My uncle recently passed away from cancer. He and my aunt were hoping he would be able to go to Palermo for Holy Week, but instead he celebrates in the presence of God. My cousin is accompanying her Mom in place of her father.
So, I step out in faith and dedicate the stories of Easter I'm going to post in his memory.
The Doctor’s Story
My name is Dr. Nick Demus and I have an incredible story to tell. My specialty or preferred area of research is law and theology. I’ve participated in many debates and contributed to the laws that people have lived by in my country. I have always enjoyed my job and the things I’ve been able to accomplish. However, it was never quite enough. Something was missing.
I started hearing about a teacher who had been traveling extensively throughout the country. I started making enquiries to learn more about him because the reports I had heard were quite positive. Apparently his specialty was, like mine, law and theology. However, I couldn’t find any evidence of higher education which caused my interest to be piqued even further. He was an independent scholar. From what I was hearing he had extensive knowledge of the law and a controversial theological interpretation of it.
When I began to hear grumbling and complaints about him from my colleagues, I decided to seek him out and hear what he had to say for myself.
I found that he was interested in returning to and clarifying the original intent of the law. Over the years, those of us who had added specifics so that adherence the law could be measured had mired it down in confusion and restraint. It had become so confining by the time I had begun my studies that even fixing food to eat on the Sabbath was against the law. There were those of us who sought to return to our Lord’s original intent, but mainstream resistance was intense and we risked ending our careers and sacrificing our credibility if we were too anti-establishment.
Not only was this teacher not interested in mainstream manifestations and interpretations of the law, he was extremely focused on people. It didn’t matter, rich or poor, young or old. He cared about them. There were reports that, in addition to teaching, he was healing the sick, touching lepers, and offering the forgiveness of sins. Talk about controversy! To touch someone or something unclean is expressly forbidden by law and that is agreed upon in the most liberal of circles. To offer forgiveness is to claim equality with God, and that is blasphemous. It endangers your very soul.
Occasionally my colleagues would attempt to trip him up with trick questions or controversial and seemingly unanswerable questions. They always left those encounters angry and seething in their embarrassment.
I became more and more interested in him and saw him speak and teach as often as I could. It began to transform my thinking and as a result, my life. The more I heard, the more I wanted.
Finally, just before he was taken, I met with him secretly. I had a burning question that I had to know the answer to, but didn’t want to risk discovery over. I met him at night in the darkness on the roof of the house where he was staying.
I asked him the most crucial question of all. “How can I be saved?” I had to know. I knew that before God I was as unclean as a leper. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how well I followed the law. Even with the foolish and cumbersome additions made over the centuries, I knew that even one failure covered me as if I had followed nothing.
His response caught me off guard and at first I felt a flash of embarrassed anger. “You must be born again.” I had exposed myself, become vulnerable and all he said is that I must be reborn. But, I bit my tongue and asked for clarification. His explanation changed the course of my life.
God was calling me to a spiritual rebirth. To become a son of God, not just of Abraham. To believe that Jesus was God’s only son and that through him I could receive a guarantee of forgiveness and eternal life.
My faith in this new revelation faltered when he was taken, tried, and crucified. I felt like my hope had been given a foundation only to have it pulled out from under me. But, I couldn’t let go of the fact that it all made sense and that the life of this young man, Jesus, answered all the questions raised by the law and the prophets. Somehow, I knew that God would work it out. I had no idea how, but I had to trust him.
When we realized Jesus was dead, it became imperative to find a place to bury his body. When my colleague, Joseph asked if I would help him move the body to his personal tomb, I didn’t even have to think twice before agreeing to help. We barely had time to do minimum preparations to the body before placing it in his tomb. The Sabbath was upon us and the women said they would come back later to finish what needed to be done. We had no other choice.
When the women did go back, they found his body gone. He was risen from the dead! When I heard that he was risen...when I heard that he was risen from the dead...that he had overcome death, the joy in my heart was overwhelming.
The word spread among the followers like the hills on fire before planting. We all came together, hoping he would come to us. He did and my hope was restored and my trust justified. I’ll never forget the day that he ascended into heaven. All of us, all of his followers and their families were there.
Now they call us Christians. The message of Good News given to us by Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God has spread across the world.