Sunday, March 05, 2006

When Jesus Becomes Real

In the Orlando Sentinel I read about a former drug addict, Glen King, who pedals a bike pulling a train of trailers. Inside the trailers, he has Bibles and devotional books. His mode of transportation is pedaling, but he doesn’t sell Bibles, he gives them away. Odd jobs allow him to supply free Bibles and devotional books. When Jesus becomes real to a person, a person does extraordinary things.

A prison guard, assigned to secure an area also acted unexpectedly after meeting Jesus. His encounter with Jesus is found in Acts16. Paul and Silas were in Philippi preaching the gospel of Jesus, his message of love and forgiveness. However, trouble began to brew.

Several businessmen owned a demon possessed slave girl. They touted her services of fortune-telling and predicting the future. Clients paid extravagant amounts to the charlatans. But when the tortured girl cried out to Paul and Silas for healing, Paul commanded the demon to come out in the name of Jesus. No longer under the spell of evil, she lost her fortune telling powers.

Of course, the vile men who used this poor girl to line their silky pockets with gold were incensed. The love of money and profit margin caused the merchants to drag Paul and Silas “into the marketplace to face the authorities” (vs. 20). The magistrates commanded they be stripped and beaten. After being “severely flogged” (23), a jailer imprisoned them in secure ankle stocks.

About midnight from their cell, Paul and Silas could be heard praying and singing hymns to God. Bruised and ripped flesh responding with praise—most unusual. Other prisoners listened. Most often they’d heard moans and curses from brutally beaten prisoners. But not this night. Paul and Silas knew the real Jesus, and they prayed and sang.

During their God-serenade, a violent earthquake loosed what man had bound. Every prison door flew open. Each prisoner’s chains fell slack. The quaking awoke the jailer, and when he saw prison doors ajar, he drew his sword to kill himself. Death was his expected sentence if he let prisoners escape. Paul cried out, “Don’t harm yourself. We are all here” (vs. 28).

The jailer shouted for torch-lights and rushed into Paul and Silas’ cell. Trembling, he fell before them, “What must I do to be saved?”
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (vs. 31). On a dirty prison floor on his knees, the jailer met the real Jesus. Then the jailer did an amazing thing. He took Paul and Silas out of the prison, called for water and cloths and washed their torn bodies. The once calloused jailer, after meeting Jesus, could no longer ignore suffering. After their comfort, the jailer and his household were baptized. Jesus washed their sins and indifference away.

Former drug addict Glen King passes out Bibles, severely beaten Paul and Silas sang and prayed. A crusty jailer became a Christian nursemaid. Jesus is the source for the extraordinary life.

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