ALIVE

ALIVE

story seventeen

ALIVE

After Jesus healed the man with the evil spirits, he got back into the boat. He and his disciples went back across the lake. And, when they got to a town, a crowd was there waiting for Jesus. In this crowd, there was a leader of the Jews named Jairus. He came to Jesus and said, ‘My daughter is dying. Please come and heal her?’ Jairus’ daughter was only 12-years-old.

So Jesus and his disciples started to go with Jairus to his house. The crowd followed them. In the crowd, there was a woman. She had a disease that made her bleed. She had been sick for 12 years. She thought, ‘If only I could just touch the edge of his clothes, I would be healed.’ And so, as Jesus walked by, she reached out and touched his clothes.  And, right away, she was completely healed.

Then Jesus stopped. He turned and asked, ‘Who touched me?’

And one of his disciples said, ‘How can you ask who touched you? We are in a crowd. Everyone is touching you.’

But Jesus said, ‘I felt power go out of me. I know someone touched me.’

Then the woman came out of the crowd. Shaking with fear, she said, ‘I touched you. I have been bleeding for 12 years. I have spent everything I had on doctors, but they could not make me better. I only got worse.  But, when I touched your clothes, I was completely healed.’

And then Jesus said, ‘Go in peace, your faith has healed you.’

While Jesus was speaking to the woman, some men came up to Jairus. They had a message for him. They said, ‘Do not bother the teacher any more’. Your daughter is already dead.’

But Jesus said to Jairus, ‘Do not be afraid. Believe and she will be healed.’

So they continued on to the house. When they arrived, people were already there weeping for the little girl. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do not cry. She is not dead. She is only asleep.’   But they laughed at him because they knew she was dead.

Then Jesus went into the house. He took three of his disciples and the girl’s parents with him. Then he took the girl by her hand and said, ‘Little girl, get up.’ And the little girl stood up and began to walk about.

Then Jesus told her parents. ‘Give her some food to eat.’

And they were amazed at what Jesus had done.

THE ONE

THE ONE

story eighteen

THE ONE

Some time later, Jesus was praying. His disciples were close by. So he came to them and asked, “Who do people say that I am?”

They replied, “Some say that you are John the Baptist. Other people say that you are Elijah. And some think that you are one of the other prophets who has come back to life.”

Then Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

And Peter replied, “You are God’s Promised Saviour.”

Then Jesus told them not to tell anyone. And he said, “I am going to suffer. The priests and teachers of the law will refuse to accept me. I will be killed, and, on the third day, I will come back to life.”

And then he told all of them, “If you want to be my disciples, give up the things that you want. Be willing to give up your life every day to follow me.  Do not be ashamed of me and my words. If you are, I will be ashamed of you when I come back in my glory, and the glory of my Father and the angels.”

BLIND

BLIND

story nineteen

BLIND

Jesus came near one of the towns. There was a blind man sitting next to the road. He was asking people for money.

He heard many people coming down the road. So he asked, “What is happening?”

They told him, “Jesus is coming here.”

The blind began to shout in a loud voice. “Jesus, Son of David,” he said. “Have pity on me!”

The people who led the way told him to be quiet. But he shouted more and more, “Son of David, have pity on me!”

Jesus stopped. He told the people to bring the blind man to him. When he came close, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

He said, “Lord, I want to see.”

So Jesus said to him, “ Then see. You are healed because you believed.”

Immediately, the man was able to see. He followed Jesus, thanking God. And everyone who saw this, praised God too.

THE KING ARRIVES

THE KING ARRIVES

story twenty

THE KING ARRIVES

Now Jesus started to go to Jerusalem. He wanted to be part of a holy day there. So he took his disciples and they went.

When they came near the city, Jesus stopped. His disciples got a young donkey. And they put their coats on its back. Jesus got on the donkey and he began to ride down the road to Jerusalem.

Now, a lot of people were in town for this holy day. When they heard that Jesus was coming, they went out to meet him. And a large crowd stood near the road when Jesus rode into the city. They began to take off their coats and throw them into the road in front of Jesus to honour him. Some of them took branches and threw them on the road too. And they shouted, “Blessed is the king that God has sent!”

Some leaders of the Jews were in the crowd. They were not happy that people praised Jesus. So they said to Jesus, “Tell these people to stop saying things like that.”

But Jesus said, “If they are quiet, the rocks will shout it out.”

As he came close to Jerusalem, Jesus began to cry. Then he spoke to the city. “Jerusalem,” he said. “If only you knew what brings peace! But now it is too late. Peace is hiding from you. Now, your enemies will come and destroy you.”

When he got to Jerusalem, Jesus came to the Temple. He saw that the people were using part of the Temple as a market place. So Jesus became angry. He began to turn over the tables and chairs of the merchants. He shouted, “The prophets said that my house is to be a place of prayer. But you have turned it into a place of thieves!’”

The leaders in the Temple hated Jesus for this. They wanted to kill him, but the people loved him.

So, every day that week, Jesus taught at the temple. And, while he spoke, the leaders tried to trap Jesus. They wanted him to say something wrong. Then they could arrest him. But they could not fool him. And Jesus warned his disciples, “Watch out for these men. They love the praise of people, but they are stealing from widows. And God will punish them without mercy.”

So the leaders of the Jews kept looking for a way to have Jesus killed.

.

GOODBYE

GOODBYE

story twenty-one

GOODBYE

Now, Judas was one of Jesus’ disciples, but Satan had entered him. He knew that the leaders of the Jews wanted to arrest Jesus. So Judas went to them. He said that he would turn against Jesus. But he wanted them to give him money. So they agreed and paid him. And Judas began to look for a way to turn Jesus over to them.

Now the holy day had begun. This holy day included a meal with special food. Jesus wanted them all to eat this meal together. So Jesus and all of his disciples met in a room to eat.

As they sat to eat, Jesus got up from the table. He took a towel and some water. And he washed the disciples’ feet one by one. After he was done, he sat down. He said, “Do you understand what I did? I am your Lord and master. I have set an example for you by washing your feet. You should also wash each other’s feet. After all, no servant is greater than his master.”

As they were eating, Jesus became very sad. He said, “One of you who is eating with me is going to turn against me.” When he said this, the disciples were confused and worried. They started to ask, “Is it me? It is not me, is it?”

Then Jesus said to Judas, “Go. Do what you have to do, but do it quickly.” So Judas got up and went out.

After this, Jesus took some bread. He thanked God for it and he broke it into pieces. He gave it to the disciples and he said, “This is my body. It is broken for you.” And they all ate some. Then Jesus took a cup of wine. He thanked God for it. Then he gave it to them and said, “This is my blood. It is poured out to forgive your sins.” And they all drank some. And he said, “Do this to remember me.”

Then Jesus said, “I have a new command for you. Love each other like I have loved you. If you love each other, then everyone will know that you truly follow me.”

After that, they sang a song of praise to God.

CONDEMNED

CONDEMNED

story twenty-two

INNOCENT

After they ate together, it was night. They all left the room and went outside of the city. Jesus went to a garden there to pray.

After Jesus had prayed for a while, a crowd came up. They carried swords and sticks. Judas was leading them. He came to Jesus and kissed him. He did this so that the crowd would know whom to arrest.

Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Why have you come to arrest me at night carrying swords and sticks?  Every day I was with you in the Temple. And you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour. This is when darkness rules.”

So the crowd arrested him. They took him to the leaders of the Jews who had gathered. And the leaders said, “Tell us now!  Are you the Son of God?”

Jesus said, “You are right to say that I am.”

So the leaders of the Jews decided that Jesus must die. But they could not kill him. They did not have the authority to do that.

So they brought Jesus to the leader that was appointed by Rome. He welcomed them. Then he asked Jesus many questions. When he finished, he told the Jews, “This man is innocent.  He has done nothing to deserve death.’

But the leaders and the crowd with them insisted. They said, “Kill him!  Kill him!”

Now the leader from Rome wanted to let Jesus go free. But the crowd kept shouting, “Kill him! Kill him!”

So he agreed to put Jesus to death.

FINISHED

FINISHED

story twenty-three

IT IS FINISHED

After the crowd shouted to kill Jesus, the leader from Rome gave him to the soldiers. The soldiers took Jesus and beat him with a whip. Then they made a crown of sharp branches and put it on his head. And they laughed at him. Then they led him away with two criminals. A large crowd followed. Some of the women in the crowd were crying.

Now, they got to the place where they were going to kill Jesus. And they brought the cross with them there. The cross had been formed with two wooden beams. And they laid him on it. They drove nails through his hands and his feet to hold him there. Then they lifted the cross so it would stand up. They did the same thing for the two criminals. They put one on the left of Jesus and one on the right.

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.”

Many people in the crowd made fun of Jesus. They said things like, “You saved other people. Can you save yourself?”

“If you are the son of God, come down from that cross. Then we will believe you.”

And one of the criminals also joined in. He said, “If you are the Promised Saviour, save yourself. And save us too!”

But the other criminal said, “You are dying. Do you not fear God? We deserve to die. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said to Jesus, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

And Jesus said to him, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”

Now from about noon until three, the whole sky was dark.

Then Jesus called out, “My God, my God, why have you turned away from me?” And he said, “Father, into your hands I give my spirit. It is finished.” And, after he said this, he died.

One of the soldiers saw all of this. And he said, “Clearly, this man was innocent.”

Then the crowd began to leave. They seemed very sad. And the men that followed Jesus watched all of these things. But they did not stand close by.

After this, a man went to the leader from Rome. He asked him for Jesus’ body. He was one of the leaders of the Jews. But he was a good man. He did not agree with the other leaders about Jesus.

The leader from Rome said yes.

So the man took the body of Jesus. He wrapped it in cloth and put it in a cave to bury it. Then, he had some men roll a huge stone over the entrance to cover it. Some of the women who followed Jesus saw him do this.  And, when he was finished, everyone went away.

SURPRISE!

SURPRISE!

story twenty-four

RISEN

The third day after Jesus died was Sunday. And, very early on that morning, some women were going to the cave where Jesus was buried. These women had followed Jesus for a long time. They carried oils with them. They were going to put them on Jesus’ body. This was their custom for people who had died. As they went along, they asked each other, “Who is going to move the huge stone?” But, when they got to the cave, they saw that someone had already moved the stone.

So they went in, and they saw that it was empty.  But, just then, two angels appeared, and the women were very afraid. So they bowed down on the ground. And the angels said, “Why are you looking in a cave for someone who is alive? Jesus is not here.  He has risen from the dead!  Do you remember what he told you before?  How he would be killed, and then, on the third day, he would rise from the dead?”

Then the women remembered.  Now the people who followed Jesus had gathered in one place. So the women went back there. And they told them what they had seen. But the disciples did not believe them. So Peter got up and ran to the cave. When he got there, he saw that it was empty. The strips of cloth that Jesus had been buried in were the only things there.  And he went away wondering what had happened.

Later that day, the disciples were talking among themselves. Some of them were saying that Jesus was alive. Some of them said that they had seen him. Just then, Jesus stood right there in front of them. They were shocked and afraid. They thought they were seeing a spirit.

And Jesus said, “Why are you afraid? Look at my hands and my feet and see that it is really me. Touch me and see that I am not a spirit.” But they were astonished. They still could not believe that it was him.  And so Jesus asked, “Do you have anything to eat?” And they brought him some cooked fish. And he ate it right there in front of them.

GO

GO

story twenty-five

GO

For the next 40 days, Jesus appeared to many of the men and women who had believed in him. One time, he appeared to 500 people. They all saw him at the same time. And Jesus told them many things.

On one of those days, he reminded them what the prophets, like Isaiah, had said about him. He told them, “Because I died and came back to life, you will be my witnesses. And you will take the message that God will forgive sins to the whole world. You will have power that will come from God’s Spirit.”

Another time, Jesus told them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and God’s Spirit. Teach them to do all of the things that I have taught you. And I will always be with you.”

Then Jesus led them out of the city. And, while he was blessing them, he went up into the sky. As they watched, he went into the clouds and they could not see him.

And they were all looking up, trying to see him. All at once, two angels appeared. The angels said, “Why are you staring at the sky? Jesus has been taken into heaven. And, one day, he will return in the same way you saw him go.”

POWER

POWER

story twenty-six

THE SPIRIT

At the same time, there was a holy day in Jerusalem. Many Jews had come to the city. They had come from all over the world.

All at once, a sound like a strong wind blew through the house. And something that looked like small flames of fire spread out over each of the disciples. Immediately, they were all filled with God’s Spirit. And they began to speak in other languages. Because of the noise, a large crowd gathered about them.

Now the people who gathered about them were from all over the world. They did not all speak the same language. But they all could understand what the disciples were saying. And they were surprised. So they asked, “How can we be hearing them in our own languages?’

But some of the other people made fun of them. They said, “These people are drunk.”

But Peter said, “Listen everyone. We are not drunk.  It is too early in the morning. What is happening is what God promised a long time ago. Back then, God said that he would pour out his Spirit on all people.”  And then Peter told them the good news about Jesus. He told them that Jesus was the Promised Saviour.  He said, “Jesus proved this by doing all kinds of miracles.  And, when the leaders killed him with your help, God raised him back to life again. This was just what God had planned. We know this because we have seen him alive with our own eyes. All of this proves that Jesus is the Promised Saviour. And now Jesus sits at God’s right side. And God has now given us his Spirit just as he promised. That is what you are seeing and hearing now.”

When everyone heard this, they were deeply troubled. So they asked Peter, “What should we do?”

Peter said, “Turn away from your sins and turn to God. Be baptized in the name of Jesus. You will be forgiven for your sins. And you will receive God’s Spirit.”

That day, 3,000 people believed in Jesus.

Then each of them was baptized. And they joined those people who were following Jesus. They began to call this group the church. They met together each day. They listened to the first disciples teach them. They praised God and prayed together. They ate together and they shared what they had with each other.

For a time, everyone thought well of them. And, each day, new people believed in Jesus. And God added them to the church.

RISE UP

RISE UP

story twenty-seven

STAND UP AND WALK

One day, Peter and John went to the Temple to pray. They were two of the first disciples that Jesus had chosen. Now, there was a man sitting by the Temple. He was not able to walk, so he would ask the people who came by for money.

As Peter and John came near him, this man asked them for money.  Peter said to him, “I do not have any money. But I will give you what I have.” Then he said, “In the name of Jesus, stand up and walk.”

Then Peter reached out his hand. He took hold of the man and helped him get up. And, immediately, the man’s ankles and feet became strong so that he could stand. He began walking. And he began jumping. And he began praising God.

So the three of them went into the Temple.  And the people there saw the man who had not been able to walk. He was now walking and praising God.  So they all rushed toward them. And the man was holding on to Peter and John.

Now Peter saw that he had an opportunity to speak to the whole crowd. So he said, “Why are you looking at us like we healed this man? God is the one who healed him because of faith in Jesus. This is the same Jesus that you turned away from and had put to death.  But God brought him back to life. And we are witnesses of this.  But you did not know what you were doing. So now turn away from your sins. Turn to God so your sins will be taken away.”

Peter and John kept talking to the people about Jesus. As they were talking, the leaders of the Temple came to them. When they heard what they were saying, they arrested Peter and John. They put them in prison for the night. The next day, they asked them many questions. After they warned them to stop talking about Jesus, they let them go.

But many people had heard what Peter and John had said. And many of them put their trust in Jesus. So now, more than 5000 people were a part of the church.

THE COST

THE COST

story twenty-eight

THE COST

More and more people began to follow Jesus. Some of the widows among them were poor and did not have enough food. So the church helped them and gave them food. But some of the people among them spoke another language. They began to complain. They thought that their widows were not getting as much food as some of the other widows.

By now, the first disciples that Jesus chose were called the apostles. They called the church together and said, “We should not neglect teaching God’s word to be in charge of getting food to people. Choose seven wise men who allow God’s Spirit to lead them. Let them do this work.”

Everyone thought that this was a good idea. So they chose a man named Stephen, a man named Philip, and five other men. Then the apostles prayed over them and put their hands on them. This was a sign that they had given them authority to do this work.

And the word of God was reaching more and more people. Even some of the priests in the Temple believed and followed Jesus. And the church grew and grew.

Now, Stephen was a man who was full of faith. God even used him to do many miracles. One day, a group of men came to Stephen and started to argue with him about Jesus. But God gave Stephen wisdom and he answered them well.

So the men went away. They convinced some other men to tell lies about Stephen. They said that Stephen was saying bad things about the law and about God. The leaders of the Jews believed the men who lied. So they became very angry. They dragged Stephen outside of the city. Then they started to throw rocks at him to kill him. As Stephen was dying, he prayed and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And do not hold this sin against them.” These were his last words. Then he died.

A DIVINE APPOINTMENT

A DIVINE APPOINTMENT

story twenty-nine

A DIVINE APPOINTMENT

After Stephen died, the Jews worked against the church in Jerusalem. The apostles stayed in the city. But many of the other people who followed Jesus left. They went to other places to live. And, when they got to a new place, they told the people there about Jesus.

Philip went to the region where the Samaritans lived. And he told the people there about Jesus. God used Philip in that place. He healed people who were sick. He made evil spirits stop bothering people. He did many wonderful works. And the people in that place were happy because of what he did.

One day, an angel came to Philip and said, “Go to the road that goes south out of Jerusalem.” So Philip went. When he got there, he saw a man from Africa. He was riding in a cart. This man was an important official in his country. He had gone to Jerusalem to worship God. Now he was on his way home.

God’s Spirit said to Philip, “Go to that cart.” So Philip ran over. When he got close, he heard the man reading from the words of the prophet Isaiah.

So Philip called out to him. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

And the man said, “How can I understand it? I have no one to explain it to me.”

Then he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. So Philip did. And he began with Isaiah’s words. And he told the man about Jesus.

And, as they went along in the cart, the official said, “Look! Here is some water. What is stopping me from being baptized?” And so they stopped. They went down into the water. Then Philip baptized him.

When they came up out of the water, God’s Spirit took Philip away. The man from Africa never saw him again. So he went on his way. And he was very happy.

But Philip found himself in another town. So he told the people there about Jesus. Then he went from one town to another. And he talked about Jesus in those places too.

THE ROAD

THE ROAD

story thirty

THE ROAD

One of the leaders of the Jews in those days was named Paul. He went from house to house looking for people who followed Jesus. He would put them in chains and take them away to prison. He even had some of them killed.

One day, Paul went to the high priest. He asked the high priest to give him letters. He would then give these letters to the officials in other towns. These letters would allow Paul to arrest people who followed Jesus in those towns. Then he could bring them back to Jerusalem to punish them.

So Paul left Jerusalem and he took the letters with him. As he was on the road to the city of Damascus, a bright light from heaven flashed all around him. He fell on the ground. And he heard a voice speak to him. It said, “Why are you working so hard against me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Paul asked.

The voice said, “I am Jesus.  I am the one you are fighting against. Now get up and go into the city. Wait for me to tell you what to do.”

So Paul got up. But he could not see anything—he was blind! So the men with Paul took him by the hand to a house in the city. He could not see for three days. And for three days, he did not eat or drink anything.

While he was at the house, he had a dream. He saw that a man would come to him. He would place his hands on him. Then Paul would be able to see again.

And God did send someone. He put his hands on Paul and prayed for him. At once, the darkness left his eyes and he could see. Then he was baptized and ate some food.

Paul spent several days in that city. And he would go to the places where the Jews would worship. Then he would tell them that Jesus is the Son of God. When the Jews heard this, they were confused and surprised. They knew why he had come to the city. But the more he taught them, the more he proved that Jesus is the Saviour that God had promised.

After some time, Paul went back to Jerusalem. At first, the apostles there did not want to meet with him. They did not trust him. But there was a man whom they did trust named Barnabas. He brought Paul to the apostles. He told them how Jesus met Paul on the road. And he told them how Paul had spoken about Jesus in Damascus.

So they welcomed Paul among them. And he went many places in Jerusalem and told people about Jesus. The Jews were not happy about this. So they made a plan to kill him. But Paul left the city and went back to his home town.

For a while, the church enjoyed a time of peace. The church became stronger and grew larger. And God’s Spirit continued to help them.

WORSHIP IN CHAINS

WORSHIP IN CHAINS

story thirty-one

WORSHIP AT MIDNIGHT

For many years, Paul went from place to place. He told people about Jesus so that people would believe. Then the church could grow in those places. One day, Paul and his friend Silas came to a place named Philippi.

And, as they went along, a slave girl started following them. She had an evil spirit in her. The evil spirit helped her tell people what was going to happen to them. She earned a lot of money for her owners by doing this.

For many days, she followed Paul and Silas and kept shouting, “These men are servants of God.  And they are telling you how to be saved!”  After a while, Paul became annoyed. So he said to the evil spirit, “In the name of Jesus, come out of her.” And the evil spirit left her.

When her masters saw this, they were not pleased. They knew that they would not be able to make money from the girl any more. So they dragged Paul and Silas to the authorities. They said, “These men are teaching people to do things that are against our customs.”

Then a crowd gathered against Paul and Silas. So the authorities took their clothes. And they beat them in front of everyone.  They put them in prison. And they told the man who kept the prison, “Make sure these men do not escape.”  So he chained them and put them in the deepest part of the prison.

That night, at about midnight, Paul and Silas were praising God and singing songs to him. Just then, the ground began to shake.  And all the doors in the prison flew open. And all the chains fell off the men inside.

When the man who kept the prison saw the doors open, he thought all the people inside had escaped. So he was going to kill himself.

But Paul said, “Do not hurt yourself. We are all here.”

So the man ran in and he fell down at their feet. Then he brought them out and said, “What do I need to do to be saved?”

And they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you and everyone in your house will be saved.” Then they told the man and everyone in his house about Jesus. So the man washed their cuts. And Paul and Silas baptized the man and his whole family. And they were all filled with joy. Then they went into the man’s house and ate together.

The next morning, Paul and Silas left the prison. They stayed in Philippi for a while. They encouraged the people who believed in Jesus there. Then they left the city. They had many other places that they wanted to go to share the news about Jesus.

NEW BEGINNINGS

NEW BEGINNINGS

story thirty-two

ALL THINGS NEW

Many years later, John, one of the apostles, was in exile for his faith. One day, as he was praying, Jesus appeared to him in a dream. He said, “Do not be afraid. I was dead, but look. I am alive. And I have power over death.”

And then John saw into heaven. God was sitting in the highest place there. Millions of people sang praises to him. All of the angels sang as well.

Then John saw many things that will happen at the end of time. He saw Satan gather an army to fight against God. There will be a great battle. But God will defeat Satan. Then God will throw him into the fire that never goes out.

And then God will judge everyone who has ever lived. There will be some whose names are not written in the Book of Life. They are the ones who did not believe in God. The angels will throw them into the fire that never goes out.

And then John saw a new Heaven and a new earth. God will live with his people there. They will see his face and worship him. They will live with him for ever. And God will wipe away every tear. There will be no more pain and no more death.  No one will be sad there. And nothing evil will ever be allowed to enter.

There will be a river of life that flows from the place where God sits. And anyone can come and drink from it. On each side of this river, there will be a tree of life. And God’s people may eat the fruit and live for ever.

Then Jesus said, “I am the first and the last. I am the beginning and the end. Look! I am coming soon.”