Well we've been to Jerusalem and what a time it was! I'll never be the same again. You remember that my uncle was coming from Libya to be in Jerusalem for the Passover. He and my two brothers went down for the feast just as they had planned and had the Passover meal on Thursday night with some relatives; but Friday a terrible thing happened. That wonderful Rabbi that I told you about was seized by our high priests and executed by the Romans.
When I heard the news from my brothers, I had to go out behind the cattle shed and be by myself. Men aren't allowed to cry, so I won't admit whether I did or I didn't, but I felt terrible. The whole thing was incredible--especially that they were able to catch him. As I told you before, if he could stop the storm with one word, how could they get near him.
Anyway according to the stories going around they actually had a trial early Friday morning. At the trial they asked Jesus, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" When he answered, "I am", they said he was a blasphemer and sentenced him to death, and that was it. (Mark 14:61-63) They took him outside of town and crucified him with two thieves, just like he was any old criminal.
Of course, when I heard all these things, I didn't care whether I went to Jerusalem for Pentecost or for any other feast ever again. I even began to think that if God let a man like that die, who was so great and did all those miracles, and helped people, then he wasn't much of a God.
Oh, I know. You will tell me that those words are blasphemy too; and you are right. But what I thought is what I thought. Nevertheless, I had promised my uncle that I would go up to Jerusalem for the feast, so I felt that I had to keep my word. I just asked him to please excuse me if sometimes I was a little sad.
We arrived a couple of days early, so by Sunday morning we had seen most of the sights and we went to the Temple fairly early, about eight-thirty in the morning. All of a sudden my uncle stopped and said, "Listen to that voice!"
I said, "Listen to what voice? There's dozens of people talking."
"Look!", he said and pointed to a man about five steps away, "That man! Though he's dressed like a Galilean, he is praising the Eternal One, Yahweh Elohim, in the Libyan language of my village! But I am the only Jew who came this year from my whole area. How did he learn my language? And without an accent!"
There were two other fellows from Nain with us, but they laughed and said, "Don't be silly. He's just drunk." "No. No!" my uncle said, "He's talking about Jesus of Nazareth, the Rabbi you spoke of, except that he says that he was the Christ; and something about the Holy Spirit."
Just then a man with a strong voice started speaking to us from the steps of the Temple. A lot of other people must have been saying that people were drunk, because the very first thing he said was, "These men aren't drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel," and he went on to say that they were filled with the Holy Spirit just as the prophet Joel had foretold would happen. (Acts 2:15-16.)
Then he started speaking about the Rabbi Jesus; and after mentioning the signs and wonders which God did through him, he said, "This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross."
And then he said, "But God raised him from the dead." (Acts 2:23-24a.)
When he said that I felt a tightness in my chest as though I couldn't breath and chills all over me. I grabbed the shoulder of my uncle so tightly that he cried out in pain.
Next the speaker, whom I later found out was Peter, one of Jesus' disciple from Capernaum, went on and quoted the 16th Psalm of David which says,
"Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices... because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay." (Psalm 16:9-10.)
After that he continued saying, "Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that He would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay." (Acts 2:29-31.)
And his next words I shall never forget. He said, "God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are witnesses of the fact,..(and) He has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah." When I heard that my chest expanded and I could finally breath again. (Acts 2:32,36.)
I started walking through the crowd until I was just a few steps from Peter and I said along with several other people, "What shall we do?"
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit...Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." (Acts 2:37b-38,40b.)
When he finished those words, everybody started talking and asking questions and I went up to Peter and I said, "You don't know me, but I know your friend Obadiah in Capernaum, and I was present when Jesus fed the 5000 people. Now I want to know one thing. In the name of the Eternal One, the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, did you really see Jesus alive after he was crucified?" Peter looked me straight in the eye and said, "Yes!"
Then I said, "How many times did you see him?"
He answered, "Jesus showed himself to me by myself, and then to all of us the Sunday after Passover--the day he rose from the dead. A week later, I was present when he revealed himself to give a special message to Thomas. A few days later, when seven of us went fishing on the lake of Galilee, he caused us to have a miraculous catch of fish; and when we landed he had prepared a breakfast for us. Then, he showed himself to more than 500 of us at one time, and the last time was a week ago Thursday when he ascended into heaven right in front of our eyes."
"Is it true then," I asked, "that he prophesied that he would give his life for his sheep to pay for their sins, and that he would rise from the dead and come back to life the third day?"
"Yes, it's true!" Peter answered.
"Okay," I said, "I believe you. I believe that Jesus died for my sins and rose again. Now, baptize me like you said."
Immediately he took me over to a pool and baptized me in Jesus' name. Maybe I was the first one. There were about three thousand of us baptized that day and my uncle was baptized too. (Acts 2:41) He said, "When that Galilean preached to me in my own language, I knew it had to be true. There was no doubt about it."
So now my sins are all forgiven and I am free. Just like Jesus promised, "If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed!"
To end, I would like to remind the reader of a Quranic verse found in the Sura of the Cattle (Al-An'am) 6:9 from 6 AH. In Pickthall's translation it reads,
That is what God did when He came in Christ,
reconciling the world unto Himself.
He came as a man that He might speak to men
and open Paradise for all
who will accept His great gift of salvation.
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