Joseph and Mary: The Rest of the Story – A Mini-Series on Joseph and Mary
December 31, 2020
January 14, 2021
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The Rabbi & the Roman Soldier

These teachings are now available in 30 minute videos at our YouTube channel at

As we exit 2020 and begin … the rest of your life … I want to share again a short story with you about a rabbi and his encounter with a Roman soldier.[i]

It seems our rabbi takes the wrong fork in a road on his way home one dark night, and soon thereafter he is startled by a shout: “Who are you? What are you doing here?”

The rabbi realizes he has stumbled upon a Roman outpost and for a moment he freezes in his steps. Again the Roman soldier roars, “Who are you? What are you doing here?”

The rabbi pauses for a moment, and then he calls out, “How much do you get paid a day?” Perplexed by the rabbi’s response, the solder replies, “I get paid two denarii a day, Jew. Why?”

The rabbi responds, “Because I will double your wage if you come to my house every morning and ask me those same two questions.”

Oh my.

So I ask you: “Who are you? What are you doing here?”

These two questions are tightly linked together, because the way you answer the second answers the first. Put another way, how I set my path each day, my to-do list, my order of priorities, my willingness to interrupt my schedule, becomes who I am.

What I actually do each day, how I interact with others—not what I intended to do, or wish I had done, or my good intentions—becomes my life story. And it becomes my legacy.

(Remember: Inheritance is something you leave for someone. Legacy is what you leave in someone.[ii] )    

So how would you answer these two questions? Or more poignantly, how would others?

“He/she is … a successful lawyer, doctor, businessperson, teacher. Really smart. Really driven. Drinks a little too much. A fun friend. A really good golfer, tennis player, hunter, fisherman, poker player, designer. A huge Clemson or Carolina fan.”

Or, “He made a difference in my life.”—“She knows Jesus and it shows in the way she relates to those around her.”—“There is something different, deeper, about him, about her.”

The rabbi wants the soldier to come each morning to remind him to think deeply about his answers before he starts his day, because he understands that each day becomes each month, becomes each year, become his life.

And thus his life … story. His legacy.

And thus who he is—and, at some point, who he … was.

Who are you? 
What are you doing here?

[i] Make Your Mark by Brad Gray

[ii] Unknown

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