We love and support Jeff Turner. We think he’s the bee’s knees! Buy his book “Sinners in the Arms of an Happy God”. With that said… the prophets have spoken…
When Fredrick came back something seemed off. Fredrick warned Christopher not to go. He said that things were not quite as he hoped them to be. Christopher never considered Fredrick to be a man of strong faith. Christopher knew that what he was about to experience would strengthen his faith. He wanted to see the crucifixion of Jesus.
After the time displacement procedure Christopher found himself surrounded by a mob. Bodies were pushing up against him as he struggled to wiggle free for a breath of air. He propelled his body forward and underestimated the force he was using. The crowd gave and he found himself on the ground. As he looked up he found himself looking at a few men that were beat, battered, and bloody.
These men looked the same. Which one was Jesus? Which one of these men would be the sacrifice to save Christopher’s soul? Whose blood was worthy? As Christopher looked at these men grouped together, mob yelling, something strange stirred up inside of him. It was compassion.
His mind went to a video someone sent him in an e-mail once. It was a video of an American soldier that was captured by a terrorist cell group. They stripped him naked and beat him. He looked so helpless and so alone. Christopher remembered the rage that overcame him when he saw that video. He wondered where the justice was when he watched that video. It was the same thing he was feeling at this moment.
No! This wasn’t a moment of injustice. This was a moment of justice! This is the moment when mens sins would be forgiven, when the wrath of God would be satisfied, when union with the father would be possible!
One of the men threw up as the Roman soldiers started to nail him to the cross.
A song started to play in Christopher’s head, “And I’ll cherish the Old Rugged Cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down, And I will cling to the Old Rugged Cross, And exchange it some day for a crown.”
He found it hard to say amen to that song in this moment. He found it hard to find anything to cling to or to cherish. This just seemed wrong.
No! He knew that this wasn’t wrong! This was necessary! He needed this to happen. Jesus had to die. Christopher and the rest of the world needed this to take place for the remission of sins.
A woman cried out for Jesus from the crowd. One of the battered men looked up helplessly. This had to be Jesus. He had not been crucified yet. As Christopher looked at him he couldn’t help but to notice the weakness, the helplessness, the heaviness. He looked like someone who needed help. Christopher wanted to help him.
A commotion broke out in the crowd. There was a lot of arguing, pushing, shoving and fighting. Christopher couldn’t see what was going on but he could hear it. The Roman soldiers were distracted as some of them went to investigate this disturbance.
Jesus was unattended. Wild thoughts went through Christopher’s mind. He could help Jesus. He could pull him into the crowd and get lost. He brought some devices from his time that could be used to get out of a tight spot. If he grabbed Jesus he could take him far away from this place. He could even nurse him back to health!
At that moment, Christopher’s faith rose up within him. No. To do so would doom the whole world. Christopher could not let his compassion get in the way of what he knew had to happen. Jesus has to die.
The Roman soldiers subdued the brawl quickly. They started to prepare Jesus for crucifixion. One of the women from the crowd cried out, “Why? Why? This is not right! Someone have mercy upon him!”
A man next to Christopher scoffed at the woman’s pleas. He was wearing what appeared to be priestly robes. Christopher’s blood ran cold. This was one of the men who sentenced Jesus to death. If only he knew who he sentenced to death. Christopher turned to the man and was about to say something when he heard the man respond to the woman, “Jesus has to die.”
A chill ran down Christopher’s spine.
“Your not preaching the bible… your gospel is irresponsible… God is not just love but also justice… Jesus preached more on hell than any other topic…”
All those thoughts ran through his head as he stood before the judgement seat of God. To his left were people weeping, full of sorrow and regret. To his right were those righteous saints who warned Caleb all those years that he was preaching false doctrine. They stared him down with arms crossed, shaking their head with tight lips as if to say, “We told you so.”
An angel open the book of works to which every man would be judged, from the least to the greatest. “Caleb, you have spread lies about God. You have told them of a God too accepting, a God too loving, a God too fatherly. Yes, those are attributes of God but you neglected to warn people of hell. You neglected to preach the necessity of confessing your sin, asking for forgiveness, and believing for salvation. The work of Jesus you preached was too inclusive. You relied on grace and love. Your gospel was too compassionate.”
Caleb threw up his arms in protest. “Are you kidding me?! Where is Jesus? Where is my heavenly father?!”
Jesus approached Caleb with an embarrassed look on his face. Jesus cleared his throat and shuffled around for a moment. “Yeah, Caleb, I’m sorry. You did make us out to be better than we really were. Am I loving? Yes! Accepting? Sure! But only to those who choose me! You followed your heart too much, you relied to much on your own sense of morality. We are good, just a different kind of good. Not your kind of good.”
Caleb rubbed his face in frustration. “I made you out to be too good? I relied on my morality? What the hell is going on here?!”
“Caleb,” announced the angel behind the books with a thundering voice. “You were sincere in what you taught, mistaken but sincere. We have decided to extend you mercy and give you a chance to repent and renounce the gospel you preached.”
A chance to repent. A chance to renounce. Caleb thought over these options. He looked to the people on his left weeping, he looked to the people on his right eagerly waiting for his response.
“If what I spoke about you is untrue, than I would rather spend eternity in hell. I cannot imagine being with a God who would allow all these people to suffer for age upon age. I have to be honest, I was hoping I was wrong about you. I was hoping you would have been better than I preached. I will not renounce my gospel. If its not good news to those people who stand on my left, than its not the gospel.”
The angel behind the books heard this from a few people already. Every time it saddened him. How unfortunate that Gods creation became more compassionate and moral than God himself. How unfortunate that the unchanging God could not keep up with the gospel Caleb was preaching.
The angel slammed his gavel and Caleb was ushered to the left. The angel turned the page of the book of works. “Would Michael approach the judgement seat…”
Fredrick stood before a group of men. He thought it would have been easy to spot Jesus his Lord and Savior but all the men looked the same. He knew that Jesus wasn’t going to have blond hair and blue eyes. He didn’t know how brown these first century Jews were going to be. As he stood there he waited for one of them to stand out, to glow, to start floating, to do something miraculous. Nothing happened.
Fredrick could understand the language they were speaking. It must have had something to do with the time displacement procedure. The group of men were speaking about various topics. A few were speaking about the newest Roman conquests, some were speaking on plans during the next festival, and some were just talking.
As Fredrick looked around he noticed he was standing on a countryside road. It must have been a connecting road between two cities. Fredrick approached the men, they seemed to not notice him standing there. Fredrick cleared his throat to get their attention. One of the men who was more listening to a conversation than engaging in one, turned to Fredrick and raised his eyebrow.
“Excuse me. I’m looking for Jesus.”
“He’s preoccupied right now.”
Of course, Fredrick thought. Jesus must be healing someone, casting out a demon, or deep in prayer. Why were these men not with Jesus during these miraculous events? Fredrick concluded it must be because of their little faith. “I would like to see him now. I’ve come a long way and would like to be involved in what he’s doing at this moment.”
The man stared blankly at Fredrick and replied, “He had some bad fish in the last town and is taking a shit… I think he would like his privacy. He can wipe his own ass!”
A few of the men laughed and Fredrick blushed in embarrassment. These men seemed very rough and crass. These couldn’t be the twelve he read about in the gospels. It had to be a joke. Jesus couldn’t have a stomach flu. God can’t get sick.
A man approached the group. He looked a little under the weather. His forehead was dotted with sweat beads. He was holding his stomach with one of his hands. He patted the back of one of his companions and said, “Alright, let’s move!”
The group continued on with their conversations as they began to walk down the road. Fredrick quickly stepped up to the front and started to examine the man he assumed to be Jesus. He was shorter than most of the other men in the group. His clothing was spotted with dirt around the hem and some food stains could be spotted around the collar. His hair was matted. As he watched Jesus speak to one of his disciples he noticed black dots on Jesus’ teeth. It looked like Jesus had some tooth decay.
There was a larger group down the road that Jesus was approaching with his disciples. Finally, he would see some action. There were two groups of people arguing over something about a temple. Fredrick had no idea what they were arguing about. Jesus then spoke up and started asking questions to both groups. He was talking about mercy over sacrifice, then went into something about forgiveness and loving each other. Both groups seemed to be challenged by what he was saying, but it didn’t move Fredrick the way he thought it would. Fredrick had heard better preaching on Christian Television.
This Jesus then approached a lame man in the crowd. Finally some real action! Fredrick knew that a miracle would soon take place. Jesus sat down next to the lame man and opened up a sack that he carried slung around his shoulder. He pulled out some food and some coins and gave it to the man. Jesus then kissed this man and told everyone how the least is the greatest…
This seemed to hush the crowd. This man whom everyone ignored in the heat of the argument, Jesus noticed. It seemed like everyone was ashamed of themselves in a sense, and yet a healing was happening. Fredrick didn’t see this lame man walk, but he did see everyone notice the lame man instead of pretending he wasn’t there.
Fredrick did witness a miracle. Jesus wasn’t anything he thought he was. Jesus disappointed him in appearance, disappointed him in his wonder working, and disappointed him in his preaching. He showed Fredrick a God that was not very impressive at all. He was dirty, surrounded himself with crude people, and has physical weaknesses. But what this Jesus did with that lame man seemed to transcend the moment.
Jesus was a human. Jesus was a common human. Jesus had flaws in Fredrick eyes. This scared Fredrick, but also gave him hope.