|From the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
The old man sat in the early morning sun, his eyes closed and his body slowly rocking back and forth. The swaying would occasionally stop as his lips moved in the urgency of silent prayer and then resume as he fell back into quiet meditation. He had been sitting in the courtyard for some time, waiting for the family of his grandson to awake.
As if on cue, a small boy skipped into the yard startling the old man out of his meditation.
“Grandpa! Have you been sitting here all night?”
The old man blinked his eyes and then opened them wide as he spoke. “No, no, Josiah my child. I have only been here since I returned from worship. And where have you been little one?”
“Why, I have been in bed. Where else would I be?”
The old man slowly closed and opened his eyes again before looking steadily at the boy. “You should have been at worship – as should your entire family. Especially on this most glorious of days. But then, I have said this many times before – no one cares to listen to an old man I suppose.” His voice trailed off as his eyes closed.
“We do go to worship. But you don't think it's good worship.” The little boy scuffed his sandaled foot in the hard packed dirt of the courtyard as he spoke.
The old man opened his eyes once more. “No my little one; I do not think that Gnostic worship is any worship at all. It is what the Apostle called a form of godliness without its power.” He sighed deeply before continuing. “Its lack of power is especially apparent on this particular day.”
The boy wrinkled his brow as he spoke. “What do you mean by 'power' grandpa?”
“I mean the power of God to raise a physical body from the dead. That, my boy, is the most important display of power God has ever graced us with.”
“But grandpa, my daddy says there is no raising of the dead. He says that the things we can touch are of no value and have nothing to do with the real Jesus.”
“I know he says that my child; I am afraid I have failed to lead my family into the truth.” The old man leaned back against the courtyard wall and lifted his eyes to the red clouds overhead. “I should have been more diligent to correct the errors in my own son's thinking but, alas, my failure to do so has sown destruction in my grandson” the old man dropped his gaze to the child before him, “and in my great-grandson as well I fear.”
He fell silent for a moment. Then placing his hands on the boy's shoulders, he looked directly into his eyes as he spoke. “You see, if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then the gospel is empty and your faith is also empty my little one.” The old man leaned forward and brought his face near to that of the boy. “My child, if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen, and if Christ has not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!”
A look of concern crossed the face of the little boy and he stood without speaking. Then the scowl was lifted and his eyes brightened as he suddenly spoke. “But grandpa! Daddy says the resurrection of Jesus is as real to each person as they want it to be. Daddy says you can believe it really happened if you want to.” The boy's lips held a tentative smile. It was evident he loved his great-grandfather and hoped to set his mind at ease.
The old man's expression softened. “I love you dearly little one, just as I love your father. I do not want to cause strife and discord; but I would be sinning against my Lord Jesus if I were to agree that the resurrection of my Master is only a reality if it is perceived as such. No, the Lord Jesus Christ truly and physically rose from the dead.” The old man's face suddenly held a look of eagerness as if he had unexpectedly remembered something important. “And Josiah, it was on this very day over 60 years ago that it happened!” He gazed steadily at his great-grandson, hoping for a show of interest on the part of the boy.
Aware of his great-grandfather's expectations the child raised his eyebrows and nodded. He grinned as he spoke.” Grandpa, will you tell me the story about that day again?”
A broad smile broke out on the old man's face. “Yes! Of course I will! Indeed, I thought you would never ask” he chuckled.
“Well grandpa, I am asking. And I have to say, I do enjoy hearing the story.”
“Very good, very good. Now, let me see. It was so long ago I sometimes have trouble remembering all the details. But I can tell you; I remember the most important parts. I will never forget that wonderful day when Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Now, let me see; my friend Cleopas and I were walking to Emmaus. . .”
To Be Continued.