Posts Tagged ‘saints’

It’s after the resurrection. Mary, Jesus’ mother, is sitting with Jesus at her cousin Mary’s house in Jerusalem. The upper room is upstairs — just as you’d expect. They are sitting on the front porch. Rhoda, Mary’s servant girl, is peeling potatoes. Jesus is whittling and Mary is mending socks.

Mary: Jude goes through socks like demons through a rock band.

Jesus: Yeah, but he’s getting better about changing them after football practice.

They sit silently for a minute. The sun is setting. Rhoda rises with a pan of potatoes and goes inside.

Mary (stops darning): I miss my parents sometimes.

Jesus: I know. They’re okay and pleased with you right now.

Mary: What?

Jesus: They are enjoying your mending Jude’s socks. They love you both.

Mary: They’re watching? We’re not alone?

Jesus: No. We’re never alone. If folks only knew. There’s a huge cloud of witnesses. What do you think happens when people die?

Mary: I don’t know. I mean, I know you’re here — you’ve risen. And I remember Peter and John talking about seeing you talking with Moses and Elijah before you left. Lazaras is back, which reminds me of the story you told about another Lazarus dipping his finger in the water.

Jesus (nodding): Yeah.

Mary: And I’ve seen angels. King Saul supposedly talked with Samuel’s ghost. So, I guess death is not the end. So, you’re saying my folks are watching us now?

Jesus: Yes. Sometimes they’re doing other stuff, but now they’re watching us.

Mary: Are they happy?

Jesus: Yes, they are. You can talk with them and they can hear. You see, reality is much greater and wider than you can see. There’s more behind the curtain, so to speak. Every now and then, people catch glimpses of the other side, like when I pulled the curtain aside so Peter, James and John could see Moses and Elijah. There are glimpses of glory all around, but humans miss it most of the time. There’s more than you can see.

Mary: Will I be able to watch Jude and the rest of the kids after I die?

Jesus (smiling): Yes. You’ll be amazed. I’ll let you in on a secret — well, it’s not a secret, it’s a truth most people don’t care about. Love never dies. We, all of us, are never separated — by death or anything else. Most of the guys are going to die violently for me. John’ll take you to Ephesus and he’ll be the only one to die of natural causes. But, whether alive or dead, here or there, we’re together and we’re supporting one another.

Mary: Is that why sometimes when I talk to my parents, it seems like they’re present and listening?

Jesus: Yes. Through me, we are all united in love.

Mary: Can they influence what happens here?

Jesus: No. Only to the degree they work through me. In the future, it’ll get confusing for the church. Future generations will know they can commune with us, even when we’re not present. Some will go to one extreme — praying to you and the saints, and others will assume you and the saints don’t exist at all.

Mary (frowning): Oh, that’s sad. They’ll forget about their spiritual ancestors?

Jesus: More or less. They’ll commune with me, but they’ll miss the blessing of communion with the saints.

Mary (placing her hand on Jesus’ knee): You and me. We’ll never be apart, will we?

Jesus (taking Mary’s hand): You and me. Never. Our family of faith? We’re locked in and never alone. When these guys die, they’ll not die alone. We’ll all be there. And in some cases the curtain will be pulled aside and they’ll see the angels and all of us waiting.

They sit quietly for a minute.

Mary (reflectively): Mom? Dad? Glad you are here. Love you.

Tr8: Commune with the saints. We are not alone and we are part of a much greater kingdom.

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There’s no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for others.

John the Baptist: Beheaded by Herod, 31 A.D.

Jesus of Nazareth: Crucified in Jerusalem, 33 A.D., but wouldn’t stay dead.

Stephen: Stoned, 34 A.D.

James (Brother of John): Killed by sword on order of Herod Agrippa in 44 A.D.

Phillip: Scourged, thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified in Heliopolis, Turkey, 54 A.D.

Barnabas: Stoned about 57 A.D.

James (Brother of Jesus): Clubbed to death in Jerusalem, 62. A.D.

Andrew: Crucified in Achaia, Greece, 60 A.D.

Peter: Crucified upside-down in Rome, probably under Nero in 60s A.D.

Paul: Beheaded in Rome, 60s A.D.

Matthew: Speared in the city of Nadabah, Ethiopia, 60 A.D.

Thaddeus. Crucified in Edessa, Greece, A.D. 72

Simon the Zealot: Crucified, 74 A.D.

Mattias (who replaced Judas):  Stoned and beheaded in Jerusalem.

Thomas: Run through with a spear in India.

Batholomew: Beaten with rods and beheaded, India.

John Mark: Dragged to pieces and beheaded in Alexandria, Egypt.

Ignatius of Antioch: Fed to lions in Rome, 117 A.D.

Polycarp of Smyrna: Six believers were scourged and beheaded. He was burned at the stake in the market, 155 A.D.

Irenaeus: Martyred in 190 A.D.

Pothirus, Origen, Justin Martyr, Cyprian…the list goes on an on. Some estimate Christians continue to die for their faith at the rate of about 450 a day.

Historical purists and others may say the historical record is unreliable.

They may be right, so, throw out half, two-thirds, nine-tenths, or all but the three (John the Baptist, Stephen, and James) recorded in the NT.

Historical records (secular and sacred) support the notion most of the men who followed Christ in life, followed him in death. As did many of the Disciples’ disciples. History is established by multiple witnesses triangulating an event to the satisfaction of the public. To varying degrees, these stories cleared the public bar.

The breaking trend in these lives is sacrificial dedic8ion and commitment to Jesus Christ, the resurrected Son of God. Whatever else can be said about Christ, he impressed his followers and they believed him.

They lived at risk.

They held nothing back.

They lived and died for Christ — for the one who died for them.

Tr8: Sacrificial love.

There’s no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for others.

How are you laying yours down today?