Looking for a follower of Jesus
(a traveler’s short story)
One day a visitor walked into a village and asked if there were any followers of Jesus living in the village. Eventually he was directed to the village chief among the elders of the village. Again the visitor asked if there were any followers of Jesus living in that village. The chief replied, “There are three men in this village who claim to know a man named Jesus. I do not know this Jesus, but I will send you to these men and let you decide for yourself if they know this Jesus.” The visitor gladly wrote down directions to the three men’s homes who claimed to know someone named Jesus. Taking his leave of the chief and the village elders, he went in search of the three men.
When the visitor came to the first home, he found a sunburned man lounging in a pool of water that had been created by damming up the little creek that ran through his property. The visitor greeted the man and asked if he could have a drink of water and was told that he could have a bottle of water for his shirt. The visitor was very thirsty, so he gave the man his shirt in exchange for the bottle of water. Then the visitor continued on his way.
When the visitor came to the second home, he found a man who was sitting down and caring for his blistered feet near a table piled high with food. The visitor greeted the man and asked if he could have something to eat and was told that the man would give him a bag of food in exchange for his socks and shoes. The visitor was very hungry, so he gave the man his socks and shoes in exchange for the bag of food. Then the visitor continued on his way once more, taking his bottle of water and his bag of food to find the home of the third man who claimed to know Jesus.
As the visitor was on his way to the home of the third man, now sunburned and with sore feet, a servant came pulling a rickshaw that had a top to provide shade and gave the visitor a ride the rest of the way to the third man’s home. It was quite a ways up a hill to the third man’s home and so the visitor asked the servant to pull over in the shade of some trees where he offered to share his bottle of water and bag of food with the servant in a small picnic meal. Before the servant would eat, though, he found an aloe plant and broke open the leaves and squeezed out some aloe oil on the visitor’s sunburned shoulders and sore feet. Then they shared their small picnic together and continued to the third man’s home. When they arrived, the visitor was stunned when the servant turned and welcomed him to his home, bringing him an ‘I Love Jesus’ T-shirt and a pair of sandals for his feet. Then he asked the visitor if he would consent to stay over for the evening and enjoy his hospitality. Until they went to sleep, they spoke together about Jesus and the visitor told the man how good it was to find someone who knew Jesus as he was traveling. And so the visitor stayed at the third man’s home and prayed for God’s blessing on the man and his home before leaving the next morning to return to the village.
Being now well rested and well fed and no longer thirsty, and wearing his new shirt and sandals, the trip down the hill and back to the village seemed to take only a fraction of the time it had taken to visit the three men’s homes. There the visitor was greeted by the village chief and the elders and was asked if he had found a follower of Jesus. The visitor said, “Yes, I found one follower of Jesus.” The chief and elders congratulated the visitor on completing his quest, and then they asked how the visitor knew that only one of the men who claimed to know Jesus was actually a follower of Jesus, and also how he could tell which one it was.
The visitor said, “When the first man saw I was thirsty, he would only give me water in exchange for my shirt. When the second man saw I was hungry, he would only give me food in exchange for my socks and shoes. But when the third man saw me coming along the path, he gave me a ride up the hill and aloe oil for my sunburn and he gave me these sandals and this ‘I Love Jesus’ T-shirt and a place to stay for the night.” Then the visitor took out his Bible and read these verses to the chief and the elders:
(Jesus said) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
1 John 3:16-18
(Jesus’ apostle, John, wrote) By this we know love: that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."
The visitor closed his Bible and looked at the chief and the elders and continued his explanation. “I knew him by his love. And when he gave me this T-shirt and these sandals, I knew why he loved a stranger traveling on the road. You should ask him about Jesus. I am sure he would enjoy telling you about our Lord.” And so the visitor went on his way and continued his travels.