In the next week, we will be celebrating the first Christmas.  But in this space today I would also like to call attention to the second Christmas.

The second Christmas wasn’t celebrated as the one we know.  The first Christmas of course marked the birth of Jesus.  But the celebratory aspect of the second Christmas was the second birth of Jesus.  It was the second birth of Jesus that really changed things – when he was seen all over Jerusalem after he had been very conspicuously crucified three days earlier.

I wrote about the second birth of Jesus in my latest Amazon Book, The Bible’s Who’s Who, which I co-authored with the late Colonel Barrie Vernon.  Barrie was a Pentagon army colonel who tended to look on the Bible more in legal terms.  I, being a former drama critic, offered the stories in more dramatic terms.

Here was the story of the Second Christmas in our book.  Be an early Christian as you read this – it will read better:

As we entered the room of the Last Supper – solemnly, sadly – the one piece of furniture we looked at first was a single chair.  The chair sat the foot of the banquet table.  The chair was simple but its emptiness was not. It was emptiness present everywhere, carrying a void that would be present today, and also tomorrow, and all the days after that. Stepping slowly into the room, we each nodded under the weight of this emptiness.

“It was the nature of Jesus,” whispered the brother who stepped in behind me, “to sit at the foot of the table.”

“Do you know then,” I asked him, “who sat at the head of this table?”

“I believe it was Judas Iscariot,” he whispered.

No one took count, but there must have been at least a hundred of us brothers and sisters who would enter this all-important room that day. We had already started calling each other “brother” and “sister” to help create a family bound among everyone who was following the way of  Jesus.  Today would be the day the young brother of Jesus, James, was to make public an epistle that would shape all of these fast-growing followers into a working body.

There was hardly room for us in the room.  Reverently, we got on our knees, the most uncomfortable position we could take, while we waited for James to enter and the room and share his epistle with us.

We waited longer than we thought we would.  The time spent on our aching knees finally started to break up the quietness with a few words here and there.  Then, suddenly, we were all creaking out with our little quiet conversations.

“James looks so much like Jesus,” said the brother behind me who now sat with me.  “It is said that is why Judas had to come up and kiss Jesus to make sure it was him, and not his young brother, who was arrested that night.”

“I heard,” I said, “this was a very learned family.”

“It was a family of carpenters,” the young man went on. “They lived in the center of things in Nazareth, where of course there is a great world trade center.  If you want to study the world from all the people of the world, go to Nazareth.”

“Yes, I heard Jesus was very interested in all kinds of people outside of Judaism.”

“Jesus was still a very great Jewish scholar.  You know that the great Rebbi Hillel taught in Nazareth at the time of the childhood of Jesus.  Knowing the scholarly interests of Jesus even as a boy, when he would hide from his family in the temple to learn from the elders, you have to imagine the great impact Hillel would have on a Jesus who was then …what? … just twelve years old.  His mother Mary could talk about that.”

“Is Mary here today?”

“Yes, I saw her earlier.  She is not to be missed in this movement.  She feels she must represent her son.”

“As does his brother James,” I said.

“As does his brother James,” said the young man.  I gave my hand to the young man and told him my name.

“My name is Barnabas,” he told me.

“I’ve heard that name, Barnabas.  You were close to Jesus,” I said.

“I am today.  I am to become a new officer of the church today, a seventy, not an apostle but a helper of the apostles.  Our little church has grown so large that it will take more than the twelve apostles to manage it all.”

“I am very happy for you, Barnabas.”

“Do not be envious of me.  The one thing that the apostles can count on is to be killed, probably in some faraway place away from our families.”

“But you do not let that stop you, Barnabas.”


Finally James entered the room and took a seat next to the empty chair we had studied.

“Have you seen Jesus yourself?” Barnabas said.

“I know that he has been sighted several times since his death.  But I have not seen him myself,” I said.

“Then look at James.  He looks so much like Jesus, and that may be as way of a tribute to his older brother.”

James stood in front of us for a minute, looking a little surprised at the size of the crowd.

“Good brothers and sisters,” he said.  “I come to read you my epistle, because we are now so large that we need a foundation on an organizing principle. It is hard to believe you are so large.  Just a little while ago, there were so few of you.”

“Will Jesus be here today?” said someone from the back.

“I believe I can speak for the Lord Jesus Christ by telling you no, he will not be here today.  I know he has already visited with some of you.”

“Yes,” said another voice.

“Yes,” said yet another voice.

“You are understandably excited that he is alive today, that there is no death with Jesus.  But let me add that the Lord Jesus Christ does not want you to be excited because he is a sorcerer, or a wizard, but because he represents the wishes of our Father in Heaven.  And it is His wish that Jesus now be alive within us, and it will be up to us from now on to see that His work is done.”

In the quietness that followed this news, you could feel the disappointment that Jesus would not be making a personal appearance among us.

“On the other hand, the Lord Jesus Christ will be back, but we have so  much of His work to do, and it will not happen until we finally finish His work,”  James told us.  “So let us start this work immediately.” 

Then he sat and read to us his new epistle. 

As James read, I was thinking of what young Barnabas said, on how James resembled his older brother Jesus.  I projected that this resemblance was practically willful, as a salute to the older brother, even in the way that their hair and beard were combed. Of course, with that kind of resemblance, James was greatly endangering himself in Jerusalem, where his enemies were becoming more dissatisfied than ever that Jesus was not as dead as he was supposed to have been.

“Are you a Levite?” I whispered to Barnabas.

“Yes,” he whispered back.  “Of course.”  He patted the top of his top of his head, which had clear been shaved in recent months to work with ceremonial temple offerings

“And you are from Jerusalem?”

“No. I was born in Cyprus. I will be the first anointed seventy from Greece,” he whispered.

“In view of the mood in Jerusalem and its rulers, what are the chances of James and his work to be accepted here in the community?”

Barnabas shook his head.  “No, no chance at all.  James will be killed by them as well. We know that.  So does James. They are already hunting for him. We will have to quickly organize here and then scatter, all over the world, my brother.  Peter is already preparing to take the place of James to lead us, when that becomes necessary.”

I looked at James again, who was still bowed to his epistle and gently started reading his own words.

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, welcome,” he began.

My one thought was that this would be nearest I would get -- for the time being – to seeing and hearing our wonderful Jesus at work.

Chris Sharp- Commentary

Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . Sharp's latest book is an Amazon Kindle collection of his published short stories, Every Kind of Angel . His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.