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Testimony of Miriam to Marcellus in the Book, The Robe
The Robe is a 1950s vintage novel/movie by Lloyd C. Douglas, an historical fiction account of the crucifixion. The main character of the story was a roman legionnaire named Marcellus, who had just been banished from Rome to Jerusalem for displeasing the emperor. Marcellus arrived the day of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. Since Marcellus was the new man in town, his initiation was conducting the horrible public execution.
Within hours after dutifully carrying out his orders to conduct the ghastly crucifixion, Marcellus received a reprieve from the emperor due to the influence of his powerful father. Immediately Marcellus headed back to Rome. However, despite his familiarity with death and blood and dying, he was beyond distraught…unstable …because, in looking into the eyes of Jesus, Marcellus KNEW He was innocent. Marcellus had in his possession the robe of Jesus, which he had won in a drunken roll of the dice.
Back in Rome, his physicians told him he needed to go back to Jerusalem to find out what ‘curse’ it was that tormented him. So, Marcellus returned to the place of the ghastly crucifixion, but not as a fearful roman legionnaire. Rather, Marcellus travelled incognito…as a simple garment merchant, curious about folks who made garments such as the robe had had with him.
Marcellus came upon a young lady named Miriam, a wonderfully gifted singer…and paraplegic. She shared her complete devotion and love of Jesus with Marcellus. Marcellus listened, but scoffed at the talk of a resurrection; he, as a roman soldier, KNEW when a man was dead! He had left Jerusalem in the evening only a few hours after the crucifixion, and therefore had not seen what others had seen. He mocked Miriam, asking her if Jesus was so powerful and could perform such wonderful miracles at will, why didn’t He heal HER?
Miriam explained that Jesus DID heal her…and Marcellus countered ‘you cannot walk even a single step!’ Miriam agreed, but added how after her injury but prior to meeting her Lord, she had been deeply angry, bitter and depressed. In fact she wished to DIE. In her chance encounter with Jesus, He had somehow given her new joy…new peace…new hope! As well as deeper compassion for the plight of others and a gift for singing!
How very blessed is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the loving instructions of the loving heavenly Father, and in this counsel he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree growing by ceaseless streams of fresh water, and bears fruit in its season, whose leaf does not wither; in whatever he does he shall prosper. (The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away….) Psalms 1:1-4
And Marcellus again pointed out that she still could not walk even a single step.
Miriam explained that Jesus could easily have healed her legs, and had He done that, of course she would be joyful… because of her good fortune! But instead, He chose to not heal her legs, but restored joy to her heart –EVEN. IN. HER. PRESENT. CIRCUMSTANCES! Regardless of her circumstances!
Other than the presence of Jesus in her life, there was simply NO reason for her to now have hope or peace or joy! None!
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In the real world of the present day,
do we rely on circumstances for our joy?
Or do we rely on the promises of God and His presence in our hearts…
and in remembering what He has already DONE for us??