09 May 2015

The Witness

I have witnessed great events. I gave up home, livelihood, pleasure and accruement to witness them and bear witness of the Man who performed them. He called, and I answered, one of few who did. One of the fewer who stayed by His side when government, established religion and an entire people rose against Him in fear of what He claimed to be and what they saw He was not.

I remained with Him.

Because I loved Him.

The Man frightened me too—or rather, His cause did. He bred few friends, few followers, many enemies. I remember the glances of indifference, the glares of hatred, the unholy plots and the persecution. It all frightened me at first. I was a simple man, whose dearest wish was peace. We all were. But we followed Him.

We were always safe with Him. Somehow, we were not hurt. And so I became more comfortable, and my heart began to swell with love and pride for Him and the ideals He espoused.

Then came the call from Him—to go and spread the cause without Him. Without provision, money or even deep knowledge of the cause we were called, my fellows and I. Terror struck me.

But He called. And I loved Him. So I went. Even with my limited knowledge of His message, I knew who He really was. I did not doubt Him.

I went, and preached, suffered and grew in testimony and courage and then returned when I was called. And once again I followed Him, learned from Him, obeyed Him and defended Him, witnessed of Him. As the government's hold tightened and the rest of His following ebbed away, I stood with Him. Family and friends scorned me for my sure stance beside Him. And with that pain I drew nearer to Him. He became my all; for all else I had was now gone. I obeyed Him harder. I learned more intently. I protected Him—offered to plunge into the thick of the wolves and die with Him if He would go. I alone offered to accompany Him there.

Then one night He told us one of His special ones would seal His death, and I burned with anger and fear. He told us to flee when the moment should come, that we would not let them kill us too—that we were to be especial witnesses of Him after He was gone. I could not bear such thoughts. I drew my sword and roused the room. We should die before we let a hair fall from His head.

But He bade otherwise. So I obeyed. His testament was so important to Him; I vowed to defend and testify of it with my very life. So I watched from afar, through burning eyes, as they tortured and executed Him. My world collapsed with His cross, and I, consumed in grief, shut myself away from my brethren. I had never doubted. And now I was bereft of everything.

Days later my brethren found me and told me they had seen him. I had not been there. I had missed Him so much. And had missed Him entirely. After all this. I refused to believe it. Had I not given as much as they? Yet I had missed Him. I had been led to Him before; why not now? He was alive; I knew it. I did not doubt their words or His power. But I was one, too, whom He had called as an especial witness; and I had missed the seal that would bind that testimony. How could I witness to others, with that authority, what I had not seen?

They narrowed their eyes at my claim that I must have a witness. It was hard for them to understand; they had one. But I knew He would understand. I reattached myself to my brethren with a vengeance, pleading with God for the manifestation they had received, that I, too, might know and see my beloved Master one last time. I could not fulfill His mandate without this.

Nothing happened for full days. I wept and pleaded and did not cease to cry to Him. Not for myself; but for Him. For He had called me to witness. And for those I would encounter; for He had called me to witness to them.

He does not always answer immediately; but when the right effort has been made, the answer always comes. He answered me a week later. I saw Him. I fell at His feet as my grief released me, and I kissed His feet.

He called me by name. Told me He had heard my prayer and granted it. He and I had fulfilled the law, and I could now be His special witness. And blessed were they who could not see Him but who would believe the witness I could now bear. I had received this witness for my faithfulness in the past with Him and that I might be more faithful now without Him. I was to spread the witness now. And to do it without Him did not frighten me now. For I did not doubt.

I never doubted.

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