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This entry was originally created on: Jul 16, 2019 at 9:16am.
This is a FICTIONAL story about John, an apostle of Jesus Christ. It was written for the July 2019 round of "Spiritual Fiction Writing Contest-CLOSED" (3135 Words).
John is thinking, praying, and reminiscing...
Jesus, It has been so long since you walked here with us. Others have written about those days. I have shared so many stories of those times but I have not written them down. There is so much to tell, I don't even know where to begin.
As I am in my twilight years now, people are asking me to make a record of all that happened from the time we met until you ascended into heaven.
Oh, that day is still so fresh in my mind—and I so desire to see you return—coming in the clouds...
It seems like yesterday when you left us and yet it also seems so long ago. The others are all gone now. I am the only one remaining. There are those who believe I will live until you return but I know that is not what you said. I know in my heart I will not continue living in this earthy vessel until you return in power and glory so it is important for me to leave my words behind so still more people might come to know you through the words of my testimony.
But, I know I must be careful what I write. Folks hold my words in such high esteem because I walked this earth with you when you were here in the flesh. I want them to understand you existed before our time together and live to this day and forever. I want them to know you are with God and you are God and will live forever.
You are Lord. The day will come when every tongue will declare those words. I wish that day was today. I long for your return. It has been so much longer than we expected but now I understand our heavenly Father is patient and wants to give the world every chance to willingly surrender to your lordship.
I surrender. Everyday, I surrender afresh and look to you to cleanse me from all unrighteousness and fill me anew with your Holy Spirit. Without your Spirit abiding in me, the task of writing about you would be beyond me. I need Him to call to my remembrance all the things you said to us as we walked from place to place.
Lord Jesus, please help me to put the right words down as I record the events I remember from your time on earth. Putting anything in writing is a huge responsibility. Even today, people are circulating copies of the short letter I wrote to Gaius. I did not realize people would base teachings on my note to him but, because they do, I know I must be conscientious as I tackle this longer project.
Where should I start? First, I want to proclaim: You are the light and in You is no darkness. You existed from the beginning. You are in God. You are God.
For me, your earthly ministry started with your cousin, the prophet John. At first many people thought he was the Messiah. I can remember hearing his message of repentance and wondering about that myself but John always said he was not the Messiah. He declared he was a voice calling in the wilderness "Make straight the way of the Lord". YOU are the Messiah, the anointed one we were waiting for but John didn't realized that until you came to him for baptism.
He and many others saw the Spirit descend upon you like a dove that day. Afterwards, the prophet encouraged his disciples to follow you. He called you "The Lamb of God". He told us he baptized with water but you would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
I am sad John did not live to see all that happened but perhaps he was able to see it from beyond the veil. One day, we shall know. Back then, Andrew and I followed you to find out where you lived so we might learn from you.
Andrew found his brother Peter and told him, "We have found the Messiah".
It was the beginning of our walk with you. We followed you into Galilee where you called Philip and Nathaniel to follow you. Nathaniel was a lot older than the rest of us. I remember he was amazed to hear you knew where he was sitting under the fig tree before you actually were able to see him there with your natural sight. You promised him he would see greater things than that. And we did. In the end, we all saw you ascend into heaven. We are still waiting for you to return in the clouds.
Another thing I remember from those early days was going to a wedding in Cana with you—and they ran out of wine! Your mother, Mary, was there and asked you to intervene. You told her your time had not come but you were kind and helped her friends with a miracle, turning water into the finest wine we'd ever tasted.
In her later years, Mary told me she knew when she asked, you would do something to help them. I am not sure she expected what happened that day but we all remember the first miracle so clearly—as if it happened yesterday.
After the wedding, we all stayed with your family in Capernaum. We got to know you better as we spent time with you there but we never expected what was going to happen when we went with you to Jerusalem the first time. It shocked us all when you turned over the tables of the money changers and drove the animals out the temple. Little did we know then that the time of animal sacrifice was coming to a close and the day was coming when you yourself would make the last blood sacrifice—giving your own life that we might all truly live. You foretold your own death and resurrection way back then but none of us realized what you meant until after it all happened.
God gave you, his only begotten son, that anyone who believed in you would have eternal life. You allowed yourself to be bruised, mocked and crucified—that we might be reconciled with God through your sacrifice.
I remember the conversation you had one night with Nicodemus. You told him we must be born again, born of the Spirit. You told us so many things we did not understand until later.
The prophet John was still teaching and baptizing at that time but declared he would decrease and you would increase. And you did.
I remember the testimony of the woman from Samaria. After you spoke with her at the well, she told the whole town and all of us about the conversation she had with you. She was convinced then you were indeed the Messiah.
I remember you mentioned the Spirit again. You had told Nicodemus we must be born of the Spirit and you told the Samarian woman we must worship in spirit and in truth. You are truth.
I remember after spending some time with the folks of the Samarian community, we returned to Cana and a man from Capernaum came to you seeking a miracle for his son. You did not go to his son but merely said to the man the words, "Go your way. Your son lives."
The fellow just believed you. You did speak with an amazing authority. He started back to Capernaum and his servants met him on the way and let him (and later us) know that the boy had recovered at the exact time you had spoken those words to his father.
I think that was the second miracle I saw you perform.
Then there was the man who was reclining at the pool of Bethesda. You healed him, too, but only after asking him if he truly wanted to be healed. Oh, and then the healing created a ruckus because you told him to pick up his mat and walk.
So many self-righteous folks made a big deal of him carrying his bed and completely disregarded the most important thing: He had been healed and was walking after thirty-eight years of being unable to even stand.
It was after this you begin to talk to us more about you and the Father. You told us and everyone who would listen about the authority God, the Father gave you. You told us the Father bore witness of who you were. You told us you only did what the Father showed you to do. We began to know and understand that You and the Father were one.
There were still more miracles to follow. A crowd had been following you and when a young boy brought his lunch to you, you multiplied the loaves and the fish until everyone was fed. Then you explained you were indeed the true bread of life.
Ah yes, after the miraculous feast, you talked for the first time about us eating your flesh and drinking your blood. This was an odd thing to say and many did not understand it. Well, truthfully, I don't know if any of us really understood it at that time.
The way I see it now, is you actually became the Passover Lamb. From then til now, when we celebrate Passover, I am mindful of a deeper meaning of the experience. I look forward to drinking new wine with you one day.
Many left our company when you talked this way but we stayed. As Peter said, "To whom would we go?" We believed you had the words of eternal life.
And yet, one of the twelve you had chosen would ultimately betray you. It is still hard for me to believe how someone who had walked with you (and us) for those three years could do that but he did. You knew he would. We did not know.
You did not just teach us, you also taught in the temple. Sometimes we wondered if the pharisees also knew you to be the Messiah because, although they debated with you, they did not take action against you then. Instead they allowed you to talk and share with anyone willing to listen.
The leaders did keep trying to trap you into saying or doing something they could hold against you. They brought you the woman who had been caught in adultery. I think they expected you to immediately forgive her so they could hold it against you but, instead, you reminded each of them of their own sinfulness. When they were no longer willing to condemn her, then you told her you would not condemn her either.
You told us if we continued in your word, we were indeed your disciples and the truth would set us free. Your words blessed those of us who believed but upset those who did not want to hear them. One time, they were so upset, they actually picked up stones intending to stone you but you walked passed them all unharmed.
It was not time for you to suffer and die and stoning was not the plan.
The leaders also got mad at you the day you made clay and put it on the blind man's eyes. Again, it was the Sabbath. The disgruntled leaders ignored the miracle but got upset because they believed you dishonored the Sabbath by giving the man his sight.
You talked to us about being our shepherd and about laying your life down for your sheep. You reminded us, no matter what it might look like, you were laying your life down, no one could take it from you.
When you said your sheep hear your voice, the leaders again became so upset, they once again picked up stones intending to stone you but yet again you escaped out of their hands.
Oh, and there was the most remarkable miracle you performed: Lazarus!
You were friends with Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Mary had anointed your feet with expensive perfume and washed your feet with her tears. You loved all three of them but the day came folks told us Lazarus was dying. You declared, "This sickness is not unto death but for the glory of God that the Son of God might be glorified thereby."
None of us understand why you did not rush to Judea to save your friend from death although we thought it might have been because the Jewish leaders there wanted to stone you. I remember when you did decide to go, Thomas suggested we go with you and be willing to die with you.
When we got there, the sisters and many others were in tears. Lazarus had died and been buried four days before we arrived. It seemed as if we were too late but then you commanded someone to roll the stone away. I remember you then thanked God that he had heard you and with your profound voice of authority, you ordered Lazarus to come forth—and he did.
It was after this astounding miracle Caiaphas, the high priest, declared it was better for one man to die (you) than for the whole nation of Israel to perish. Once word spread about you raising Lazarus from the dead, the Jewish leaders who did not believe in you were determined you would be put to death.
On our last trip to Jerusalem, you washed our feet. And you let us know your time had come and said one of us would betray you. Peter declared he would stand with you through it all but, alas, that was not to be.
You told us you were the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no man came to the Father but by you.
You promised us that whatever we asked the Father in your name, you would do that the Father might be glorified through you. You promised to ask the Father to send us the Comforter which we now know is the Holy Spirit. It is this Holy Spirit I look to now to help me remember the times we shared and empowered me to record them for future generations.
You encouraged us to abide in you and to love one another. You warned us we would be scattered and the time would come we would be thrown out of synagogues. But, you reminded us that even though we would have tribulation in this world, you have overcome the world.
At the end of your earthly life, you prayed for us and you also prayed for everyone who would believe in you through our words.
Lord, please bless my words and my recollections so what I record would draw others to you from this day until the day you return to gather us in.
It was after you prayed for us, Judas showed the soldiers where to find us. Most of us fled after you were arrested. Even those of us who followed you to the chief priest's house did not stand up for you. They struck the shepherd and the sheep did scatter.
They took you to Pilate. You were questioned. You were scourged. It really seemed as though Pilate wanted to release you but the crowd was seemingly united in a desire for you to be crucified.
And you were crucified.
Pilate put a sign above your head on your cross declaring:
Jesus of Nazareth
King of the Jews.
The same leaders who had sought your death demanded Pilate change these words. Pilate refused.
Your mother and I and others who loved you stood at the foot of your cross hoping for a last minute miracle. It came but not the way we had hoped. As I stood there praying, you gave me charge of your mother, Mary, to care for her in your stead for the rest of her life (which I did). Then, instead of a last minute rescue from that horrible cross, we saw you declare, "It is finished." and die.
We were devastated.
Some soldiers came to break your legs intending to hasten your death but we told them you had already died. One soldier then pierced your side with his sword to prove you were dead.
Joseph of Arimathaea got permission to take your body down and we wrapped it in linen. Nicodemus brought myrrh and aloe for us to use to anoint your body. We put your body in a new sepulcher. Then we closed the opening with a large stone and walked away in sadness.
We were unclean because we had touched your body but none of us cared. We just wanted you back. We wanted you to be alive and not dead.
Little did we realize we would get the desires of our heart a few days later. Mary Magdalene came bursting into the upper room where we were staying and told us your body was gone. Peter and I rushed to see. Inside the sepulcher, we found the linen clothes and, off to the side, we found the napkin we had put on your face, but you were not there.
Our understanding was still clouded. We did not know what to think. We went home but Mary Magdalene lingered. Because she did, she was blessed to be the first to see you in your risen body.
She came bursting in again to tell us she had seen you. That evening you appeared to all of us, well, all but Thomas. When we told Thomas, he did not believe us. But, eight days later, after you appeared to us again and spoke to him personally, he never doubted again.
Those days were so wonderful. We never knew when you might appear. You walked with us. You ate with us. You gave us instructions. You blessed us and then you ascended into heaven to wait until all things are put under your feet.
And, Jesus, we long for your return.
There is so much we do not yet understand but this one thing we know and believe: You are the Christ and will return one day for your bride.
Jesus, there are so many more things I could share about you and about the years we walked this earth together. There is not enough room in the whole world for scrolls telling everything about those years.
Lord, help me use parchment and ink to record some of my recollections so others can see what you mean to me and to all of us—that they will believe you are the Christ, the Son of God and believing they would have life through your name.
I ask this in your Name, Jesus...