Imprisoned or Set Free
I want you to paint a picture with your mind's eye.
As you read the words to this blog, I want you to let your mind paint within itself the pictures that I describe. Let go of the distractions around you, and really put your mind to what you are reading.
You are in a courtroom, standing on a lone pedestal in front of a Judge. To your right is the prosecuting attorney, a beautiful being, and one who knows exactly what statements to make against you. The Judge sitting in front of you has a look of grief, as He listens to every accusation that the prosecuting attorney has brought against you. Your Defense Attorney, to your left, is sitting quietly, listening intently, looking at you with tenderness and love. It leaves you wondering why He hasn't made any objections or protests on your behalf yet.
You study the magnificence of the Judge's chair. You think to yourself that the Judge's chair more resembles a King's throne, not something you would see in any other courtroom. In fact, as you look around more, you notice that this courtroom is very bright; but, you cannot figure out how it seems so bright as there are no chandeliers hanging above you or lights positioned on any of the walls. So, you steal a look around you, and behind you. The audience in attendance seems creepy, deathly, dangerous, and everyone seems to be directly behind the prosecuting attorney. You start to wonder what hold this lawyer has on this audience that they give him their undivided attention. Again, you steal a glance at your Defense Attorney; but, behind them, there is no one; no friend, no co-workers, no one.
"Guilty!" The Judge slams His gavel on the arm of his chair/throne, "Guilty! The sentence is death!"
You can't believe your ears, nor your eyes. Every soul standing before the prosecutor is jeering and cheering at your given sentence. You glance over to your Defense Attorney and see no change in him whatsoever. On a second glance, you notice a single tear streaming down His cheek. The Judge has passed sentence and is looking away, as though ashamed you were even in His courtroom. You realize all is lost; you are now on death row.
But, the Judge gave a fair sentence; you know this to be true. Every accusation leveled at you was correct. You know what you've done with your life, and there really was nothing the Defense Attorney could have done or said to give the Judge a chance to proclaim a different verdict. You are a liar, a cheat, a thief, an idolater, an adulterer, a drug user, an alcoholic; you are everything you were accused of, and so, though you hate the verdict, you accept it because you know it was a just verdict.
And, so, you find yourself sitting in a jail cell no bigger than a closet. Alone, with only your thoughts to keep you company, you come to a realization that your life has been spent in vain, and because of every crime you ever committed, you are about to look death squarely in the eye.
The warden is mean and sadistic. Every time he comes into your cell he laughs a creepy, demented throaty laugh that makes you hope that this would be the day you will finally be put to death. As he turns the key in the lock to the door of your cell, you can't help but think of all the ways he uses to torture you. Will you hang you upside down today? Will he pull your fingernails off today? What will be his form of entertainment? You want to cry; but, no tears seem to be able to form. This is a daily ordeal, this torture and beating, and to cry means only harder and more cruel forms of punishment.
You are, for all intense purposes, lost for all eternity. You might as well be dead. Death is the only escape for you; there is no way else to escape this place of pain and torture as the warden has his minions stationed everywhere, all of them with their beady little eyes trained on you, and the other prisoners.
Am I dreaming?
One night, as you are tossing and turning, and trying to sleep for just a few moments (the warden takes great pleasure in depriving you of peace and rest), you dream a dream of a bright and beautiful shining light...at least you think you are dreaming...
A man, clothed in the whitest of whites is standing in your cell, and aside from thinking how beautiful this man is, you can't help but think that you remember Him from somewhere. And then it hits you, like a ton of bricks, he's the man who was there in the courtroom just to your left! He was the Defense Attorney who sat so still and said not one single word. That one tear that He let slide down His cheek did not save you, He said not one word that could have saved you, and, so, you wonder what He wants with you now.
You know this man must be of some importance if even the warden has allowed Him to visit you; but, why would such a wonderfully clothed man want to come into such a cell as this? You lay in rotting filth, your clothes are nothing but near strips of cloth barely hanging on your emaciated body, and so you try to curl up into the far reaches of your cell so as not to accidently get any of your filth on Him.
"My child," he says softly. "If you will only look to Me, I can give you the key to your freedom."
It's your choice.
You look up at Him in confusion, tripping over the words you are trying to say, "How...what...why are You here?" you ask Him.
His reply, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free."
He holds His hands out to you, and almost as if He knows what you are thinking, says, "It's okay, My child, though you are as filthy as rags, I will make you purer than the new fallen snow."
After many seconds, you timidly reach out to his offered hand, and as your hand touches His you feel something deep inside you that you have never felt before. He smiles reassuringly and points the door. "You must make the choice on your own," He says. "You can choose to stay here and accept the punishment given by the Judge, or you can choose freedom, which you will find only through Me."
"Freedom!" you scream. "I don't want to be in this place, I'm afraid of dying! I want to be free!"
In an instant...
You, all of a sudden, seem instanteously transported to another place. A place that is as bright as the man, Jesus, is. It's a beautiful place; the light source was from the glory of God, it was clear as crystal, you can see 12 gates with 12 angels, there is a different name on each gate, the wall surrounding this place is built on 12 foundations showing the names of the 12 apostles of the Lord. The walls, themselves, were of jasper, and the city inside the walls was made of pure gold. There are precious stones in all the foundations; jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, carnelian, chrysolite, beryl, topaz, chrysoprase, jacinth and amethyst. The gates are made of pearl, and the streets inside the city are of transparent gold. At the very center of the city is a throne on which sits a person of whom the man, Jesus, is calling Father. Even the very clothes that you are now wearing, which were filthy strips of cloth just moments before, are now of the brightest white without spot or blemish. As you stand there, in total astonishment, you listen as a conversation commences between the man, Jesus, and the other man, Father...
Father: "What manner of person have you brought before me?'
Jesus: "This is my child, whom I have rescued from the depths of despair."
Father: "Do I know this person? How can it be that this person is here when just days before I pronounced death upon her?"
Jesus: "My blood is the atoning blood for all mankind, for all those who diligently seek to believe in me and in my name. Father, I died the death I did to save this precious child."
Father: "You were completely quiet during her trial and sentencing. How is it that now you have her here to be with us?"
Jesus: "She has repented. I have paid the price for her redemption."
Father: "Bring me the Lamb's Book of Life!"
**Someone from the side brings a book to Father. Father then scans through the book and finds a page with your name on it; but, something miraculous happens as Father starts reading the page. Father sees your name and the word "REDEEMED" next to it.**
Father: "Welcome, my child, for great is your reward in Heaven."
At once, you are yet again in a place full of goodness where you see a table with a huge feast spread before you. You are urged to fill up with all the wonderful deliciousness set before you. As you are enjoying the elegant feast before you, Jesus begins, "I am truly happy now that I have you with me, where you belong. There is one thing you must now do for me."
Now, you say within your mind, is the catch to all of this.
Fight the Fight
"No, you have it all wrong." Jesus says, as though He can read your mind. "You have but one duty that I am now calling you to do. All who cry to me for freedom from the penalty of death must do this one thing."
"What must I do, my Lord?" you ask pensively.
Jesus begins, "You must go back into that prison that I rescued you from. You must go in and bring out all those who are in the same predicament where I found you. You must spread the word of my saving grace to those who seek peace from their sentences of death. Just as you were, just as they are now, you must go in."
"I can't go in there, my Lord," you begin, "I wouldn't know what to say. I wouldn't know what to do. What protection is there that I will have for such a task?"
Jesus quickly replies, "My child, all you have need of will be provided."
And just as suddenly as when you were rescued from your prison, just as suddenly as you found yourself standing before Father in Heaven, you find yourself clothed with from head to foot; a belt girded around your waist containing every truth of life and death, upon your chest there is a breastplate that contains all the righteousness given to you by the Lord as He, Himself, is righteous, your feet are at the ready to spread the Good News to each prisoner you might encounter, you have in one hand a shield containing more faith than you ever realized you could have, your head is covered in the salvation given to you by Jesus and which will protect your thoughts and mind and in the other hand is a sword, the very Word of God.
"You are now ready, my child, to do all you need to do. All power and authority is given to you through me and through my name."
"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.' "