Searching for a folder today in a cabinet, I came across this story my mom wrote back in 1995. It is awful to admit, but at the time she gave it to me I was hardly interested in reading something she wrote. I wasn’t writing stories yet at the time and was going through a divorce and trying to figure out what I was doing. So the story got stuck in a folder and just today sat down to read it. Some of the poems my mom had written through the years for each of my kids when they were born were pretty and sweet, but until today, I had never taken the time to read this story. It makes me realize that so many times in our lives, we tend to pick up and read things that we might think has something of interest to us. Seasons of our lives change and with each of those seasons, our priorities change as well as our interests. Back in 1995, I was in a place of searching what my life would look like being a divorced mom. I was scared and I was feeling like I had failed the Lord in what He wanted for me and from me. Isn’t it interesting that when the Lord lays something on our hearts to do, even if it is not appreciated at that certain time, He will use it for His glory at just the right time. After reading this today, all I could think of is how this story might speak to someones’ heart about Jesus and His love for us. That He truly did come to earth to bring us salvation and hope for a future with Him. As you read this, may it turn your eyes to the Cross of Calvary and your heart to Him.
Written by Hope Michales, 1995 Corpus Christi, TX (I modified it a little as she didn’t see well and so needed some corrections)
My name is Josiah. I am in a dungeon. This is my last night here on earth. It is a very long, yet short night as I await to be crucified in the morning for crimes that I have done. As I lay here waiting for the dawn to come, I begin to think about the time I was around six years old. It was tax time and our village was filled with people. So many that you could hardly walk down our cobblestone streets. My friends and I were playing outside our homes when we noticed a great white star in the East. We were all amazed at it’s brightness and wondered why we had never seen it before.
(Matt 2:1-2)Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, behold there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, “where is He that is born, King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”)
That was a night to remember for there seemed to be a hush fall over all the city that night. We wondered, but went right back to our playing. Life didn’t seem to change in our village. There were stories, of course, but I was so young, I didn’t pay attention to them. But that star, it seemed to remain for quite some time. i did hear about some wise men and how they had stopped to see Herod to ask him about the one that was born in Bethlehem.
As my last night continued, I began to remember going to the Temple with my parents about that time and as we were going into the temple, there came an old man almost running out of the temple and going to meet a young couple with a baby. I thought it might be his grandson. But as he got near the couple, he took the baby out of the mother’s arms and looking up to the sky he said something like, “Lord, now I can depart in peace, according to Thy Word, I have seen the Savior, you have given to all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel. Luke 2:29-31) Yes, strange things were being heard and happening in Jerusalem in those days.
I also remember one time when I was about eight years old. A decree came from King Herod that all the children two years of age and under were to be killed. I was so glad I was older. Some people of the village said that the one that Herod wanted killed had already fled to Egypt, but I remember all the crying and sounds that came from all over the city. (Matt 2:16-18 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was exceedingly angry and sent forth the order that all children two years and younger would be killed. According to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men, that was fulfilled which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “a great mourning and weeping for her children and would not be comforted because they were not.)
Matt 2:13 and when they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream saying, “arise and take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt.)
Memories of my life still began to flow thought my mind as the night wore on. One memory was when I was in Jewish synagogue school, I began to get in trouble, not real trouble, but my teachers seemed to be telling my parents that I didn’t have a good attitude and had a smart mouth. I seemed to choose some friends that were not to my parents liking and my teachers were always upset with me. Sometimes I would steal lunches from other boys and I thought it was funny to disrupt the class. My time in school was wasted when in fact, I should have been learning a trade or trying to learn as much as I could. My life would have turned out much differently. Maybe I wouldn’t have been in this dungeon awaiting my death in the morning. But I thought I knew it all.
One of my first remembrances of my father was of us going to the Temple on the Sabbath and all holy days. My parents always observed all the Jewish holidays. My father would always make the required sacrifices. I never could see giving up a perfectly good calf or lamb to the priest to be killed. What a waste of food and money when we could have sold it and had money to spend on other things more important. (Leviticus 5:6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats; for a sin offering and the Priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.)
Around that same memory of us going to Temple, strange things began to happen all around me that I didn’t understand. As my Father would go into the temple to make our sacrifice to the priest (as he did every year or holy day) I remember wondering, why didn’t that sacrifice last longer than a year? Why couldn’t there be a sacrifice that would last longer and maybe for all time? But to be honest, I didm’t give it much thought. I had friends that wanted my attention and I just pushed that thought to the back of my mind and went about my usual routine and continued to play and seek a little adventure.
Oh, there was that one night when a friend and I were out playing and we began to talk about going out on the main road, just outside the city gate where it might be possible to rob one of the merchants as they came into the village for the night. It seemed like such a great idea and a quick way to make some money for ourselves. It was almost time for the gates of the village to be shut and we hoped that maybe a merchant might be running late and be an easy target for us. We found one. We dragged him off his donkey and left him by the road after taking his wares. We got back inside the gates just as they were about to close. We had gotten away with it. That was just to easy. Thus began our downward spiral and the adventure we had been seeking. But why was my heart not filled with the joy I thought would come? Keeping this part of my life from my parents caused me so much guilt, but since my friends treated me like a big shot, I allowed myself to fall deeper and deeper into this type of behavior. After all, isn’t this what life is about? To feel important and have your friends look up to you as a leader?
When I was about eighteen, my parents required me to go with them to Temple on some holy day. There was this boy, he looked to be about 12 years old. He was sitting in with the older men discussing things about God and worshipping God. He seemed to really know what He was talking about. He looked familiar to me, but I hurried on to get out of there as fast as I could. After all, the only reason I was there is because my parents made me come with them, I didn’t think it was important enough for me to stand there and listen so as soon as my parents had done what was required of them, we left. I couldn’t wait to get out of there and be about my own interests. I heard a couple of days later that that boy’s parents ended up leaving him there in the Temple and started back on their way home before realizing he wasn’t with them. Boy I bet they were mad. I wonder if he stayed there in the Temple or did He go out looking for them. Wish my parents would leave me alone for 3 days. (Luke 2: 41-47 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth but Jesus stayed behind. His parents didn’t miss him at first because they assumed he was with friends among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him. Three days later they finally discovered him, sitting among the religious teachers, discussing deep questions with them. And all who heard him were amazed at this understanding and his answers. His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere” But why did you have to search? Jesus asked. “you should know that I would be in my Father’s house.” )
The memories have come swiftly tonight as I await the morning cruxifixction. All the things that seemed so unimportant now come knocking at my hearts door. The memory of Jesus being the talk of the town. As a teenager I remember the villagers saying that he was Mr. Perfect, never doing anything wrong. He was always in his father’s carpenter shop instead of playing with the other boys. We thought of him as a goody two-shoes. His brothers and sisters seemed so normal, like the rest of us, but not Jesus. he did go to school with us but he was always smarter than the rest. His interests were also so different from the others. He wanted to learn all about the Temple and the scrolls that were always read on the Sabbath. All the other parents always ask us why we couldn’t be more like him and why didn’t we take more interest in the Torah. Jesus always seemed to know what the religious leaders were talking about and could answer all the questions they asked.
Well, time marched on and each of us, one by one, left home to seek our fame and fortunes. Some of us traveled around the different villages working at various trades. One day as I was going up and down the Jordan riverside, there was quite a commotion in the river. As I drew closer there appeared a man coming over the hill, walking down to the river. There was a wild looking man in the river dunking people underwater. I later learned that he was “baptizing,” whatever that meant. But as the man walked into the river, the wild looking man said something to him and then something strange happened. At the time, I thought maybe the sun had gotten to me, but when he dunked the man into the water, a white bird came to rest on his shoulder. (Matt 3:13-17 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John didn’t want to baptize him. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” But Jesus said, “it must be done because we must do everything that is right.” So then John baptized him. After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling him. And a voice form heaven said, “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
So since I had no idea what had just happened, I figured that they were just strange religious folks who were taking part in some ritual, so I traveled on. My life seemed to be heading continually downward, and simply could not figure out what I really wanted or how to get the peace I was looking for.
As I grew older still, it got harder and harder to make a decent living. I didn’t like to work hard and was always looking for an easy way to make money. Some friends who thought just like I did told me that they had figured out how to make some easy money. We remembered how we use to go out of the city gates just before they would close and rob a merchant, so we decided that we would simply go back to that, but to maybe take it up a notch. We took to the highways and byways and would find some merchants traveling alone. We would beat them and rob them. I remember feeling so guilty the first couple of times, wondering if we had left some for dead, but each time got easier and we were making a pretty good living, so I pushed the guilt away and continued on. (Luke 10:30 A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes and money, beat him up and left him half dead beside the road.)
It is so weird tonight how all these regrets are coming to mind. I guess that is normal for a man about to die in a few hours. I wish I could go to sleep, and not lie here awake thinking about my life and all the things I have seen and done. It is strange that all my thoughts keep going back to that one man whom I have seem so many times in my life but never bothered to stop and hear what He had to say. Why are the thoughts of Jesus so different now than what they were all the years He grew up in the same town as I? All the years of hearing the stories about Jesus and the people He healed. Stories about Him calming stormy waters and there was even a time I heard people in the village talking about Him raising a man from the dead. Could all those stories be true? Did He really heal a man from leprosy? Was that blind man in our village truly made to see? Oh all those stories I would hear as I wandered up and down the hillside. Jesus was always so different from us. His eyes always had such a kindness to them. Why didn’t I listen or pay attention to what He was saying?
This loneliness I am feeling tonight, where are all those “friends” that was always around me? It would be so wonderful to not have to be here all alone. The only one here is the guard and he certainly has no concern for what I am feeling or needing. As I look out this small prison window the light is beginning to come over the hill, outside the city walls. My time is coming quickly to an end. One of the last stories I remember hearing was that this man, Jesus, was tried and convicted because the priests and the Jewish people said that they wanted him crucified. They even released a murderer instead of Jesus. His followers deserted him as well i his hour of need, I was told. But His words were heard as He hung on the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do. Luke 23:46) Some of my relatives watched Him die and said that He forgave one of the thieves that hung beside him before they died.
(Luke 23:40-43 But the other criminal protested, “don’t you fear God even when you are dying? We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” and Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”) Was the story true that after three days Jesus was raised from the dead and is now in Heaven? Could that be? (They found that the stone covering the entrance had been rolled away. So they went in, but they couldn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. They were puzzled, trying to think what could have happened to it. Suddenly two men appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed low before them. Then the men asked, “why are you looking in a tomb for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He has risen from the dead! Don’t you remember what he told you back in Galilee that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and that he would rise again the third day?)
Well, dawn is breaking and it is almost time for me to go. I am afraid and feel so alone. I don’t know how many more are going to be crucified today, but probably not just me. They are coming to take me. This empty feeling is just so awful. I wonder….they are unlocking the cell door and taking me out of the stocks. It is now my turn to march up that hill. And it seems that I have to even carry the cross that I am to be hung on. As I look at the ugly piece of wood I see something carved at the top. It is worn and hard to make out, but what are the words that it says? “Hail! King of the Jews” Can it be! IT IS! This is the very same cross that Jesus was nailed to. Jesus, why that can’t be an accident. Jesus, please save me and forgive me for all my sins! I do not deserve to live, please take me home to you today. I”m sorry I never knew you before. Come into my heart Jesus.” Oh this is peace that I have never felt before? We are nearing the top of the hill and I am alone, but no, I’m not. Jesus has His arms wrapped around me and I know He is with me. This peace is so real and wonderful. Thank you Jesus for your love and forgiveness.(John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave HIs only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.)
At the Cross, at the Cross where I first saw the light and the burden of my heart rolled away. It was there by faith, I received my sight and now I am happy all the day.
Was it for crimes that I had done, He groaned upon the tree? Amazing pity, grace unknown and love beyond degree.
But drops of grief can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe; here Lord I give my self away, Tis all that I can do.
Issac Watts 1707