My story begins a long time ago. So long ago, in fact, none of you reading this were even there. I knew you would be though, one day, and I knew it was my responsibility and honor to do what had to be done for your sake, for all of your sake. I couldn’t stand the thought of being apart from you, separated forever, so I had to do it.
I actually have a whole book explaining my story, but for sake of time, I’ll get straight to the climax, the part that really shows how I persevered through a difficult situation, and came out on the other side, victorious. I pray that it gives you hope, for whatever difficult situation you may be facing at this point in your life.
But I must premise my story with one bit of information: I’m perfect. I never did one bad, evil thing in my life. Not one. And before you go thinking that I’m prideful or “full or myself,” I will repeat, I’ve never sinned. So I’m not prideful, but I am perfect.
MY DARKEST HOURS
I knew the time was coming quickly when I would have to suffer intense pain, anguish, rejection, and humiliation. It was weighing heavy on my heart. My heart ached for my brothers, mother, and other friends and family I would be leaving behind. I knew it wasn’t going to get easier for them once I was gone. No, it was going to get much harder. The world hated me, and I knew they would come to hate those who were close to me as well. In all this time since that fateful day, that reality hasn’t changed. The world still hates those who are closest to me. I decided to spend some time with my closest 12 “followers.” We had a meal together and fellowshipped. I did something very symbolic that they may not have fully understood at the time. Some still don’t fully understand it now. I gave them bread, and wine, and I told them it represented my body and my blood which would soon be broken in their honor. I told them that one of them would soon betray me, even after all I’d done for them. And then in typical fashion, the ones closes to me began to bicker and argue, first over who was the “worst,” the betrayer, and soon after, who was the “best” amongst them. Didn’t they get it???? I was about to DIE! They made promises to me I knew they wouldn’t’ keep. Then, I took them outside to pray. Christians love to pray in hard times. Surely they would join me praying in this dark hour. I may be divine, but my humanity caused me to beg my father to take it away from me. He was my Daddy after, and Daddy’s are supposed to take the pain from their children. In this case though, my father didn’t deliver me. He loved all of them just as much as he loved me, and he knew it was the only way. In some ways, I suppose that time of life helps me relate with so many of my children whose fathers have left them, abandoned, forgotten. The truth is though, my father didn’t forget me. He just knew it was the only way. Losing my life was the only way to save theirs.
When I got back to my friends, they were sleeping. Sometimes they still sleep, when I ask them to pray. They just fall asleep, in their comfy beds, surrounded by their warm blankets, with their full stomachs. Or, they scroll mindlessly through their cell phones or stare blankly at the garbage on their TV sets. Instead of talking to me, they zone. As the years have passed, it seems more and more common to find my friends sleeping, instead of praying.
Soon after is when it really started to get ugly. I was betrayed by a friend, arrested, mocked, beaten, and insulted, all within the course of a few hours. By the next morning, I was brought before some of the “chief priests.” They didn’t realize, at the time, I AM the chief priest. I answered them honestly, and was then led to some more leaders who had trouble prosecuting me. I answered some of their questions, but eventually just remained silent. It didn’t matter what I said. I knew what was coming. I could have called an army of angels if I’d wanted, but I didn’t. I made a choice and I had to follow through. I had to go through with it because I knew that one day, you would be reading my story, and you needed me to do what had to be done. The truth is, just as you love your child with an unspeakable love, my deep love for you overshadowed any pain I would endure that day. I had to follow through for you.
The next few events happened so fast, yet I remember them very vividly. The crowd became increasingly volatile toward me. They actually voted to release a murderer, and instead, to carry out my murder. I was sentenced to crucifixion on a cross, a common form of the death penalty in my day. I was so weak from being beaten at this point, that another man had to carry my cross for me. Some mourned for me, many mocked me, and others scoffed at me. They didn’t understand why I didn’t just “save myself” if I was truly who I claimed to be. They didn’t get it though. I was choosing this path, and I was doing it for them.
The soldiers beat me, mocked me, nailed my hands and my feet to the cross, and then lifted me up into the air. It was the most agonizing pain you can ever imagine. There was one glimpse of light this day. A criminal, to my right, he believed me. He confessed that he truly believed I was who I said I was, and that what I was doing was for eternal purposes. He asked me to “remember him.” I did and to this day, we are together. Soon after, the whole land turned dark. Surly this made some people think. Shortly after, on that dark day, hanging on that rugged cross, I breathed my last breath. Voluntarily, I gave up my life, that you might truly live.
You may find it bizarre to be reading this right now. Usually, people don’t share the account of their own death. Death is final. But not in my case. The short of it is that three days later, I conquered death. I arose from the dead. In that moment, everything I came to do was accomplished, and after appearing to over 500 witnesses, I rejoined my Father in Heaven.
Does this sound unrealistic to you? Does it sound like it defies all science and rules and logic? It does actually, but then again, I created science, and rules, and logic, so I suppose it all works out. My part is finished. I won. I will always win, in the end. There is still a missing piece though, and that’s you.
YOUR PART IN MY STORY
You see, it’s your decision to accept my story as truth, and then live your life accordingly, or to reject it, and deny who I am. Just like I had to follow through with my word that day, a day is coming again when I will follow through with the rest of my word, and that is, final judgement on the world. I want nothing more than for you to join me forever in eternity. I am a loving God, but I will never FORCE you to follow me. Going to church on Easter doesn’t make you my follower, putting money in the plate doesn’t make you my follower, and your parents’ belief doesn’t make you my follower. Confessing that I am who I claim to be, admitting that you’re a sinner and that you need me, and then allowing me to change you from the inside out; that’s what will save you. That’s what will truly change your life, set you free from whatever sin has a grip on your soul, and permit you entrance into my Father’s home after you enter your grave.
I am the definition of HOPE.
(As recorded in Luke 23-24)