Joseph and Mary: The Rest of the StoryDecember 16, 2015
The Word Became Flesh (John follows Peter’s First ‘sermon’ at the Temple)January 21, 2016
The next morning we gathered at Solomon’s Porch. The sun was not yet up so it was a cool morning, with a mist hanging around, causing a fog to dim our view of the surrounding temple grounds. The twelve of us, as well as our larger group of one hundred and twenty or so, had arrived early to start praying. No one else was there yet, and as I knelt to pray my old Self whispered a warning that no one else would be showing up.
Satan whispered that we were fools: incompetent and incapable. Who do we think we are, representing Jesus? But … the Holy Spirit calmed my fears – because “greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world.”
The sun was slowly starting to break through the mist while we were praying, and as I said “Amen” to myself I looked up, and my heart filled with joy: there were hundreds of men and women gathering around us. All those we had met on Pentecost. Everyone was smiling. We started hugging the new arrivals – everyone started hugging everyone. Slowly a song arose among us. Someone had started singing, and soon we all joined in. I had my arm around a Greek Jew from Alexandria, and he had his arm around one of Matthew’s tax collector friends.
What a sight. A family. A family joined together not by blood relations, but by the blood of our Master, Jesus. A family that was going to reflect the love and joy and unity Jesus had always possessed with the Father and with the Holy Spirit.
In that moment the Spirit told me what to say – or more accurately the Spirit moved me to say. The Spirit has rarely dictated to me what to say, at least not in advance. He doesn’t seem to work that way.
The Spirit guides me, filling me with words as I go – my words, my voice, but his heart. Suddenly I knew what to talk about: our new family. I wanted them to know Jesus like we knew him. I wanted them to understand with their hearts, as well as their minds, who he was, what he cared about, and how he did things.
So I called out to everyone, and a hush fell over the crowd. “Brothers, sisters, welcome to the family of God. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!”
With that a chorus of amens and hallelujahs went up from the crowd, and more smiles and more hugs. I continued, “We were with Jesus for almost four years, and we came to love him, but we didn’t really know him until the Holy Spirit came to us, as he did to each of you on Pentecost.
“So let’s understand from the beginning, we are not superior to you. Not one bit. We are all in this together. Greeks, Jews, converts, rich, poor, educated and working men like us. Slaves and freedmen, women and men and even children. Greek-speaking, Hebrew-speaking, and Aramaic-speaking. We are all equal. We are all now children of God Almighty.
“We are all sinners, and we are all saved by the grace of his Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus.”
John, Matthew, Thomas and the others were spreading out among the crowd, encouraging them to sit in groups of ten to twenty. John turned back to me and said, “Preach it Brother!”
Joyous laughter broke out among the group: a loving laugh, an encouraging laugh, full of joy and enthusiasm. So I continued.
“One of the first things Jesus said to us was, ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.’
People were looking at each other and nodding their heads.
“At the time, I didn’t know what Jesus was trying to say to us, but I can see now he was being very purposeful with his words when he said, “I have come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.” He meant he was going to “fill out” the true meaning of the Law and the Prophets. He meant he was going to show us the full life the Father always intended for us to have through the indwelling Holy Spirit. And this is precisely what he did, with his words, and with his actions.
“He gave life to the scriptures. He showed their meaning to us in bodily form. He showed us how to live, really live. He taught us and he showed us the heart of the Father. He wanted us to know the Father like he knew him. And so now we want you to know who the Father is, what he cares about, and how he does things.
“You are his child. He adores you. He is proud of you. He likes you. You are now part of his family.”
The crowd was mesmerized, as was I. I didn’t know what I was saying from one sentence to the next. But as I said it, it all became so clear to me, as it was to the crowd. I have learned this is how the Spirit moves in each of us.
He gives us this sense of clarity, and even creativity in the way we relate to others. And along with this clarity and creativity, coming moment by moment, he gives us a new energy: fueled by the Holy Spirit within.
Now it was John’s turn to speak up.