Episode 4: Redemption
“He is risen! He is risen! The women who went to the tomb said He is no longer there. Our Lord is risen!” Thaddeus heard a lad telling his mother who was selling wheat at the market. “Where are you going, Gamaliel?!” The woman asked with a look of concern. “I am going to see the risen king! I am going to see Jesus!!!” Thaddeus shivered.
“I don’t know what is wrong with children these days. See him running along while I am talking to him. How can Jesus come back to life? We all watched him being crucified only a few days ago. These people should stop spreading fables. Or do you believe this is possible?” Her silence shook me out of my thoughts. “Young man, I asked if you believe Jesus has risen from the dead”
This was a question I was not prepared to answer or even consider. “I do not know if he has risen. Do you know anyone who came to life after dying?” She laughed. “Of course. Did you not hear about Lazarus? He had been dead for four days before Jesus brought him back to life. Four days! I learnt he is somewhere around. He came to witness the crucifixion. People who saw him said he was crying when Jesus took his last breath. But at least he died of sickness not crucifixion. So, his resurrection wasn’t so difficult.”
I walked away from the woman with a bag of wheat and a heavy heart. Lazarus had wept at the sight of the suffering Saviour, while I had supported those who carried out the evil act. I chanted for the death of the One who healed me.
The lad’s response to his mother kept coming to my mind. “I am going to see the risen king. I am going to see Jesus.” I wondered if this Jesus would want to see me if truly, he was risen. Would he want to see someone who is a traitor? Would he? Was he even alive?
A week later, I learnt that Jesus had appeared to the disciples who were gathered behind closed doors for fear of the Jewish leaders. They claimed he showed them his hands and side. I wondered how gory the sight of his nail-pierced hands would have been. Slowly, my question changed from whether Jesus was alive to whether I would get to see him.
Didymus, one of the disciples, told me he was going to meet up with the disciples. He had also heard the news, but he wanted to see before he believed. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” So, I followed him to the house.
Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among us and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
As he spoke to the disciples, I hid behind the pillar in a corner of the room. I did not want the Master to see me. He would embarrass me before the people and tell them the role I had played in His crucifixion.
“Thaddeus. Come over here.”
I peeped from behind the pillar. Our eyes met. It was the Lord!
The Master put his hand across my shoulder. “It’s been a while since we met on the dusty road to Samaria. The faith you showed in praying at the colony was commendable. Also, the kindness of heart in returning to pray for Adronicus also made me glad. Did you know he is now an evangelist in Bethsaida?” I shook my head.
“Thank you for helping bring my sheep back to the fold” He continued. “In addition, the town hall meetings at Decapolis have brought a great revival to the land. I am pleased with you.”
I could not take the torture any longer, so I knelt and held his feet. “Rabbi! I am sorry I betrayed you. I am sorry I disappointed you. The loss of my wife and daughter really pushed me to the wall. Forgive me, Lord! Please.”
The smile on his face said a lot. “I have forgiven you, Thad. Your actions hurt me, but I never stopped loving you. There are questions in your heart. You wonder where I was when Rebecca and Hadassah died? You believe I should have intervened? Well, remember that earth is only a phase. A path to eternity. The important thing is how a person lived and whether they accepted me as Lord and Saviour.”
I nodded in acceptance.
“Rise, Thaddeus. Soon, I’ll return to my Father. However, I have an assignment for you in Decapolis.” I was surprised. “Why Decapolis, Lord? They witnessed the death of my wife and daughter. They saw me walk away from the things I had taught them. Why would you want me to return there?”
He smiled. “What better place to restart your assignment than the place where you stumbled? Your story of redemption will be fuel to the revival fire that seems to be burning out.” I nodded with understanding. “Decapolis is just the beginning, however. There is a lot more to be done!”
“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
We were listening intently to the Master’s words when suddenly, He began to ascend! Our Lord was taken up before our eyes and a cloud hid him from our sight.
As we were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside us. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Three days later, I set out for Decapolis. As I arrived in the town, I was met by the warm embrace of Lydia. The lady who had received her sight during the first town hall meeting. She was happy to see me again. My heart skipped a beat.
Iremide: The idea for this story came a few weeks ago, on October 4, during a church service. The minister mentioned that it was quite possible that one of those who shouted for Christ’ crucifixion was someone who had experienced His healing powers. Immediately, I knew this was a story that God wanted me to write, but more importantly, to learn from.
Thaddeus participated in the crucifixion of the One who saved him. How could a man be so wicked? How can one who was helped turn his back on his Helper? What can make a person forget the years of suffering and pain before he met Christ?
I asked myself these questions as I watched Thaddeus shout “Crucify him! Crucify him!!”
For Thaddeus, it was the pain of loss that drove him to that point. For some, it is the pain of unanswered prayers. For others, it is the promise of wealth, fame, prestige and position. While, for several others, it is the fear of being disliked. There are also people who turn their backs on Christ for the “pleasure” of sin. Nailing Christ to the cross again by virtue of our actions.
Like Peter who denied Christ, the realization of our wrong actions often drives us to tears. We wonder if Christ would be willing to set His eyes on us or listen to our prayers.
However, the story of Thaddeus offers us hope. It teaches us that we are never too far gone for the love of Christ to reach out to us.
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:35,38
Are you reading this with a heavy heart? Are you angry with Christ for not stepping in despite your prayers? Have you walked away from Him because of an unfavourable situation? Are you doubting if the Saviour truly exists? Or maybe you are running from Christ because of guilt? You feel you have gone too far for Him.
Today, Jesus is calling out to you. He is asking you to come. Come with your guilt. Come with your anger. Come with your questions. Just come. The Bible says, “No one who comes to Him will he, in any wise, cast away.” Come to Jesus today. He is waiting for you. He wants to comfort you. He wants to walk with you through the pain and hurt. Just come…to the foot of the Cross. Jesus is waiting… Talk to Him. He is listening.