The Young Visitor
“What will happen, then?” the young visitor asked the old man in fetters. He blurted nothing else but this as he saw for himself how stinky, cold and damp the dungeon the old man’s in. This was, indeed, not the most cheerful place to talk about faith or hope or love.
As a Roman citizen, the old man claimed his right to have a visitor or two in his cell. He’d been jailed simply for proclaiming that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the One he fully trusted, totally hoped for and dearly and passionately loved.
“Is Christ still worth all this trouble?” the young man queried. “They’ll feed you to the lions or crucify you upside down!” Fear gripped his heart that he trembled as he spoke.
“For I am already on the point of being sacrificed,” the old man calmly replied. “The time of my departure has come.”
The clanging of the fetters echoed as the old man stood up and moved towards the young man. Though fearful and disheartened, the young visitor tried to be as encouraging as possible. Yet, it’s him who’s encouraged within. No not encouraged. He’s inspired. And so much more. He’s edified, refreshed and challenged – as he closely gazed at the old man’s face.
“Why is there no trace of sorrow or regret in his eyes? Though wrinkles, scars and bruises marked his cheeks, how could he still be so serene and confident?” He mumbled to himself. “In this dungeon, of all places!”
“I have fought the good fight,” the old man bravely said as if he just knocked a fully-armed centurion down in a duel.
“How could this be a good fight?” the young man thought to himself as he listened.
“I have finished the race,” the old man continued. “I have kept the faith.”
The young man still wondered what kept this fragile man in chains and in the brink of tormenting death so bold, hopeful and passionate about his own end.
“Henceforth, there laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day,” the old man’s face brightened up as he peered through a small opening in this dungeon.
Roars of hungry lions echoed in the distance. Cries of mercy and shouts of pain and agony reverberated.
“...there laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day,” the old man repeated in the young man’s hearing with greater conviction.
“And not only to me,” he paused and looked straight into the young visitor’s eyes and said, “But also to all who have loved His appearing.”
In that most solemn moment, the old man’s faith dissipated the young man’s fear. The old warrior’s hope fired up the young man’s heart. The old man’s passionate love for Christ and the sacrificial love he had for all he had led to Him burned like a wild fire within the young man’s soul.
“For I am already on the point of being sacrificed, the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing,*” the old Apostle Paul said to Timothy, his young apprentice, as he passed on to him what he had learned, heard, seen and experienced in the One who loved them and gave Himself up for them.
*(2 Timothy 4:6-7, RSV)
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