With desperate urgency the angry restless wind drove imposing black clouds to blot out the midday sun and cover the sky. I stood near the hill’s summit in the semi-darkness, the wind pelting my back with leaves and dirt. My hair whipped about my face, stinging my eyes.
Yet the storm raging inside my mind was far more destructive. Fears and doubts threatened to tip me over sanity’s precipice. Reality as I knew it was being torn to pieces by the impossibility of what I was witnessing. This was all wrong!
My father, brother and I were loading the nets into our boat when a long shadow blocked out the rising sun. I turned and saw the Teacher, a knowing smile framing His face. “James and John, come, follow me!” He said.
A powerful thrill swept through me and I turned to father. He took one look at my face and said, “Go, my sons. I won’t hold you back. And don’t worry, your uncle will help me. Now go! Before I change my mind!”
Leaping out of the boat I reached the Teacher just before James, my teenage face failing to hide the honor I felt.
I stood motionless in the midst of spectators and gloaters, holding my face in my hands. How, when everything had been going so right had it all gone so wrong? All my hopes, all my dreams for the future, all shattered! Never before had I felt so sad and despondent. The whole world had gone utterly mad.
I lay down on the sand beside my Lord. He was watching waves lapping gently upon the shore of Galilee.
“I know who you are,” I said with youthful exuberance.
“Really? Who do you say that I am?” he prompted, his eyes sparkling.
I could contain my discovery no longer. “You are the One who appeared to Moses. You are Immanuel, God with us. You are the One who created all things. You are the Messiah, the Lord become flesh – and you have come and made your dwelling here among us!”
Jesus rustled my hair like a father to his son. “Ah, my little Son of Thunder. My Father in heaven has revealed this to you.”
Heart bursting with pride I gave him my best smile. This was my happiest moment. To be alive at the exact moment of history when the Messiah came was unbelievable! And that He chose me was the honor of honors. I could see a future of hope and promise. Jesus, Lord of Lords and King of Kings had come to establish His kingdom on earth and I was going to be part of it! Soon my mind was lost in vain imaginings of the part I would play in this new world order.
I found the courage to lift my eyes to the bruised, bleeding body of my Lord hanging from the rough wooden cross. Blood streamed from that hideous travesty of a crown. Ugly iron nails pierced his gentle hands and feet. This was all wrong! Had not the Messiah come to establish His kingdom on earth? Why did He let them do this to Him? Why did the Father just sit there and watch!
Mary, the mother of Jesus, her sister, and Mary Magdalene came and stood with me. They met my gaze, their eyes filled with tears.
I had thought Jesus lost in a world of agony yet upon spying his mother He called down to her. “Dear woman, here is your son,” and then to me he added, “Here is your mother.”
Unable to speak from fear of totally losing control I responded by placing my arm firmly around Mary’s frail shoulders. From this moment I would treat her as my own mother and take her into my home. I would attend to the Lord’s last request with all diligence.
Mary looked up at me, “I do not understand it either, John, but we must have faith. The Father knows what He is doing.”
The wisdom of her words penetrated the fog of grief that gripped my mind and a small glimmer of hope appeared. God was still the Lord. He was still in control. But as I looked up and saw the love of my life dying, I knew I would never forget this saddest day of my life.
Little did I know that soon the Lord would turn my mourning to gladness and my sorrow to matchless joy. But that is another story…
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