I think for me at times, I like going beyond the “normal” way of doing things Why do something the same way when there might be another way that can be more fun, quicker, and even more cost effective. Why settle for ordinary when I have the opportunity to do or to be extraordinary? Why have vanilla ice-cream when there is vanilla with chocolate, or vanilla with chocolate and peanuts? Why have vanilla in a plain dish, why not in a china dish? Life is too short!
God gave me another opportunity to start my life over again with Him. It began when He gave his son Jesus. Jesus did not live an ordinary live! I wonder what it might have been like to have been one of the disciples and to have spent three years with Jesus.
I am standing by my fishing boat along the Sea of Galilee one morning just as the sun is coming up with the sky turning into a hue of vibrant colors. Where only the Master Artist can take the blank canvas of the sky and turn it into a great work of brilliant colors.
As I am fixing my net, I hear a firm but friendly voice say to me, “Come and follow me.” I find myself leaving everything behind that’s familiar to me. To follow a man called Jesus.
I had heard the town’s people say Jesus is the son of Mary and Joseph the carpenter. He claims to be the Messiah that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob told about in the Torah. How He is going to usher in a new kingdom. I thought of freedom from the Roman Empire. To no longer live under their government. I had also heard people say, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Yet, here I am following this Man called Jesus.
I will never forget the day we were attending a wedding. They ran out of wine, the good wine. Jesus told the servants to fill the water jugs with water. I tasted the water, expecting it to be ordinary. Instead there is superb wine, the finest in the land!
Then I recall the time Jesus received the news that his good friend Lazarus had died. We lingered a few more days before going to the tomb of Lazarus. Jesus wept for he loved Lazarus deeply. As people and family gathered when they heard Jesus had come. He prayed and then called, “Lazarus come.” All was silent as death, but wait. Is there a stirring from within the tomb? Slowly and stiffly, Lazarus came out of the tomb still wrapped in his grave clothes. Jesus turns and says to those standing near, “Unloose him.” I can only imagine the testimony Lazarus shares about coming back from the dead to life!
As time goes on and yet it only seems like yesterday when I had heard Jesus calling me to come and follow him along with eleven other ordinary men. Jesus began speaking more about going into Jerusalem and being betrayed. Then being crucified and rising again on the third day. It’s more than my mind can understand Talking with the others; it’s hard for them, too. Jesus is our best friend. He’s going to bring in a new world government. We have discussed amongst ourselves who is going to sit on the right and left hand of Jesus. But Jesus said that it wasn’t His place to answer that question.
We have returned to Jerusalem the weekend of the Passover. We have gone into the upper room of a man’s home and there supper is waiting. As we entered we were too busy talking amongst ourselves that no one offered to wash our feet. Jesus has wrapped a towel around his waist and has a basin of water. He kneels down and began to remove my sandals and washes my tired dusty feet. My heart fills with emotions. Here is Jesus washing my feet. I’ve been too selfish and should be washing His feet. My eyes fill with tears of disappointment as I gaze into the eyes of Jesus and see the depths of compassion.
As we gather around the table for supper. Jesus takes the bread and prays and says that someone is going to betray Him that is here. We all begin talking and asking, “Is it me?” Dread floods over my soul, praying that I’m not the one! Jesus said that the first person he gives the bread too. He turns to Judas! Judas, how can he! He’s been with us for three years! Judas has witnessed the miracles and heard the Master’s teachings. Yet, he betrays him. Jesus is speaking again and is praying over the cup of wine. Something about this being His shed blood…My emotions and mind cannot grasp the meaning as the cup is passed to me. Then at the close of supper we sang a hymn and went over to the Mount of Olives. There’s a garden and Jesus ask me and two others to go and pray with Him.
I am so tired that soon I fell asleep. Jesus is nudging me, “Can’t you stay awake and pray one hour with me? I rub the sleep from my eyes, and apologize. Jesus goes back and begins to pray again. “Father if it be your will let this cup pass from me….” I tried so hard to listen but sleep returns. Finally Jesus comes and says, “It’s time.”
Then we see torches of light coming up the hill and we hear voices growing stronger in the night. It’s the voices of Roman soldiers, as they assemble around us. Judas comes and kisses Jesus. Jesus asks, “Who are you looking for?” “Jesus.” Someone replies, “I am Jesus. Have I not taught out in the public and you come tonight with your swords?” Then one of the soldieries grabs Jesus and chains His hands and they begin to descend the hill going into Jerusalem.
Like a scared rabbit, I follow off in the distance. I see Jesus standing before Pilate. When through questioning Jesus, Pilate orders him to be beaten. My mind still sees the ugly gruesome scene as the Roman soldier delights in beating Jesus with the cat of nine tails. Then the solders took Jesus and place a purple robe over his body. This is a mass of humanity that hardly resembles Jesus. They beat and spit and mock him. Then a crown of thorns is jabbed into his head and causes more bleeding down his face. I observe as I stand behind one of the tall white columns. Why is Jesus allowing the solders to abuse Him? Jesus says He’s God. So why doesn’t He call a legion of angels to defend Him? Then I remember Jesus talking about Him being put to death as the sacrificial Lamb.
Morning is starting to dawn and the horrors of the night is fading. Jesus is standing once again before Pilate. Pilate says to the people, “I find no fault in Him.” But the crowd begins to roar like a swelling ocean wave, “Crucify Him!” begins to crash down upon my ears. “Crucify Him!” So Pilate washes his hand and says, “Take him away and crucify him.” As I look, I see Barabbus going free.
Jesus is taken down the road of suffering. Then up to Golgotha’s hill, better known as Calvary. There the soldiers lay him down on the cross. They drive the nails into his hands and feet. Then the cross is lifted and drops into the hole, which vibrates more pain through Jesus’ beaten and battered body I gather around with John and Jesus’ mother. My heart breaks for Mary. To see her son, hanging there like an ordinary criminal dying. But I knew Jesus had done nothing wrong worthy of death. I keep asking “Why?” As I watch Jesus hanging there, one of the thieves says, “Jesus remember me.” Jesus replied, “Today you shall be with me in Paradise.” Yet the other thief continues cursing. Around noon the sky began to grow dark like night and the earth starts to shake. Then Jesus cries out with a loud voice, “My God! My God Why have you forsaken me?” Again my mind asks, “What does he mean?” Then finally Jesus says, “Father into your hands I commend my spirit. It is finished.” “What is finished?” I pondered. As the Jewish Sabbath is approaching, the soldiers proceed to break the legs to hurry the dying. Jesus is already dead and so the soldier pierces His side with his spear and water and blood flow. I remember the scripture saying that none of His bones shall be broken.
Nicodemius and another come and take the body of Jesus off the cross. They lovingly prepare his body for the tomb. Pilate has commanded a seal to put around the stone. These soldiers are to remain on guard. So that no one can come and steal the body of Jesus to make it seem like he did raise from the dead.
I joined the other disciples as we hid behind locked doors for three days. Not knowing what is going to happen.
Finally Sunday dawns and Mary hurries off to the garden where Jesus is buried. As she approaches the tomb, the stone is rolled away. There are two angels inside the tomb. One seated at the head and the other at the feet of Jesus. The guards are lying on the ground as dead men. Mary wonders, “Where is Jesus? Did someone take his body dunning the night?” Then she sees a man who must be the Gardner. But then Mary hears Jesus speak her name. He tells her to go tell the disciples that He is risen just like He said! Mary came with the message. We all went to the tomb. It’s true He did rise from the dead! I saw His grave cloths lying in place! Jesus is a live! My heart finally understands and I accept Him as my Savior and Lord!
As God looks down through the telescope of time, He knew I needed a Savior too. To restore the relationship that had been broken by sin through Adam and Eve. He desires to have an on going and growing relationship with me. Even though I have accepted Him as my Savior, He still desires to draw me even closer. So He can give me the very best because He knows the plans He has for me. I have the choice to make in choosing His very best or settling for an ordinary life.
My heart’s desire is to go beyond the ordinary to the extraordinary life that Jesus has for me. All He asks is for my life. So that He can live His life in and through me to be that light that distills the darkness of sin. I want to be able to give an answer to the hope that I have within to others.
Each day as I meet with the Lord, I ask Him, to enable me through His strength to be a willing vessel used of Him. So when I come to the end of life’s journey, I’ll hear, “Well done.”