And this may be the most commented upon message I have ever done. I have called this my "Twilight Zone" message; it kind of reminds me of an episode from the show.
27Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Title: 10:00 AM, September 11, 2001
He found himself in a room. It was unlike any room he had ever seen before. The walls, the floor, the ceiling—all white. Not a bright, welcoming white, but a neutral, lack-of-color kind of white.
There was no lamp or lighting he could identify. The light in the room seemed to come from the wall, the floor, the ceiling itself.
In the middle of the room was a table—also white—and around the table there were chairs—again, white. While he felt no weariness, he felt compelled to sit down…and to wait. He knew not what he waited for.
Was this a dream? Or was all that had gone before a dream? He could not tell or imagine. As a matter of fact, he had to struggle for a moment to remember his own name. Yes, that’s right, that’s it. Slowly at first and then more rapidly he remembered. He remembered, and he remembered EVERYTHING.
One thing was clear: he was surprised. This white room was not what he expected. Nervously, he glanced at his wrist to check the time. His watch was gone. As a matter of fact, time seemed irrelevant in this room.
He waited. It could have been five minutes or five years; he could not tell. He felt compelled though just to wait. He did not pace the room or even stir from his seat. He waited.
Then the door opened.
He hadn’t even seen the door before. As far as he could tell, there had been no door. But now there was.
A man entered. He looked Middle Eastern, like himself. Tall, bearded, wearing a gleaming white robe. The look on his face was hard to read. He seemed neither happy nor sad. He simply was.
Those eyes, though, those eyes! They seemed to burn through him. He wanted to look away, but again he could not. The Man walked toward him and sat in the chair opposite him, his hands to his side, beneath the table.
“Do you know who I am?” asked the Man.
He froze in silence. He did not. “I, I, don’t know, I’m not sure.”
“Your people have called me al Nabi Isa,” said the Man. “The Prophet Jesus.”
The man on the other side of the table bowed low, hands outstretched on the table, paying homage to the great prophet in silence. He would have flung himself to the floor, but he was compelled to remain seated.
“Do you know your name?” asked Jesus.
“Your servant is Muhammad Atta of Cairo.”
“No,” answered Jesus as He gently shook His head. “You are not My servant.”
His words hung in the air.
Atta was dumbfounded, confused. Had he not rendered service to Allah by striking a deadly blow to the infidel? By using one of their own planes as a missile against that symbol of their arrogance, the World Trade Center? Had he not achieved martyrdom in the Jihad?
“I don’t understand,” said Atta, lifting his head.
“I know you don’t. That’s why you’re here.” He paused and a sorrowful softness seemed to come over Him.
“Muhammad, Muhammad, I have watched you all your life. I saw you growing up in Cairo, the son of a lawyer, shy and awkward. I saw your inner turmoil—especially around women. I also saw what you could be, but you would not listen. I watched as you studied in Germany, and how your hatred grew!
“I saw you as the evil ones recruited you. How you gained a sense of power and destiny by becoming a part of their plots. How you learned to fly an airliner—just so you could kill with it.
“I saw you lose your awkwardness even as you completely lost your way. I saw your hatred of Americans grow—your contempt of women deepen. I saw it all.
“Muhammad, you must understand that I am not on the side of any country. When I walked among you, I was an Israelite only by birth. My Kingdom is not of this world.
“And today, I am not on the side of the Muslim countries, or the countries of the west, nor of the counties of the east. On earth, My servants are from many lands. And My kingdom is not of this earth.
“When on earth I take sides, I take the side of right and truth and justice. I take the side of holiness and the righteousness that comes by grace through faith in Me…”
Atta began to tremble…and he trembled as much in rage as in fear. “NO!” he cried out. “It is some kind of trick.”
“There is no trick,” said Jesus. “Muhammad, you were wrong. Your faith is wrong. Your leaders, starting with your namesake—they tricked you. Many were deceived. Some were deceivers. Some even were deceived deceivers.”
Something akin to cosmic nausea washed over Atta. “No! The Christians are unclean, filthy people. This cannot be!”
“Muhammad,” said Jesus. “You err. You have mistaken all the people of the countries of the west with those who are My people. I just told you that. My kingdom is not of this earth. I know this is hard for you to understand.
“There are many thing in those nations with which I am very unhappy—some of the very same things that upset you and your fellow Muslims. Yes, many of them are worshipping money and power. Many have forgotten the example of servanthood I gave them. They use their freedom for license. They do unspeakable things.” Jesus paused and a sadness seemed to come over Him. “They lust and fornicate and in the process turn each other into objects for pleasure—even men with men and women with women—rather than truly loving one another. They kill children before they are born. Many oppress the poor and despise people of different colors. In all these things, and so many others, they break My law. And they break My heart.
“You must remember, Muhammad, that many, many of the people who live in these so-called Christian countries aren’t believers at all—they don’t even claim to be. And for millions more, their religion is just a tradition—a part of their culture, but not a part of their lives.”
Atta sat stony-faced, a wounded, defeated, deflated man.
“I know all,” said Jesus. “You have been deceived, but still you are responsible. You have committed a great evil. Thousands have died today, and you are one of their murderers. You are now beyond the reach of any human court—you body is now just ash—but you are not beyond the justice of God.
“You never knew Me,” said Jesus. He brought His hands up from His side and placed them on the table. Ugly scars marred his palms. Atta’s eyes grew wide. He looked at Jesus and asked, “So it is true?”
“Yes,” replied the Lord. “They crucified Me. I died on the cross the Romans built.”
Atta was frantic by now. “What about Judas?” he asked. Like most Muslims, Atta believed that it was Judas who died on the cross while the prophet Jesus was whisked away by Allah and ascended into the heavens.
“Judas,” Jesus said sadly. “He died the same day. He hung himself. He never knew Me.”
There was something special—and terrible—about the way Jesus said the word “knew.”
“No, I died on that cross. Do you know why?”
Muhammad would have shrugged. He had never had the Christian’s idea of the cross ever fully explained to him. However, in this setting, this room suspended between heaven and hell, a shrug seemed inappropriate.
“I…I don’t know…I’m not sure.” He recalled a crucifix he’d seen on a church in Germany. “Something about dying for sin.”
Jesus nodded gravely. “Yes. I died taking the place of all would believe. On that cross, I won redemption for all the peoples of the earth—Jews and Greeks, Egyptians and Saudis, Indians and Chinese.
“My cousin John—he understood. He saw Me one day and said, ‘Look—the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.’”
Atta slowly lowered his head to the tabletop. His was in despair beyond words.
“Muhammad, there are millions like you,” said Jesus. “I have mourned for your people many times. You have zeal without knowledge. You have courage in a cause rooted in the heart of Satan.
“It is always so sad to see. It was terrible to consider all those Afghan boys growing up as orphans. And then the schools in Pakistan took them in—and turned them into heartless murderers in the name of God. The same is happening among my beloved Palestinian people.
“Years ago, when your father was just a young man—younger than you were until you died today, it happened before. In the same country you studied architecture—Germany. A whole generation of young men whose fathers had died or been maimed in what they now call the First World War. They were fatherless, so they looked to Hitler to be their father. And now, these young Afghan men took to Usama bin Ladin and Mullah Omar as their fathers.
“My earthly father, Joseph—He died when I was just a young man. I know how hard it is. And later, when I was on the cross, My heavenly Father abandoned Me too.
Atta glanced up. “Why would he do that?” asked the dead Egyptian.
“It was necessary,” answered Jesus. “At that moment, I bore the sins of the world. My Father is holy, and He could not behold Me at that time. I, who knew no sin, was filled with sin that the righteousness of God may be known by sinful man.”
Atta listen, and he knew. It was true, and his life—his eternity—was all for nothing. He looked at his hands, half expecting to see them stained with innocent blood.
“And now you know,” said Jesus.
“Now you must depart from Me,” He said. “To await the last day, the Final Judgment. Now you must enter that outer darkness.
“You will be alone. Alone now and forever away from the love of God.
“You will be in darkness. Now and forever shut away from the light of God.”
Guilt cascaded over the Egyptian. He no longer protested or doubted. A short time before, he rushed toward martyrdom with the expectation of the approval of Allah, to be rewarded with rivers of wine and desirable virgins. He saw that even his desire to serve Allah had really all been about escaping his owns painful flaws and getting a sensual payoff in heaven.
How foolish his whole pathetic life had been!
What evil he had embraced!
“Stand,” said Jesus quietly but firmly.
He stood, head down, eternally broken.
Jesus pointed with His left hand to the corner of the white room. Atta went to the corner, not knowing what to expect.
Suddenly, behind him, a door opened. More like a section of the wall disappeared. Behind him he could see only a yawning blackness.
And he knew.
He did not protest.
This is what he deserved.
Yes, all through his life, like a trail of breadcrumbs never followed, he could see the evidence for the Lordship of Jesus. Evidence he choose to ignore—evidence he chose to repress.
And he knew that he would vanish into that blackness behind him, and that only worse torments—deserved torments—would follow.
But then a surprise.
To his right another door opened. A third person entered the room. Atta guessed he was an American, a man about his age.
Jesus smiled. “Welcome, Todd,” he said.
“Jesus?” said Todd. “Jesus!”
The man with the scars in His hands and feet opened wide his arms and embraced the accountant from New Jersey. “Welcome home, Todd. You were faithful to the end. Welcome…”
But then His words slipped away, and Atta realized that he was falling.
Is there anything more important that knowing that your eternity with God in heaven is secure? You can know—and it’s as simple as ABC:
A stands for ADMIT. ADMIT that you are a sinner, in need of God’s grace given in the cross of Jesus. The Bible says, “For all (that includes you and me) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
B stands for BELIEVE. BELIEVE in the Lord Jesus Christ as your ONLY hope to be made right with God. The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)
And C stands for CONFESS. CONFESS Him as Lord before other people. The Bible says, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:10)
All Jesus calls to follow, He calls publicly. Remember the words of Jesus. He says, in Luke 8:38, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."
Accept Him today!
© Copyright 2002, Pastor Glenn Layne, www.templecitybaptist.org