“In the land of beginning again.”
Resurrection by Judgment. (John 5:20)
He came striding along the road, a fine figure of a man, vigorous and healthy, but with eyes betraying a haunting sadness. The other, seated by a wayside pool embowered in brilliant flowers, held up his hand in that gesture of greeting and invitation so familiar in this strange new world. The newcomer halted, hesitated and came across, voicing an easy greeting as he sat down on the grassy bank.For a moment neither spoke. A lark soared up into the azure sky, the throbbing sweetness of its song holding the two listeners enthralled. The fields and trees shimmered in the heat of an afternoon sun, and all creation seemed at peace.
“You are on a mission?” queried the one by the pool.
“A mission which spurs me ever onward without rest,” returned the other, “and until it is accomplished I may not know happiness.”
“It needs the help of a friend, perhaps?” ventured his questioner, but the traveller shook his head.
“My sorrow is of my own making. I once defied the powers of Heaven and thought to outwit God. Now the hand of God is outstretched to me in blessing but I cannot enjoy its munificence until I have made amends for the evil which I have done.”
“I have read in the sayings of Jesus that there are those who in this day come forth to a resurrection by judgments,” observed Gerhard, his eyes on two goldfish disporting themselves in the pool.
The newcomer nodded. “Those words are true. There was a time when a man of God, crying his message to a heedless people, declared, ‘Every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.’ ‘What a man sows,’ said Paul, ‘that shall he also reap.’ I knew of those divine laws, but in my folly believed that I, a king, could flout them with impunity.”
“You were a king then?” returned the other with interest. His companion did not answer at once. A party of children racing along the road in joyous abandon, perceived him as he sat, and in a minute had surrounded him with every evidence of recognition and affection.
“Elder brother, elder brother!” they cried, “here is Michael, tell him the story of Jesus.” Michael came forward shyly – a chubby golden curled toddler of three. He looked up into the friendly face above him and climbed confidently upon his knee. A strong arm held him safely but the man’s eyes were misty with tears.
“Yes, I was a king,” he said at last, almost reluctantly. His eyes looked away across the quiet countryside as though they saw other and far distant scenes. His thoughts came back to the present and he turned to Gerhard. “You are a resident here? You have offered help to a friend. Perhaps you can indeed assist me.”
“That I will gladly do,” came the ready answer.
“I seek a woman named Miriam, who in the Days that Were lived in the land of Judaea. Her home was in the village ofEl-Ramallah near the royal city of Bethlehem. I am told she lives in this district and I must converse with her.”
“Then I can help you; for Miriam of El-Ramallah lives yonder on the slopes of the hill.” Gerhard pointed, and following his outstretched arm, the other perceived a cluster of red-roofed cottages surrounded by trees. “You see the house beside the rhododendrons? Miriam lives there, praying daily for the raising to life of her first-born child, slain by Herod, the king of Judaea, in the days when Jesus was born.”
“Then I must haste there today,” said the stranger, rising to his feet and gently putting Michael on the ground, “for my prayers must be joined with hers for the restoration of that life which was so ruthlessly cut off by my fear and cruelty.”
“Then,” said Gerhard quickly, “you are . . .”
“My name is Herod. I was king of Judaea in the Days that Were. Today I serve the Lord Christ whom I sought so blindly to destroy. But I have learned that ‘by mercy and truth iniquity is purged; and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.’ There are words which ring in my ears day and night, written in letters of fire before my eyes, ‘In Rama there was a voice heard, lamentation and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.’ Until I have sought out every mother whom I made desolate – until I have prayed with her and witnessed her joy as her loved one is restored to her arms, I may not rest. Then, and only then, shall I be free from that age-lasting reproach spoken of by the prophet Daniel when he told of this blessed day.”
With the shouting children running at his side and baby Michael nestled comfortably in the crook of his arm, Herod, slayer of the Innocents, strode up the hill to the place where a woman of faith waited for her heart’s petition to be fulfilled in glorious reality.
(Time has yet to prove whether King Herod will indeed repent in the manner imagined in this story; but the Scriptures are definite that he, with all men, no matter how depraved, are to have opportunity in the day of resurrection.)
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The above story was written by the Editor of “Bible Study Monthly” in January 1981. It was the third story in a series entitled “In the land of beginning again,” short stories of the Millennium, and it is reproduced at this moment in time, just before Christmas, to give a wholly different aspect to the traditional Christmas story. The B.S.M., founded in 1924, may be obtained by anyone, free of charge, now produced six times in the year, by writing to Derrick Nadal, Bible Fellowship Union, 4, Manor Gardens, Barnstone, Nottingham, NG13 9JL, England. Highly recommended.