Posted by: genelnicholsblog | February 7, 2014

characters welcome

Several weeks ago I was on a non-stop flight out of Akron Canton Airport and I came in contact with a number of somewhat unusual people.  First, there was a very young man with a large therapy dog.  He had just arrived on the plane that I would be getting onto; he was continuing on my flight, but he got off to allow the dog to stretch its legs.  The dog garnered a great deal of attention, and the man, being very friendly (and loud), told all of us that the therapy dog was young and “in training.”  When the airline official heard those words, she refused to allow him back on the plane citing their policy of no “in training” dogs allowed.  He tried to explain that he had just flown in with the dog from Boston and he WAS getting back on that plane to continue his journey.  When he was again denied, he attempted to storm the entryway with the dog in tow!  I don’t know exactly where they came from, but 2 large men appeared and restrained the man and the dog … and I was standing right beside all this.

A little shaken, I boarded the plane only to discover I had been seated beside perhaps the most unfriendly airline passenger ever.  He was arguing with his wife on the phone as I attempted to sit down, and he was so rude throughout the trip that I was too intimidated to ask him to let me out to use the bathroom!  My woes continued as the man behind me was the loudest talker ever and the woman in front of me was the … uh … less sweetest smelling person ever!  I just shook my head and thought, “what a cast of characters on this plane tonight!”

As I have been reading the words of Jesus this year, I could not help but compare the cast of characters that I encountered with those that Jesus encountered during His earthly ministry.  Let’s see … from the Pharisees and Sadducees, tax collectors and court officials, rich and poor, the woman at the well and the one caught in adultery, temple officials  and Roman governors, the blind, lame and demon possessed,  to the thieves on the Cross.

And He loved every one of them.

The woman at the well had lived with 5 husbands and was not married to the man she was living with currently, yet Jesus revealed himself as the Messiah to this Samaritan woman.  And she believed.

The highly unpopular tax collector Zaccheus had climbed a tree to see over the crowd and get a glimpse of Jesus. He ended up entertaining Jesus for dinner at his home that very night.  And he believed.

Nicodemus was a big deal, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin.  Fearful but searching, he came to Jesus under the cover of night to find out if He truly was the Messiah.   And he believed.

Mary Magdalene was possessed by 7 demons and made whole again by Jesus.  And she believed.

The brothers James and John argued so much that Jesus gave them the nickname Sons of Thunder.  They fought over who was the greatest and asked if they could sit on thrones beside Jesus in heaven, but He chose them as disciples.  And they believed.

And the thieves on the Cross … one mocked and one asked for mercy from the Messiah.  He believed.

What a cast of characters!    And then there is us.  I wonder if God ever shakes His head as He observes our lives and says, “What a cast of characters!”

There is a cable TV station whose tag line is, “Characters Welcome.”  That sounds like Jesus – all characters welcome.  All loved! All forgiven!  He wants all to believe.

The young man at the beginning of my story … you know, the one with the dog.  They held our flight until they could get everything ironed out.  He finally boarded the plane … with the dog … wearing a huge triumphant grin on his face (the man, not the dog)!

Characters welcome, indeed!  I pray that all the cast I shared the plane with that day believe.


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