3-Week Series: Double Blessing

Sermon Illustrations

How do you do that? I have a perfect illustration from my favorite book next to the Bible THE JOURNEY HOME by Orthodox Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. I’ve shared excerpts from his book with you in the past. Although it is classified as fiction, it is based on authentic events and a genuine friendship Rabbi Eckstein enjoyed with evangelical, charismatic pastor Jamie Buckingham. Pastor Buckingham went to be with Jesus in 1992 after a courageous fight with cancer. Rabbi Buckingham wrote his book as a tribute to Pastor Buckingham and their friendship. The fictional character Jamie is a caricature and personification of Pastor Buckingham. A journalist who is going to write a series of articles on Israel, this Jamie is touring Israel with Rabbi Eckstein. The two of them come to strengthen each other’s faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Jamie admits in the beginning of the novel that He really is not a real Christian. He honestly confesses, “‘Christianity isn’t something we’re born into like you Jews are born into Judaism.’ He sighed. ‘It’s something we accept. And I never really accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior’ [THE JOURNEY HOME, 5].”

The Holy Spirit begins moving in Jamie’s heart as he and the Rabbi travel through the Holy City. When they visited the Kotel, the Western Wall, or the Wailing Wall, Jamie was deeply touched.

Rabbi Eckstein continues the story: “I notice, out of the corner of my eye, that Jamie was writing a note and placing it in the cracks of the Wall. He, a Christian, was moved as I was by touching the hem of God’s holy earthly garments.

“‘What did you pray for?’ I asked reverently.”

“‘I asked that God would restore my faith in Him.’ Jamie looked abashed, humbled” [THE JOURNEY HOME, 8].

On the Via Dolorosa a few days later, Jamie was truly born again. Rabbi Eckstein finishes the testimony:

“‘Don’t you see?’ he said, suddenly sobbing. ‘He died for me, sinner that I am.’ With that, Jamie broke down and cried uncontrollably, ‘O Jesus, sweet Jesus. I’m sorry for my sins. O Jesus, thank you for saving me. O Jesus. . .’

“I stood in awe and silence as I watched his born again transformation and what God was doing to his heart. Jamie could not speak. He just sat down on the ground, clasped his head in his hands, and wept.

“‘Oh Jesus,” he finally said between sobs, ‘I accept you as my personal Lord and Savior. I receive you as my Lord, my Christ, my Friend.

“‘Fill me, Father, with your Holy Spirit, that I may serve You faithfully all the days of my life. You are my Lord, and in the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen. Thank You, Father, thank You, Father, thank You. . .’

“Jamie looked at me tearfully, almost oblivious to my presence yet eager to hear my reaction. Frankly, I didn’t know what to say. I had never witnessed anything quite like that before, except on those television evangelist shows . . . . A beautiful peace seemed to come over Jamie, as if the burden of life’s struggles was lifted from him. I envied him that peace” [SOURCE: Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The Journey Home (Chicago: Shavit House, 2001), 194-5.]

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