How Christmas Continued #30

I am Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus. Through my cousin Mark and his family in Jerusalem, I had familiarized myself with the events surrounding Jesus. During this time, I became acquainted with some of His disciples. I too was in Jerusalem for the Passover and lived through Jesus' final days and His resurrection from the dead. We were surrounded with a mysterious uncertainty. It changed suddenly when we had come to pray on Pentecost. The place shook and people began to come alive about Jesus. Most of these people were speaking in languages that were foreign to them. Men that hid from the authorities out of fear were fearless. Simon Peter defended the event as an act of the outpouring of God's Spirit on all of us and that it was the result of Jesus mission to Israel. From that day on, I became an intimate member of that group and did what I could to spread the message of Jesus our Lord and Savior, the Messiah or Christ.

How Christmas Continued #29

James Zebedee was my older brother and King Herod deprived him of sharing his life and contribution with you. He was the first among us that Herod the King regarded as a serious threat and that is why he had him killed. He was not the kind of person that would sound off to be noticed. Rather, we knew that he was there beside us and we could count on him to protect our backs. He was our father Zebedee's right hand man and so he was for us. I am John and I knew him best and I felt that you might want to know what he did to keep us going after Jesus had left us.

How Christmas Continued #28

We were mending our fishing nets when Andrew returned from a trip all exited telling us that they had found the Messiah. He insisted that I go with him to meet this Prophet from Nazareth. To please my brother I went along. Before Andrew could introduce me, this man said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be known as Peter (the Rock)." He knew me without having ever met. The very next day, Jesus showed up where I was fishing and caught nothing. He took over my boat and lectured to the people. Then, He ordered me to go out and fish against my objections. We obeyed and were shocked at the catch. We called for neighboring boats to bring in the haul. Being a very sinful man, I fell on my knees and begged the Holy Man to leave me. He paid not attention to my plea but ordered me to follow him and He would make me into a fisher for men. I was powerless to refuse and so were my brother Andrew and our partners James and John Zebedee.

How Christmas Continued #27

My identity will puzzle historians. Those, who will write about Jesus, shall identify me by different names. Some called me Simon the Zealot. Simon means being "snub-nosed." There was something about that description. I snubbed at some ideas and at some people. When I was first told about a "Man" by the name of Jesus from Nazareth, I tried to dismiss Him as if anything worthwhile could come out of Nazareth. To me, it was an unimportant place with unimportant people. What could possibly come from such an insignificant place? I raised my nose a little higher than I should have and then ended up swallowing my pride. The word "Zealots" was not my family name, but my zealousness for my country and my faith. I burned up inside of me at the political and religious situation of our nation. I was ready and willing to take up arms and drive our enemies and false leaders out of our country. I was, however, waiting for the right leader to come along and guide us. I expected "Him" to be another Moses or a King David and not some unknown carpenter's son from Nazareth. I was a proud enthusiast. I did nothing half-ways. I put my heart and soul into the cause of delivering our people from oppression.

How Christmas Continued #26

I was the disciple of the heart. Mine was not bigger than the hearts of the other disciples of Jesus; but, perhaps it was more sensitive and introspective. I went more by my feelings than I did by my thinking. For me, what Jesus did was more spiritual than rational. He did and taught things that only the heart could grasp. When Jesus talked to us how we could be a blessing, and when He mentioned that the pure in heart would see God, He must have me in mind. I did try very hard to remove all undesirable things from my thoughts. I could not think evil of others. I felt everyone was better than I was. Even when people would make mistakes, I believed they had a reason for it. If they sinned against me, I would forgive them the very moment they transgressed and not hold it against them. This was how Jesus felt and I identified with that attitude. It was His compassion and sensitivity that touched me most of all. And I believe that He felt the same way about me and chose me to be on His team. Jesus needed a follower that had a sensitive disposition for people that could not always be in charge of their lives, situations, and even of their thinking. Thoughts do not always guide our actions.

How Christmas Continued #25

I, John, the one whom Jesus loved, watched in horror what the Roman soldiers were doing to our Teacher. A week ago, He rode into Jerusalem being welcomed by a cheering crowd, ready to crown Jesus king. Less than a week later, His enemies were crucifying Him as the "King of the Jews." Jesus' mother, my mother and a few of us were watching in horror and listening to their verbal abuse, demanding that He come down from the cross, that is, if He really was the Son of God. He did not come down from the cross. Instead He forgave His enemies, instructed me to take care of His mother, announced that, "it was finished" and then died. At that very moment, the earth shook, the sky darkened, and we ran for our safety. Even the enemies knew that it was no ordinary "Man" they had tortured, humiliated and crucified but had not killed. He had died by His own choice. From some of our brave women, we learned that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had spared any more humiliation of our Leader by placing His body in a grave.

How Christmas Continued #24

I am Caiaphas, the High Priest that prosecuted Jesus. I was convinced that this Galilean was an imposter because there was no prophecy that anyone that important would come from Galilee. As the head of our religion it was my solemn duty to plot against this man and eliminate him at any cost. He was threatening our lucrative positions and placed us at the mercies of Rome. The Nazarene influenced far too many people for our comfort. His clever plot to capture the hearts of the people by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey did not fool us. My lips could not call Him Jeshua or a son of David. To us leaders, He was a curse and not a blessing.