“And when you enter, you will see in the stone the actual footprint of Jesus where He lifted from the earth when He ascended into heaven.”
Really? We had been to many sites in Israel that claimed to be the place where any number of things had happened in the life of Jesus: The mountain where He gave his most famous sermon; the dark cell in Herod’s palace where Jesus was held during His trial. I can still remember the feeling of walking on stones that my Savior’s feet had touched.
There were controversies surrounding several of the locations, but they were plausible, even if they couldn’t all be verified. The events had actually happened. I knew they had. I didn’t really need to know the exact location to confirm my faith. It was enough to be in the land where my Savior walked, preached, healed, suffered, died, and rose.
But this claim was too much. A footprint? However, our guide was dead serious, so we entered the small structure and there it was… a depression in the stone. Oh my! I think we actually paid extra to see this, and all I could do was shake my head and hide my smile.
We all want to know if we are seeing or experiencing the real thing or a fake. I remember my hands trembling as I held an artifact a guest speaker had brought to my fourth grade class. It was a diseno… the hand drawn map of one of the original California land grants. I impressed on my students that they were touching a museum quality piece of history. I knew it was real because the original owner’s descendent was standing right there in front of me, and I knew she was a trustworthy friend. She said her ancestors had passed it on to her. It was real.
One of my favorite shows on television focuses on the authenticity of antiques brought in for evaluation. Disappointment is obvious from the reactions of those who thought their piece was valuable but found out it was a copy. But the best response I’ve seen was the overwhelming shock when someone found out the painting that had been hanging behind their living room door was actually worth more than a million dollars.
Some people are certain something or someone is real. My brother-in-law looked just like a pair of twins who were famous on the Country Western music circuit back in the 70’s. He had no idea who these fellows actually were. But that didn’t matter to a woman who wouldn’t let him reach his seat in the plane until he signed an autograph.
Other times the real thing can be right in front of someone and they won’t believe it. Celebrities are questioned as to their identity because they aren’t “tall enough” or don’t look exactly like they do onscreen.
I have several books of famous paintings, especially those of the Impressionists. I thought I knew so much about Monet and his wonderful talent. And then I went to an exhibit of his paintings. Some of the canvasses filled entire walls! The roses seemed ready to drop their petals right at my feet.
I had the same thrill when I saw one of Van Gogh’s “Irises” at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. My friend told me she could hardly contain herself when she saw it: “There it was! RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF ME!”
I guess that’s why I like the writings of the apostle John so much… his Gospel and also his Letters. He shouts out with the same enthusiasm as my friend, “I saw all of these things. RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF ME! I witnessed them, and I’m writing them down for you to read. You can trust me!” (John 21:24 paraphrased)
I don’t need an artifact, genuine or fabricated, to confirm my belief that Jesus is the real deal, the authentic Son of God. Everything I read in Scripture points to this truth. I trust the eyewitness accounts.
Oh, these are not words of isolated individuals who claimed to have seen or heard something. No, my Lord wanted to be sure I had the same confidence in His message as those who were actually in His presence. That’s why he made certain that countless people experienced His presence, His miracles, His words, His resurrection.
You'll never convince me the footprint in that stone is real. But I know there were plenty who saw my risen Lord ascend.
Maybe I’ll still be on this earth when He returns. More likely I’ll be greeted by Him in person when I die.
Either way, I know I’ll shout out… or breathe softly to myself, “There He is! Right there in front of me!”