The letter is a little longer


(Luke 2)

One starry night, in a grassy field outside a little village, a company
of shepherds were watching their sheep that were fast asleep. The men
were talking together of the wonderful Saviour-King who had been so
long promised to the world. Suddenly a bright light shone around them
and, in a moment a beautiful angel appeared and stood near them. The
shepherds were afraid and fell on their knees, while the angel said:
“Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which
shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the City of
David, a Saviour, who is Christ, the Lord.” As they listened the angel
continued, “This shall be your sign; ye shall find a Babe wrapped in
swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.” Just then the light changed
to a soft rose-color, and angels of white–a great multitude–filled
all the sky singing the glad song, “Glory to God in the highest, and on
earth peace and good will to men.” It was the sweetest song ears ever
heard. Soon it ceased, the angels of white went back to heaven, and the
light faded away. “Let us go at once and see this new-born child!” the
shepherds said one to another. So they left their sheep in care of one
shepherd and hastened to the town. There they found the little Babe in
a stable, wrapped in coarse clothes and lying in a manger. By his side
was Mary, his mother, and Joseph. They knelt down beside the manger,
looked into the wide-open eyes of the Christ-Child, and told Mary and
Joseph of the wonderful light, and of the song and sign of the angels.
It was morning when the shepherds went back to their sheep, but they
never tired of telling that the Christ-Child was born, and that the
angels had said he should bring “peace on earth and good will to men.”
That was the first Christmas Day.


(Matthew 2)

In other lands besides the one in which the Christ-Child was born, good
men often talked together of the promise of his coming to the world.
One night, in a far-away land, a wise man who liked to study the stars,
was looking up into the sky, and saw a star he had never seen before.
“There is the star of the Christ-Child!” he cried; “I will go and find
him and take him a gift of gold!” So he mounted his camel and started.
Soon he met another man riding a camel. This man said, “Where are you
going?” “I have seen the star of the Christ-Child,” he said, “and I
am going to find him.” “I saw the star too, and I will go with you,”
said the man; “I shall give him a gift of my sweetest incense.” Soon
they met a third man riding on a camel. “I too,” he said, “saw this
wonderful star, and am seeking the Child-King. I have for him a gift of
myrrh, my most precious perfume!” So they journeyed together–on and
on–ever following the star until they came at last to the little town
of Bethlehem, and the star stood shining over the little house.

“Ike! Ike!” each traveler shouted to his camel. This meant “Kneel;
kneel!” The camels slowly knelt down; each man put his foot on his
camel’s neck, stepped upon the ground, and went into the house, where
they saw the young child and fell down and worshiped him. Then they
opened their bags and gave for the Star-Child their best gifts, of
gold, and frankincense, and myrrh, such as were given only to kings.
Some time after they returned home to their study of the stars again,
but they never forgot the star that led them to the Child-King who was
born to bring to the world “peace and good will, good will and peace.”


(_An Imaginary Sketch._)

(Luke 2: 40, 52.)

When Jesus was a boy he lived in a little country town, called
Nazareth. It was a beautiful place, with little white stone houses,
and little narrow streets; high green hills rising above it; many
gardens full of bright flowers–roses, tulips, lilies, orchids, and
wild geraniums; orchards of fig trees, olive trees, and orange trees;
cooing doves and other birds flitting here and there on the housetops
and among the trees; and in the center of the town there was a fountain
from which water was carried by the people to their homes in large
stone jars borne on the shoulder.

The house in which Jesus lived had only one room with a dirt floor.
It had no window except a hole in the wall; no bedstead, no chair, no
pictures, no looking-glass. The people in these poor houses ate their
meals from a low bench or shelf as they sat or reclined upon the floor
or upon cushions. They slept upon quilts spread on the floor at night
and neatly folded up by day. The only furniture was a chest or cupboard
on one side of the room, where they kept their best clothes. Near
the door stood the jar of water for drinking, cooking, and cleansing.

[Illustration: WHEN JESUS WAS A BOY]

When Jesus was a boy he wore a bright, red coat with long sleeves and
tied around his waist with a sash of different colors. When he was very
little he wore no shoes or stockings. Later he wore little sandals.
Sandals were taken off when people entered a house. Perhaps it was
easier for a boy then to take off his sandals than to wipe his shoes on
the door-mat as boys should do now. But these boys had to wash their
feet as they came indoors, and perhaps that would be harder for a boy
who doesn’t like to wash even his hands when he comes into the house

When Jesus was five years old he began to attend the village school
with other boys. After school was over he loved to play games with the
other boys around the village fountain or upon the level place on the
hillside. He played “funeral” and “wedding” and many games such as boys
play now. He used to climb to the top of the green hills gathering
wildflowers, watching the birds, and perhaps sometimes he would chase
the butterflies, but if he caught them he would never hurt them. He
helped his mother feed the doves and the chickens, often laughing
heartily as he saw the chicks run to hide under the mother’s wings.

Every Sabbath he went to the village synagogue, which was the same
place as the day-school. He listened attentively to the minister
reading and explaining the Bible. After the synagogue service all the
children stayed to the Bible school. All the children sat on the dirt
floor and listened to the Old Testament read and explained. Boys, like
Jesus, were glad to learn a great deal of the Bible by heart and then
to repeat it from memory.

Jesus’ father, Joseph, was the village carpenter. He made and repaired
stools, mangers, plows, yokes, and such things for the home and farm.
Jesus doubtless loved to be in the carpenter shop, helping Joseph by
bringing saw and hammer, holding a board, and learning all he could.
Jesus and Joseph were chums and partners, always trying to help each
other. We may imagine that one day Jesus saw an Arab in the village
making a tent. When Jesus got home he said, “I would like to have a
tent.” So Joseph helped him, and he soon learned to smooth and sharpen
the pegs, sew cloth together, and when at last the tent was finished
and put out in the garden, no boy was ever happier lying under his own
tent that his own hands had made, than Jesus was. One day, perhaps,
Joseph took Jesus over to the lake, where they went fishing. What fun
that was to Jesus, as well as the rowing and sailing and swimming in
the lake! When he got home he said, “Let us make a little boat for
little brother.” So they made a nice boat and gave it as a plaything to
amuse his little brother.

Often his mother called, “Jesus, please get some water in the jars.”
Jesus started on the minute. He never said, “Oh pshaw! ask brother!” or
“I don’t want to!” or “Wait a minute!” No, Jesus went at once, and more
often saw what was wanted to be done and did it without waiting to be

Jesus was the kind of boy that helps everybody. So everybody liked
Jesus. He studied his lessons well. He always played fair with the
boys. He was kind and loving and good to all. He loved everybody, and
everything he did he did with his whole heart and tried to do well.

In the evening his father and mother often gathered the children
together and told them the beautiful stories from the Bible–and Jesus
loved especially those about Abraham and Joseph and Samuel and David
and Daniel.

So when Jesus was a boy he was a real boy–a perfect boy, the best
thinking, feeling, speaking, acting boy the world ever saw, just the
kind of boy that God wants every boy to be, “growing in body, in mind,
in soul, and in favor with God and man.”


(Luke 2: 41-52)

One morning when Jesus lived in the little white stone house in
Nazareth, his father, Joseph, said: “Jesus, you are now twelve years
old. You are to go to the feast in Jerusalem with us this year.” This
made Jesus very happy. He had been looking forward a long time to the
day when he could go to the great city of Jerusalem that was to him
the most sacred and most wonderful city in the world. So, when the
morning to start came, Jesus was ready. When they started there were
great throngs of people from different towns and lands going up to the
feast, traveling together and crowding the roads. The women and aged
men rode on donkeys, or mules, or horses, or camels. The men walked by
their side, staff in hand. The boys ran on before or played by the side
of the road. These great caravans of people slowly traveled together
as far as they could by day and rested at night in tents or booths.
The boys had tents in which they could sleep together, and Jesus was
with the boys. On the fourth day, suddenly in the distance, on a hill,
Jesus caught the first glimpse of the high towers and great walls of
the city, and the shining roof of the temple and palaces. The people
cried out, “Jerusalem! Jerusalem!” singing psalms of joy together,
accompanied by music of various instruments, as they journeyed onward.
Soon they reached the city. It was a new and wonderful world to Jesus,
this wondrous boy of twelve years old, who had lived in the country and
had never seen a large city before. He opened his eyes wide to see the
crowded streets, the marble palaces, the strong towers, and then the
temple courts and buildings. He saw the bright robes of the priests.
He saw the smoking altars and their bleeding sacrifices of oxen and
lambs and doves. He stood in front of the great blue veil of the holy
of holies and wondered what was within. He knew this was his heavenly
Father’s house, and he liked to be there better than anywhere else.
He watched the daily sacrifice and all parts of the feast. During the
seven days of the feast, Jesus walked about the streets looking at the
stores, the wonderful articles for sale, the animals for sacrifice, the
forts, the great gates, and other interesting things in the city, but
he always liked to go back to the wonderful temple.

When the feast was over, Joseph and Mary started toward home. But
as the roads were so crowded, especially toward Nazareth, with the
thousands of returning pilgrims, his parents, supposing he was in
the company, did not discover that he was missing until they pitched
their tents at the close of their first short day’s travel. Jesus was
lost. They searched everywhere and asked everybody they met, and when
they could not find him they were greatly worried, fearing that King
Herod might have caught him and put him to death. They hurried back
to the city very early the next morning and searched everywhere for
the missing boy but could learn nothing of him. At last, on the third
day, they went into one of the side rooms of the temple, a room where
the teachers and wise men met, and there was Jesus in the center of a
group of white-bearded teachers, listening earnestly to what they said,
and asking them harder questions than they had ever heard before. Mary
said: “Jesus, my son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy
father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” Jesus replied: “Mother, how
is it that you sought me? Did you not think that I would be here, in my
Father’s house?” While Jesus had been at the feast during those seven
days he had found out what every boy and girl sooner or later must find
out, what he is to do and to be in the world. But though Jesus now knew
what he was to be and do, yet at once he said to the great teachers,
“Good-bye,” and went back with his parents to Nazareth, a cheerful,
obedient Jewish boy.

And in all that land no son was ever so thoughtful, so kind, so loving,
and so helpful to his parents and to his brothers and sisters, as was
this noble boy and young man, whom his neighbors knew as Jesus, the
young carpenter of Nazareth.


(Mark 1: 1-11)

When Jesus was the young carpenter in Nazareth he was the best
carpenter of all the land. The children, passing by, liked to peep
in at the open door of his shop and see him at work with his saw or
hammer, making or repairing a stool, or a chest, a manger, a plow, or a
yoke. He smiled sweetly at the children and spoke kind words to them,
so that the children of Nazareth loved him in return. But one day as
Jesus was standing beside his bench, with the shavings at his feet and
his carpenter’s tools about him, he knew that very soon he must leave
that shop and go into the towns and cities where there were other
things for him to mend than stools and chests and mangers and plows and
yokes. At last, one evening, when the shadows lengthened, he went into
his carpenter’s shop and hung up his hammer, his saw, his adz, and each
of his carpenter’s tools, shut the door of his shop, said “Good-bye” to
his mother and his brothers and sisters and friends in Nazareth, and
early next morning started on a long walk over the hills and valleys
toward the river Jordan.

A strange preacher named John, the Baptizer, had come out of the
wilderness to the banks of the river Jordan, preaching that everybody
should repent of his sins and prepare for the coming of God’s Son by
being baptized in the river, confessing his sins. John was dressed in
a rough coat made of camel’s hair, and had lived in the desert eating
nothing but honey and an insect, something like a grasshopper, called a
locust. But thousands of people came to listen to this strange preacher
of the desert and to be baptized.

One afternoon, as a great crowd was around him, John suddenly stopped
in his preaching, and looking at a man coming near, he cried, “Look,
there is God’s Son!” All eyes were turned toward the quiet and gentle
form of Jesus, who walked forward and said to John, “I would like to be
baptized.” John drew back, and said, “Oh, no, no! You should baptize
me, rather than that I should baptize you.” But when Jesus said, “It
is God’s will,” John took hold of his hand and together John and Jesus
slowly stepped out on the pebbly shore, and walked into the river, with
every eye upon them. Standing out in the water, Jesus prayed. Then John
baptized Jesus. And as Jesus came up out of the water, suddenly the sky
seemed to open, and a beautiful snow-white dove flew down and rested
upon the head of Jesus. Then a Voice from heaven was heard that said,
“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

This was the announcement that Jesus was the Son of God and the Saviour
of the world. It meant that Jesus would return to the carpenter shop no
more. No more would the farmer bring his plow for Jesus to repair. No
more would the housemother bring her stool to Jesus to mend. In vain
would the children passing by his shop look in at the open door to see
his pleasant smile or hear his kind voice. The saw and the hammer and
the adz were for other hands now. Jesus had entered upon his great task
of mending and healing human hearts and lives, of bringing “Peace on
earth, good will to men,” a task in which every one who loves him and
is like him may still share a part.


(Matthew 4: 1-11)

When Jesus was a boy and a young man in Nazareth, he was sometimes
tempted to do wrong things or to do right things in a wrong way. But he
had decided always to do what pleased God, his heavenly Father, and so
he met every temptation to do wrong with a firm “No!” which each time
won him a new victory, as it will with any one.

Immediately after his baptism in the river Jordan Jesus was tempted
more than ever before because his baptism was the beginning of his
public life as the Son of God and Saviour of men. Satan, the tempter,
said, “I will make him do something that will not please God!” So, far
off in the desert, where Jesus withdrew to plan the best way to begin
his life-work, and when he had fasted for forty days and was very
hungry, Satan came to Jesus in some strange form and said, “If thou art
the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” He pointed to
some round, smooth stones lying near that looked very much like loaves.
Jesus knew that he could command them to become bread, but he said:
“No, God does not want me to use my power for myself, but for others.
It is better to obey God and do right than even to get bread when one
is hungry. God says in his word, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God,’” So Jesus refused
to do what Satan said to satisfy his hunger, and won the first inning
of his great victory.

The tempter tried another plan. He seemed to take Jesus suddenly to one
of the highest towers of the temple in Jerusalem where he said: “If
thou art the Son of God, cast yourself down and surprise the people,
for God’s word says, ‘He will give his angels charge over thee, and
they shall bear thee up in their hands lest thou dash thy foot against
a stone.’” Jesus knew that he could easily do this, but he said: “No,
the angels of God only take care of God’s children when they do right
in a right way to please him. It is written in God’s word, ‘Thou shalt
not tempt the Lord thy God.’” So he refused the tempter, and won the
second inning of his great victory.

The tempter tried a third time. He seemed to carry Jesus up into a very
high mountain, from which he could see the whole world and all the
glory of it. Satan said: “All these things will I give thee if thou
wilt fall down and worship me. The Jews want a Sword-King. Become a
Sword-King and lead them out to fight their enemies, and you will win,
for I will help you.”

“Get thee hence, Satan,” cried Jesus immediately, “for it is written in
God’s word, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt
thou worship.’” Jesus refused to be Satan’s Sword-King, and chose to be
God’s kind of king, a Peace-King. So Jesus won the third inning of his
great victory.

Then Satan left Jesus. God’s angels brought him food to sustain him and
encouragement to revive him. And Jesus was stronger still to do always
those things that pleased his heavenly Father, who would give him help
to win other victories through life, as he had helped him to win this
first great victory.


(Matthew 19:13-15)

One day a great crowd of men gathered about Jesus, the great Teacher.
All sorts of men were there–rich men and poor men; soldiers with their
swords and spears and sandals; rough fishermen, barefooted, fresh come
from their boats and nets; and priests dressed in their long, white
robes with colored fringes.

Suddenly, as the great Teacher was speaking, at the farther edge of the
crowd a noise was heard. Some women and children were trying to get
near to Jesus. These women wore red and blue dresses with handkerchiefs
tied over their heads, which showed they were poor women from the
little white stone houses. Some were carrying their babies, some were
holding their little ones by the hand, and others were followed by
large boys and girls clinging to their mothers’ skirts. All were trying
to press nearer to Jesus who was talking earnestly to the people. Soon
some of the close friends of Jesus noticed these women with their
children, and said: “Women, do you not see how busy Jesus is? He has
grown-up people to talk to, and has no time for you and your children.
Take them away; carry them home where they belong!”

Jesus heard what his friends said, and cried out: “Do not send the
children away. Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid
them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” There were so many of
them–mothers and their children, little babies, small children, young
boys, and girls! Jesus received them all. He let them all come near
him. He took the babies in his arms. He laid his hands on the heads of
the little children. He put his loving arms around the larger boys and
girls. And he blessed them all. It may be he told them some beautiful
stories, for we may be sure that the boys and girls then loved to hear
stories as well as the children do to-day.

So Jesus was the friend of the children! No wonder children like to

I think when I read that sweet story of old
When Jesus was here among men,
How he called little children as lambs to the fold,
I should like to have been with them then.

I wish that his hands had been placed on my head,
That his arms had been thrown around me,
And that I might have seen his kind look when he said,
“Let the little ones come unto me.”


(Matthew 9:18-26)

Once there was a girl twelve years of age who lived in a beautiful
country house with her father and mother, who loved her dearly. Her
father was one of the chief men of that place, a ruler, the president
of Synagogue College, and very rich.

One day this little girl became ill, and day by day she grew weaker
and weaker, until everybody feared she would never be well again. One
morning she lay very white and still with her eyes closed and scarcely
breathing. Her father had left his business that day to sit by her
bedside and watch her. Tears filled his eyes as he thought he must lose
his darling daughter. All at once the little girl opened her eyes and
seeing her father’s tears said: “Father, there’s a good man who loves
children. I saw him one day in town, and he looked at me and spoke to
me so kindly, I just loved him. His name is Jesus. He heals the sick. I
think he would make me well.”

The father had thought of him several times, but as some of his friends
didn’t want to have anything to do with him, he did not go to him. But
when his daughter whispered, “Please, father, tell him I’m sick,” the
father determined at once to go and get him. He hastened to the town
where he was dining in a friend’s house. He fell at the feet of the
great Teacher, crying out: “My little daughter is dying! Please come
quickly and lay your hand on the child, and she shall live!” At once
the Teacher arose and followed the father, a great crowd of people
following, each person trying to get near him and to look up into
his face or to hear his wonderful words. As they were on their way a
poor old woman that had been ill as many years as the little girl had
been on the earth, with a disease that no doctor could cure, came up
quietly behind Jesus in the crowd. She thought, “If I can only touch
his garment, I shall be healed.” And as soon as she put out her finger
and touched the hem of his garment, she felt new life, and she was
healed. “Who touched me?” said the great Teacher, turning around and
looking straight at her. Then he spoke kind and comforting words to
her. All this took so much time the father was worried and said, “O
Sir, please hasten, or my little daughter will be dead before we get
there!” But this great man was never in a hurry, having time to help
everybody. They were not much farther on the way when they saw a man
running toward them. It was the rich man’s servant, who said, “Thy
daughter is dead. Don’t trouble the Teacher any further!” You should
have seen the sorrow written on that poor father’s face. Jesus saw it
and said, “Do not be afraid. Only believe in me!” When they reached
the house the doors were wide open and they heard the sound of pitiful
wailing and weeping, accompanied by the flutes and other instruments of
mourning-minstrels, who did not feel sad, but merely did this because
they were paid for it. “Why make ye this ado and weep?” said Jesus.
“The maid is not dead, but she is asleep!” After Jesus had passed,
these weepers laughed and mocked him, saying, “We know she is dead.”

“Come with me,” said the Teacher with the gentle voice. Then he took
the father and mother of the maid and three of his friends into the
room where the maid was lying so white and still and breathless. Very
tenderly he bent over her body, took her small white hand in his own
warm hand, and softly said, “Little maid, arise!” In a moment the
rose-color came back to her pale cheeks, and she sat up in the bed, and
threw her arms about her father and mother, who could scarce believe
their eyes for joy. Then she sprang from the bed and walked, perfectly
well. “Give the maid something to eat,” said the Teacher. Her mother
quickly gave her something to eat. Soon the servants prepared a feast
for the great Teacher, and the little maid sat next to him at the
table, as happy and as well as she could be. And she never forgot the
name of that great Friend who awakened her from her sleep of death!


(John 6: 1-14)

Once there was a good boy who had a very kind-hearted mother. Early
one morning he said, “Mother, I’d like to go fishing to-day.” “Yes,”
said the mother, “you’ve been a good boy; take your fishing-tackle, and
here’s a nice lunch for you.” She put him up five little cakes, such
as he liked, in a basket. He went down to the lake and fished all the
morning and way into the afternoon, and caught only two little fish,
which he held over a fire that he made, until the fish were cooked
brown and looked so good to eat. He was just about to eat them with
his cakes, when he looked up and saw a great crowd of people a little
distance away whom he had not noticed before. He wondered who they
could be. So quickly putting his five little cakes and two fishes into
the basket, he took it up, ran as fast as he could, and pressed his way
to the front, where he saw a great and good man talking to the people
so earnestly that they did not notice the boy. Soon he was listening
as earnestly as any of them. When the great and good man had talked a
long time and no one seemed tired, one of the men said: “I think you
had better send the people home to get something to eat. If they stay
much longer they will get so hungry they will faint by the way.” The
good man said, “You give them something to eat!” The man laughed and
said: “Why, if we bought two hundred dollars’ worth of bread and gave
each person a little, there would not be enough to go around.” When
the boy heard that, he said to a man he knew, “He can have my lunch if
he wants.” The man said: “There’s a little lad here with five little
cakes and two little fishes, and he says you can have his lunch, if you
want!” “Yes,” said the good man, “let him bring it to me.” So that good
boy came right up in front of the great and good man and gave him his
lunch. The good man asked God to bless it. Then he asked his friends to
seat the boys and girls on the green grass in rows of fifty, and the
women in rows of fifty, and the men in rows of a hundred. When they
were all seated, the good man took up one of the little cakes and broke
off a piece, and another and another and another; but the cake did not
become smaller. He kept breaking it until there was a great deal of
bread. Then he took up one of the little fishes and broke off a piece,
then another and another and another; but the fish did not become
smaller. He kept breaking the fish until there was plenty. Then his
friends passed the cakes and fish around to the boys and girls. It was
the sweetest bread and fish they had ever tasted. The boy who gave up
his lunch had all he could eat, so did all the women and all the men.
When they had eaten all they wished, there were twelve baskets full
left over. And it all came about because that good boy was willing to
share his lunch with the great and good man.


(Luke 19: 1-10)

Once there was a very little man who was no bigger than a young boy.
He was so short that some people called him a dwarf. He lived in a
very large house, was very rich, and had a money-making office. But
no one in the town liked Zaccheus, the dwarf, because he was not
good, or kind-hearted, or honest. People said that he had cheated
them out of money and done other bad things. One afternoon, as he was
walking along the street, suddenly he saw in the distance a great
crowd of people coming along the main road leading into the town. The
people were shouting excitedly, “Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!”
“How I would like to see Jesus,” said the dwarf to himself as he ran
toward the crowd and tip-toed, trying to catch a glimpse of the great
Teacher’s face. But he wasn’t tall enough. He could see nothing but
heads towering above him. “I know what I’ll do,” he said to himself.
“I’ll climb up into that mulberry tree near my house. Then I can see
him easily.” So he ran quickly and climbed up into the branches of the
great tree, and waited until the crowd came close. “There he is” he
said to himself; “well, if I am a dwarf, no one can see better than I
this time.”

He sat there quietly while the great procession passed by–men,
women, children, and Jesus in the midst. Soon Jesus stopped near the
tree, looked up into its branches and cried, “Zaccheus, make haste
and come down, for I want to stop at your house to-night!” Zaccheus
could scarcely believe his ears. Was it possible that the good Teacher
would visit him, a man so wicked, hated, and despised? How did Jesus
know his name? How did he see his hiding-place in the tree? The dwarf
didn’t know, but he hastened down at once and welcomed Jesus to his
house. In surprise some of the people cried: “Look! Jesus is going to
stay with a sinner. Does he know what a bad man this is?” Zaccheus gave
Jesus the best room in his large house, and did all he could to make
his visit comfortable. “Prepare the best feast for Jesus,” he said to
his servants. And while they were seated at the table, Zaccheus stood
before all and said to Jesus: “Master, if I have taken anything from
any one wrongfully, I will give him back four times over, and one-half
of what is left I will give to the poor.”

Then Jesus said to all the people: “Zaccheus, whom you have despised
and hated, is one of the children of my kingdom. I came into his house
to help him to be good and kind-hearted and just. I came to seek and to
save the lost!”

Zaccheus, the dwarf, never forgot that afternoon when Jesus found him
seated up in the mulberry tree and spent the night at his house and
loved him when everybody else hated and despised him.


(Luke 10: 25-37)

One day as Jesus, the great Teacher, was speaking, a lawyer, who really
wanted to know, said, “Who is my neighbor?” and Jesus told him this
beautiful story:

Once a man was journeying over a rough and lonely road. A band of
robbers sprang upon him, struck him down, stole his money and clothes
and left him bleeding and half dead on the road. A temple-priest
happened to pass that way, and when he saw the wounded man lying there
he said to himself, “No one can see what I do on this lonely road.” So
he crossed over to the other side, looked at the beautiful scenery, and
passed on to the temple to prayer and sacrifice, leaving the poor man
uncared for, dying in the road.

A temple-singer also passed that way. When he saw the wounded man lying
there he went up to him, looked carefully at his sad condition, and
said to himself, “Poor man, I would help him if I were not so busy.” So
he passed on to his singing in the temple, leaving the poor man uncared
for, dying in the road.

Shortly afterward a Samaritan, a man who was not a Jew, came along the
road. He saw the wounded man bleeding and dying, uncared for in the
road, and felt sorry for him. He saw that he was a Jew and not one
of his own people, but that made no difference. He went up to him,
raised the suffering man, and gently poured soothing oil into his
wounds, and gave him strengthening wine. Then he helped him upon his
mule and walked by its side, while the man rode until they came to a
small hotel, where he spent the night taking good care of him. The next
morning he said to the hotel-keeper: “Take care of him until he is
well. Here is some money, and if you spend more I will repay you when I
come this way again.”

Jesus said to the lawyer, “Which of these three was a neighbor to the
wounded man?” The lawyer said, “The man that showed mercy on him!”
Jesus said: “Go, and do you be as good a neighbor to all whom you have
the power to aid and to help.”


(Mark 4: 35-41)

Just at sunset one beautiful evening, a little fishing-boat was sailing
across a large lake. At the end of the boat Jesus, the great Teacher,
was sitting watching the gold and red and purple of the sky reflected
in the rippling waves. Soon the moon came up and its soft, silvery
beams shone on the waves all around the boat. Then, as Jesus was very,
very tired with his hard day’s work, he lay down on the seat and one of
his fisher-friends brought him a leathern cushion for a pillow that he
might rest easier. No sooner was Jesus fast asleep than the lake, which
had looked so lovely before with its rippling waves, changed quickly
and became rough and choppy, and the wind began to blow very hard.
The moon went under a cloud. The wind blew fiercer and fiercer. The
waves rose higher and higher. Several of the friends of Jesus had been
fishermen and sailors on that lake all their lives, but they never knew
such a terrible storm. The wind blew a hurricane, the waves dashed up
so high that they came over the boat, and it began to fill with water.
Hurrying to Jesus, who was sleeping soundly through all the wind and
storm and darkness, they awoke him, crying, “Master! Master! awake,
we are drowning! Save us!” Jesus awoke and heard the wild roaring of
the wind and the torrents of rain and the dashing of the sea. Then
he arose and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” and the wild wind
heard his voice, and ceased as a dog stops barking when he hears his
master’s command, “Be still,” or as a crying child stops his sobs when
his mother speaks. So the noisy sea trembled; the waves sank to rest;
the moon came out again; and the lake lay still and silent. There was
a great calm. Then his friends knew that Jesus was the Storm-King, and
they said, “What a King is this–for he commandeth even the winds and
the sea and they obey him.”


(John 13: 1-17)

One evening Jesus and his friends were gathered together at a supper in
an upper room in a house which belonged to a friend of Jesus, and which
had been loaned for this special supper. Jesus and his friends had
walked a long distance that day over a rough and dusty road and their
feet, in the loose sandals, were sore and dusty. Near the door stood
a stone pitcher filled with cool, fresh water, and also a basin and a
towel, but there was no servant at the door to wash their feet when
they removed their sandals and passed to their places about the table.
Each of the twelve friends of Jesus was thinking which would occupy the
highest seat in Jesus’ kingdom, and each wanted to have the highest
place of honor at the table. No one had offered to take the basin and
the towel, but rather they were even quarreling over which should
recline next to Jesus at the head of the table. Jesus spoke not a word.
He arose from the table, went quietly over to the water-jar, laid aside
his outer cloak, tied a towel around his waist, like a servant, took
up the basin, filled it with water, and began to wash his friends’
feet, one after the other, and to wipe them with the towel. Jesus was
the King of heaven and earth! Jesus was Lord and Master, as well as
Friend. One of them should have offered to do this. But no one thought
of serving others in any such slave’s way but Jesus. So, when he had
finished washing the feet of all, he put on his outer cloak again, took
his place at the table, and said, “He that would be greatest of all
must become the servant of all.”


(Matthew 27: 27-66)

For three long years Jesus went about doing good, living for
others–feeding the hungry, healing the sick, opening the eyes of the
blind, unstopping the ears of the deaf, causing the lame to walk,
raising the dead, comforting the weary-hearted, and teaching messages
of love to all. At last untrue men, who did not love goodness and
truth, jealous because the multitudes followed Jesus, said, “Away with
him–crucify him!” And Pilate, the Roman governor, gave the sentence,
“Let him be crucified!” That meant death on the cross, the cruel cross
on which only the worst criminals, and those mostly slaves, were put to
death for the basest crimes. So one Friday morning about nine o’clock,
Jesus, carrying the heavy beam upon his shoulder, was led up the steep
road to a green hill outside the city wall. There they nailed him
cruelly to the cross. Jesus quietly prayed to his Father to forgive
his enemies. He also prayed for one of the two thieves dying near him
on another cross, that God would forgive him and bring him to heaven.
He saw his mother, Mary, weeping bitterly near his cross, and said to
his friend John, “Take care of my mother, and be a son to her.” Just
at midday a sudden and strange darkness came over all the land. There
was thunder and lightning and a great earthquake! The people around
the cross listened and heard through the storm and out of the darkness
this piercing cry from Jesus, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken
me?” It seemed to Jesus that not only had all his disciples and nation
forsaken him, but that God, his heavenly Father, whom he had always
tried to please in everything all his life long, had hidden away his
face from him and had forgotten and forsaken him. After three hours the
light broke out again and Jesus said, “It is finished!” Then, “Father,
into thy hands I yield my spirit.” And Jesus was dead. To make the
more sure that he was dead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with
a sharp spear, and from the wound water and blood came forth. And the
water mingled with the blood showed that Jesus died of a broken heart
for the sins of men!

That evening some friends came and tenderly took his body down from
the cross and buried him in a new tomb in a garden, and rolled a great
stone across the door of the tomb.

And when the stars shone out that night it was the close of the world’s
blackest day, because the King of Love, who came to bring to men “peace
and good will, good will and peace,” had been rejected and was dead and


(John 20)

Very, early on Sunday morning, the third day after Jesus had died, some
Roman soldiers were guarding the tomb where the body of Jesus lay. Just
as the first faint streaks of dawn appeared, suddenly there was a noise
and a shaking of the ground, as a beautiful angel came down from heaven
and rolled away the great stone from the mouth of the tomb. The face
of the angel was like lightning, and his garments were like snow. At
the sight of the angel and the opened tomb, the Roman soldiers shook
with fear and ran away as for their life. Just as they were running
out of one gate of the garden, three women, friends of Jesus, were
coming into the garden by another gate. They were walking slowly and
sorrowfully and saying one to another, “Who will roll away the stone
from the tomb?” They were bringing fresh cloths and spices to put
around his body. It was still dark in the garden, with only a small
streak of light in the east; but what was that bright, shining light
in front of the tomb? They hurried forward and looked–the great rock
had been rolled away and a strange and beautiful angel was sitting upon
the stone in front of the tomb. The tomb they could see was empty. The
women were trembling with fear and surprise. But the angel said: “Be
not afraid, I know ye seek Jesus. He is not here. He is risen. Go, and
tell his disciples that he goes before you into Galilee, and ye shall
see him as he said unto you!” Full of joy the women hurried back and
told the friends of Jesus that he was alive.

Another friend of Jesus came to the garden just as soon as the women
had gone. Her name was Mary. She came to the tomb all alone, and when
she looked into the empty tomb she saw two angels in white sitting,
one at the head and the other at the foot, where the body of Jesus had
lain. These angels were strong and beautiful, with garments dazzling
white like the sun, but she was so sad that she hardly noticed them
until one of them said, “Woman, why weepest thou?” She said, “Because
they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.”
Then she stepped back a little distance into the garden and saw a man
she thought must be the gardener. He said, “Woman, why weepest thou?”
She said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have
laid him.” In a low, sweet voice the man said, “Mary.” Then she knew
Jesus spoke to her, and brushing her tears away quickly, she said,

So Jesus came to all his disciples, one by one, or two or three
together; until at last all knew he was risen from the dead–that he
was alive again.

This is the story of the first Easter Day. And this is the reason that
in Russia on Easter morning, the peasant people say, “The Lord is
risen!” and their friends reply, “The Lord is risen indeed!”


(Acts 3, 4)

One afternoon two friends were walking along a street in Jerusalem
on their way to the evening sacrifice in the temple. At one of the
entrances–the Beautiful Gate (so named because of its snow-white
marble steps leading up to its great door of costly brass)–sat a poor
lame man, begging. His feet and ankles were so crippled that he had
never been able to walk or even to stand. His friends carried this
helpless cripple and laid him every morning at this temple entrance
to beg charity from those who went to pray. As soon as the man saw
these two friends, Peter and John, he cried piteously, “Give charity!”
Standing still and looking him quietly in the eye, the two friends
said, “Look on us!” He looked up at once most expectantly. Peter said,
“Silver and gold have I none, but what I have, I give thee. In the
name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” Taking him by the hand Peter
lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle-bones became strong.
The man leaped up and went into the temple with Peter and John, walking
and leaping and praising God. All the people were amazed, seeing him
leaping and hearing his shouts of joy as he held fast to his two
friends. A great throng gathered about them in the large open court,
called Solomon’s porch. Peter, seeing the throng, began to tell them
about the wonderful Prince of Life, Jesus, whom they had put to death.
Such preaching within the temple courts aroused the people and offended
the priests, and the chief officer seized Peter and John and cast them
into prison. This caused hundreds of the people to declare themselves
Christians. The next morning when Peter and John were brought before
the council and questioned, the officers said, “We will let you go
if you will promise not to speak or teach in this name again.” They
answered: “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you,
rather than unto God, judge ye; for we cannot but speak the things we
have seen and heard.” So, failing to frighten them, the officers were
compelled to let them go. And being let go, they returned at once to
the Christian company, and told what the Jewish officers had said to
them. And the cripple who had been healed at the Beautiful Gate was a
happy Christian in that company, and was one of the loudest in giving
true praise to God that day.


(Acts 12)

Once there was a girl, possibly about sixteen years of age, who lived
with her father and mother in the dreadful days of the persecution
against the early Christians. One evening her mother said: “Rose, your
father and I are going to a friend’s house to-night to pray. Herod, the
wicked king, who killed the apostle James, John’s brother, has shut
up Peter in prison for several days–and to-morrow he is going to put
Peter to death. The Christians are to pray to-night for Peter’s release
from prison.” “Mother,” said Rose, “I am a Christian too; let me go and
pray with you.” Her mother consented. For some hours the Christians
earnestly prayed; and after midnight they were still on their knees
praying, when suddenly Rose, being nearer the door, heard a knock on
the outside gate. She quickly arose from her knees, ran to the door
and said, “Who’s there?” “It is I–I–Peter,” came a voice. Again she
said, “Who is it?” “I–Peter,” came again the voice. She knew at once
it was Peter’s voice, but in her joy and excitement she forgot to open
the door, running back into the prayer-meeting room and crying out,
“Peter is out of prison! Peter is at the door.” All arose from their
knees and said, “Rose, you must be crazy to talk like that.” “No, I am
not,” she said; “it is Peter!”

“Isn’t it too bad?” said one, “Herod has already killed Peter, not
waiting until to-morrow; and God has sent Peter’s angel to comfort us.”
“No,” cried Rose; “no, it is not Peter’s angel; it is Peter himself! I
know I am right! Listen, there he is knocking again!”

All heard the knocking and went toward the gate, and there stood Peter,
alive and well. “How did you get out of prison?” they exclaimed.
“Hush!” said Peter, beckoning them to be quiet; “let me in, and I will
tell you!” He stood just inside the gate, and this is what he said:
“Last night I was in prison, knowing well that Herod intended to kill
me this morning. I was guarded by sixteen soldiers, and each of my
wrists was chained to a soldier, one on each side. I knew you were
praying for me, and I believed that Jesus would answer your prayers. So
I had no worry, but fell peacefully asleep, and in my dream I thought
I saw an angel come into my cell; my chains fell off; the angel said,
‘Rise and put on your sandals and cloak and follow me,’ I followed the
angel past the first and second cells and the sleeping soldiers, and
when we came to the outer gate it opened of its own accord. When we
were in the street the angel vanished. I thought it all a dream until
I found myself really out of prison with no chains on my wrists, no
soldiers guarding me, no prison-cell enclosing me. I saw then that your
prayers for me were answered, and that Jesus had sent his angel and
delivered me out of prison. I came here as soon as I could to tell you,
but now I must go quickly to another place. Good-bye, God bless you

In a few moments the gray streaks of the morning came, and it was
light. The soldiers awoke and cried, “Where is Peter?” One after
another echoed the cry, “What has become of Peter?” No soldier and no
officer could tell, for none knew. But Rose, the Christian girl, knew
that in answer to prayer Jesus had sent his angel and delivered Peter
out of prison and she knew that her prayer had been answered as much as
the prayers of any of the Christians, and she was glad she had been in
that prayer-meeting that night!


(Acts 27)

“All aboard!” cried the captain of a sailing-vessel which was just
loosing from the wharf to sail out to sea. There, on the deck, was a
number of prisoners, guarded by soldiers. One of these prisoners was
Paul, who had been seized in the temple at Jerusalem and nearly killed
by a riotous mob. Forty men had secretly vowed not to eat or drink
until they had killed him. The captain of the temple, being Paul’s
friend, told him about the plot, and sent him in the night with a guard
of soldiers to the governor’s house in a distant city. Paul said to the
governor: “I want to have my case tried in Rome before the emperor,
for I am a Roman citizen!” So Paul was sent as a prisoner to Rome on
this sailing-vessel. Some of his friends were with him. One was “the
beloved physician,” Doctor Luke, who had often traveled with him on his
missionary journeys and who is the man that tells this story. Out upon
the great sea the ship sailed until it came to a wharf where there was
a large wheat-ship sailing to Rome. Paul and the soldiers were put
on board this wheat-ship. Counting the soldiers and passengers there
were two hundred and seventy-six people in all. Soon their troubles
began. The wind was blowing the wrong way, so that they had to go very
slowly. But at last they came to Fair Havens, where they stayed much
too long, Paul thought, for the stormy season of the year had come.
Paul said, “You ought to stay here for the winter.” But the captain of
the soldiers only made fun of him. The weather just then seemed good,
so they pulled up the anchors, hoisted the sails, and put out from
Fair Havens. Hardly had they started when a terrible storm broke upon
them, driving the ship far out of its course. The ship was in danger of
breaking in two so that they had to throw great ropes around the ship
to hold it together. Then they lowered the sails and let the vessel
drift. For two weeks they were tossed and driven by the storm, not
seeing the sun or stars. One night God sent to Paul an angel who said
to him, “Fear not, Paul, you shall reach Rome in safety, and God will
save all in the ship with you.” Early in the morning Paul said to the
sailors and soldiers, “Be of good cheer, God will save you all.” They
made fun of him, and the ship drifted on until in the darkness of the
night they found they were near some island. They quickly threw out
four anchors to save them from being dashed on the rocks, and longed
for the morning! As soon as daylight came and they saw the land, some
selfish sailors at the front of the boat pretending to put out some
more anchors, lowered the rowboat, and were just getting ready to row
away to the land, thinking only of saving themselves, when Paul saw
their trick and cried out to the soldiers, “Look! except these men
abide in the ship you yourselves cannot be saved!” No one made fun of
Paul then, but the soldiers ran and cut away the rope of the boat and
let the boat fall into the sea and drift away. After they had eaten
food they threw all their wheat overboard to lighten the ship. As that
did not help, they decided to run the ship upon the shore, but the bow
struck the beach and the stern was broken to pieces by the fury of the
waves. Some of the soldiers said, “Kill all the prisoners, lest they
swim to the shore and escape.” But the captain of the soldiers, who had
grown to think much of Paul, said: “No, but let each man who can swim
jump overboard and swim for the shore first.” This they did, and the
others, including Paul and Doctor Luke, followed on planks and other
floating things from the ship. And all escaped safe to the land. So
Paul, the prisoner, was right; the ship was lost, but God had saved all
the two hundred and seventy-six men in the ship with him!


(Epistle of Paul to Philemon)

In the city of Colosse the Christians met in the large house of a
kind-hearted man named Philemon. He, and his wife Apphia, and his son
Archippus were so kind to the poor Christians that the people in other
cities knew about the kindness of this fine Christian family in Colosse.

In those days even Christian people did not think it wrong to keep
slaves to work for them. So in the home of Philemon there was a slave
named Onesimus. Philemon and his wife and family were kind to Onesimus,
but he was often ugly and did not like to be a slave. One day he made
up his mind that he would be a slave no longer. He stole from his
master some money which he put into his own pocket and ran far away to
the great city of Rome. He thought he would be safe there and could do
as he pleased without any one knowing who he was. He soon spent all
the money he had stolen and became a tramp without money, food, work,
or home. Every moment he feared lest some one should find him and take
him back to his master, for he knew that a master had the right to put
any slave to death for stealing money and running away. One day he
was walking along a street in great sorrow wondering what to do, when
suddenly he heard singing, which sounded like that which he used to
hear at his master’s house. This made him more homesick than ever. He
listened to the singing, wondering what it could be. Some one came out
and said pleasantly, “You are welcome to come in.” He went in and saw
a strange-looking little old man chained to a soldier and talking to a
large group of people, who were listening eagerly as the speaker said:
“I was a great sinner once. I did many things that were wrong. But
Jesus saved me and made a new man of me. He can save you too.” Onesimus
said to himself, “He means me. He says Jesus will save any one who is
poor and lonely and miserable. That means me.”

He looked again at the preacher and heard some one call his name. Then
he knew that this was Paul, the missionary, who was the friend of his
master, and whose name he had so often heard Philemon mention. As soon
as the sermon was ended and many of the people had gone home, Onesimus
went to Paul and, full of sorrow for what he had done, told him how
he had stolen money from his master and had run away. He asked Paul
to pray that the runaway slave might become a Christian. Paul did so,
and Onesimus became a new man too–a Christian like Paul and Philemon.
Then he was very happy and said he would stay with Paul always and help
him. But Paul said, “No, my son, you must go back to your master.” “Oh,
no,” said Onesimus; “if I do he has a right to kill me for stealing and
running away.” “Yes,” said Paul, “I know that, but you must go back.”
“But what shall I say?” asked the slave. “You need not say anything. I
will write a letter to Philemon and tell him to forgive you and receive
you back as a Christian brother.”

Paul asked one of his friends for pen and ink and paper, and this is
what he wrote:

DEAR PHILEMON, APPHIA, AND ARCHIPPUS: I often think of you and
remember you in my prayers here in my prison in Rome. I want to
ask a favor of you for my son Onesimus, who ran away from you as a
slave, but now returns to you as a Christian brother. He has told
me his story and is sorry. If you think of me as a friend, receive
him back as you would receive me. If he has stolen anything, I will
pay it for him. Love to all.

Your friend,

The letter is a little longer than this, but you can read all of it
in your own New Testament. This letter Onesimus took with him as he
returned to the home of his master. Philemon treated him kindly,
no longer as a slave but as a dear son. And many people say that
Onesimus, the _unprofitable_ slave, became one of the most _profitable_
Christians in all that land, ever true to Jesus and to Paul, and to his
master-friend, Philemon.