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Aaron in the Arena

It's jail for you!

Application:

No matter what circumstance's God allows us to be in, Jesus will always be with us.

Text:

Matthew 28:20b.

 

Story:

Aaron grew to be very fond to his big friend Peter.  He called him, "Little Fish", because all Peter's friends teased him about the time he had caught no fishes.  And Jesus had told him to throw the net over the right side of the boat.  "And who would have thought," laughed Peter, "That the Master was a better fisherman than I!"

Aaron loved to go to Peter's house and spent many an afternoon listening to stories about Jesus.  He loved Jesus with all his heart and listened carefully as Peter shared with him all that Jesus had taught.

Dangerous Days!

"Aaron," said Peter one day, "We are living in dangerous days and the Romans are starting to arrest all the Christians they can find.   I want you to remember that Jesus said, 'I am with you always, even until the end of the world.'  We don't know what is going to happen and now that you are serving Jesus, you could also be arrested."

Aaron knew that some of Peter's friends had disappeared recently and that nobody knew what had happened to them "Don't worry, Peter," he replied, "I'll be very careful and remember that Jesus is always with me."

Be Careful!

Some days later Aaron finished sweeping the steps of their house.   "Aaron," called Father, "Be very careful where you go today as there are many soldiers about."  Aaron replied, "But, I'm only going to play with my friends up the street."  His father cautioned, "All right, Son, but don't go far."

Aaron went outside into the street and looked carefully up and down the street.  It was very quiet and nobody was about.  So he ran towards his friend's house thinking that they could play the new game of clay soldiers that they had tried yesterday.  As he ran, he pretended that he was a brave soldier, and hit out right and left with an imaginary sword.  As he skidded round the corner, to his horror he bumped right into a fierce looking soldier!

Arrested!

"Sorry," mumbled Aaron as he tried to twist from the grip of the soldier who grabbed him.  "I think you are one of them!  You're a Christian, aren't you?" growled the soldier.  Aaron thought about lying but remembered what Peter had taught him.  He nodded slowly and the gleeful soldier shouted, "This is my lucky day.  The centurion promised me a bag of coins for each Christian that I catch.  I've found nobody so far, but now I've caught you!"

With that, he grabbed poor Aaron by the scruff of his neck and dragged him down to the town jail.   "Let me go, you monster!" cried Aaron as he fought to get loose.  But it was no use - the soldier was too strong!  Tears ran down his cheek as he was thrust into a dark dingy cell, only to trip and fall sprawling on the floor.   "Get up!" roared his captor and yanked him up and strapped him to rings set into the wall.

"Now where's Centurion so that I can claim my reward!" chuckled the soldier, as he slammed the cell door closed.  Aaron's heart sank as he was left in the dark.  "Just you wait until he whips the hide off you, you little termite!"  Aaron trembled as the mocking laugh faded as the soldier went to find the Centurion.

I am with You Always:

Aaron felt his muscles strain as he struggled to remain on tiptoe with his arms stretched above his head.  As time passed his strength weakened, and the chains bit into his wrists as his body sagged.   "Oh, Jesus," he prayed, "Please give me strength, just like Peter said you would in times of trouble."  Aaron was comforted as he seemed to hear a quiet voice reply, "For I am with you always ... even until the end of the world."

Many hours passed, but then his heart began to pound as the sound of marching feet grew louder.  Suddenly, the cell door was thrown open.  "This is one of them," shouted the soldier gleefully, "I'm sure of it!"  "We'll have to see, won't we," said the Centurion as he slowly pulled a long whip out of his bag.  Aaron shuddered when he saw the glint of pieces of metal in the tails of the whip.  He struggled as the soldier ripped off his tunic and screamed when the whip bit into his back.

Confess You're a Christian!

"Confess!" shouted the Centurion, "Are you a Christian?"  Aaron bit his lips as hard as he could.  But the unmerciful whipping went on.   At last he could stand it no more and blood streamed down his back.   "Yes, I am!" he whispered, "I am a Christian and I'm proud of it!"

The soldier turned triumphantly to the Centurion, "There!  I told you so, and now you owe me a bag of coins!"  "Only a small bag," joked the Centurion as they locked Aaron in the cell again.  "He's only small and is not worth very much!"  They marched off down the passage with the soldier protesting that Aaron was worth a full bag of coins!

To the Arena:

Aaron mercifully blacked out as pain racked his body.  Many days passed until one day the soldiers dragged him out of the jail, and bound his arms to the sides of a cart.  Many people spat and booed at him as the cart rumbled through the streets towards the stadium.

When they arrived, the guard took him down an underground passage.   Aaron could hear crowds shouting and cheering.  "What's going on?" he asked.  "Never you mind," came the reply, "You'll find out soon enough!"  As they thrust him into a cell, Aaron let out a cry of surprise, "Grandfather!  What are you doing here?"

"I was arrested in town last week for preaching the Christian message," answered Grandfather, "They brought me here yesterday with other Christian prisoners."  "They caught me as well," said Aaron, "And the Centurion beat me with a whip."

Reserved for the Arena:

"Why are we here?", asked Aaron as his Grandfather hugged him.  But Grandfather avoided answering him.  He didn't want to tell him that Christians were being thrown to wild animals because they believed in Jesus.  And sadly, their cell was being reserved for the next feast day!

But Aaron soon learned what was happening in the stadium above them.   Christians were being made to fight starving lions.  As they took prisoners day by day from their cell, he and Grandfather prayed each time with tears running down their cheeks.

You are not Alone!

"Grandfather," said Aaron, "I had a strange experience while I was chained up in the town jail.  I thought I heard a voice which said, 'For I am with you always, even until the end of the world.'  Do you think it was real?"

Grandfather bent his face close to Aaron.  "My son," he said, "I'm sure that you heard the voice of Jesus.  These are terrible times and Jesus promised that He would never leave us, nor forsake us.  My time is coming soon and I want you to be brave."  Aaron did not understand, but Grandfather was praying that God would spare Aaron.

Take Me!

The next feast day came and with a heavy heart they heard the dreaded footsteps approaching.  The cell door was thrust open and a Centurion appeared.  "We need one more!" he ordered as he glared at the prisoners in the cell.  "That boy will do!" he roared, pointing at Aaron.  Two soldiers grabbed Aaron and dragged him toward the door.

"No wait!" shouted Grandfather, "Please, rather take me!"  The Centurion turned back in surprise.  "You want to give your life for this useless youngster?" he asked.  "Yes," said Grandfather in a strong voice, "I'm old and will gladly give my life for his!"

"Right men, take the old man instead!" ordered the Centurion as he briskly marched out of the cell.  "No Grandfather!" wailed Aaron, "Don't leave me."  But the soldiers just pushed him aside as they led Grandfather out of the cell and down to the arena.  Another soldier dragged Aaron the other way until they reached the gate of the stadium.  He released Aaron and said, "You can go now, but make sure we don't catch you again or it will be your turn!"

Helping Others:

Aaron slowly made his way home with tears streaming done his face.   "How could Grandfather give his life for me?" he wondered.  He did not understand how his Grandfather could have been so brave.

"Father," he cried as he opened the door to his house, "I'm safe!"   The family listened sadly as Aaron told them what had happened to Grandfather.  "God has spared you for a purpose," said Father, "You will be able to help many Christians who fear for their lives."

And Aaron did.  He told many people what had happened to him, and how God had saved him.  He shared with them how brave his Grandfather had been, and how he had died in place of his grandson.  "It was just like how Jesus died for each of us on the cross", said Aaron, "I was so scared, but was strengthened when I heard a voice that said, "For I am with you always, even until the end of the world."

Knowing Jesus:

And you dear child, would you like to know this same Jesus?  He said that He would never leave us, and will be with us until the end of our lives.  Jesus is right here today and is waiting for you.

No matter what circumstance's God will allow you to be in, Jesus will always be with you.  Will you ask Him to come into your life today so that He can be your Friend and Saviour?

God bless!
 

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