The sun is a power ball radiating energy of hydrogen and helium and who knows what other elements. So awesome is its power that we depend on its light though it is 93 million miles from Earth. The sun’s rays are so powerful that when they beat against the surface of the moon that orbits the Earth, the moon reflects the light and we can see that reflected light all the way back on Earth.
A few weeks ago I rose just before the sun and was walking in my neighborhood. A few blocks away stood the new grand hotel. Its concrete steel and glass stand as a monument that bespeaks comfort, ease and luxury, but that isn’t what I saw. I saw an enormous bright red ball shining in the glass. I immediately turned and saw the brilliance of the sun. Then I turned back to see the sun’s reflection upon the hotel. I did not see the glass; I did not see the building; I did not see the monument to the national chain with which it is affiliated. I saw only the brightness of the sun reflected.
My grandmother, Bessie, is one hundred one years old. She never wanted to have anything to do with the person of Jesus for as long as I could remember. Whenever I would try to broach the subject of God’s love in Yeshua, she would flick the back of her hand in the air to indicate her disinterest and make the nonverbal statement, I don’t want to hear about…him.” She wouldn’t even bring honor to Him by repeating His name. Even the name “Jesus” was a painful memory to her. She and so many other Jews sustained pain, humiliation, rejection and even death from those who named Jesus as their God and motivator.
When Grandma was put in a nursing care facility it had nothing to do with her wits but rather the frailty of her aging body. One October morning I went there for an early visit. (I was on a speaking tour for a few days in my old hometown of Kansas City.) Rarely would I bring my Bible to visit her because she had indicated so clearly and so often that she was not interested in hearing anything from the Bible. Nevertheless, I brought it in that day.
I began speaking to the charge nurse assigned to Bessie’s floor. She wanted to know what I did for a living, and I told her I was a missionary with Jews for Jesus. She was thrilled, since she too was a believer. We began to talk about the great things that God had done in her life, and we were speaking specifically about eternal things as I approached Bessie’s room.
I said farewell to the nurse and Grandma greeted me with, “What was it you were talking about just now?”
Matter-of-factly I answered, “We were speaking about the forgiveness of sins that Jesus can offer and eternal life that He brings.”
“I would like to hear more about that,” she announced. My jaw nearly hit the ground. Surely someone had been reflecting the light of Christ to her.
I wonder if you can imagine my surprise and delight as I opened the Bible and began reading to her about God’s plan of salvation from the pages of both Testaments. I told her about God’s love in Jesus. I explained the forgiveness of sins that was only available through His shed blood. We read John 3:16, and I could almost see something going on in her heart and mind. There was a heavenly transaction taking place. After thirty minutes of conversation, I asked Grandma, “Would you like to accept God’s forgiveness through Jesus now?” And she did! Prior to that morning, I don’t recall ever hearing her say the name of Jesus. Certainly not since I had given my life to Him. He was a dismissed castaway and a nonentity for our Jewish people. Yet there she was lying on her bed, eyes open looking up toward heaven as she uttered the words, “Lord Jesus.” The angels rejoiced; my heart leaped.
Bessie was ninety-six when she came to believe that Jesus is the Jew-ish Messiah foretold by the Jewish prophets in the Jewish Scriptures. The peace and joy that flooded her soul were clear. Her eyes lit up and her face shone. In one moment the darkness that had engulfed her was turned to the brightness of the glory of Lord Jesus. It wasn’t so much Bessie’s brightness. Once again, I was seeing a sunrise, or perhaps I should say Sonrise. I looked at my aging grandmother and I saw an awe-inspiring reflection-the reflection of the love of God in Jesus.
Pray for my grandmother as she continues to reflect the Lord Jesus. Even Willard Scott put her on his show gallery in March of 1995. Pray for the impact her story will continue to have.
Bob Mendelsohn is the leader of Jews for Jesus' work in Sydney, Australia. He grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Kansas City, but became a college drop-out when he decided to look for the meaning of life in the counterculture of the '60s. He found meaning and relevance in Jesus which caused him much trouble at home. But he says, It was worth the cost." Bob has worked for Jews for Jesus since 1979, and served as the leader of our work in Washington DC and New York City before moving to Sydney in 1998. Bob and his wife Patty both graduated from the University of Kansas and Fuller Seminary. The Mendelsohns live in Sydney near their son. Their two daughters and one grandson live in the US.