As Christmas time approaches, I have fancied myself upon a tradition of reading the classic, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dicken. This story is about a main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, a very rich miser who will forgo the immediate comforts of life, to reduce any and all expenses, fulfilling the proverb, How much is enough? One more dollar than I currently have.
This story also impresses upon me a Christian influence, and I adore the opening, which very vividly explains that Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s life-long business partner, had died. The details of his death are not known, but the assurance of his passing is pronounced. The story begins seven years after the death of Jacob. Seven, being a symbolic number in Christianity, as I see Dickens portraying a seven year cycle of completeness.
As I have read A Christmas Carol through the years, I began to see other symbolisms and parallelism to Jesus and Christianity, the love of God, and His redemption. Mind, Charles wrote this story in symbolisms, it reminds us of no matter how evil someone is, nor for how long one has been bad, there is always hope. When the Lord gets ahold of someone, even the fiercest of men, can have a change of heart, completely turning 180 degrees from their malicious ways.
For this parody, I took several parts from the Christmas Carol to make the short story parody. As I wrote this, I began to consider things presented in the four Gospels, I had not seen or thought about. I must warn, this story is not to replace the Gospels, nor the classic of Charles Dickens, but is a reminder we can see the hand of God anywhere.
Part I – Jesus’ Death on the Cross
Jesus hung dead on the cross: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. Most people would not have survived the after effects of the scourging, yet this motionless body hung lifeless on the cross. The collapse and pressure on the lungs from the weight was enough to finish anyone. The last proof Jesus was dead occurred when the Roman soldier pierced his side, spewing forth blood and water. Yes, Jesus was dead. There is no doubt whatever about that.
His body was placed in a fresh sepulcher and a stone was rolled in front of the entrance. The news of his death was received by the chief priests, Pharisees, his followers, and the Romans. Pontius Pilate gave the order to have the tomb sealed, and placed a centurion, Roman’s elite guard, to watch over the tomb. Jesus was as dead as the nails piercing his hands and feet.
Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard the nails piercing His hands as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile of dead as a door nail; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb the fact, the Romans brutally knew how to take the life out of a person. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Jesus was as dead as the nails piercing his hands and feet.
The chief priests knew he was dead? Pilate knew he was dead? The centurion knew he was dead? Of course they did. How could it be otherwise? Even his followers left shocked, that Jesus, the Great Rabbi, the Promised Messiah, did not come down off the cross, by some miracle, did not survive and take the kingship away from the Romans. He was to be their king, to rescue them, to end the oppression, ruling Israel forever and ever. Mary Magdalene, one of his main followers was cut up by the sad event, and began gathering spices and oils for the preparation of a dead body.
The mention of the spices and oils for Jesus’ body brings me back to the point I started from. There is no doubt, that Jesus was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet’s Father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, than any other gentlemen rashly turning out at dark. Likewise, we are perfectly convinced Jesus’ battered body laid dead in the tomb.
For three days and three nights, the body laid silent. How else does a dead body lay? Yet, in the world of the living, life continued on. The centurion guards, continued watching over the tomb, switching shifts, in their well-trained orderly fashion. The chief priests continued on with their celebration of the seven day feast of Passover and began their preparations for the Feast of First fruits.
The followers of this dead body, and the one who would follower their leader to death? He lit out as the first opportunity presented itself, back to his hometown, back to his profession, what he knew. Idly spending time in a boat waiting for the fish to come wandering into his nets. The others? Why they hid, afraid for their lives, would they too end up with the same gruesome fate? Would they be next? Had they believed a lie, which this person was to rule all of Israel, and they would be at his side?
When confronted with fear and disappointment, the mind can create such lavish reasoning and disorganize what appeared factual at the time, but is now fading with ever analogous thought. For three years they believed, followed, experienced. They were there, witnessed it all, and their blessed leader was dead. He was not victorious over his foes like their great renown ancestors of Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Josiah, Hezekiah and the recent Judas Maccabeus. This man was defeated, right before their very eyes. What had convinced them to follow, to believe, and now they too were in peril of a similar fate? And the shame, oh the shame, the ridicule from the ones they left behind, what would be said as they returned?
Once upon a time – of all the good days of the year, on the morning of Feast of Firstfruits – the Centurion guard stood composed near the tomb. It was a normal Jerusalem morning, the spring fog hovered over the city as the first light of the morn began to shine forth, breaking the darkness of the night. Occasional sounds from the city could be heard from the noises of feet upon the pavement stones. It had been a solemn three days.
The keepers took their melancholy breakfast in their usual melancholy way, and was thinking about the events that occurred over the past three days: the darkness, the earthquake, the marveling words from the soldiers in charge of crucifixion. “Truly this was the Son of God.” The centurions were well trained, battle tested, had spit in the face of death. These soldiers were fierce, well armored, they feared little. And now, the soldiers stood watch in a graveyard, where the dead disturb no one, tell no secrets. The morning was usual, the centurion had become familiar with his surroundings, and he now knew every stone. The fog so hung about the gateways of the city, that it seemed as if the Genius of the Weather sat in mournful meditation on the threshold.
Now, it is a fact, that there was nothing at all particular about the graveyard, except that this stone was very large. It is also a fact, that the keepers of the tomb were not afraid of much if anything – which is a bold word. And then let any man explain to me, if he can, how it happened that these guards, began to fear, when the earth shook that morning, when the sealed stone began to roll away from the entrance without its undergoing any intermediate process of change – there was no one to move the stone in the doorway of the tomb. Not any one, but something was there.
His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in the yard were, but had a bright light about it. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked at the keepers: with ghostly appearance sat on top of the stone. They stood perfectly motionless. That, and its livid color, made it horrible; but the horror seemed to be in spite of their reasoning and beyond their control, rather than a part of their own expression.
To say that they were not startled, or that their blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had been a stranger from infancy, would be untrue. The brightness of this being on top of the stone brought darkness to their eyes, as they fell lifeless from the scene that unfolded.
Mary, who had previous gathered up oils, and another lady named Mary came up to the scene, their color changed though, when, without a pause, they looked upon the open entrance from the rolled away stone and saw the brightness of the being on top. Upon their viewing, this angelic being gave the usual starting statement as has been rehearsed many times through the ages with other encounters with humans, “Fear not.”
No, they could hardly believe it, even now. Though the being looked angelic through and through, and was before them, they felt the chilling influence of its holiness; as it spoke to them. “For I know that you seek Jesus, which was crucified.”
“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”
Not so much in obedience, as in surprise and fear: for on the raising of the hand, they became sensible of the confusion in the air; of the incoherent scene. But Mary stood outside the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and followed inside the tomb: desperate in their curiosity. They looked in and entered. They could hardly believe it, even now. The body was not there!
Their eyes marked the very texture of the folded napkin and the linen clothes laying by themselves. They were still incredulous, and fought against their senses, at the appearance of two angels, one at the head and another at the location where the feet would have been. Where the body of Jesus had been lain. Each second passed as if an eternity, then the angel spoke again:
“And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goes before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.”
The idea being an alarming one, Mary scrambled, teary eyed, turned her way to the entrance when she saw Him, but thinking he was the grounds keeper continued weeping. Jesus, as customary in Jewish studies, did not proclaim who he was to her, but instead asked two simple questions. Allowing the mind to break from the histrionic scene, which allowed some reason to come to Mary’s mind.
“Woman, why do you weep? Who do you seek?” The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as if instead of being so close beside her, it were at a distance.
Unknowingly, she answered, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
But the O so familiar voice, a voice lost in the turmoil of the past three days, a voice feared lost forever, resounded in her ears. She had heard it, but in awe, her mind would not allow the comprehension, until she heard that O so familiar word. A word commonly spoken to her many times a day throughout her lifetime in all the colors of emotions. A familiar sound, which touches the individual senses, gives the importance of identity and self-awareness.
The mind, not fully absorbing, fully grasping the truth of the event of her surroundings. The sayings of the angels, the mind’s fast recall of the things Jesus has told her. All truth became reality as her eyes and ears finally saw and understood through the veil of tears and darkness of misfortune and doubt.
Perhaps, Mary could not have told anybody why, if anybody could have asked her; but she had a special desire to grasps the unexplainable; and the emotion raged inside, begging to touch what the mind could not comprehend. But before the impulse of confused joy could be realized, the risen Savior forbade.
“Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.“
The chief priests were obliged to ritual cleansing of their dressing-gown before they could commence with the customary ceremonies, yet could see very little then. All they could make out was, that it was still very early, and that there was the normal noise of people moving to and fro, and making a great stir, as there unquestionably would have been if night had beaten off bright day, and taken possession of the world. This was a great relief, because “three days ago after the sight of the death of the blasphemer and Pilate made his order,” and so forth, would have become a mere blink in the security of their religious decrees, as if there were no days to count by.
The chief priests reverently disclaimed all intention to offend or any knowledge of having willfully bonneted the Spirit at any period of their life. They then made bold to continue what business brought them here, when a disturbance was made known to them. The keepers of the tomb returned inside the city, and told the chief priests of what had been done.
It would have been in vain for the priests to plead that the weather and the hour were not adapted to their purposes; but they made toward the soldiers aghast of their sayings. Assembling together the elders, they debated among themselves the best measures to take for their continuing services. As they had devised methods to take Jesus into custody, they were now devising ways to ignore, and finally put the Jewish rebel down once and for all.
As they had paid Judas to betray Jesus, and have him arrested, they fell back on their earlier scheme, and paid the soldiers to betray what they had seen and heard, saying, “Say you, His disciples came by night and stole him away while we slept.”
The seemingly honorable soldiers balked at the notion and the endangering of their own reputation, yet the chief priests persuaded, “And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.”
Part II – The Past
They walked along the road to Emmaus, and they mourned together all the things that happened. These boys were in low spirits, and cried to each other, until the broad fields even looked so gloomy that the crisps in the air dimmed down to hear their sad encounter. Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. Taking the same approach as He had done with Mary, asked, “What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?”
It had been no quiet matter, the happenings in Jerusalem over the past few days. The boys were astonished this man before them did not know. Jesus asked his second question, “What things?” They retold their past experiences and the adoration they had for their Leader. How their Leader should have redeemed all of Israel, and when their brethren went into the sepulcher, they had found the body had disappeared.
After three years of lecturing and demonstrating, what does a teacher do, after he has taught and his students had not understood? A crash course, back to the beginning. And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself, but they still did not understand who they were talking to. Psychologists express a weird phenomenon of those who have lost loved one, the loved ones come back in a ghost form. They recognize the ghost, but as Jesus taught them, they did not recognize Him. These pupils, unknowingly, were taking part in one of the greatest classroom lectures for all time. Also in their unknowing, they were dismissing the claim of seeing a figment of their imagination.
When Jesus sat and ate with them, he broke bread and gave it to them. Having been with this man for several hours, learning the scriptures a second time, it was not until Jesus used His unique manner of breaking bread that opened their eyes, and then, at that precise moment, all reason, logic, blindness vanished with the setting of the sun. Their eyes were now opened, and they knew Him! Upon their realization, Jesus disappeared, an in startled amazement, they leapt up and headed back to inform the other eleven that they had been with the risen Jesus!
Part III – The Present
It was in this room. There was no doubt about that. But it had undergone a surprising transformation as they spoke with the eleven. How Jesus spoke and taught them on the road to Emmaus. In an easy state in the midst of the room, there stood Jesus himself, glorious to see.
“Peace be with you” he said, showing His hands, feet and side.
With great joy and amazement, they were glad when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the father has sent Me, I also send you.” He then breathed on them, saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
As most of his followers were now understanding the events of the past three days, there was one, who could not escape the mind’s rationale. A man whose reason and intuition taught him not to believe what he was told or had read, but what he personally experienced. He wanted to personally see and know that his Leader had indeed risen, they this was no mere figment of the imagination, but really did happen.
Waiting for this personal experience eight days had passed, when Thomas and the other disciples, were in the same room again. The replay of the events before unfolded. Again, with the doors being shut, in an easy state in the midst of the room, Jesus came, again with the resounding words of the previous day, “Peace to you!” This time, Jesus was here for one person, and one person only. This same man who said he would leave ninety-nine to find one, looked toward Thomas. Although not expressly stated, I imagine there was some kind of exchange, pointing distinctly at Thomas.
“Come here”, exclaimed Jesus. “Reach your finger here, and look at my hands; and reach your hand at my feed, and into my side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing. All doubt began to empty out as reason, logic faded into the distance, a new understanding was taking place.
Thomas approached timidly, and hung his head before the Lord. He was not the dogged doubter he had been; and though Jesus’ eyes were clear and kind, he did not like to meet them, for the shame of his vocal unbelieve. As he emptied himself of all the confusion, the reality that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead set in. Thomas’ only response,
“My Lord and my God!”
Part IV – The Future – The Certainty
The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. When it came, he bent down upon his knees; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. But for this it would have been difficult to detach its figure from the night, and separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded.
He felt that it was tall and stately when it came beside him, and that its mysterious presence filled him with a solemn dread. He knew no more, for the Spirit neither spoke nor moved.
“I am in the presence of the things Yet To Come?” trembling he questioned.
The Spirit answered not, but pointed downward with its hand.
“You are about to show me shadows of the things that have not happened, but will happen in the time before us,” he pursued. “Is that so, Spirit?”
Quiet and dark, beside him stood the dark figure, with its outstretched hand. When he roused himself from his thoughtful quest, he fancied from the turn of the hand, and its situation in reference to himself, that the Unseen Eyes were looking at him keenly. It made him shudder, and feel very cold.
He glanced towards the Phantom. Its steady hand was pointed to the head of a bed. The cover was so carelessly adjusted that the slightest raising of it, the motion of a finger upon his part, would have disclosed the face. He thought of it, felt how easy it would be to do, and longed to do it; but had no more power to withdraw the veil than to dismiss the specter at his side.
Oh cold, cold, rigid, dreadful Death, set up thine altar here, and dress it with such terrors as thou hast at thy command: for this is thy dominion. But of the loved, revered, and honored head, thou canst not turn one hair to thy dread purposes, or make one feature odious. It is not that the hand is heavy and will fall down when released; it is not that the heart and pulse are still; but that the hand was open, generous, and true; the heart brave, warm, and tender; and the pulse a man’s. Strike, Shadow, strike. And see his good deeds springing from the wound, to sow the world with life immortal!
No voice pronounced these words in his ears, and yet he heard them when he looked upon the bed. He thought, if this man could be raised up now, what would be his foremost thoughts. Avarice, hard-dealing, griping cares. They have brought him to a rich end, truly.
A churchyard appeared. Here, then, the wretched man whose name he had now to learn, lay underneath the ground. It was a worthy place. Walled in by houses; overrun by grass and weeds, the growth of vegetation’s death, not life; choked up with too much burying; fat with repleted appetite. A worthy place!
The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed down to One. He advanced towards it trembling. The Phantom was exactly as it had been, but he dreaded that he saw new meaning in its solemn shape.
“Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,” he said, “answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”
Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by which it stood.
“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead, But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me.”
The Spirit was immovable as ever.
He crept towards it, trembling as he went; and following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave, HIS NAME.
“Am I that man who lay upon the bed?” he cried, upon his knees.
The finger pointed from the grave to him, and back again.
“No, Spirit! Oh no, no!”
The finger still was there.
“Spirit!” he cried, tight clutching at its robe, “hear me. I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope?”
In his agony, he caught the spectral hand. It sought to free itself, but he was strong in his entreaty, and detained it. The Spirit, stronger yet, repulsed him.
Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate aye reversed…
Dear friend, death is a fate we will all face one day. Death is the great equalizer of all mankind. No matter rich or poor, high in society or destitute, all are brought down low, and the remembrance of nearly all great and small vanishes over a short period of time. For me, I am challenged to remember the names of my great grandparents.
As the parody of A Christmas Carol is concluding, there is Hope beyond death. A Hope beyond all reason and logic. A Hope found in a man, who came to earth to set us free. This man is Jesus, who died, this must be well understood, he was dead, yet death could not contain him. After three days, he rose again conquering death and hell.
All who place their trust in Him will also conquer death. The sting of death is lost for those who believe, for one day, the believer will be like Him. Would you consider your condition and what the future holds for you when you die?
Part V – The Future – The Change
Yes! Best and happiest of all, the Time before him was his own, to make amends in! “The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Heaven, and Jesus be praised for this. I say it on my knees, old man, on my knees!”
He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions, that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his call. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the Spirit, and his face was wet with tears.
“I don’t know what to do!” he cried, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his stockings. “I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!”
He had frisked into the sitting-room, and was now standing there: perfectly winded. Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs.
“ I don’t know anything. I’m quite a baby. Never mind. I don’t care. I’d rather be a baby. Hallo! Whoop! Hallo here!”
He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. Clash, clang, hammer; ding, dong, bell! Bell, dong, ding; hammer, clang, clash! Oh, glorious, glorious!
Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious. Glorious!
He dressed himself all in his best, and at last got out into the streets. The people were by this time pouring forth, as he had seen them; and walking with his hands behind him, he regarded every one with a delighted smile. He looked so irresistibly pleasant, in a word, that three or four good-humored fellows said, “Good morning, sir.” And Scrooge said often afterwards, that of all the blithe sounds he had ever heard, those were the blithest in his ears.
He had not gone far, when coming on towards him he beheld the portly gentleman, who had walked into his presence the day before, and said, “I believe.” It sent a pang across his heart to think how this old gentleman would look upon him when they met; but he knew what path lay straight before him, and he took it.
My dear sir,” he said, quickening his pace, and taking the old gentleman by both his hands. “How do you do. I hope you succeeded yesterday. It was very kind of you. God Bless you sir!”
“Lord bless me!” cried the gentleman, as if his breath were taken away. “My dear sir, are you serious?”
“Don’t say anything please,” he retorted. “Come and see me. Will you come and see me?”
“I will!” cried the old gentleman. And it was clear he meant to do it.
“Thank you,” he said. “I am much obliged to you. I thank you fifty times. Bless you!”
He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk — that anything — could give him so much happiness.
He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with his past, but lived ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep his soul well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, God Bless Us, Every One!
Part V – Scrooge
In The Christmas Carol, Scrooge is the main character, but I oddly left him out of this parody, or did I? Except for Jesus, Scrooge encompasses all the characters, but one in particular character was not mentioned in the story, but I assure you, this person was there. No need to re-read the story to figure out the missing character. For you see, it is true for both the Christian and the non-believer, Scrooge is in some form or fashion is you, the reader.
For the Bible teaches that none of us are good. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. All of us are in need of the Savior. The three spirits found in A Christmas Carol speak of the things that can haunt us. Our sinful past, our present displeasure, and our certain future, death. Ebenezer was faced with all three, but the realization of death, his lack of understanding of this world was made real as he saw his future in a grave. There would be no hope.
Dickens does not detail the salvation experience of Scrooge, but we read of repentance, the acknowledgement of there is no hope within self. Then, there is a bright change, Scrooge is free from the bonds of sin, from the past. The old things, thoughts are passed away, and Ebenezer takes the form of a new person. This does not mean life in general improved for him, but his outlook on life was much improved. As Dickens so wonderfully detailed the alteration in Scrooge, this is what happens when someone accepts the gift of salvation from God, of what Jesus did on the cross and his resurrection. Salvation changes a person, opens their eyes, seals them for an eternity with Him in Heaven.
Will you accept that gift of salvation?