STOP IN THE NAME OF JESUS | Miracle | Gladiator

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   The story is the story of Saint Telemachus, who lived on orabout 400 AD. As is the case with all saints, Telemachuswasn’t born a saint. What we know about him was recordedabout 50 years after his death by Bishop Theodoret of Cyprus. Some legends have him as an unruly young man,caught up in the pleasures of the day. After studying allover Asia Minor, Telemachus found himself sucked into theworld of pleasure and indulgence. After wandering aroundaimlessly for many years, trying to find meaning in fun andexcitement, he eventually had his epiphany and converted toChristianity. Immediately following his conversion heentered a monastery and became a monk.When we think of monastery’s today, we think of quietremote outposts, out of the way, and far from thetemptations of society. Nothing could be further from thetruth. At that time, and really through most of history,monasteries formed the backbone of the communities theyexisted in. It was monasteries that served as the business,political, and education centers of the communities in whichthe resided. They would have been some of the busiestplaces of ancient life.It was from within such a monastery that Telemachus wouldhave lived, studied, prayed and served.  It is said that in the year 402 AD, the young monk felt calledto leave the monastery and head out into the pagan world tonot only learn what the world had to offer, but to spread themessage of Christ to all who would listen. One day in prayer, Telemachus felt called by God to leave immediately and headto Rome. If monastery’s were the hub of a localcommunity’s society, Rome was considered the hub of theworld. This was the center of society during this time. Notsure what he would find, or why God had called him on hismission he headed from the monastery and began his trek.Upon arriving in Rome, he was immediately caught up in thecrowd. The crowd was immense and excited. Soon Telemachus found himself giddy with the contagiousexcitement of those around him. He wasn’t sure where hewas headed but he knew whatever it was, it had to be great,and there was no way he was going to miss out on it.Within a few moments he found himself deep in the seatingarea of the Roman Coliseum. Asking those around him, helearned that the Romans had just defeated the Goths, andthe emperor had commanded a circus to be held for thecelebrating crowd. As he took his seat, he couldn’t havemissed the emperor sitting in his seat of honor. He mostcertainly would not have missed the arrival of the gladiatorsinto the coliseum.As the gladiators lined up below the emperors seat, togetherthey stood and yelled out: “We, who are about to die, saluteyou”. It was the traditional greeting of the gladiators to theiremperors, and in that instant he knew exactly what he hadstumbled upon. The Bishops and leaders of the church hadspoken out about the gladiator games in Rome, yet mostbelieved it legend. In that moment, Telemachus realized itall was true.  Soon the gladiators pulled their weapons and the bloodybrawl began just a few hundred yards away from him. Thegrotesque nature of the sport appalled him. Worse yet, wasthe reactions of those around him. The spectators where ina blood thirsty ecstasy over what they were seeing. Telemachus was sickened and shocked. In that instant herealized that it must stop. From his seat, he yelled out to thewarriors: In the Name of Jesus Stop… But no one heard.Without thinking he jumped over the wall and into the battlearena of the fighters. The gladiators surprised by theunexpected guests momentarily stopped their fights andstared at the monk. “IN THE NAME OF JESUS STOP!” heyelled over and over again. After a few moments, thesilence turned to chuckles and outright laughter. One of thegladiators, with a sick enjoyment, took a swing at Telemachus with his sword, just barely missing him. Withthat the others began to draw their swords. Soon they werechasing this man, across the field of battle to the laughter of the crowd. Most who witnessed the spectacle thought hewas a clown or there for comic relief. That was until they heard what he was yelling; For the loveof Christ, Stop!… He ran, jumped, dodged and ducked, andwith each passing moment his words grew clearer andlouder; In the name of Jesus, Stop. In the name of JesusStop. IN THE NAME OF JESUS STOP! Eventually the gladiators surged and when the dust cleared,there laid Telemachus on the ground with a sword in thecenter of his chest. There was silence in the crowd. It wassaid in that moment, that his words still echoed in thecoliseum; In the name of Christ Stop.After what seemed like an eternity, one man got up from hisseat, and left in silence. Then another… Then another…  Until everyone got up from their seat and left in silence anddisbelief. The site of the dead monk in the center of the coliseum, andthe reaction of the crowd, also led the emperor and hisguests to silently stand, turn and leave the coliseum. Aftera few minutes, the Gladiators put their swords down and theytoo left. All that remained in that giant coliseum was thescrawny lifeless body of the young monk. History claims thatthis was the very last gladiator game at the coliseum. Thememory of that man screaming to the crowd, and the imageof the blood thirsty lust of the crowd had changed the heartsand the minds of the Romans in that instant. Within the hourthe emperor issued an edict forbidding any future games of war within the Roman Empire. There was no more killing in the Coliseum. There were nomore gladiator matches in Rome. There was no more killingas sport. All because one man, stood up….and said “In theName of Jesus Stop!”. The message that is retold regularly in the story of  Telemachus is one that we need to hear. Truth be told, thisplace is many things to many people…yet in the end, itserves a singular purpose. The purpose of our faith, thepurpose of all of this, the purpose of Asbury Church, is toform us into the very people who stand up, look out at theworld, and scream out:“IN THE NAME OF JESUS STOP!”We need to be the people, who no longer let the culture andthe ways of the world influence us, and instead us influencethem. We need to look at all the ways of the world that leadto pain, bitterness, anger, hate, and injustice and screamout:IN THE NAME OF JESUS STOP!
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