He turned then, and he saw her. With instant recognition, his face broke into a smile and the joy that dawned in his eyes shone like brighter than day. He didn’t waste a moment, but ran towards her. Suddenly, as though his evident joy had infused her with energy, her legs moved, and she found herself sprinting forward, tears flooding her eyes as her heart swelled within her.
She threw herself into his arms, and he laughed as he caught her - a sound of pure elation, pure delight – spinning her around and around, his arms holding her tight; as if they would never part. She couldn’t laugh, though. Not yet; her throat was so choked with emotion she couldn’t speak a single word. Pressing her face to his shoulder, she took a shuddering breath; inhaling the deep beautiful smell of him, so amazingly familiar to her. Tears continued to fall from her eyes, slipping from her cheeks and down his neck, but he didn’t mind.
He stopped turning and let her feet come to rest on the ground again. She leant against him; eyes closed, arms still around him. Giving her a squeeze, he bowed his head over hers with a soft sigh.
“At last,” was all he said.
A sob of overwhelming ecstasy broke from her lips, and she looked up into the face of the man who was her whole world. His bright eyes smiled down upon her with depthless love and undying approval. He let go of her and cupped his hands to her face tenderly. She reached up and put her hands over his.
It was then her fingers felt something, and her tears dried on her cheeks as her expression froze.
His smile waned, and his eyes took on a look of understanding as she gently pulled his hands down from her face and let her gaze fall upon them: scars – so hideous and deformed – stared back up at her. A gaping hole was centred in the palm of each hand, and though the bleeding flesh around them had healed completely, the holes had remained; maimed, disfigured.
Her heart broke within her as she ran her fingers over the mutilated skin. What was this love? This love that caused a perfect man to die for her imperfections? What was this sacrifice that, because of it, she was standing here now?
Standing… she couldn’t any longer. Her legs folded beneath her, and she crumpled to her knees before Him. There too, she saw the terrible wounds in His feet, and her eyes filled with tears afresh as she pressed her forehead to the ground.
“Unworthy…” she whispered.
At that, Jesus immediately knelt and lifted her from the ground. She stood before Him, eyes downcast, until a glitter caught her eye. Raising her gaze, she saw in His hands He held a crown of gold; elegant and dazzling, it sparkled with hundreds of costly jewels – too many to number. She looked back up at Him in wonder, and He was shaking His head with a kind smile.
“No,” He answered, lifting His hands to place the jewel-encrusted crown upon her head.
Sometimes it's easy to forget that Jesus is coming back. When I'm in the midst of hard times, and my mind strays, I like to focus on the picture of meeting Jesus in person. We often imagine how it would be to meet our heroes, such as sports stars or celebrities. Why not the greatest Hero of all? That's where this story came from.