Thread: Simon From Cyrene
April 2nd 2005, 12:49 PM #1
Simon From Cyrene
SIMON FROM CYRENE
By Gary Piper
The story you are about to read is fictional created by using the power and insight of my imagination. So, most of the characters you will meet are fictional as well. However, the main character, Simon, is not fictional. A quick check of Easton’s Bible Dictionary reveals "Simon was seized by the soldiers as the procession wound its way to the place of crucifixion as he was passing by, and the heavy cross which Christ from failing strength could no longer bear was laid on his shoulders." Perhaps they seized him because he showed sympathy for Jesus. He was the "father of Alexander and Rufus" (Matt. 27:32). Possibly this Simon may have been one of the "men of Cyrene" who preached the word to the Greeks (Acts 11:20).
The stories of my encounter with Jesus of Nazareth the day he died don't tell the whole story. It was such a brief meeting that the gospel writers thought it not important. But I can assure you, as brief as it was it, changed my life and the life of my family for all eternity. I have since discovered there isn't a day that goes by that I do not bear his cross in some way.
I should first give you a little background on who I am. My wife and I have two sons, Rufus, age 17, and Alexander, age 20. We raise un-blemished doves and sell them to merchants who, in turn, transport them to Jerusalem and sell them in the Temple. This year I wanted to see if by going to Jerusalem I could increase our business. So I talked it over with Hannah, my wife and we agreed that it might help if I would make the trip. I put my two sons, Rufus and Alexander, in charge of the farm and I set out with the caravan.
The journey was a long one. As we neared Jerusalem, I noticed quite a bit excitement ahead of us. People were throwing palm leaves in the road. I picked up my pace a little so I could see what was going on. I thought it must be some sort of festive celebration. Then I noticed a huge crowd of people with a man riding a donkey in the middle of them. "What's all the excitement?", I asked the first person I met. "Where have you been? You haven't heard?", the stranger asked. "That man on the donkey is called Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, our long awaited deliverer. He is here to claim his kingship of Israel and drive the Romans out and free us!" I replied, "I am from Cyrene and this is my first trip to Jerusalem. Who is this Jesus of Nazareth? And why do people say that he is the Messiah? "He has power over life and death. Just the other day he brought a man back to life who had been dead for three days. He heals people who have all manner of illnesses. He feeds thousands of people with a few fish and a few pieces of bread. The animals obey him. Even the weather obeys him. If he can do all these things, he must be the Messiah prophesied by Isaiah.", the man said as he hurried off. I wondered how one man could challenge the mighty Roman Empire. I had to see this man for myself. So I picked up my pace in order to get a closer look. I had heard stories of a miracle working Rabbi, but I, as well as everyone else, thought they were just stories.
I was determined to find out all I could about Jesus, but my business must come first. It didn’t me long catch up to the crowd. The closer to Jerusalem we got, the larger the crowd became. As it became larger, it moved slower. When I caught up with it, I began pushing my way through. Suddenly I spotted who I was sure was Jesus. He appeared to be looking around as if trying to single someone out. All of a sudden our eyes met. His eyes were so captivating that I couldn't turn away. Then, in my ears, I heard a soft voice whispering, "Our paths will cross again, Simon. You must prepare yourself." " Who said that?", I said out loud looking around. Just then, someone ran into me knocking me to the ground. I was hit so hard I was dazed and unable to stand. It was a miracle I wasn't killed. Mysteriously, people were going around me. The next thing I knew, a strange hand reached down, took mine, and lifted me up. I looked around to thank the person who’d saved me but the crowd had moved on and I was alone. Still groggy, I began walking slowly in the direction of the city. I hadn’t walked very far when, "Our paths will cross again Simon. You must prepare yourself.", resounded in my ears. Somehow, in the back of my mind, I knew the strange voice was Jesus’ voice. "I wonder what it means and what am I suppose to prepare myself for?", I spoke out loud.
My thoughts were interrupted by someone from the caravan calling my name. In my excitement, I’d run ahead of the caravan. It was now catching up with me. "Where have you been Simon?", Amos, the leader of the caravan asked. "I'm not sure," I replied. "My curiosity got the best of me and it almost proved fatal. I wasn't watching what I was doing, got knocked to the ground, and was almost killed. But someone saved me. Was it you, Amos, that saved me?" "No, Simon it wasn't me. What were you doing anyway?", Amos asked. "There was a man riding on a donkey named Jesus. People were calling him their king and were throwing palm leaves in front of him. He called me by name and told me to prepare myself for our next meeting. What does it mean Amos?", I asked. "I don't know what its all about. I’ve heard Jesus raised a man from the dead who’d been entombed for three days. There are rumors about a plot to kill him. Whatever you do, Simon, be careful.", Amos cautioned. "Don't worry, Amos, I can take care of myself. Besides, I am here on business and don't have time to chase some religious fanatic.", I replied. "I think I will go to the city and see if I can find the Inn I will be staying at. Will the caravan will begin forming the day after the Sabbath?" "That's right," Amos began, "I hope your time here in Jerusalem will be a great success. And remember, there are forces here that should be left alone Simon. See you in a few days." As I walked away, I wondered what Amos meant by forces that needed to be left alone.
It took me over two hours to find the Inn because the streets were full of people attending the Passover. By the time I got to my room, I went right to bed. As I lay on my bed trying to sleep, I again heard the strange voice, "Our paths will cross again Simon. You must prepare yourself.", it voice said. In my mind, I saw Jesus again. But this time his body was swollen and bloody. "You will be the first to do what everyone must do, pray for strength," I heard. "What does all mean?" he said out loud!
The next day as I was walking past the Temple, I noticed a lot of commotion in the outer courts. People were running in all directions, tripping over each other, knocking over tables and chairs, and crying, "he's gone mad! He's going to destroy the Temple!" I heard him say, "My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you are making it a den of robbers." As I watched the scene unfold, I noticed that the Temple leaders standing next to me were in awe of what was going on yet they did nothing to stop it. "Give him enough room, and he’ll condemn himself. Then, we will look like the righteous ones.", one said to the other. I was getting ready to leave when I noticed Jesus walk in the direction I was standing. Beginning to feel uncomfortable, I tried to leave. I couldn't move. It was as if my feet were too heavy to pick up. Almost instantly he was standing in front of us. "Destroy this temple and I will rebuild it again in three days. You think that my life is in your hands, but I tell you the truth, it is the other way around. Your lives are in my hands. What I do, I do for you and others like you who pervert God's love.", Jesus said. Then, turning to me, "Simon, my friend, you are not an innocent bystander. What I do, I do also for you, and others like you, who are without God. You will have a very important role to play in the eternal drama that is unfolding. I have prayed for you so the Father will give you the strength you will need. The next time we meet, things for both of us will quite trying. We will need each other. You, too, must pray to the Father for me." He turned and walked away leaving me wondering what I had just witnessed.
Suddenly, I began to tremble and shake with fear. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I started running. I just wanted to be as far away from where I was as I possibly could be. I wanted no part of what was going on. I just wanted to be home. I lost track of how long I had been running when I tripped and fell to the ground. The hour must have been late because I was the only one out on the streets. As I lay on the ground trying to compose myself and trying to figure out just where I was, in my find flashed the words, "pray and pray now." "Pray," I cried, "I don't know how!" "Peace, be still my friend, I will help you to pray," I heard a voice say. I looked around, but there wasn't anyone there. "Who are you," I asked. "I am a friend who has been praying very hard for you. You must now pray for yourself. Do not be afraid and do not run away. Run in prayer to our Heavenly Father and you will find your fear replaced with a peace like you've never known before. Pray Simon, pray hard for my time draws quickly to an end. Remember, the Father will never fail you and he will never leave you." Again, I was left to myself. But this time it was different; it was almost as if someone were with me. "Father," I began, "I'm not sure what I am doing. I am not even sure who you are, but for some reason I believe in you and I trust you. I have come here to try and increase my business. Instead I have become involved in something I know nothing of. Please forgive me if I am fearful and weak." The words were coming so easy now I wasn't even aware of where they were coming from. "I seem to be drawn to one called Jesus. No matter what I do, I can't seem to get away from him. If he is in trouble, please help him. If I can help him, please help me to find him." Then, from what seemed like everywhere, I heard the words, "Well done my child, my Son has chosen well. The time fast approaches when you will be called upon to carry the Cross of Eternity. On your shoulders, you will share the weight of all mankind. You must do all in your power to see that my Son succeeds at what he is undertaking. The road he has chosen is difficult. When it seems to be overwhelming for him, you will be called upon to help him. At first, you may resist, but the powers of eternity will course through your body and spirit and then you will understand what is going on. Do not fear. Do not doubt. Rest in the assurance that you have been chosen and set apart. Peace unto you, Simon."
Never in my life had I felt such peace. No longer did the unknown bother me. No longer did I fear I was being lead into something I didn't want to do. Once again I began to assess where I was. Time had somehow gotten away from me. As I looked about, I noticed the sun starting to come up. Almost instinctively I knew the way back to my Inn. When I arrived, I crawled into bed thinking with all that had happened last night I might have a hard time going to sleep. I can't remember ever sleeping as peaceful as I did that day. Before I knew it, evening had crept up on me and found me just getting out of bed. After getting up, I prepared to go and have something to eat. "Thought you were going to sleep your life away.", the Inn keeper said as I climbed down the ladder to the main floor. "You can not believe what I have gone through in the last 24 hours.", Simon said. "It all started at the Temple yesterday when the man called Jesus caused a riot. People were running everywhere, tables were flying, doves were flying, money was flying, and people were angry. I think that if the Temple leaders could have got their hands on Jesus, they would have killed him." "You were there?" was his reply. "Yes, I was. Some of those doves that flew away were mine. I had gone to the Temple to sell my doves.", I replied. "Jesus looked at me and spoke to me just before he escaped with his followers. He told me I would be helping him shortly." "Simon, I like you so I won't say a thing. But do not repeat this story to anyone else. The authorities are looking for anyone who is directly connected to Jesus. They want him and they want him dead," he warned me. As I was finishing my supper, I told the Inn keeper not to worry about me because God was watching over me.
As I left the Inn that evening, I felt the same power in me as I felt last night. I went in search of Jesus thinking my purpose was to warn him of the impending danger. I asked everyone I met if they had seen Jesus or his followers. No one had. I could see fear in their faces each time I questioned them about where he might be. As I approached the Temple, I encountered a large crowd gathering out front. I made my way to the front of the crowd hoping I would find Jesus. "Don't worry," I heard the Temple official from yesterday saying. "When we find this Jesus, we will bring him to trial, and then we will kill him. Already we have a spy in his small group of followers." When I heard the two words "kill him," I pushed my way out of the crowd. I had to find Jesus. I had to warn him that someone in his group was going to betray him. I began to feel fear and panic gripping me. But, just as quickly as it came, it was replaced with peace. I knew he was in the garden just outside the city. I don't know how I knew it, but I knew he was there. As I left the city and approached the garden, I couldn't help but notice how calm and peaceful everything was. There was no sound. Not even the wind was blowing. There was just an eerie feeling of calmness. As I entered the garden, I could see Jesus' silhouette against the moonlit clouds. As I approached him, I saw that he was kneeling and talking to someone. I quietly moved closer, but something told me not to get any closer. I strained my ears to catch what he was saying. Suddenly, a slight warm breeze blew toward me from where he was. The breeze seemed to carry the words to me as if it was planned that I hear them. "I ask not only on behalf of these," I could hear him saying, "but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their words, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me, and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one. I in them and you in me, that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world." I was spellbound. I not only heard every word, I felt every word. It was almost as if I were one with him and with the entire world. As he looked heavenward so did I. I saw the heavens open and a bright white person come down and stood in front of Jesus. The person wiped away his tears causing the person to become a crimson color. At the same time, Jesus’ body became so bright I had to look away. I looked again in his direction, but all was dark again. Jesus was now standing up. I started in his direction, but was distracted by a commotion coming from the garden entrance. I was too late! I watched in horror as the drama unfolded. First, one of his followers walked up to him and kissed him on the cheek. Then, another one grabbed a sword and struck at one of the guards who reached for Jesus. I was straining to hear what was going on, but a strong wind had come up and was taking the sounds away from me. I saw Jesus touch the guard, then all his followers fled. They just ran off leaving him there alone. I wanted to do something, but I was frozen where I was and couldn't move. Then, Jesus looked in my direction. He smiled and whispered, "Don't worry Simon, all is going as planned. Be strong and pray so you don't give in to temptation. Remember, the Father is with both of us. Your time is not yet, but approaches quickly. Be ready." I don't know how I could hear him, but I did. How did he know I had been watching?
After everyone had gone, I was alone in the garden with only my thoughts. I wondered what it was all about. What was really happening? Was I having a dream? So many questions, so few answers. Suddenly, I was very tired. I began to make my way home. As I walked the streets, there was a great deal of talk. I gathered from some the conversations that there was going to be some kind of trial for Jesus. As I was walking, I came across a man that looked like the one with the sword in the garden. "Say," I asked, "are you one of the followers of Jesus? Didn't I just see you in the garden outside of the city?" "No, I don't know Jesus personally, I just know of his reputation as a teacher.", the man responded. "You were in the garden?" "Yes, I went there to warm him of what was going to happen. I wanted to tell him that one of his followers had turned against him and his life was in danger. I arrived to late and have failed. Now he will die and I am to blame." "If I were you, I wouldn't say a word to anybody about what you just told me. You'll be safer that way," said the man.
I didn’t either. I returned to my room and collapsed. I can't even recall all of the things that went through my mind, Everything had come at me so fast. Just before sleep relieved my weary mind, I remember seeing Jesus' face again as he looked at me just before they took him away. There was sorrow in his eyes, yet there was a smile on his lips. "God please help Jesus, and please help me," I prayed as I fell asleep.
I was awakened in the morning by people shouting, "Crucify him! Kill the blasphemer!" Others were shouting, "Free him because he is the Messiah. Free him, he has done nothing wrong!" As I laid on my bed, the sounds coming closer and closer. I could hear someone shouting, "Make way! Clear the way!" Suddenly the name Jesus flashed into my mind. I jumped up so fast I hit my head on the low ceiling stunning myself for a moment. Slowly getting to my feet I staggered to the window. As long as I live, I will never forget the scene that was unfolding before my eyes. People were lined on both sides of the street. Roman soldiers were pushing and shoving people trying to clear a path. People were standing on the roofs looking out windows. They were standing on anything they could to see what was going on. As the sea of people parted, I could see a man dragging a big wooden cross. He stumbled and fell with the cross falling on his back. I expected to hear him cry in pain, but he didn't. As he struggled to get to his feet, two men came out of the crowd and jumped on the cross. I heard a thud as he hit the street and the cross fell on him. As the man fell, I fell feeling his pain. The people all began shouting, "If you are the Son of God, save yourself." "Oh! My God, it's Jesus!" I cried. Without thinking, I bolted to the street and began pushing and shoving my way to the front. Just as I reached the front of the crowd, Jesus fell again. The sound of his body hitting the road and the sound of the cross hitting his back pierced deep into my soul causing me to cry out in pain. As I did, our eyes met. Suddenly, we were frozen in time. In the midst of all that hate, pain, confusion, pushing, and shoving, I felt love as I have never felt before. The love wasn't for me - it was for the crowd. Then two more men tried to jump on the cross again. I jumped in front of them and hit one of them with my fist pushing him back into the crowd. Seeing that, the second man came after me swinging both his fists. I dodged the first one, but was hit by the other and down I went. Just as the man was going to kick me, a Roman Soldier grabbed him and pushed him back into the crowd. "You want to help him?", he screamed at me, "Then you carry his cross!" I started to move back into the crowd when I felt the cold sharp steel of his sword touch my back. Turning around, I cautiously moved back toward Jesus. I wanted to turn and run away, but I couldn't. It wasn't fear of the crowd or fear of the Roman sword that made me want to run, it was shame. These people had no idea what they were doing or even who they were doing it to. I couldn't look at Jesus and I couldn't look at the crowd, so I looked into the sky and heard myself screaming, "God help us!"
Almost instantly, from deep inside, I heard the words, "This is my Son in whom I am well pleased, and with my strength you will bear his burden." For the first time since coming to his rescue, I looked into Jesus’ eyes. I expected to see them filled with pain, disappointment, and anger. Instead they twinkled and sparkled. Instantly I felt strong and at peace. "I said help him, or you'll die with him," the soldier said grabbing me by the arm and throwing me at Jesus. I lost my footing as he pushed me and I fell on top of Jesus. His head hit the ground, but I was the one who cried in pain and not him. I remember wondering why our first physical contact was one that inflicted pain on him. As I lay on top of him, time stopped. It was almost as if everyone else was frozen. I slowly got off from him and gently turned him over. I moved him so the back of his head rested on the cross. As I looked at him again, all of his wounds were gone except some scars in his hands and on his side. "Simon, my friend," he began, "our Father in heaven is well pleased with you. He has a great work for you to do. You are to be a symbol to all mankind that each must bear the burden of my cross and help me to carry on the work that God has entrusted to me. I alone must be the one to die on the cross so no one else will have to. I do so because of my love for my Father in heaven and for my brothers and sisters here. It will be said that one must bear his own cross. But, I tell you they will be times when each must bear the cross of another." I started to say something but was interrupted by what felt like a vise gripping my arm. "I said get that man to his feet, and pick up his cross and carry it. And, if you have to, you will carry him. Now get to it, we've wasted enough time!", shouted the soldier. As I reached down to put my arms around Jesus, again I felt pain and, again, I cried. I could feel the thorns piercing my flesh. My back felt raw from the leather straps that had cut into Jesus' back. My arms and legs began to ache as if I had just carried a tree. At the same time, I began to feel his muscles regaining strength. I also realized the pain I was feeling had no power over me. In fact, the greater the pain the greater the feeling of peace and the greater the feeling of satisfaction that filled me. It just felt right. "To enter into the pain of another has its advantages to both persons," he whispered, "because both are strengthened, one physically and one spiritually."
After standing for a few seconds to steady our feet, we both bent over and picked up the cross. He was on one side I on the other. Strange, I thought, the cross has become like to yoke that is used with oxen. "Master, why must all this take place?" I asked. "Why must you die?" "Because of the separation between mankind and God, I must give my life so sin will have no power." he began, "To sin is to be rejected by my Father in heaven. It is symbolized here as people who once proclaimed me as their king now reject me. They cut themselves off from God who is their source of life. Through my death they will be able to renew their relationship to God and they will live." As we struggled along the path leading to his death, he became stronger and I grew weaker. People were still shouting words of hate at him and throwing objects. Three times men tried to physically hurt us, but each time the Roman guards stopped them. "But surly God could not love these people. I am from another place and even I can see that you are the Son of God. Yet they who are your own people are rejecting you and killing you," I said trying to grasp for breath. "Simon, love is the reason I am dying. There are times that loving someone does not make sense. There are times when one must give his life so others may live. You must always look into the lives of people with the eyes of your heart," he said. "You are doing to much talking." one of the Roman guards shouted, "Besides, we don't need you any more."
I saw the back end of his spear coming, but didn't have the chance to get out of the way. Suddenly it felt as if my head had exploded, then all was black. Instantly I found myself standing outside a beautiful garden. A thousand times I have tried to describe it, but there are no words. "Where am I?" I called out. "You are standing at the gate to the Garden of Creation," came a voice from behind me. Turning around, I came face to face with a tall muscular man. I stepped back and noticed a huge flaming sword at his side. I froze. I could not move. A million thoughts raced through my mind as I wondered what was going on. I remembered hearing stories of the beautiful gate to the Garden of Creation as having tall pillars of gold with great arches of silver overlaid with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and pearls. The bars were made of the finest tooled brass and copper. The entire gate radiated an eternal light. However, as my eyes focused on the Gate, I was shocked. It wasn't beautiful. There was no gold, no silver, no brass, and no precious stones. I was horrified because was the ugliest, most hideous sight I had ever seen. The pillars and arches were made of my past sins and were overlaid with visions of pride, hate, wrong deeds, and selfishness. The bars were bars of regret, bars of what might have been and of things yet to come. I trembled in fear. I hated myself and wanted to be anywhere but where I was. "Peace, be still. Do not fear," the angel's voice was like a perfect melody and immediately put me at ease. Feeling at peace and no longer terrified and threatened, I reached out to shake his hand, "Who are you?" I asked. "I am the guardian angel of the Garden of Creation. When Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden, the Father placed me at the gate to keep them from re-entering and eating from the Tree of Life," came his reply. "Am I dead?" I asked, not really wanting an answer. "No you are not dead," he replied. "Then why am I here?" I asked. "You are awaiting the arrival of the Son who is on earth dying for the sins of all mankind. When his life on earth is finished, he will come here and replace me becoming the new Gatekeeper. The gate you now see will be destroyed because of his death," the angel replied. "Will everyone be allowed into the Garden? Why am I here and where do I fit in?" I wanted to know. "All will be given the chance. But not everyone who comes to The Gate will be allowed in. Only those who confess their sins and believe in Jesus will enter. Many will come thinking that they have earned the right to enter the Garden, but they will not be permitted to enter. There is a garden for them down that path. It is called the Garden of Evil and it is as ugly as the Garden of Creation is beautiful. You are here because you have been chosen to be the first to eat from the Tree of Life because you are the only one who came to Jesus' aid and carried his cross when he needed help." His words were like a symphony to my ears.
Suddenly in a loud thunderous voice echoed across the sky, "Father into your hands I commit my spirit," In less than a heartbeat I heard, "It is finished!" Then I heard shouts of joy and songs of praises to God as all heaven rejoiced. "What's happening?" I asked. "The Master Gatekeeper is coming! It is time for me to go, my services are no longer needed.", the angel replied, then disappeared leaving me alone. I saw someone walking out of the corner of my eye. As I turned to see who it was, I realized it was Jesus coming down the path. My eyes were glued to his every move. He walked up to the ugly hideous gate, spread his arms, held them up, and spoke, "Father I have finished the work you sent me to do." All fell silent. As lighting flashed across the sky, thundered roared and rolled across the heavens, and the ground begin to shake. Then, a mighty bolt of light struck the gate and it exploded. The light was so bright that, for a few seconds, I was blinded. When my sight returned, the gate was gone. Only Jesus stood at the entrance to the Garden. I tried to look into the Garden, but the light that was coming from it was to bright for me and I had to look away. Again, all was silent. The only sound I could hear was the pounding of my own heart. A few seconds later I heard the sound of people coming down the path Jesus had walked on. Later, I would learn that the graves had opened upon Jesus' death and these were the first to come for the Eternal Fruit. Jesus held out his hand and said, "Simon, my good friend come here." As I moved closer, I noticed the crucifixion scars on him. As I got within arms' length, he pulled me close to him and gave me the biggest hug I have ever had. "Thank you, my friend, you gave me what I needed and when I needed it," he said with tears in his eyes. "Master, what could I have given you? You are the Son of God. You command all of heaven and earth," I said with tears running down my cheeks. "Simon, never in my life on earth had I been as human as when we carried the cross. I was carrying the cross for all those who had gathered to cheer and celebrate at my death. I was starving for a friend. I needed to see a friendly face, one that cared enough about me to be seen with me when everyone else deserted me. My Father in heaven was prompting my spirit to keep it going while you were prompting my mind and body to keep going. You will not be the first to walk in the Garden of Creation, but you will be the first to eat from the Tree of Life. Since your life on earth is not finished, you must go back. As you eat of this fruit, my Spirit will empower you to take my gospel to your homeland and tell your people all of my love for them. Do not worry my friend, just as you were there for me, I will always be there for you. It is time for you to walk back down the path," his words filled my entire being.
As I turned and walked down the path, I stopped for one last look. I could see him greeting each person. I could hear him call them by name and welcome them home. Occasionally, he would point to another path, give them a big hug and kiss them on the cheek, and they would slowly walk away with tears in their eyes. When someone was sent down the other path, there were always tears in his eyes. All heaven would stand still for a moment of silence. Suddenly I awoke to rain falling on me and the explosion in my head still there. As I sat up, I could see the image of Jesus still hanging on the cross. I could see the surprised look on all the faces of the people the instant he died. I could see the look of pain on the faces of his followers. Then, rising to my feet, I noticed I was alone. I shivered from the cold and stumbled off to find the inn. As I walked the streets of Jerusalem, there was an eerie tone of silence in the air and a feeling of impending doom. "You look terrible! What happened to you?" the inn keeper asked as I staggered through the door. "Where have you been?" "It's a long story that can wait for later," I replied. "Right now all I want to do is go to bed and see if this headache will go away. I'll explain in the morning, good night."
As I lay on my bed that night, every bone in my body was screaming and every muscle ached. In the darkness, I painfully moved my hands to my face and as I touched my forehead it felt like I hit it with a hammer. I closed my eyes but quickly opened them again when I saw Jesus hanging on the cross. I tried closing them again, but this time the cross and Jesus were gone and all I saw was what appeared to be a cave with a big stone blocking the entrance. I watched it for what seem liked hours, and then a strange light began pushing the stone. As the cave began to open, I noticed a strange black light coming from within. Suddenly I was grabbed by a powerful force and pulled into the cave. I opened my mouth to scream for help, but my voice disappeared into the darkness. Everything was dark and I felt for my pulse to see if I was still alive. There was no pulse. I screamed, "I'm dead! Oh Jesus, please help me, I'm dead!" After that everything began happening so fast I didn't have time to think or react. Across the ceiling of the cave I saw, in bold letters, "JESUS IS DEAD." Again I saw Jesus hanging on the cross. But this time I heard him say, "It is finished," and I saw him die. In less than a heartbeat, a man walked out of the darkness and stood before me. At first I thought he looked familiar, I was almost sure we had met before. He was my height and looked as if he were around my weight. His long black hair stood out against the blackness of the cave. Our eyes met and I'll never forget the evil I saw in them. Even now I shutter as I recall the meeting. Then in a low evil hiss, I heard a voice, "You are mine now, follow me," and the cave disappeared. All of a sudden, I was out on a street. I looked up and saw a man dragging a cross coming toward me. As he approached I began to feel hatred building up. I began to despise the man and all he stood for. I saw him stumble and fall, then a Roman soldier grab someone from the crowd and made him carry the cross. As they came closer, I became horrified because the man carrying the cross was me. The closer they came the more my hate increased. I jumped from the crowd and I began hammering on both them. With each blow, the intensity of my anger grew and grew. With each blow I felt myself becoming one with the phantom. Out of the corner of my eye I could see him becoming more powerful too. I hated everyone, I was angry with everyone and I wanted to destroy everyone even myself. As I turned to hit the first man, our eyes locked and a bright light leaped from them and pulled me from the power of the phantom. As I turned and looked at the phantom, thunder rolled and the earth shook as a voice from the heavens commanded, "I will not let you have this man. My Son lives - he is not dead! Therefore, Simon lives as well now be gone!" Immediately I woke up and, for the longest time, lie trembling not wanting to ever close my eyes again. Then, from somewhere deep inside, I began to hear a voice. At first I couldn't hear what it was saying because my heart was pounding so hard. As I calmed down, I heard the voice saying, "Fear not, my friend, for I am with you, and I have fought for you. We have won this battle." Then I fell fast asleep.
When I awoke I was fully rested. Sitting down to eat, the inn keeper looked me in the eyes and started, "I thought you were never going to wake up, you've been sleeping for two days now. Two days! I've been out for two days?" I interrupted him "You sure were, I checked on you a couple of times to see if you were still alive because when you staggered in you were in pretty bad shape. A Roman soldier was just here asking about a black man that had helped carry the cross of a man named Jesus to his death. It seemed that the black man was killed. But when the soldiers went back for his body it was gone. The body of the crucified man is gone too and they think there may be a connection. I don't know if that was you or not and I don't want to know. But if it was you, I would be leaving as fast as I could." He no sooner got the words out and a knock came at the door. Quickly getting up, I moved back into my room. I heard the Inn keeper open the door. "I'm looking for my friend Simon, I am from the caravan that brought him here. We are ready to leave and I can't find him. Is he here?" Jumping out from my room I shouted, "Amos, my friend, I am glad to see you! I have something to tell you. But not now, let's go quickly." Just before leaving the innkeeper gave me some food gave me a hug and said, "Go in peace and safety my friend, I know you have a great story to tell. I hope someday I can hear it." "Josiah, you are truly a friend. One day I will return and you will hear my story. Until then, remember this, the man that was crucified is still alive and he is the Son of the Living God. It was for your salvation that he died on the cross. Just as he said, death could not hold him. Goodbye," I replied trying to hold back my tears. "Goodbye Simon and thank you," Josiah said as he disappeared back into the Inn. "Come, we must go quickly," I said turning to Amos. "It is not safe for me to be here." "I know," Amos said, "Roman soldiers were asking about you at the caravan this morning before it left." "The caravan has already left?" I asked, "Yes, last night I had a dream and in this dream I was visited by the man whose cross you carried to his crucifixion. He told me where you would be and that your life was in danger. When I awoke early this morning I sent the caravan ahead and, after I was questioned by the soldiers, I come after you. Simon, I don't know what's going on, but I do know that you have someone looking out for you. Now let's get going," Amos said as he put his arm around me. "Amos, my good friend, we've a long journey ahead so we'll have plenty of time to talk about it. I can tell you one thing, my story is hard to believe, but if you believe, it will change your life," I replied.
As we neared the gate I noticed Roman soldiers checking people as they were leaving. My first impulse was to turn and run. However, I could see myself walking right through the gate past the soldiers. I felt the peace and safety that had put me to sleep earlier. Spotting the soldiers, Amos looked at me and said, "Soldiers, we must turn around and find some other way, maybe over the wall, or another gate." "Don't worry Amos, we are going right through that gate. The Gatekeeper will see that all goes well. Don't worry my friend, have faith," I replied confidently. As we stood in line waiting to exit the gate, I looked at Amos and could tell that he was really starting to get nervous. The Roman soldier looked at us and promptly said, "You two move along you've been standing there to long." He then took his spear and pushed us through the gate. "Thank you Simon," Amos breathed a sigh of relief. "Don't thank me, thank the Eternal Gatekeeper. He's the one that got us through," I replied said smiling. "Now let's catch up with the caravan."
Well, there you have it. We never did move closer to Jerusalem. In fact, we got out of the dove business altogether. After I arrived back home and told my story, it caught on so fast that my sons, and I formed a church based on the teachings of Jesus. Since then I have had many struggles. Many times I have been enticed by evil as I once was. On more than one occasion I have acted in evil ways, but when I recall the power of the Light pulling me from the clutches of Satan, I am strengthened. I have discovered that Jesus gave his life on the cross for one person at a time. Right now, that one person is you!
I have lived a very long and fruitful life, but it really didn't begin until that fateful day so many years ago when the Son of God picked me out from a crowd and decided to share his life with me. It will not be to long and I will be going to one of the mansions that he as prepared for me in the Garden of Creation. I would like to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to tell you my story. Remember, there are no fleeting encounters with Jesus. Each one can have an eternal impact. I am really looking forward to the reunion with him. Goodbye my friends, for now anyway.
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