Standing In The Gap Of The Real And Perceived
Above is a quote I recently read. There’s a lot to unpack in it, and I won’t try to tackle it all here. I would just say as a Christian, my solace, my hope, my joy is precisely in the belief that because of Jesus, I am not still on trial myself.
My trial is over. The verdict was read. “Guilty!” The sentence was death. I stood before the judge in chains. *Gulp.*
The judge looked at me directly and said, “Do you believe Me?”
“I’m sorry, Your Honor?” I replied, confused. Did I believe that He had just sentenced me to death? Why would He ask me that?
The judge motioned with His finger. I shuffled my shackled feet forward toward the bench. He stood up from His chair and leaned as far over the bench as he could. He was close enough for me to feel His breath, which was uncomfortably warm, but strangely energizing. His expression was hard like granite, but His eyes were bottomless pools of living water.
He reached over, grabbed my shoulder firmly, and pulled me until my chest pressed against the bench. I was afraid my racing heart was reverberating through it.
In a very low, resonant, nearly gutteral voice, the judge repeated, with emphasis, “𝘋𝘰…𝘺𝘰𝘶…𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘪𝘦𝘷𝘦…𝘔𝘦?”
I started shivering. I was undone. I thought I might die right there in the courtroom. I still wasn’t sure what He meant, but I had nothing to lose. “Uhh… yes… of course, Your Honor. I do,” I stammered.
That’s when the main entrance to the courtroom opened. A man stepped into the court. Everybody gasped. He raised his hand to quiet the room and announced, “… I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.”
He then approached the bench without invitation. His father, you see, was the judge. As the man came forward, the judge said in the microphone, with pride, “Behold, my son, in whom I am well pleased!”
The judge let me go, and I stumbled back to catch my breath.
They spoke in whispers for a moment. In chains right behind the son, I could just make out a few of the words here and there.
“Thank you, Son. You’re just in time. You know how much I love him.”
“Yes, Abba. As do I. I wish there was another way. But your will be done. So be it.” That’s when I thought I saw something red beading up on the back of the son’s neck.
The son turned around. The judge nodded at the bailiff, who walked over to me and removed my shackles. When he turned around, chains in hand, the son stood before him, hands outstretched toward the bailiff, who slowly applied my shackles to the son’s hands and feet.
The last click rang in my ears and lingered. I stood there, unable to move, and seemingly unable to breathe. The judge turned his head away and said, “Remove him.”
The bailiff led the judge’s son toward the exit. As they walked, he started to stoop, as if weighed down by some incredible, invisible burden. A pallor overtook him. Two women in the back were quietly weeping, holding each other to contain their sobs. The door shut behind the son and the bailiff.
The judge looked up and back at me. “My son!” He said. “You are forgiven! You’re free! Go and tell every criminal you know what you saw here! It is my gift for them, too.”
A few days later, I woke up about sunrise, as is my custom. But now I was back in my apartment instead of a prison. Finally. It felt so nice. I was still mystified, but starting to adjust.
I got up and headed to the bathroom. After a minute, I heard some noise. I had gone to bed in an empty apartment. I thought maybe it was the neighbors in the adjacent unit.
I turned the water off, and the noise was still there. I left the bathroom, turned on a light, and started walking down the hallway. The noise became louder and clearer. Water. Sizzling. Stirring. Clanking. Plates.
I turned the corner at the end of the hallway and saw a man. His back was turned to me, pouring something on a griddle. Something was cooking.
The man, without turning from his task, greeted me. “Morning, friend!”
Man, that voice was familiar. A minute passed.
He pivoted to face me. “… Brian?”
“𝑱𝑬𝑺𝑼𝑺 𝑪𝑯𝑹𝑰𝑺𝑻!!” I yelped, not believing what I was seeing.
He chuckled. I noticed an apparent scar in His left hand. It went all the way through. I could see the spatula handle inside his palm. “You like blueberries in your pancakes? They’re fresh.”
“Yea, I get it,” He said, as he brought two plates of blueberry pancakes to the table. I took His lead and sat down. “Can we talk?” He said.
“Sure.” I looked down. My mouth was watering. I started to relax.
“Go ahead. I already blessed the pancakes. Hey, listen,” He said. “Everything’s okay. It’s all good. Can I ask you something, brother?”
I nodded and dug in. He reached over and put His hand over mine. “Do you believe me?”
I stopped shoveling pancakes into my mouth and looked up. His face was strong but gentle. His eyes were bottomless pools of living water.
“I… I… I’m sorry, Jesus. I’m so sorry. I saw you and…” I trailed off. I was undone. I just couldn’t believe that…
“Brian,” Jesus interrupted me and took a firm grip on my shoulder. “It’s finished. You’re forever free. I’m forever here. Do… you… believe… me?
My shoulders dropped. I exhaled and breathed in deeply. I lifted my head to look at Him. He was smiling. “Yea, Jesus. I do.” I dried my eyes on a sleeve.
“𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵’𝘴 my beloved,” He said. “It’s good to be back. How are the pancakes?”