My name is Joseph. You may have already heard my name mentioned in my wife’s story, but she probably didn’t mention my moments of indecision. She’s kind, so she has forgiven my fear when I first learned of her situation. I’m getting ahead of myself though.
I was engaged to this wonderful young girl named Mary when the rumors started flying. People were saying that she was pregnant, and when I went to confront her she didn’t deny it. I didn’t wish her any more shame than she was currently in, so I decided I’d just divorce her quietly. I couldn’t marry someone who had obviously cheated on me!
Then I had the most bizarre dream. An angel told me in my dream to have no fear because Mary’s story about God giving her this child as a virgin was true. Any other time I would have blown such a dream off, but there was something so urgent about the dream. I went forward with the marriage, and boy was I glad too. I now have the most wonderful wife, and I was able to act as a father to God’s son.
This wasn’t the only instance during this time that I was glad I listened to God. After the wisemen visited us, I had another angel dream that caused me to flee with my family to Egypt. Good thing too because Herod was on a mission to kill my son. Because I was obedient, Jesus was able to live his full life, and many prophesies were fulfilled. God rewards us when we are obedient.
I am Cathy, modern day follower of Christ. I wasn’t physically present at the cross, but the actions committed there greatly affected my life. When Jesus hung on the cross, he hung there because he knew that I would come along some day and easily fall prey to the tricks of the devil. He wanted to provide a way for me to still have a relationship with God even though I would continuously fail to keep my end of the deal. He loved me in spite of my imperfections and even desires to help me through those imperfections.
Some days I feel like Pilate, shouting that Jesus is innocent and not being heard then falling prey to peer pressure. Some days I connect more with the soldier. My sins are no different than the times that the soldier beat Jesus, and sometimes I really don’t live as if I understand “this Jesus guy.” Then there are the days that I feel like Mary, heavy-hearted because an innocent man hung on a cross but rejoicing when I remember his resurrection. Many days I feel like Peter saying “Lord I will live for you no matter what” and then forgetting that promise when someone asks me directly about my faith. Finally, there are the moments that I let greed cloud my vision just like Judas. I may not sell my savior for 30 pieces of silver, but I let him be ridiculed and mocked in exchange for my pride and reputation.
There is something for us all to learn from the cross, whether we’ve heard it once or many times. Take some time and ponder what Christ did on that cross and how it affects you. For me, it provides hope and forgiveness that I can’t find anywhere else. Then ponder where you fit in this story. Are you Pilate or Peter today? Do you pray like Mary or steal like Judas? The message of the cross is not simply for the non-believers; it’s a message that can change any life.
I am Judas, ashamed and guilty. I followed Jesus, but looking back I realize that I made many mistakes. My greed started small, stealing a bit of spare change every once in a while from the treasury. It was easy since I was trusted with the money for all of the disciples. Every time though I would take just a bit more. So when I heard that the priests were looking for a way to convict Jesus, I devised a plan. I went to them and asked how much they would give me to lead them to Jesus. They gave me thirty pieces of silver, not much for a life but it seemed like a fortune at the time.
While we were eating the Passover meal together, Jesus started talking about someone betraying him. I knew in the pit of my stomach that he was talking about me. I asked him and he simply told me that I had said it. The feeling stayed with me throughout the evening as Jesus served us the bread and wine, but I managed to brush the feeling away when Jesus told Peter that Peter would deny him three times that evening. Surely that’s who Jesus was referring to even though he all but told me he was talking about me.
In fear of retaliation from the priests, I continued with the plan. I guess you could say the 30 gold coins weighed heavily in my hand, and my greed led to me betray the one man who had ever shown absolute kindness to me. I led the soldiers directly to Jesus. He took it well and even told the other disciples to put down their weapons. It was as if he knew what was coming. In the moment, I convinced myself that I was doing what was right, but looking back I realized it was a grave mistake.
I couldn’t take the guilt of what I had done, sending an innocent man to die for a mere 30 pieces of silver. So I tried to right my wrong. I took the money back to the priests and explained that Jesus was innocent. They didn’t listen. I couldn’t keep the coins and I couldn’t live with myself.
I plead with you to listen to my story. Greed is not just something of the old days. Greed still exists today and always will exist. It can overtake your heart and make you do things that will later cause you regret. I had moments of doubt about what I was doing, but I let the money lead me to do something terrible. I betrayed Jesus, an innocent man who had only shown kindness to me. If I had just stopped to think for one moment about why I was betraying Jesus I might have realized that 30 coins is measly compared to the life of a friend.
I am Simon Peter, follower and close friend of Jesus Christ. The past three years have been, well, life-changing. It all began when my brother told me about this guy he had met who seemed like he had something different to offer. We talked about it for a bit but it wasn’t until a little while later when the guy found us on our fishing boat that things really began to change. He told us that we could leave our boats and follow him and become fishers of men. At the time I didn’t know what it was, but after following him for a while, I realized that this guy Jesus was Messiah. Jesus and I had some intense moments, and when I say he changed my life, that’s really an understatement. He changed my eternity.
This past week has been the most intense. I’ve tried to follow Jesus but it’s been scary. He’s been talking quite a bit lately about “his time” and what will happen when he’s gone. I know he’s God’s son and has to do what God tells him, but I just thought I’d have a bit more time with this man I think I can call friend. One night we were all in the garden together and Jesus went up to pray a ways off. He asked me and some of the other guys to stay awake and pray as well. I tried really hard, but it was dark and I was tired. So many times I’ve failed Jesus, even after he called me Cephas, which means rock. The last night we all ate supper together, Jesus said that one of us would betray him that night. I kind of got a big head and told Jesus that I would never do such a thing. Jesus directly told me that I would do that very thing three times that night. And I’m ashamed to admit that I did.
Seeing Jesus on the cross was heart-breaking. He had taught me so much and I hadn’t always treated him like I should, and there he was dying a criminal’s death.
Two days later Mary and some other women went to the tomb to take some spices they had prepared. I just didn’t have the heart to go with them. Soon, though, they came running back with joy on their faces. Out of breath, they told me that Jesus wasn’t there anymore and that the stone was gone. I ran back to the tomb with the ladies and sure enough his body was gone. My first thought was that someone had taken the body; then I remembered that Jesus had said he would be coming back. It wasn’t long after that moment that Jesus came to see all of the disciples who had gathered in the room where we’d had dinner together. Jesus came in through our locked door and let us touch his side and hands where the nails and sword had been. It was wonderful that he was really back with us. But we knew he couldn’t stay. Thankfully though I know where I will find him and he has promised that some day, he will be back.
For now, I’d urge all of you to get to know him. Even though you can’t touch his side and hands, you can still talk to him and let him guide you in your life. From personal experience, I can say that your life will never be the same.
I am Mary, mother of Jesus. What seems like not so long ago, an angel visited me. At the time I was engaged to Joseph, but this angel told me some news that almost broke that engagement. The angel told me that I was pregnant with the Son of God. This was terrifying yet exciting news. I still don’t understand why God would choose me, but the angel told me that some day my son would be king in a kingdom that would never end. I trusted the Lord and the Lord provided for me.
As my son, who I called Jesus, grew up, I remembered this angel’s visit, but it wasn’t until the last few years of his life that I really began to see his greatness shine. He began preaching and gathering crowds. I heard stories of him healing sick children and raising men from the dead. I was proud of how my son was following His Heavenly Father because I knew that God was Jesus’ father, not Joseph. Then I started hearing stories of people threatening to hurt my son. There was nothing I could do because I simply had to trust that God was protecting my son.
The day they put him on that cross was the worst day of my life. For most people in the crowd, Jesus was simply a leader or a friend, but that was my son up there, dying and in pain. I never for a moment doubted his innocence; I simply trusted that God had everything under control. Even though I trusted, I still wept as they beat him, mocked him, and humiliated him. My heart broke when he called out to his Father in heaven “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I was proud as he talked with the other two criminals near by and then as he forgave his mockers. Finally he breathed his last and said “It is finished.” As much as it hurt to see my son die, I knew that his death was a sacrifice to atone for the sins of everyone.
I left the cross with a heavy heart. After the Sabbath was over, I went with Mary Magdalene to visit the tomb. When we arrived, there was a great earthquake and an angel appeared. Since this was only the second time I had been visited by an angel, I was still surprised by the bright light and powerful voice. He told us to not fear and that Jesus was not in the tomb. The angel showed us his death garments where the body used to be, but there was no body. We ran quickly to tell the men what we had seen and heard. It was a wonderful day! My son had risen from the grave. He had proved to everyone that he truly is the Son of God!
My story is anything than ordinary, but I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for anything else. I am grateful to God to even play such a small role in the life of Jesus and in bringing salvation to all.
I am a soldier in the Roman army and I’ll never forget the week when Jesus died. When we first went to the olive grove to arrest him, I didn’t fully understand what everyone was so upset about. One of his followers led us to him, which was totally bizarre. Then when we tried to arrest the men with him as well, he called himself “I AM” and told us to let them go. One of his followers, named Peter I believe, got a little crazy and cut off Malcus’s ear. Jesus said something about prophesy being fulfilled and his father’s angels and drinking from the cup of suffering. We led him away and a bit later we were told to beat him and put him in a crown of thorns and a purple robe in reference to the fact that he called himself a king. This man obviously did something wrong because Pilate tried his hardest to set him free but the people would have none of that. Since I didn’t know any better and his own people thought he was guilty, I assumed the man called Jesus should die. When they put him on the cross, he didn’t fight it like other prisoners. He accepted the beatings and even watched as we gambled for his clothing. he yelled some words and then said, “It is finished.” Pilate wanted us to hurry these crucifixions along since Sabbath was the next day, so he ordered us to break the three prisoners’ legs. When my buddy went to take care of Jesus, he realized Jesus was already dead. I pierced Jesus’ side with a spear and blood and water flowed out. It was a strange crucifixion but what I heard later was even stranger.
A couple of my buddies were assigned to guard the tomb where Jesus was put so that no one could steal the body. They didn’t fall asleep but they said they remember some bright light and the next thing they knew the stone was gone. This stone was huge and would have taken several men to move. Somehow the stone was moved and Jesus’ body was gone. Later there were reports of people talking and meeting with Jesus. I don’t really understand this Jesus guy, but I’m starting to think there was something different about him.
I am Pontius Pilate, Roman governor of Judea. I remember the day they brought this man named Jesus to me. His accusers told me that this man was a criminal who deserved to die. I wanted the Jews to take care of him on their own, but they reminded me that only Romans are allowed to execute someone. When I talked to Jesus alone, he answered my questions with questions and talked about a kingdom outside of this world. There was definitely something different about this man. He told me that anyone who loved the truth would recognize that what he said was true. This man left me pondering what truth really is. I declared him innocent and tried to release him but the people would have none of that. When given a choice between Jesus and Barabbas, a murderer, they chose to release Barabbas. Still I tried to convince the people that Jesus was innocent in my eyes, but they told me that I would be going against Caesar if I released him. I watched as they beat this innocent man and took him away to be crucified. Later when I heard about his body disappearing from a sealed tomb, I knew my suspicions about this man were true. This man called Jesus was innocent and the words he spoke about his non-earthly kingdom were true. There was something about this man I’ll never forget. This is why I left his sign to say “King of the Jews”. He was a king with powers greater than mine.