd. ‘I must smell of sheep,’ I thought.”

“‘And he will go and find the one sheep who is lost,’ he continued. ‘And return with that sheep on his shoulders, rejoicing that he had found his lost sheep.’ ‘I have done that,’ I thought, as I looked back into his eyes. ‘I have found lost sheep and been relieved.’”

“‘So, your heavenly Father and all His angels rejoice when one lost sinner is found.’” With those words he smiled at me, touched my wife on the shoulder and moved on.

“‘It is he,’ I said to my wife, as years of anger and bitterness dissolved. ‘He is the baby I saw 30 years ago, the little boy born in Bethlehem. He is the one whose birth was announced by the choir of the Lord. He is alive.’”

“From then on, every time we heard the Scripture read we thought of him. Every time a teacher of the Law would teach we heard his words. And whenever he was near we would go hear him.”

My companion and I had stopped walking for a moment. The short journey to Bethlehem was half completed. “He was born over there,” my companion said, pointing. “Just as the angel said.” We had descended into the deep ravine and now began our climb.

“I saw him once, two years later. It was Passover and my sons and I had taken to Jerusalem lambs for the temple so they might be inspected and used for the feast. The lambs could have no blemishes.  I sold many lambs and was very happy.”

“He was in the temple teaching. There were large crowds around him quietly listening. Around the crowds were the religious leaders. They grumbled and whispered to each other. It was obvious they did not like him.”

“We stayed one night in Jerusalem. There were some lambs deemed unacceptable for the feast. We would lead them home the next day. We would be home by Sabbath.”

“There was a commotion in Jerusalem. And so close to the Passover! I sent my sons home with the lambs and stayed to see. The Romans were going to execute some men. They murdered people almost every week. There is a hill outside of the city where all of the crucifixions are done. Everyone sees. It is a horrible, humiliating way to die.”

“I watched as they drove three men to their deaths. One man they had beaten mercilessly. There was no place where there was not a cut or a gash. He carried his own cross, the wooden beam to which they would nail his arms. He stumbled right before me. The soldier grabbed a man next to me and forced him to carry the cross.”

“My heart went out to the condemned man. He could never have done anything to deserve such punishment. He stood. He looked at me in the eyes. It was Jesus. There was no hatred. He managed a small smile before trudging on.”

“I was crushed. My happiness turned to despair.”

“He had survived assaults on his life from infancy. But now he was only moments away from death. Angels of the Lord announced his birth. Maybe they would come defend him.”

“No angels came. They crucified him on top of the hill with the other two. I watched from a distance for a while then left. It was unbearable.”

We stopped at the outskirts of Bethlehem and stood still for a long time. My companion was again lost in thought. I did not force him to continue. While I waited I remembered his words, his stories, from the time we met until now. I could not forget them. He had seen much.

“The sky grew dark. I had walked already part way home in grief and anger and disbelief. It was so dark. There were no stars. And then the earth shook violently. It threw me to the ground. I imagined his angels finally came to fight for him. But the more I thought the more I knew they had not come. He had died. The world groaned and grieved his passing.”

“I was home before the beginning of the Passover Sabbath. Passover. A man of God was slain. I told my family and friends. We ate our Passover with bitter tears.”

He pointed to a place just outside of Bethlehem. “The angels told us to come over to Bethlehem and to look for a newborn in a feeding trough. We found him there,” my companion said pointing to a place a few steps away. Bethlehem spread out before us.

We had paused in front of a small grotto, the remains of a building jutted out from the hill. He looked in and pointed from one place to the next. “Here is where we saw Joseph. He stood as we approached his staff in his hand. Mary was lying there, but sat up when we came. And here lay the baby in a feeding trough filled with straw. He slept peacefully. It was just as the angel had said.”

“He was only minutes old. It was a cold night. When we told them what the angel said to us they told us what the angel said to them months earlier. We worshipped the Lord there. Then we went and told everyone who would listen what we saw and heard.”

“I did not see him born. But here he was. Angels sang about him.”

“I knew in my heart this little baby was Messiah. Still, it took the Lord another 30 years to teach me more I needed to know. I am still learning.”

“I thought he died as a baby. I knew he died as a man. Something in my heart knew our Lord was working.”

“Within days we began to hear rumors,” he said. “Rumors some had seen him alive. I did not see him die. But no one escapes the Romans as they go up that hill.”

“I remember standing here a few days after his death, thinking about the rumors which had reached my ears and remembered the night he was born. I believed the rumors. He had risen from the dead. How could death hold Him?”

“It was night, about the same time of night we had seen the baby. I was passing this place. I often do. That night I came and stood here, where we are standing. I was alone.”

“I did not see him come and stand next to me. I felt him. When I turned to see who was there I saw him. He reached out his hand and placed it on my shoulder. A real hand with weight to it and a grip. His eyes looked deep into mine. I had to say something. I said, ‘I knew you were alive.’ He smiled and said ‘Follow me.’ Then he was gone.”

“I have followed him, since.”