50 Very Human Moments

50 fifty-word reflections, drawing on some very human moments in the Bible. 50 Human

Jesus wipes the sweat from his brow. Flexes his weary muscles. Thinks on the old prophecy as he works the wood. A speck of sawdust hits him in the eye. Won’t be too long now. Isaiah’s words coming true. And that speck of sawdust will become a useful story. Isaiah 9 v 2, Matthew 7 vv 3-5

Human

The people struggling in darkness glimpse a great light, breaking through the oppressive shadows. The light of life has come into this world, and the darkness cannot prevail, cannot overcome it. Isaiah 9 v 2, Luke 1 v 78, John 1 vv 4-5

Human

It’s dark. The clouds are closing in, taking a deathly grip on the sky. They’re gripping his mind too. Shredding all that was once so reliable. So sure. Loneliness chills his soul. Once. Twice. Three times. Each time going deeper, until it seeps into the whole of his being. Matthew 27 v 46

Human

She’s doing it. Reaching out. Can’t quite believe it, but feels her fingers connect with the hem of his clothes. She’ll be punished no doubt, humiliated. She feels a fool. Why did she bother? Everything stops. Everyone stops. She turns, shrinks, looks for a hole to swallow her up. Matthew 9 vv 18-26

Human

Suddenly he knows. The bleak backdrop, the rain, the thunder. Not what you’d call an inspiring moment. But it’s as if the lightning just struck him. He thought he knew about power. But now he thinks again. This failed man on the cross… this weakling… another kind of strength. Mark 15 v 39

Human

John is giving his life, become less so that his cousin will be lifted up. He’ll never see the day when Jesus himself is lifted on Calvary. The words of his father come back to him. ‘The light of heaven is dawning on many who sit in dark prisons..’ Luke 1 v 78, Matthew 14 v 1-10

Human

He’s been here a long time. Is well used to the lifestyle. At first he had hope, but whether or not an angel stirs the water, he’ll never make it. Too many others. He looks up, smiles at the stranger. Maybe he’ll carry him to the water. He waits. John 5 vv 2-9

Human

It’s eaten him up. Blunted his judgement. So much opulence. So much stuff. Never thought he would be this rich, or ‘acquire’ this many women. But what has the lifestyle done to him? What’s it profited him? The dream comes back to him… his choice… not wealth… but wisdom. 1 Kings 11 vv 1-3, 1 Kings 3 vv 5-12

Human

He is unique. And he struggles with this. So does she. They have moments when they are grateful for who they are, others when they despise themselves. Can’t help but compare with others. So they go back, and remind themselves. They have been crafted. And the designer cares, understands. Psalm 139 vv 13-15

Human

They know this story. First there’s a priest, then a Levite, then a Jewish layman. That’s how it goes. 1,2,3… Oh! What? A SAMARITAN!! You’re kidding. He’s having a laugh isn’t he? That’s in bad taste. Naïve. Don’t be ridiculous. A Samaritan would get beaten himself. What’s his point? Luke 10 vv 25-37

Human

It’s a tough job. Who would want it? To stand in the gap between the people and their God. To bear all the complaining and dissatisfaction? Sometimes he feels as if he can’t get it right. But once again he goes to God for them. Once again he prays. Numbers 11 vv 4-6 & 10-15

Human

He stands there, a swaggering scar of a man, a seething badge of brutality, arrogantly trusting in the wrong kind of strength. Thinks that humanity can win this day. Thinks this world is all there is. His enemies cower. Then a solitary figure steps forward with a different perspective. 1 Samuel 17 vv 4-11 & 41-44

Human

There’s anguish in those eyes. Pain… frustration. So much loss and hurt. But faith too. Their brother is gone. And they’re in danger of losing everything else. Two sisters with no rights. Why wasn’t he here? Why? They both demand an answer. Martha outright, Mary in a harsh whisper. John 11 vv 21 & 32

Human

Andrew does what he does well, brings someone to Jesus. And the moment Jesus sees these men from far flung places, he knows. Word is spreading. The time is nearing. The world is watching. For a moment his stomach pitches and his heart flinches.  But he won’t run away. John 12 vv 20-28

Human

Noah wakes to another day.  His bones feel weary, his muscles ache. Another day of work, another day of spending his strength on something he doesn’t quite understand. Will it be worth it? Is he foolish? Some days he wonders. He trusts once more and picks up his hammer. Genesis 6 vv 9-16

Human

She wipes the sweat from her brow, the heat and the past make walking hard work. This well reminds her, every single day, that she must fetch water alone, in the heat, because the others gossip about her. Will she ever break free from this? Oh, who’s this stranger? John 4 vv 4-26

Human

He’s been dishonest. He knows that. And now he feels a hypocrite too. Going along and praying. Hopefully he’ll be alone… oh. No he won’t. There’s a religious expert there. He daren’t look up. Mumbles his prayers of brutal honesty. Feels insignificant. If only he could see God’s perspective. Luke 18 vv 9-14

Human

He’s in a dilemma. Should he run and climb the tree? He’ll look an absolute idiot. Men round here don’t do that. But he can hear the crowd coming. Should he? Will it make any difference? Is it worth looking a fool in order to make contact with Jesus? Luke 19 vv 1-9

Human

Zacchaeus lets go of his dignity. Runs and climbs like a fool. Mary lets go of protocol. Listens, learns, and anoints. James lets go of his life. Surrendered to the sword of a scheming tyrant. Nicodemus lets go of his religion. Hungry for truth and reality. They’re all changed. John 3 v 16

Human

She’ll be remembered as the one who went home. The one who wanted to help her mother-in-law but gave in to Naomi’s pleading and left. She wanted to do the right thing. Wanted to help. Intended to go with Ruth, but another plan played out. She melts into history. Ruth 1 vv 6-14

Human

He can’t quite believe he’s doing this. Is he mad? A crowd of thousands to feed and he’s bringing a boy and his lunch box? But Andrew can’t help it. It’s a knack he has, bringing people to meet Jesus. First Simon Peter, now this lad with his food. John 6 vv 8-9, John 1 vv 40-42

Human

They pour out their hearts, knowing they can be honest. No need for pretence or religious gloss, they bring the mire and muddle of their lives. They are struggling, sinking in darkness. And that becomes their worship. Their brutal, honest song of hope. They reach for strength and comfort. Psalm 40

Human

No one more human, more alive. A man setting aside his glory, to walk in our shoes. Living through childhood and adolescence, a local boy playing in the street, a student, a brother, a son. Walking this way for us, experiencing life in all its emptiness and fullness. Forus. Philippians 2 vv 6-8, Hebrews 4 vv 14-15

Human

It’s seems suddenly so hard to forgive. Even though he has experienced that moment of release himself. Even though his colossal, life sapping burden has been lifted. He forgets so quickly. Forgets the relief and the gratitude. Now suddenly he’s judge and jury. And over a much smaller matter. Matthew 18 vv 23-30

Human

Rizpah, her heart broken with grief, refuses to move. She will stay there and guard her sons. Those boys she nursed and loved, fed and nurtured. She will stay there until these victims of vengeance get a decent burial. She chases another vulture away and howls at the sky. 2 Samuel 21 vv 10-14

Human

Mary’s head crackles with the static of trepidation. She’s decided. She’ll do what that other women did, she’ll anoint him, and not just with her tears but with quality perfume. She has some saved up. Every day when she sees her brother she remembers what he’s done for them. John 12 vv 1-7, Luke 7 vv 44-48

Human

Peter’s torn in two. He’s standing there with blood still dripping from his sword, yet there’s no wound. The servant’s ear is fine. He thought this was the beginning of something, was trying to change the world. What kind of revolution is this? Jesus turns, walks humbly towards death. John 18 vv 3-11

Human

He speaks his mind. It’s his way. Can’t help it. ‘No Lord,’ he says, ‘we don’t know what you mean when you say you’re going away? Where? Why can’t we come? It makes no sense.’ He speaks up, and notices one or two others seem heartened by his honesty. John 14 vv 1-6

Human

He gets down sometimes, can’t see a way forward. The days can be long with more shadows than light. The world seems to close in. Then something lifts him, a glimmer of hope, and he lifts his head to the heavens. Reminds himself about the good things of God. Psalm 6

Human

‘He’s at the door! He’s at the door!’ she yells and laughs and throws her hands to her face. ‘It’s a miracle, he’s free! He’s here!’ They stare amazed. ‘It’s true, I’ve just seen him – he’s outside. Your prayers are answered!!’ ‘Yes Rhoda – so… shall we let him in?’ Acts 12 v 13

Human

She prays, she fasts, she wonders. She wonders what God is doing, wonders what she should do. She draws on her experience, her initiative, her personality. Plans a feast. No two. She knows how to please this man. She’s scared but she digs deep, draws on her courage. Esther 4 vv 15-17

Human

She’s had a dream. Pretty sure it wasn’t that snack before bedtime. This was vivid. Can’t get it out of her head. Her husband’s in trouble, must pay attention today. He’ll meet a man and the man could steer his future. She scribbles a note. Sends it to him. Matthew 27 v 19

Human

Balaam gapes, rubs his eyes, can’t believe his ears. Did this dumb animal just speak to him? Really? AND about God. What’s going on? Balaam’s a prophet. He knows about the ways of God, not this braying, fly-blown creature. Perhaps he just coughed. Nope, there he goes again. Talking. Numbers 22 vv 21-31

Human

This is so unfair. I mean, he doesn’t want to argue with God, doesn’t want be seen to be correcting him. But that’s against the law. Handling human dung breaks the law of Moses. How can that communicate about God? What next? Shaving his head? As if. Ezekiel 4 vv 9-14, Ezekiel 5 v 1

Human

John stares at the tiny window. There’s very little light in here and it’s clouding his vision. Is his cousin really the one? Doubts are crowding his mind, squeezing out the certainty. He hears stories but Jesus is not what he imagined. It’s challenging him, must find out more. Matthew 11 vv 2-6

Human

He’s desperate, lost the plot. He once looked to his maker for help and guidance. But now he’s lost touch. On the odd occasion when he prays nothing much comes back. So now he’s looking in the wrong places. This could cost him dearly. He goes out in disguise… 1 Samuel 28 vv 14-18

Human

Ananias is not sure he’s hearing right. Guidance is always tricky and this seems well off-beam. If it’s true then it’s remarkable, and to be honest too good to be true. Saul converted? Really? He’s become what he hated? Ananias questions the message he heard, but the calling continues. Acts 9 vv 10-16

Human

Malachi takes a walk, the fire of God burning in his heart. He has a message that carries warning and hope. He passes a farmer, burning chaff, the distinct smell lingers with him. Then his eye is caught by the sight of calves leaping as they run unfettered and free. Malachi 4 vv 1-2

Human

Martha doesn’t get it, it seems unfair. Her sister there taking it so easy, not conforming, bending the rules like that. It seems unfair to Peter too. What about John? What about the others? Will they have the same challenges as him? Seems unfair. They just can’t help making comparisons. Luke 10 vv 38-40, John 21 vv 20-22

Human

The longing for love can sometimes be intense. The ache to know she is accepted. But she cannot always find it. Often feels isolated, alone, misunderstood. She goes searching. The connection, once so strong seems fractured. But she knows he’s out there, the one who knows her and understands. Song of Songs 3 vv 1-3

Human

Job used to make a difference. So many still look on him as their saviour. The good man who had time for everyone. The courageous man always stepping into the breach. Getting his hands dirty. Now those hands are torn, weakened. Who’ll help the man who helped so many? Job 29 vv 11-17

Human

Samson is conflicted. At times he feels righteous anger, his people enslaved by cruel enemies. He wants to fight back, break the jaws of those evil oppressors. But at other times he’s distracted, torn in two by passions he doesn’t understand. Often he stumbles in the dark, creating havoc. Judges 14 vv 1-4

Human

He runs. Like the wind. His reaction is so instant, so immediate that it’s only when he stops to catch his breath that he looks down. And realises he is naked. He leaps behind a tree, fortunately it’s dark. He feels a fool. But he also feels a coward. Mark 14 vv 45-52

Human

Jake didn’t expect God to be with him when he woke up. It wasn’t about geography. This was about him. This was about the murky past. His head clatters with the memories of cheating and trickery. Did he really see those angels? Is God really here in this place? Genesis 28 vv 10-16

HumanSarai’s miserable. She thought this would solve the problem – she practically threw the woman at Abram. Go! Get yourself pregnant so my husband can have a son. Now look. Her servant girl’s using it as a weapon. Sarai can’t stand it – can’t bear having her near. Her heart’s splintering. Genesis 16 vv 1-5

Human

There’s a noise. They turn, terrified that someone has broken in. Could be soldiers, Pilate’s men come to take them away. They stare. Their mouths dropping open. Peter tries to speak, but another sound comes out. Laughter. James joins in. Suddenly the room’s filled with amazement. Jesus is here! John 20 vv 19-20

Human

Silence falls. Nothing but the sound of men breathing and waiting. Stephen waits, his life flashing before him. The woman waits too. Regret and despair colliding in her mind. Fists tighten their grip on rocks. Silence. Stephen lifts his face. Looks skyward. The woman remains staring at the ground. Acts 7 vv 54-60, John 8 vv 1-11

Human

Samson is conflicted. At times he feels righteous anger, his people enslaved by cruel enemies. He wants to fight back, break the jaws of those evil oppressors. But at other times he’s distracted, torn in two by passions he doesn’t understand. Often he stumbles in the dark, creating havoc. Judges 14 vv 1-4

Human

Hard to speak the truth. Especially to someone he respects, and yes, fears. You don’t mess with the Boss. He has the power to sack you. And worse. But Nathan has to be true to himself, and to his calling. So he’ll go and tell the king a story. 2 Samuel 12 vv 1-8

Human

 

 

 

 

 

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