Hello everyone, like I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to share with you guys a little more from the book “A Gentleman in Prison”, the story of Tokichi Ishii. If you haven’t been on here in awhile scroll down to the last post and read that first. You guys know his story by now, but I just wanted to post some excerpts from his journal. The first talking about how exactly he came to believe in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and the second talking about some “divine favors” that he has realized are his IN CHRIST JESUS.
I went on, and my attention was next taken by these words: “And Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”. I stopped: I was stabbed to the heart, as if pierced by a five-inch nail. What did the verse reveal to me ? Shall I call it the love of the heart of Christ? Shall I call it His compassion? I do not know what to call it. I only know that with an unspeakably grateful heart, I believed. Through this simple sentence I was led into the whole of Christianity. This is how I thought it out: I suppose a man’s greatest enemy is the one who seeks to take his life from him. There is surely no greater enemy than this.
Now at the very moment when Jesus’ life was being taken from him, he prayed for his enemies to the God of Heaven. Father, forgive them for they know not ‘what they do. What else could I believe but that he was indeed the son of God ? I argued that an ordinary man is filled with anger and hatred and every other spiteful passion on the slightest provocation. Jesus, on the other hand, prayed for his enemies at the very moment his life was being taken, that life which was so precious that nothing could take its place. Was an act like this possible for an ordinary man? I do not think so. Then we cannot but say that he was God. Again, chaplains and pastors, and those who see men die, agree that the last words a man utters come from the depths of his soul, and that he does not die with lies upon his lips. Jesus’ last words were, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do, and so I cannot but believe that they reveal his true heart.
I can’t help but think about how powerful the Word of the Lord is. In the chapters before this, Tokichi Ishii tells of how this missionary Caroline MacDonald had come to his cell and given him a New Testament. He said she would come by and share about the words of Christ, but that he really didn’t give any thought to it. He didn’t read the New Testament for a long time, but eventually started reading it out of curiosity. After the third time picking it up, he came across those words “Father forgive them”, and he was saved. Let us remember the power that is in the Word of God, and how even a simple act of sharing His Word can have eternal value to it! Here is the next quote where he shares about what the Lord has given him in Christ Jesus.
I want to tell you what divine favors were given me after I became a believer in Christ. First I received the imperishable and everlasting salvation of that most important part of man, his soul. As it is written: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life’. And again: “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out”. If we believe these words then we know that God has not forsaken us but has saved our souls forever.
I shall now speak of a second favor in which I have received from God. When I was free I travelled about west and east out in the world, and saw and heard many things, and had varied experiences. Today I am sitting in my prison cell with no liberty to come and go, and yet I am far more contented than in the days of my freedom. In prison, with only poor, coarse food to eat, I am more thankful than I ever was out in the world when I could get whatever food I wanted. In this prison cell, only nine by six feet in size, I am happier than if I were living in the largest house I ever saw in the outer world. Whatever agony is in my heart I can now overcome. No matter what discomforts I endure there is only gladness in my heart. The joy of each day is very great. These things are all due to the grace and divine favor of Jesus Christ.
I wish to speak now of the greatest favor of all, the power of Christ, which cannot be measured by any of our standards. I have been more than twenty years in prison since I was nineteen years of age, and during that time I have known what it meant to endure suffering, although I have had some pleasant times as well. I have passed through all sorts of experiences, and have been urged often to repent of my sins. In spite of this, however, I did not repent, but on the contrary became more and more hardened. And then by the power of that one word of Christ’s, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do, my unspeakably hardened heart was changed, and I repented of all my crimes. Such power is not in man.
I love what he says about being content. I wish the world (and also us as believers) could understand and apply that truth to our own lives. Here is a man who had no freedom at all, and without the Lord was always longing to be a free man. When that so called freedom arrived, without the Lord it was just an allusion, and it quickly became more bondage. Now in Christ Jesus, this man who (in the world’s eyes) was locked up with no freedom at all, and awaiting certain death in this world is experiencing true freedom because he has been set free from sin and death! What a lesson. Are we experiencing that life in Christ Jesus today ? Are we filled with the joy of His salvation, or are we longing for something else in this world ?
Keep checking back for some more on Tikichi Ishii!