Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter 2011 Letter to Jesus... #1

My family and I hosted a family reunion weekend during the celebration of Easter 14 years ago. As I prepared events for that weekend, I knew that the Sunday morning worship service should reflect our family's commitment to Biblical truth. I also knew that it would be best if preparation for the service could take place in advance so that our focus that weekend could be on enjoying time with all the family members who would be gathering from all parts of the country as well as at least one from overseas. I pondered the fact that the Bible tells the story of people who actually saw the empty tomb and came to believe in Christ's resurrection and his divinity because of it. But 2000 years later, others believe in Jesus' resurrection based on the Biblical account of the empty tomb.

I decided that our beliefs could be conveyed through a drama. I would compose "Letters to Jesus" written by someone who could actually have gone to the tomb that first Easter to see that the grave was empty. I could also compose another "Letter to Jesus" from a present day person who had chosen to believe because of trusting the truth of scripture.

Members of my immediate family became the actors who portrayed the Biblical character who wrote a letter to Jesus upon learning of the resurrection. The actor read the letter to those gathered, removed their costume and became themselves - a present day believer who also wanted to read a letter they'd written to Jesus in order to convey personal gratitude for what he meant to them.

I selected seven Biblical characters; some of whom I gave a name because their Biblical story does not include a personal name. For our worship event that Easter Sunday morning, we used five performers.

My heart is filled with gratitude as I contemplate the immense sacrifice made by Jesus on my behalf. I am not worthy of forgiveness but my life has been changed because I have received that free gift which was made possible by Christ's death. I am posting the "Letters to Jesus" on this blog today. We begin with:



The tomb IS empty! It IS true! As soon as I heard the news of the resurrection, I just had to come here and see for myself. I was so afraid it was a trick; someone's imagination. You see, I'm Mary, Jesus' mother. If you're a mother you can probably imagine how I've been feeling since last Friday, what with the crucifixion and all but now - THIS. I could hardly believe it when I heard it. I just had to come and check for myself and see if the tomb really was empty. I want to read something to you. I've written a letter to my son which I hope to give him later today. He is busy with Peter and John and the others, I know, but I'm sure there will be a moment when we can be together for a few minutes. I can't wait to see him and once again give him a hug.
Dear Jesus, my son;
Being your mother has been such a remarkable experience. I have so often wondered why I was chosen for such a blessed privilege. For the past 33 years I have kept a journal and have recorded my thoughts as I watched you grow from infancy to manhood. There have been so many things I wanted to tell you - so many feelings I wanted to express. I have pondered these things in my heart and many of them I have put into this letter to you.
My first recollection is of that frightening appearance by the angel, Gabriel. I was so young and so excited about my wedding plans. And then the news that I would have a baby - how could that be? But the angel assured me there was a way and the baby would be the long awaited Messiah whose name was to be Jesus. Gabriel told me you were to save your people from their sin. I thought of that often. How would you save your people from their sin? Our sin was atoned for through the blood sacrifice of a perfect lamb. This was God's gracious way of offering forgiveness for our sin. Sometimes as my mind considered how you would save your people from their sin, I would be fearful but those moments were fleeting. Your birth was so thrilling. That little stable became so crowded with the anxious, eager shepherds all seeking a glimpse of you. I wondered what it could all mean. And then there was the cross-country move to escape from Bethlehem into Egypt. You were nearly two years old and I had put my roots down in Bethlehem so deeply, how I hated to pack and leave. And just as I was comfortably settled in Egypt, it was time to pack and travel cross-country again to Nazareth.
Those years when you were growing up and your brothers and sisters were being born, I would often be so exhausted and frustrated. I wanted to be a perfect mother and have perfect children but I too often let stress overwhelm me and I would respond unkindly and harshly. How I wish I could take back some of the things I said and did. I wanted to be the best mother possible but I know I often failed. You were so loving despite my frailty. Thank you for being an obedient son - for helping with all the household chores and all your little brothers and sisters and for being patient with me. I may not have always showed how much I loved you, but believe me, I always loved you intensely. I knew the day would come when you would begin your own career. How pleased I was when you turned the water to wine at that wedding feast - you really do love weddings. And whenever I heard of the miracles you performed - feeding thousands, healing sick, raising the dead - my heart nearly burst with pride. But there were other things I didn't understand. I was afraid you were crazy. People would mob you and sometimes you were so angry - like when you found sellers in the temple. I was always afraid there'd be a rebellion and you would get hurt. I really wanted to protect you from pain. But I couldn't. And then I witnessed your death. Every part of my body ached for you. In some ways I wish I wouldn't have been there to see you crucified but I couldn't tear myself away either. I just kept expecting that you would perform another miracle and get away. I watched those evil men manipulate the crowd in front of Pilate and get the people to demand your death and I was sure it was a mistake. It just had to be. You were perfect. You had done no wrong. You didn't deserve to die. I kept thinking, "If they crucify Him, evil will prevail. Right will fail." How I wanted to reach out with some caring touch or word to let you know how much I loved you. I just seemed immobilized. As I knelt below your cross, I recalled Gabriel's words, "You will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." But how would you save your people now? You were dead. You were gone. It was over. My pain was so great.
I've hardly slept all weekend. I just kept thinking "Where is the miracle?" And now I will see for myself. The tomb is empty. You did defeat death. You are alive. Thank you Jesus, for being my perfect son but thank you most of all for being the perfect sacrifice for my sin. I am sorry for all my unrighteousness. Please forgive me. I'm not worthy but I know you love me anyway. I give you my allegiance and will always be,
Your loving mother and devoted follower,

I, too, have a letter I've written to Jesus.
Dear Jesus,
I can easily relate to Mary. I feel so honored to be a mother. You have blessed me beyond anything I could have imagined. But like Mary, I have often failed - I have not always been the mother, wife, friend, daughter, person you wanted me to be. I am not worthy of your love. I wish I could stand before your cross as a perfect person in my own strength but I, too, have sinned. How I would like to go back and undo some wrongs of my life. But I can't. That's why Easter is so important to me. Because of your perfect sacrifice, I can be forgiven. You not only have taken away my sin, but you have also taken away the guilt I have felt. Your love for me took you to the cross and now there's a way for me to be forgiven. Thank you for being the worthy lamb. I give you my allegiance and with your help, I'll always be a loving mother and your devoted follower.

Easter 2011 Letter to Jesus... #2

(Note: Please see Easter 2011 Letter #1
for introduction to this series of posts.)

The tomb is empty! It IS true! I was here earlier this morning after the women brought me the news of Jesus' resurrection but I wanted to come back for a few moments by myself. You see, I am Peter, a close friend of Jesus. I have mixed emotions as I stand here this morning. I am thrilled that He is alive! This is more wonderful news than anything I could ever imagine, but, I also have a heaviness in my heart. I have not been a faithful friend - but let me explain what I mean in a letter I've written to Jesus. There are so many things I've always wanted to say to Him - perhaps you'll understand more clearly after you hear what I have written.

Dear Jesus, my friend;
Three years ago when my brother Andrew came to me with the news that he had found the Messiah, I followed him immediately to you. You asked us to leave our fishing career and follow you so that you could make us fishers of men. I had no idea at that time what was coming down the pike, but the commercial fishing business was getting pretty boring and following you seemed exciting and adventurous. I always liked excitement and adventure! And have things ever been exciting and adventurous since I decided to follow you?!

Do you remember that day when you were speaking to that house full of people and plaster started dropping on your head? We all looked up in amazement as a man on a pallet was lowered into the room at your feet. You seemed undaunted and proceeded to announce his sins forgiven, his body healed and command him to take up his bed and walk which he did. There was also that day when you sent the 12 of us out onto the Lake to cross to the other side. You stayed behind, I believe, to spend some time alone on the mountain in prayer. You later joined us by walking on the water!! I thought I was seeing a ghost so I asked you to make it possible for me to walk on the water also if it was truly you ... it was and you did! That was awesome - until my faith wavered in the midst of the roaring wind and waves I realized were whipping around me. I started to sink. Fortunately, you reached for me and took me safely into the boat. There were so many other things: demons cast out, blind men made to see, crippled people made to walk and even my mother-in-law was cured of her deathly illness. It was always invigorating for me to be with you for those thrilling moments. I felt so powerful as a part of such miraculous activity.

But I have to admit, there were many things you said which I just didn't understand and which seemed so hard to swallow. For example, you said we were blessed when we were insulted, persecuted, and lied about because of you. You didn't seem to understand that that kind of rejection would be so painful. I wondered how it could actually be a blessing. And you said we were to love our enemies, and not retaliate if we were slapped in the face but to turn the other cheek, and even to change and become like little children or we would never enter the kingdom of heaven. All of these things seemed so wimpy to me. I wanted power, prestige, prominence. I am beginning now, I think, to understand what you have been trying to teach me.

You tried to tell me that you would have to suffer and die, but I kept thinking there would be some other way. We were such a dynamic team. I just couldn't imagine that the time would ever come that you would be killed. I wanted the Roman government overthrown and your kingdom put into place. Last week before the crucifixion, I watched in disbelief as my world crumbled. I had given you some of the best years of my life. I couldn't believe all my energy advancing your kingdom had come to nothing.

And now I come to the really painful part - the part that has brought a heaviness into my heart. You remember how you asked several of us to watch and pray in the garden while you also prayed just last week? We were so tired we just couldn't seem to stay awake. And then you were betrayed by Judas and arrested and taken away. That was the lowest point of my life. My dreams were broken, my hope was gone. I felt deserted by my best friend and I felt there was no use in continuing my allegiance to a dying cause. Several people saw me warming my hands by a fire and called out that I was one of your followers. I bristled at the thought - how could I be so stupid as to follow a powerless leader who didn't even resist arrest? So I denied the accusation. I told them I never knew you. Oh, how sincerely I now regret those words. I allowed my moment of pain to crush my resolve and I failed you, my dearest friend. Can you ever forgive me? Please give me another chance? I lied - I do know you. I do love you. I do desire to serve you. As I watched you die on the cross, my heart broke to see your pain. And I began to think that everything I believed about you was false. But, today I know differently. Today I see the truth. Jesus, you are the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the son of the living God. You were the worthy, perfect sacrifice for my sin, you are now victor over sin and death. Please forgive my faithlessness. I do repent. I give you my allegiance and will always be,
Your loving friend and faithful follower,

I, too, have written a letter to Jesus....

Dear Jesus,
I can identify with the Apostle Peter. I feel so honored that you have chosen me as one of your friends. You have asked me to follow you and I have tried to faithfully live a life of gratitude for that privilege. How I have wanted to be perfect - to make you and others proud of what I accomplished. I have failed. Too often I have tried in my own strength as Peter did, to be more than you required me to be. I have neglected my family at times - I have given "doing for others" higher priority than being with you or them. That's why this Easter morning is so important to me. Because of your perfect sacrifice, I can be forgiven. Your love for me took You to the cross. Thank you for being the worthy sacrificial lamb by whom the Father forgives me and today gives me another chance to start afresh in my friendship with you. I give you my allegiance and with your help, I'll always be your loving friend and faithful follower.

Easter 2011 Letter to Jesus... #3

(Note: Please see Easter 2011 Letter #1
for introduction to this series of posts.)


The tomb IS empty! It IS true! I just knew Jesus would rise from the dead. I knew he had that incredible power. You see, I am Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus. We were all such good friends of Jesus. He often stayed with us but the thing that endears me most to him is what he did for Lazarus after he had been dead for four days. He brought him back to life. I always meant to communicate how much that meant to me so I've written him a letter. I brought it here as I wanted to see the empty grave for myself and I thought maybe he would be here so I could give it to him. Let me read it to you.

Dear Jesus, the Raiser of the dead,
You have made such a difference in my life. I can't imagine where I would be today if it weren't for you and your willingness to confront me about the things that are really important in life. Do you remember that day that you and your twelve apostles were passing through Bethany and I invited you all for dinner? Well, I was so excited to have you all there and be able to fix a meal for you that I decided it just had to be a banquet feast. I am one of those women who just love to have people in my home and serve them a meal. And I wanted my meals to be something that my guests would always remember so that they would be able to tell others what a terrific cook and housekeeper I was. I was trying that new gourmet recipe I had just gotten from the "menu of the month" club and it was going to be a winner. There was just one problem, however, I didn't have enough hands to do all the preparation myself. I really needed my sister, Mary, to pitch in and give me some assistance. I hardly had time to locate her but as I passed the hors d'oeuvres, I found her at your feet, just sitting, doing what appeared to be absolutely nothing. I was so perturbed that I interrupted you and asked if you didn't care that I had no help in the kitchen. I wanted you to tell Mary to come and help me but instead, you said to me, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Wow, that really stopped me short. I had always thought that I was doing very important things by serving others in the best way I possibly could but maybe I had some things to learn. I then decided the gourmet recipe could wait until another day and we could all eat the fruit and cheese that was already prepared. That way I, too, could be involved in the conversation with you. That comment by you that day, helped me so much. I still love to work in my home and serve others, but now I try to balance it with taking time to meditate on your word.
That was one of the special things you did for me that helped change my life, but the most spectacular thing was the love you showed to my sister, brother and me after he had gotten sick and died. Mary and I sent for you when we realized Lazarus wasn't going to survive and somehow you were delayed in coming until he had already died. We were so grief stricken. We just knew that you could have healed him if you had been there. You, also, were moved with compassion because of his death. You told me my brother would rise again. I knew he would rise again in the resurrection at the last day but you said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." You asked if I believed that and I answered, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." And then you commanded the stone be moved away from the grave and when you called for Lazarus to come out, he did. He was resurrected and healed. Because of all that I had come to believe about you, I just knew you were the Messiah who would one day die but would conquer death and the grave again and come back to life yourself. This empty tomb shows me what tremendous love and power you have. I have given you my love and allegiance and will always be,
Your faithful friend and follower,

I, too, have a letter I've written to Jesus.

Dear Jesus,
I can relate to Martha. I, too, am a woman who can get distracted from the really important things in life by being busy about my home. I, too, have needed to rearrange the priorities in my life so that I put being with you before doing for you. I also, like Martha, have lost a brother to illness. You know how great a loss that has been for me and my family. We asked you to spare his life and heal his body. You chose not to give earthly life back to my brother. That has been unbelievably painful but because I trust that you are the Christ, the Son of God, I believe you did what was best for me and my family. Easter reminds me that your death wasn't what you wanted either but it was best for all humanity. Your love for me took you to the cross. I love you for being the worthy sacrificial lamb for my sin. I give you my allegiance and aspire to always be, your faithful friend and follower.

Easter 2011 Letter to Jesus... #4

(Note: Please see Easter 2011 Letter #1
for introduction to this series of posts.)

The tomb IS empty! It IS true! The news was brought to our home earlier today and mom is so thrilled but the rest of us don't really know what to think. You see, I am James, the brother of Jesus. Our family has been together since Jesus' death on Friday. There've been so many things to talk about, so many feelings we have. This crucifixion has been really difficult for all of us but especially me because I was closest in age to Jesus. I have been trying to be the brave big brother but it hasn't been easy. You see, I have a lot of questions about who Jesus really is. But let me read you a letter I've written to him. There are so many things I want to say to him.

Dear Jesus, My brother,
The news came to us earlier today that your grave was found empty this morning. Some are saying that there's been a resurrection; that you have come back to life. Several of the women even claim they've seen you. They also seem to think they've talked to you and some angels. I really don't know what to think. I wish I were able to sort this out in my head and know for certain whether or not you really are the Messiah you claimed to be. I was so positive until this morning that I had the truth about you and now I am completely confused.

Have you wondered why none of your brothers and sisters believed you really were God in the flesh? Let me try to explain. As soon as I was old enough to understand things, I realized that there was something different about you. You were always so perfect - so in control- so almost inhuman and yet you were also ordinary but in a way I can't really explain and I never could understand. We were such close buddies when we were little - we used to chase each other around everywhere but I always had the feeling I could never be as good or as religious as you were. So I decided I would get recognition for being different from you - looking different and acting different and believing differently. Those avenues for expressing my individuality brought me some recognition but often left me feeling somewhat unfulfilled. It was as though I accomplished notable things but found they lacked satisfaction even though their achievement required much courage and resolve on my part.

When you told us you were God and man, and we heard the story of your birth and the early years of your life from mom and dad, none of that really made any sense. To me you were just another of my brothers - how could you be the Messiah? We knew you were just like any other human being except for the things you claimed about yourself. And that's really why I decided you must actually be crazy, mentally unstable. For your own good, I felt you should be restrained. When the Messiah came, he would set up an earthly kingdom. You weren't working on that. In fact you were an embarrassment to the rest of your family. You were associating frequently with scum, riff-raff, low-life. Your ideas were provincial and weird. We valued education, proper affiliations, community esteem and all you brought our way was disgrace. We even heard that you terrorized employees at the temple. When you rebuked our attempt to calmly and quietly get you some counseling, I decided the only thing I could do was distance myself from you and your fruitcake ideas.

When I heard of your death on Friday, I wasn't surprised. It was just a matter of time. We tried to prevent that from happening but people just can't put up forever with such a bizarre character as you have been. I wish it could have been different for us. You were really a cool big brother to me. I really looked up to you but I just couldn't swallow your philosophies. But you know, since this morning, I've really started thinking again. You told people, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." I always thought you were referring to stone and brick but maybe you were talking about your body as a temple. I heard that at the moment you died on the cross, that the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom to open the way into the holy of holies. If it tore from top to bottom, that was supernatural because that curtain is 40 cubits or 72 feet high. How could anyone get up that high to tear it from the top down? But I wonder where the logic is in all this? I know you. I just can't believe you could be God. But this I have decided. I will attempt to learn the truth. I want to see you again so I can find out for myself, if you really have come back to life. If I am convinced that you really were dead and now live, I will change my mind. I will devote my life to serving you as the worthy sacrificial lamb. I will repent and give you my allegiance.
Your brother in the flesh and in the Spirit,

(Remove costume and continue speaking.) I, too, have a letter I've written to Jesus.

Dear Jesus,
I can relate to some of the experiences of James, Jesus' brother. I, too, have an older brother. It was sometimes difficult to maintain my own identity as I followed his footsteps through life. I haven't, however, experienced the same degree of doubt about you as did your brother. I am so grateful that you did appear to him so that he could resolve his dilemma and follow through with his promise to serve you faithfully. He wrote another letter which I've read many times. It has reminded me that trials are to be considered pure joy because they produce perseverance. It also has clued me in that my faith is really nothing if it's not accompanied by good works. I do want to thank you for giving me a brother, a sister, a strong family. I am not always worthy of your love but Easter reminds me that you considered me worthy to die for - a truth I can hardly fathom. Thank you. I give you my allegiance and desire to always be, your faithful friend and follower.

Easter Letter to Jesus... #5

(Note: Please see Easter 2011 Letter #1
for introduction to this series of posts.)


The tomb IS empty! It IS true! On my way to the temple this morning, I learned that something has happened which has created great excitement in Jerusalem today. It is being reported that there's been a resurrection from the dead - Jesus of Nazareth has risen from the dead! I decided I just had to come here for myself and make sure Jesus' grave really was empty. You see, I am Josephine, the woman who was ill for 12 years with hemorrhaging. He miraculously healed me one day and I just knew he really was the Messiah, the Anointed One of Israel. There have been many things I wanted to tell him, so I have written him a letter. Let me read it to you.

Dear Jesus, my healer,
Until I met you that day as you walked through my neighborhood, my life was miserable. For twelve long years I had been bleeding abnormally. I had been to so many different doctors. I know they tried their best to find a cure for my problem. They experimented with any new theory they heard or read about, but for me there was no answer. My money was gone, my suffering continued and worst of all, I was shunned by society as continually unclean. I felt so abandoned and forlorn. There were many days when I thought God must be punishing me for something evil I had done or thought. I was brokenhearted because I would never know the love of a man or be able to give birth to a child. I questioned whether or not I was really a normal woman. I felt so different and rejected. How I ached to be able to one day hold my own flesh and blood - to have that wonderful experience of motherhood which so many women are privileged to have. I knew in my present condition, I was without hope. But then, I heard about you.

I had heard of great miracles which you had performed - blind were given sight, paralyzed were made to walk, deaf were made to hear - why couldn't my bleeding be stopped? But for me, it seemed impossible. I was not allowed to be amongst other people for fear of making them unclean. Then I heard that you were nearby.

There was a very large crowd following you, pressing about you and I thought maybe I could slip unnoticed into that crowd and get close enough to just touch just the edge of your garment. I was able - I touched your clothes and as I did, I was immediately healed. I felt it - I knew the miracle I had been praying for had happened. I wanted to just slip out of sight and return home to quietly meditate on what had happened, but you stopped and asked who had touched you. I saw there was no escape so I fell at your feet in fear and told you the whole story. You then said to me, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." How elated I felt. You recognized me - you blessed me - you healed me physically and spiritually.

That day I went home a changed person. You said my faith had healed me. Yes, it is true. I had great faith. I know you honored that and gave me the greatest desire of my heart - a cure for all my problems. I can't thank you enough. I knew I needed physical healing and you knew I also needed spiritual healing. I now know that your death on the cross makes that healing possible and your resurrection makes it certain. I am most grateful for all that you have done for me. I give you my allegiance and will always be,
Your faithful friend and follower,

I, too, have a letter I've written to Jesus.

Dear Jesus,
I can relate to Josephine. I, too, have experienced being different from most other women. My womb is barren. I have not yet been able to conceive a child. I long to one day become a mother and hold my own flesh and blood in my arms. And I don't know if you will heal my physical problem and make that dream of mine come true or not.

But this one thing I know for sure. My love for you does not depend on your response to my deep desire to conceive and give birth to a child. Easter is so important to me today because I know that it really shows me again that you will do what's best for me. Your death wasn't what you wanted, but it was best for all humanity. Your love for me took you to the cross. And I love you for being the worthy sacrificial lamb for my sin. Whether or not you chose to bless my husband and me with our own biological child, I give you my allegiance and aspire to always be, your faithful friend and follower.

Easter 2011 Letter to Jesus... #6

(Note: Please see Easter 2011 Letter #1
for introduction to this series of posts.)


The tomb IS empty! It IS true! As I was hanging out my laundry this morning, Maria from across the street came to tell me the good news that Jesus had come back to life. A number of people had seen and talked to him. I was so excited when I heard it. I just knew something miraculous like that would happen to him. But I really wanted to see for myself - to make sure this was not just someone's hallucination. What Jesus did for me, was so remarkable that words hardly begin to express my gratitude. You see, I am Eva, the woman caught in the act of adultery and brought before Jesus. I have always wanted an opportunity to thank him for what he did for me that day so I've written him a letter.

Dear Jesus, my rescuer,
This letter in many ways is not going to be easy for me to write. I am now a changed person but I am a woman with a shameful past. I cannot defend my former behavior but I do want to explain some things and let you know what a tremendous difference you have made in my life.

As I grew into womanhood, I became aware of my attractiveness to men. I was so flattered by their attention. Their words made me feel so loved and confident. I enjoyed their fascination with me - I loved the elation I felt in their presence. But one day everything changed. Someone I had come to trust took advantage of me and violated my body. It was so painful, so shameful, so degrading. I felt I had somehow caused this to happen. I thought I became a worthless woman - of no value to anyone other than to be further abused and violated. I could no longer be part of society. I could only remain locked in secret behind closed doors. My only contact was with men who would momentarily desire my presence in order to satiate their unrestrained passion. Those encounters provided me with a bit of human contact and attention but always left me saddened and lonely. I felt completely isolated and hopeless. Then one morning, in the midst of one of my encounters, a group of men stormed into my residence, grabbed my arm and dragged me into the street. The man with me fled through the back window and escaped. I only barely caught the corner of my robe as I was pulled out. I managed to get it around my shoulders as we proceeded through the street to the temple court. I could only imagine what fate I was facing. I knew the law called for my death by stoning. At that time, I almost began to feel relief. My life was so miserable, I wasn't sure it was worth living anyway. These men brought me to you. I had no idea who you were. No one had ever told me about you. I could only think that you must be a judge, called to decide my fate. There was so much confusion, so much noise, so many shouts and cries. I could only stand with my head bowed in utter shame and fear. As I stood there, however, I began to realize that you were not answering the questions hurled at you. You had bent down and were writing something on the ground with your finger. They kept demanding an answer of you as to what should be done with me and as you stood up, I heard you say, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." You kept on writing after that and even though I didn't dare look around, I realized the crowd was becoming quiet and seemed to be dispersing. I could hardly believe it. Your words had been that a person without sin should cast the first stone - you hadn't said, "a person without this sin". Is it possible that this sin is no worse than any other sin? Within my heart I began to feel a ray of hope - a flicker of expectation. When you straightened up the second time, you spoke to me. By then there was no one else present other than the two of us. You asked, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" I answered, "No one, sir." And then I heard the most wonderful words I had ever heard in my life - words I still have a hard time comprehending but which gave me the strength to believe that a different life for me was possible. You said, "Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin." At that moment my life changed. I knew I was a sinner who needed to repent but you gave me hope - a reason to live and the confidence that I was worthy of your care. I knew immediately that your concern for me was different from any other man I had known. I left your presence that day with the determination to leave my life of sin and follow you.

I was so saddened when I heard of your death on Friday. I knew evil men had carried out their wicked plan but today is another day for me to rejoice. You willingly chose to die. Thank you for being the worthy sacrificial lamb. I give you my allegiance and will always be,
Your faithful friend and follower,

I, too, have a letter I've written to Jesus.

Dear Jesus,
I can relate to Eva. I, too, have suffered the humiliation, shame and agony of a man's violation of my body. I have felt so isolated and lonely. I wish I could be perfect but I am not. That's why Easter is so important to me today. I can only come to the foot of your cross with brokenness and anguish. Thank you for forgiving me and washing clean my being with your blood. Your love for me took you to the cross. I can never again be the same. You are the worthy lamb who was sacrificed for my sin. I give you my allegiance and want to always be, your faithful friend and follower.

Easter 2011 Letter to Jesus... #7

(Note: Please see Easter 2011 Letter #1
for introduction to this series of posts.)

The tomb IS empty! It IS true! I was here earlier this morning after the women brought us the news of the resurrection, but I wanted to come back - to spend some time alone to contemplate the wonder of this day. You see, I am John, the beloved friend of Jesus and brother of James. After being here earlier today, I decided to put some of my thoughts into a letter to Jesus. There are so many things I've always wanted to say to Him.

Dear Jesus, my friend,
I recall so clearly that day three years ago as James and I were fishing with our dad and you came by and called us to follow you. We never hesitated a moment - we were eager to join you, Peter and Andrew in whatever adventure was about to take place. I remember how exciting those first days were - we never seemed to mind that we had no home, no food - you somehow seemed to meet all of our physical needs. It wasn't so bad to sleep on the ground and eat raw grain twice a day. I seemed to immediately sense that I was beginning a very unique and special time of my life. I had always assumed I would continue the family fishing business with my brother, but after traveling for awhile with you, I knew I could never comfortably go back to that life. You were showing me something different - you were using your time to talk with people - people of all walks of life. There were poor people, rich people, government people, common laborers, old people, young children, women, men, people with problems - physical, mental, spiritual, relational, financial, emotional, - people with weaknesses, people with fears, people with stress. Everywhere you went, you would be surrounded by people. I loved being part of that. I was energized by all that relational activity. I became your closest friend. I planned our itineraries; I arranged our large group sessions and the smaller break-out groups. I found community service opportunities for new converts. I negotiated for open air meeting sites and picnic basket lunches. I set up transportation. I mobilized the masses. It was awesome. I knew we were destined for the "Fishers of Men" Hall of Fame.

But then one day, something truly remarkable happened to you which changed my life and helped me see how to rearrange the priorities in my life. You asked Peter, James and me to go to the top of a mountain with you. There you were transfigured. At the time I didn't know what was happening. I just knew we were in the holy presence of God and I was privileged to be part of this phenomenon. A bright cloud enveloped us and a voice spoke which said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" I had always known there was something special about you but I had not really grasped that you were the Son of God - the Messiah we had been waiting for. From that moment on, I knew that it was more important for me to listen to you than to get caught up in all the logistics of our operation. As I learned to listen, I realized that you were sharing with us a way to have eternal life. You said that God loved the world so much that He gave his one and only Son and whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. And then you also taught that we are to love each other as you loved us. You said that the greatest love anyone can show another is to lay down his life for that friend. When I heard those words, I thought they were just the unrealistic, utopian thoughts of an idealist. Little did I know that I was about to witness the enactment of that message before my very eyes.

During our three years together, I grew to love you deeply and care about the things you cared about. All the while, however, I was secretly hoping that you would somehow infiltrate the government of our land and bring about your kingdom in a peaceful manner. I thought it would be wonderful if our team could be put into leadership positions and we could then promote our humanitarian program. Of course, I (and my mother) wanted James and me to have the most prominence in such a regime but that was not your plan.

As I stood with your mother at the foot of the cross on Friday, I grieved for her loss, my loss and the loss to the world. I still felt your love and compassion, but I wondered why this had to be how your life ended. And then I remembered your recent words to me, "The greatest love anyone can show another, is to lay down his life for that friend." Oh, how could I have been so short sighted? How could I have missed it? You were about to show me and the world the greatest love of all time. I am not worthy to be chosen as your friend. I have failed you. Please forgive me. I give you my allegiance and will always be,
Your loving friend and devoted follower,

I, too, have a letter I've written to Jesus.

Dear Jesus,
I can easily relate to John. I feel so honored that you have called me to be one of your followers. There were times as a child that I thought my parents forced me to commit my life to you but that was not true. I have willingly chosen to become one of your children. But like John, I have sometimes gotten my priorities out of whack and have cared more about my own agenda than yours. That's why this Easter is so important to me. It is a time for me to refocus my eyes on your perfection - on your sacrifice - on your love and to ask your forgiveness. Your love for me took you to the cross. Thank you for being the worthy lamb who was sacrificed for my sin. I give you my allegiance and with your help, I will always be your faithful friend and follower.