Some people spend their whole lives waiting for the right moment. The perfect person to come along and speak those special three words that would validate their entire existence. For all the years suffering in silent agony, they believe that power rested within this one phrase to bring wholeness to their purpose. We have all been there, clinging to that light of faith, knowing that it was not a matter of if, but when. There are also those who feel like they have waited for their lifetime and an eternity, and their light grows dimmer each passing day.
It has come to pass that for one such man, the time had come.
A figure approached him in the distance. An unspeakable aura of love surrounded the two as they drew near to each other. And then those words.
“It’s time, Jesus.”
The world was different from how he remembered it, yet painfully familiar. The people whom He loved had once again fallen slave to the world. Their love for God had been cast aside and their hearts eagerly fluttered around, looking for that next hit, that next rush to fill themselves, if only temporarily. Yet for all the sin in their life, He forgave them, for indeed they knew not what they had done. Still, He could not help but ponder: Were they worthy enough to step through the gates of St. Peter into the eternal embrace of His Father? Only He would be the judge of that. And there was only one measure uniting the whole world that could be used to settle the score with humanity.
Jesus arrived at His destination, and already He could hear the crowds’ roars echoing throughout the place. His mind wandered back to the last time He heard those despising chants, and He grimaced and subconsciously rubbed His fingers over the jagged scar across His side. He walked up the stairs only to find the door locked. He went in anyway and greeted the twelve.
Quickly the twelve surrounded Him in a loving embrace. No longer was He the teacher and they His pupils; He called them friends. But He saw in their faces and sensed in their hearts a great fear, which was easily betrayed by a quivering voice that rose amongst their greetings.
“Master, what are you going to do? Judas has betrayed us. He has gone over to the other team, just for an extra bag of gold coins!” the disciple cried.
Jesus replied, “Do not doubt me, for here is Matthew. Happy are those who have not seen him play but yet believe!” From that moment Thomas believed.
“Well Jim, it looks like Jesus’ Apostles are really getting martyred out there. Manchester United sitting on a one goal lead and with almost 80% possession here and it feels like you can expect more”
“No argument with you there, Mike. It makes you wonder whether Jesus just plucked a bunch of fishermen and builders from their day jobs and expected them to play great football. Won’t we all be glad to hear the end of that final whistle.”
From where he stood at the edge of the goalposts, Peter could see almost everything happening. They were incomparably outclassed, tiring fast and losing hope. Pinned back in their own half, Jude and Bartholomew could only pass amongst each other, finding no headway. Fear welled up from within. With a quick glance to the touchline Peter met the gaze of his teacher. Every part of himself felt like it was sinking into the pitch, and he cried out from the depths of his heart: “Save us!”
There came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the entire stadium. Tiny flames descended from the sky and rested upon the Apostles, and they were suddenly imbued with a great new spirit.
As the match entered its final ten minutes, it felt as if a great resurrection had taken place. James and John defended down the flanks faithfully and thundered down to support the attack, reminiscent of a famous brotherly pair. Stupidley approached the penalty box dangerously, but Bartholomew threw himself into the tackle, defending with his very skin and won possession. He laid the ball off to Thomas who, just as was his profession, continued to build up the play. He distributed the ball off to Simon, who zealously skipped past one, and then two defenders. Looking up, he saw Matthew making a run into the box and deftly lifted the ball. Matthew leapt, as if being lifted by an angel, and buried the ball into the net with his right foot. They were level.
“GOOOOAAAAAL! Matthew brings new life into this game! Where there was no hope, surely Jesus’ Apostles have fought against every odds to find themselves within sight of a victory, for the first time in this match!”
“You can’t deny that Jim, but with mere seconds left, they need nothing short of a miracle!”
Before the apostles even had time to celebrate, they found themselves with a free kick on the edge of the penalty box. And when all seemed hopeless, Jude Thaddaeus stood up to take it. The crowd stood on the edge of their seats, many with their eyes looked up to heaven in fervent prayer. One step, two steps, he ran up and struck the ball squarely.
It was a fine hit but straight at De Heah who punched the ball nervously away from his net. It landed to Andrew on the left flank. There were so many bodies in the box it was almost impossible to pick anybody out. Just then, from the corner of his eye, he spotted a lone figure running across the pitch. He closed his eyes, and just like Jesus, took the cross.
Too many times had he denied Jesus. Too many times he had felt his humanness betray him. Too many times he felt unworthy to be called a disciple. These thoughts swarmed in Peter’s head with every stride across the field but in his heart, he only felt love. He saw the ball arc across the unlit sky and jumped to meet it with his head. Like a sword sharp enough to cut ears, he struck the ball, watching it dip past the keeper’s hands and into the net.
All around the stadium the crowd erupted into ecstatic joy. No words could express what everybody felt and for that moment, it felt as if heaven was a place on earth.