An Invitation to Tea – Zaccheaus

My name is Zaccheaus, Zac for short, and you may have heard of me. I’m the one who is short and climbed a tree to see Jesus, only for Him to invite himself to my house for tea.

It was long ago, and I am old now, but I look back with fondness, with horror and with disgust at the man I used to be. At the man I was, before Jesus changed me, before I was set free, and forgiven.

I was a very wealthy man, I still am, if you compare me with those around me that have nothing. But I share my wealth now, and use it for good, unlike before.

In those days, I cooked the books, believed in creative accounting, which basically meant I got richer and everyone else became poorer. I lied and cheated, and behaved appallingly, but all this did not stop Jesus from calling my name, and although I was a sinner He called me friend.

I remember the day as if it were yesterday. The streets were lined at every corner, with crowds of excited people. Jesus was coming to town. I knew of this Jesus, by reputation anyway, you could not have lived in Jericho at that time, and not have heard of Him.

I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, I wanted to know if He deserved such a reputation, I needed to see for myself.

However, therein lay the problem. I was so short I couldn’t see anything, only the armpits of the person in front of me. Suddenly, I had a cunning plan.  I ran along the road and climbed a sycamore tree. This was perfect, I thought, I can see Him, but He can’t see me.

How wrong was I?

Not long after I had settled myself down, I was disturbed.

Someone was calling my name. At first, I stayed quiet, I hoped I would blend in with the leaves. I was not a popular guy, so I prayed that the person that had spoken had mixed me up with someone else and that they would soon move on. But the calling persisted.

Who was it that called, and what did they want?

Eventually, as the crowds gathered at the foot of my tree, and the discontented mutterings increased, I realised that it was Jesus who was talking to me, and not just talking, but inviting Himself to tea.

I climbed down, and as I opened the door of my house I realised that the door of my heart had been prised open too. This man knew all about me, He saw through my lies and exposed my cheating.

He never condemned me, it was I who condemned myself, because in the light of his goodness my evil was laid bare.

He called me a son of Abraham, as He offered me forgiveness. I in turn gave half of my possessions to the poor, and paid back three-fold those whom I had cheated.

He told me that salvation had come. I didn’t know what that was, but I knew things could never be the same, and they never have been.

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

 

Palm Sunday

Wow what a day!!

You should have seen it!!

I was minding my own business on the way to the city for the Passover festival when I was caught up in the commotion.

Crowds and crowds of people.

All shouting and waving coats and palms, anything they could get hold of really.

There were children singing, Excited women,

And men visibly growing in stature, ready to stand up and fight for what was rightfully theirs.

The soldiers were on high alert.

The priests were clearly concerned and unsure.

And the people He brought with Him were loyal and obedient, ready to follow at any cost, and hanging on His every word.

And there He was. People called him Jesus, The Lamb of God,

The Son of David,

Even, the Messiah, the chosen one of God.

They believed He would raise an army, So they hailed Him as king.

They thought He would bring freedom

So they pledged themselves to Him and to His service.

But I did not see a warlord.

I did not see jewels in a crown,

Or an army marching with swords and clubs. Nor did I hear words of uprising,

Or any call to arms.

Instead I saw a man, humbly riding on a donkey and speaking love. I, like everyone else, was glad to be a part of it.

I knew this was the start of something big.

I could sense that this man drew people to Him

And I felt that He had the power to change those around Him. And He did!!!

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

In the Shadows of Victory: Ride the Rollercoaster of Holy Week

Now that we are approaching Easter – and all that that means to Christians throughout the world – I would strongly recommend that if you have a kindle you download a copy of the wonderfully inspirational book ‘In The Shadows of Victory:- Ride the Rollercoaster of Holy Week’ by Deacon Becky Lovatt.

Becky has created an interactive book, featuring stories from the viewpoint of many of the people that in some ways were involved in the last few days of Jesus’ journey towards the Cross.

For further information and to download this marvellous book for only £1.99 please go to:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00L9UYDKS/

To wet your appetite so to speak this is the first chapter:-

                          Dangerous Day

 

We now begin the journey, remembering that already we stand with Jesus Christ our Saviour in the shadow of the cross, remembering that for him, it was a very dangerous day.

Jesus knew exactly what he was doing mounting the donkey at Bethpage, as this was where the priests had calculated the city limits. For Jesus to mount here was a statement that spoke volumes to all that were there. It was, in effect, as if He was shouting from the rooftops that He was the Messiah.

Now, position yourself at the side of the road, having first run and chopped down a palm branch that you are waving frantically.

Picture if you can the Roman army standing there, thousands of them, making it very clear that you are part of an occupied people. Look up at the temple on the hill, and look beyond it. There overshadowing the holy place is the fist shaped Roman fortress. Built purposely taller than the temple just to remind you who was in charge.

Listen to the crowd hailing him as their King. But He does not come on a war horse, only a humble donkey. And He does not come with swords and clubs; He is armed only with God’s words of peace and love.

Wave your branches, as they are the national symbol of your people. Wave them at the coming Messiah, showing your defiance to the Romans, believing that this Jesus would send them packing once and for all.

Jesus knew that for Him, it was a very dangerous day.

Picture the children laughing and playing around your feet. In your fear, you push them forward. Somehow this fear is always lurking beneath your joy; your fear of the Roman soldiers and the power they hold over you.

The children – they are young, surely these soldiers wouldn’t launch an attack against them, no matter how unruly the crowd become. Push them forward, put them between you and the soldiers, not because you do not love your children, but because you fear for your own safety.

Jesus knew that for Him, it was a very dangerous day.

Sing your hosannas, not just a song of happiness, but also a song of rebellion, a song that speaks of freedom, and of victory over your enemies. Stand tall in the face of those who persecute you. Hold firm, ready to take up arms and fight, ready to rally around this new king and take back, by force if you have to, your land, and your home.

Jesus knew that for Him, it was a very dangerous day.

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

It Was Only Another Lash Of The Whip!

It was only another lash of the whip!
 
Marcus, a Roman Soldier, describes how he was ordered to whip Jesus before He was crucified on the cross
 
 
With many peaceful blessings
 
Geoffrey

I was blind but now I can see: the voice of Bartimaeus

Nothing has ever been the same since that day. Well, how could it be? My whole life changed in an instant.

I was a beggar, now I am not; I was despised and rejected, now I have a place in society; and I was blind but now I can see.

My name is Bartimaeus, and I was born blind. There was much debate at the time as to whose fault that was, mine or my parents or even their parents. Something to do with the sins of the father I think, I didn’t much know or care. All I know is that I was blind, but Jesus made me see.

It was a day like any other. I was up early and out on the road, I needed to get a good spot, needed to get money to feed the family, and there is not much else for a blind man to do, so begging it was.

To begin with all I heard was the everyday chatter of the street, and the sound of a few coins being tossed into my plate. But gradually I could sense the excitement rising in everyone. The noise increased and I could feel a rush of activity all around me.

What was it?

What was going on?

“Jesus is coming,” someone shouted at last.

Jesus the teacher, prophet and healer. Jesus, I had heard of Him – His reputation was going before Him – that was for sure.

I knew I wanted to talk with Him. Maybe He could heal me, I had thought optimistically.

I shouted too, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The crowd laughed at me and told me to keep quiet, not to bother the teacher. Why would He want to talk to you anyway, they said. I shouted louder, “Jesus, pity me!”

Suddenly, someone was whispering in my ear and helping me to my feet. “Hush, He is calling you.” I stopped, His hand touched my shoulder and He asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”

What a dumb question, I thought, but it wasn’t. He knew what He was saying, and He wanted to know that I had weighed up my answer.

I paused. “I want to see,” I said.

“Then go,” He told me, “Wash in the stream and see, your faith has healed you.”

So I went, and washed, and just as He said I would, I could see. A whole inquisition followed, questions from priests and the crowd alike.

Questions for me, my parents and my whole family. Questions, for most of which I didn’t know the answer. All I could tell them was that I was blind, Jesus touched me, and now I can see.

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

I hardly dared breathe: the voice of Pilate’s Servant

I hardly dared take a breath as I continued about my work around the house, minding my own business, keeping my head down. I knew that things had been strained in the household, I had felt it.

I worked for the wife of the Governor, Pontius Pilate. I had been in post for many years when it happened and the mistress had shared many things with me. And that night, I remember, she shared her dreams and fears with me, as I share them with you now.

It was a few nights before that that the nightmares began – the same one every night.  She would wake up in a sweat and could hardly draw breath; her dreams were turning her into a nervous wreck.

The dreams were of Him, this Jesus character that had transformed the whole of Jerusalem, Jews and Romans alike. Some had changed for the better, some for the worse. And now my mistress’s dreams saw Him bound and beaten standing in front of her husband, who was to pass judgment on Him.

The man had eyes that bore into her very soul, she said. He was not angry, or full of hatred, in fact He stared at her and her husband with compassion and even love, not that she was very good at recognising that emotion.

The dream had warned her to stay away from this man, to leave him to the Jews, to do with him as they willed, but Pilate just had to get involved. He said that he had no choice, that the crowd were threatening him with going to Rome, to the Emperor. It could have meant losing everything.

The position, the power, and all that comes with that, the honour, the glory, the praise of Rome. But instead they lost even more than that, they lost their very selves.

Jesus came, just as the dream predicted, Pilate got involved, again as predicted. He tried to walk away, to wash his hands of the whole sordid affair, but it was too late by then, the die had already been cast.

Jesus was led away, stripped, whipped, and crucified, and for Pilate and my mistress, the real nightmare began.

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

For Thirty Pieces of Silver – the Voice of Judas

My name is Judas Iscariot and it is a name that will be remembered for centuries to come. I was there, you see, following Him, I was there when the crowds hailed Him as king and He made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey – let me tell you all about it.

We had spent three years playing at it, living as occupied people in an occupied land. The Romans dominated everything; we lived under their rule, but secretly we dreamed of regaining our homeland.

I joined a small group of freedom fighters, but our numbers were few, our weapons were fewer, and before long our enthusiasm began to fade. But then, about three years ago He arrived – Jesus of Nazareth. A carpenter by trade but He could really tell a story.

Somehow, He spoke with authority, crowds gathered around like bees to a honey pot, and they hung on his every word. Hope began to rekindle; maybe this was the man who would call us to arms, form us into an army, and reclaim our land, by force if we had to.

However, He had preached love and kindness, He had rebuked scribes and priests, He had eaten with tax collectors and sinners and healed on the Sabbath. I was beginning to doubt His qualifications, maybe He wasn’t the revolutionary I had hoped for after all.

But then… then I was surprised, as He turned His face towards Jerusalem, the city of our God and centre of our homeland. On the day we entered the city, the streets were lined with people, waving palms, shouting Hosannas and hailing Him as king. And I was there too; part of the throng, maybe it would happen after all, maybe this was the beginning.

 

 

The Romans looked on, spears in hand, just to make sure that the crowd did not overstep the mark. And He, He rode a donkey, not a white horse, like a king, or a war horse like an army general, but a donkey, plain and simple, placid and peaceful, what did this say?

I walked into the city with mixed feeling; half of me was full of excitement, maybe this was it – the beginning of the end for our oppressors. The other half was full of anger; perhaps revolution on my terms was not what Jesus planned.

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey