The Temple

pharisee

I had gone to the temple for prayer. It was a cool night, and I was excited to go on the walk. I wasn’t feeling well, and I was hoping for a miracle.

While deep in thought, I almost missed the entrance. I walked up slowly. I heard voices. I didn’t want to be rude, and disturb anyone.

I walked in and what I saw puzzled me.

A man, I knew as a Pharisee, was praying aloud. He stood alone. His voice was unsympathetic, and sure. He even had a smile upon his face.

He looked up into the night, and said, “ God? I thank you that I am not like other people-robbers, evildoers, adulterers- or even like this tax collector!” He pointed to the back of the temple, with disgust.

There in the dark, in the back of the room on his knees, was a man.

The Pharisee continued his prayer. “I fast twice a week, and I give a tenth of all I get!”

He stood, arrogantly, and walked slowly back and forth. I watched as his robe moved slowly upon the stones, and his shawl was covered tight upon his head.  I looked back to the man.

He hid in the shadows. His hands covered his head. He wouldn’t even look up. Not to the Pharisee, or to Heaven. Suddenly he yelled, “God!”

He beat his breast hard. He wailed. “God? Have mercy on me…I am a sinner.”

He bowed his head as tears streamed from his eyes. His body shook with emotion, and fear.

At first I was angered.

A tax collector is nothing but a thief. I thought of how they stole so much from my family. How could God even love a man like this? I looked at the religious man. I knew he loved God, honored God, and dedicated his life to God. But he was so proud… My stomach turned, as I heard him boast about himself. Again, I looked at the tax collector. I had sympathy, and my heart broke for him. I knew. He was humbled where the Pharisee was exalting himself.

I couldn’t help but feel that God heard the tax collector, ever so clearly. To the Pharisee, He did not. I walked out of the temple. Even forgetting to pray. I learned a lot from that night. I learned that being humble is so much more precious to God, than pride.

Taken from Luke 18:10-14

The Pig Herder

 pig herder 

“Nothing will hold him down…nothing!” I scream.

 “Place these shackles on his feet, cuff his hands!” My cousin cried out to me!
“No, he only busts them! He’s a lunatic, a madman! Leave him to the graves!!! Lets get out of here!” I wail.
        Before he could turn on me, I ran with the others, back to my pigs. I wanted them protected from this insane man. I arrive, labored and fatigued. I had spent hours chasing this demented man away from my animals.
The man with the fits, and bursts of energy is running around. Left to to no food or water. Just his raves.
He screams and yells and is heard for miles! He beats on his own body in disgust! He tortures is skin with broken rock, cutting and thrashing..bleeding.
I am frightened, and keep watch. I won’t fall asleep. My cousin and I are the only ones left who will sit out here and watch our herd.
A boat approaches.
A group of men are aboard…
One stands out more than the others. Is he the captain? I feel uneasy over these visitors. Are they here to take this deranged man away? I hope they do. He scares me so.
They step out of the boat.
No one speaks, they only stare. The place reeks of corpse and mud. The flies are persistent, and the tombs are large. Endless stone, and rubble lie in heaps. Herds of pigs and their filth.
The man, of unsound mind, is sitting, slowly rocking on the path. He sees them land. He stands and begins to run to them!
“What do want of me, Jesus, Son of God??? PLEASE! Don’t hurt me! Don’t torment me!” He shrieks!
The men with Jesus looked stunned. This lunatic knows who Jesus is? How? He has never met him. And why would he think Jesus wanted to hurt him? The disciples wonder.
“Come out evil spirit!” Jesus says with authority.
“What is your name?”
 “I am Legion, the man says, for WE are many!”
The disciples gasp! Legion? We? But there is only one…
 “Please! the man yells, if you must make us leave, give us the bodies of the pigs to live in! We don’t want to die!”
“You may go to the pigs, he said, as if they needed His permission.
Suddenly my herd, grazing nearby, begin to stampede! 2000 of my pigs start running and trampling over themselves, and in utter panic, they leapt over the side of the cliffs, deep into the sea!
I am stunned, shocked!!
I run! I run into my town to tell the others to come out and see what has just taken place…
We come back towards Jesus and his men.
Who is he? What has he done to my animals?
Then I looked.
The man. The lunatic, the raging, insane man was now, normal.
I, and the others, could not believe our eyes! He sat on the ground, clothed and fully alert. He even spoke in a usual tone.
He wasn’t yelling or cutting himself. He was sitting, politely and looking up at this Man Jesus.
Suddenly I was afraid, struck with a fear I had never known.
Murmurs in the crowds. Relatives wailing over the loss of the pigs. I, in utter shock and disbelief. I began to tremble.
“Please, I spoke aloud. I beg you! Leave out region of Gerasenes!”
Jesus looked softly, into my eyes, and back to the man again.
The man now stood up, and pleaded with Jesus, “Take me with you!! I want to follow you, wherever you go!”
“No, Jesus replied. I cant let you go where I go. Stay here, and bring word back to your family. Tell them what the Lord has done for you. How the Lord had sympathy and mercy upon you.”
The man placed his hands over his healed face and body.
He turned and walked away.
He headed home to his town of Decapolis.
I heard about him in later years, how once he arrived there, to his city,  he spoke about Jesus and the miracle he had performed that day. The townsfolk were marveled and amazed at the sight of him and all he had to say.
Taken from Mark 5:1-20

The Fishermen

 It all began while we were out on the lake of Gennesaret. My good friend Simon, along with my brother James and I had been fishing all night. We had not caught one single fish! We were down trodden, broke and very hungry.  Then we arrived at shore.  We just wanted to wash our nets and leave the sea for the day; start anew in the evening. We were very tired.
We happened to see that there were many people on the beach, anxiously awaiting the arrival of this new teacher named Jesus. And, they really wanted to hear these amazing stories from this new Prophet! He was very exciting to listen to! I looked about and saw our two boats, empty on the sand, while Simon started up the cleaning of the nets. I began to walk over to help. The sea air felt nice around my skin, and the cool sand felt good on my feet. I closed my eyes for a moment and waited to continue on to help Simon with the nets.
While my eyes were still closed, Jesus walked up to us and entered our boat. He asked my friend Simon to push out into the water. Simon called to James and I, and we joined them out on the lake. Jesus stood up, gave us a smile and began to speak loudly to those on shore. His hair was tussled and his cloak made him look bigger than he was. The wind blew salt air and spray around our faces.  Something big was happening and we felt it. He talked of His Life and Purpose; about a Kingdom that was coming.
Simon stared up at Jesus and seemed so perplexed. The early sun was shining onto his eyes and the birds seemed hushed. He could hear the waves, slap at the stern. He felt quite awkward with this man in his boat, talking of things he knew nothing about.
But strangely, he was reminded of his mother in law being healed earlier in the week! It all seemed to tie together somehow.  He was convinced that this Jesus had to be from God. But how? Why?
I was busy in my own thoughts, as I often was, wondering what this man Jesus was saying. I stared at Him as He told stories and parables which were difficult to understand, but I somehow understood them. I so enjoyed being near Him, and I felt compelled to follow Him around everywhere to hear him teach.
When Jesus was done talking to the crowds on the shore, he asked Simon to drop his fishing net into the water. I watched with anticipation, because I knew the fishing had been dreadful in this area. I remembered the labor all night, and the reward was nothing. Nothing to even fill our bellies.
Simon looked at Jesus and did exactly what Jesus told him to do. He dropped the nets in the water.  Suddenly, the boat began to tip! We pulled the nets up, as they ripped and tore!  Multitudes of fish poured out! They fell into the boat, back in the sea! Endless fish, so much so, Simon yelled to the others to grab the second boat, and to come help!
I was astonished, almost gripped with fear! I watched as mass fish filled the boats! Fish were flopping and dancing and shaking about our feet, our nets torn and loosed!  We started sinking. Immediately we hurried to the shore to unload the bounty.
Jesus stood there staring at Simon.
Simon looked up at Jesus, and fell. Fell at His feet.  He cried out with tears streaming down his face, “Go away from me Lord! I am a sinful man!”
Simon’s eyes were tightly closed, but the shame was around him like a thick fog. I could sense his pain, his turmoil. My heart ached for him and I wanted to go to him, but the fish!
Jesus looked lovingly at Simon. “Do not fear Simon, for now you will be a fisher of men.”

When we got back to shore, we were faced with Jesus and Simon again. Jesus looked at me and my brother, and we simply knew. We dropped out nets, our fish, our lives…and we followed.

Taken from Luke 5:1-11