Episode NT36 – Jesus’ Ascension

tale2tell original Bible Stories series – New Testament

Based on Acts chapter 1 verses 1 to 14

Story 36 – Jesus’ Ascension

(PETER) ‘Jesus had risen from the dead! And from time to time during the 40 days after His resurrection He came to see us, His disciples, or apostles as we were also called. Apostle means ‘Someone who’s sent out’, and we were called apostles of Jesus because He’d chosen us and sent us out to tell people about Him and God’s Kingdom.

As we spent time with Him during those days He talked to us about all kinds of matters concerning the Kingdom of God. And, while He was with us, He ate food and showed us time and time again that He wasn’t a ghost or anything like that – but a living, breathing person. The same Jesus we’d known and loved before His crucifixion, whose first concern was always the Kingdom of God.’

‘Anyway, we’d returned to Jerusalem from Galilee, and while He was eating with us He gave us, His apostles, an important commandment. (P) He said, ‘Don’t leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift He promised.’ He looked around at us expecting us to understand, but most of us sat there with blank expressions on our faces, so He added, ‘Remember? I’ve told you about it before! John baptised with water, but in just a few days you’ll be baptised with the Holy Spirit!’’ (PAUSE)

‘Now that God had raised Jesus back to life, and He was talking about the Kingdom of God again, we began to think that all our old ideas about Jesus becoming King of Israel and kicking the Romans out of our country must have been right all along. So we kept asking Him, ‘Lord, is it now that you’re going to free Israel and make us the most important kingdom in the world?’’

‘Jesus must have been so disappointed with us, we still didn’t understand and were making the same old mistakes we’d always made. So, one day, as we asked Him yet again, He said, ‘The Father sets those dates and they aren’t for you to know.’ (P) That put us in our place! And then He spoke once more of the subject that was so close to His heart, His Kingdom. ‘But when the Holy Spirit comes,’ He continued, ‘you’ll receive power, and then you’ll tell people everywhere about me! You’ll start right here in this city, Jerusalem; and then you’ll move out to Judea, the area around Jerusalem; and then you’ll move even further away from here, to Samaria, where the Samaritans live; and then – to the ends of the earth.’’

‘I guess it took us a while to really understand what Jesus meant. He hadn’t been raised from the dead so that He could become the King of a single country! The whole earth belonged to Him! His Kingdom was bigger than any country, or any nationality or people group! His Kingdom was to cover the whole earth and our job in this Kingdom was to tell everyone about Him, to point to Him, the real King who’d died to take the punishment we so richly deserve! And now He was telling us that sometime soon, He’d return to His Father and send the Holy Spirit to help us – to help us tell the whole world that Jesus is alive and our sins can be forgiven, our guilt can be washed away and we can be children of God and citizens in His Kingdom – all because of what Jesus did on that cross!’

‘It wasn’t long after this that Jesus went back to be with His Father. While He’d been with us He’d come and gone as He’d wanted, just appearing or disappearing, sometimes even appearing in a locked room. But now that He was going to leave us, going to heaven so that He could send the Holy Spirit, He left in a different way. I guess He could have just gone, disappeared and not come back, but if He’d done that we’d all have been thinking, ‘Maybe He’s not gone for good? Maybe He’ll come back if we just wait.’ I think Jesus understood that we needed to know He’d really gone back to His Father in heaven, so one day He took the 11 of us, His apostles, to the Mount of Olives about a kilometre outside of Jerusalem. And as we stood there with Him, He rose up into the sky and a cloud, like the cloud that’d been on the top of that mountain the day three of us had seen Jesus transfigure before our eyes and His clothes turn whiter than white – a cloud just like that – hid Him from our eyes.’

‘Well, we all just stood there staring up into the sky, straining our eyes, trying to see if we could still catch a glimpse of Him, wondering if He was going to come back, not sure what was happening, when suddenly two angels, who looked liked men in bright white robes stood with us. I was staring so hard at the sky I didn’t even notice them until they spoke to us – it gave me a bit a shock when I realised who they were. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has been taken away from you into heaven. And someday, in the same way that you’ve seen Him go, He will return!’ And as they spoke I realised it was a gentle warning to us. Jesus had told us what He wanted us to do – to wait for the Holy Spirit and then tell people everywhere about Him. He didn’t want us to waste our time staring into the sky, but to get on and do what He’d asked.’

‘It was then that it really sunk in that Jesus had gone back to heaven. (P) But even though He’d gone, in a way we didn’t feel like He’d left us, because we could still talk to Him by praying, and He could still lead and guide us. He’d gone, but it wasn’t like those terrible days when He’d died. Now, even though He was in heaven, nothing could take Him from us.’

‘After that, we all went back to the house where we’d been staying. Then, with some of the women who followed Jesus, and with Mary His mother and His brothers, we spent our time either praising God in the temple for raising Jesus from the dead, or praying in that house, asking Jesus to do what He’d promised and send the Holy Spirit to help us tell the whole world about Him.’ (PAUSE)

Episode NT5 – Baptised and Tempted

tale2tell original Bible Stories series – New Testament

Based on Luke chapter 3 verses 1 – 20 & Matthew chapter 3 verse 13 to chapter 4 verse 11

Baptised and Tempted

‘Who warned you – you brood of snakes? Who warned you about the coming judgement?’

Did he know who he was talking to? Had John gone completely out of his mind? He was calling the people of Israel – Jews – descendants of Abraham – a bunch of evil snakes!  This prophet, this man of the wilderness was certainly causing a stir! (PAUSE)

Just the look of John was enough to worry most people. His clothes were made of woven camel hair with a big leather belt around it all to hold it together! And he came out of the wilderness preaching … the Kingdom of Heaven was near.

‘Turn away from your evil deeds,’ he shouted. ‘And turn back to God before it’s too late! The Kingdom of Heaven is near.’

Just a short while before, this unusual man who had lived in the wilderness, eating locust and wild honey, had received a message from God. It was to time for him to start to warn the people to turn away from their evil ways and be baptised! But only non-Jews were baptised – to show that they had changed and wanted to become part of the Jewish people, Jews were already the people of God, weren’t they? Surely they didn’t need to be baptised?

‘Who warned you – you brood of snakes?’ John continued. ‘Who warned you of the coming judgement? Don’t just pretend to be holy, prove that you really are children of God by the way you live your lives. Show by your words and deeds that you have turned away from sin and turned back to God. And don’t think that you’re safe just because you happen to be Jews – descendants of Abraham! God could change these stones into children of Abraham if He wanted – just being born a Jew won’t keep you safe! For even now the axe of God’s judgement is poised, ready to blow, to cut at your roots! Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.’ When he talked about trees he was using it as an example of what would happen to the people, everyone who didn’t turn to God and live a good life would have to face terrible punishment!

As John preached, the people realised that something new was happening. Many years before a prophet called Isaiah had talked about John and written about him saying, ‘He is a voice shouting in the wilderness; ‘Prepare a pathway for the Lord’s coming! Make a straight road for Him!’’

So who was John? Could he be the Messiah himself? Was he the one they’d all been waiting for?

‘All those who turn away from their past self-centred lives and decide to live lives that please God, I baptise with water,’ John shouted. ‘But there is another person coming. And He is so much greater than me I’m not even worthy to be His slave. I baptise with water, but He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate out those who are truly children of God and those who only seem to be. Like a farmer separating the grains of wheat from the chaff they grew in, so He will separate those who love God and those who don’t. The one He will gather to Himself, but the other – like chaff – will be burnt with everlasting fire.’ So John was just a messenger – preparing the people for the coming Messiah. (PAUSE)

 One day as John was preaching, Jesus arrived to see him – and asked to be baptised! ‘Surely not!’ said John. ‘Surely you should be the one baptising me? You don’t need to be baptised, you haven’t committed any sin?’

But Jesus looked at John and said, ‘John, it must be done. I must do everything that’s right.’

Shaking his head in amazement, John took hold of Jesus and lowered Him down into the water and then back out again. And as He came up out of the water the heavens were opened and the Spirit of God, in the shape of a dove, descended and settled on Him. And as this happened so a voice from Heaven – the voice of God – thundered, ‘This is my beloved Son, I am fully pleased with Him.’ (PAUSE)

As all these wonderful things happened, the devil, or Satan – for that’s his name, listened and watched. He heard the words of God – that Jesus was His Son and that He was fully pleased with Him. And thought about how to attack Jesus and ruin God’s plans.

No sooner was Jesus out of the water, filled with the Holy Spirit and with His ears ringing with those amazing words of God, than the Holy Spirit led Him out alone into the wilderness. For now, He was to be tested – and Satan was waiting. (PAUSE)

For 40 day and 40 nights, Jesus ate nothing until he was very hungry. And it was at this point when Jesus must have been longing for food that the devil started his attack.

 ‘So you’re the Son of God are you?’ Started the devil. ‘You must be very hungry after those 40 days and 40 nights without food. Tell you what, why don’t you prove you’re the Son of God by turning those rocks over there into bread?’

It was very clever, Jesus was hungry and he surely wanted some bread to eat, but if He turned the rocks into bread, then He’d have stopped trusting God. Trusting – that no matter how hard things got, God was still in control and would look after Him. And so Jesus answered Satan with some words from the Bible. ‘No, I won’t do that!’ He said, ‘Because the Bible says, ‘People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every word of God.’

But the devil hadn’t finished. Taking Jesus to the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem he used words from the Bible for his next attack! ‘If you are the Son of God, then jump off into the valley below – because the Bible says. ‘He will order His angels to protect you. And they will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone.’

Again very clever! Satan was trying to make Jesus do something to prove He was the Son of God. Because – if Jesus did jump He’d have proved that He didn’t believe the words that God had clearly spoken to Him just 40 days before. ‘This is my beloved Son…’

But Jesus did believe God and felt no need to put it to the test, because when you believe something you don’t need to test it! And so He answered the devil with another verse from the Bible. ‘The Bible also says,’ He told him, ‘Don’t put the Lord your God to the test!’

Lastly, the devil took Jesus to the peak of a high mountain and showed him the glory of the world and the nations. ‘This is mine,’ he said. ‘And I will give it all to you – all I ask is that you kneel down and worship me.’

The devil was offering Him a shortcut! An easy way out! Jesus could kind-of fulfil what He’d come to do in one simple step. There wouldn’t be any need to face pain, rejection and death. He could be Lord of the whole world with this one simple shortcut – just bow down and worship Satan. But even though it might seem to be an easy answer, the cost would be far too high, it would cost Him His relationship with His Father in heaven – and that was a price He would not pay. So for the third time, Jesus answered the devil with words from the Bible.

‘Get out of here, Satan!’ He said, ‘For the Bible says, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.’

At this the devil left, waiting for another chance to attack Jesus.

Episode 4 – A Man Named Noah

tale2tell original Bible Stories series – Old Testament

Based on Genesis chapters 6 – 8


Today’s story happened a long time ago. It’s a story about one man who listened to God when no-one else would. What he did – made other people think he was crazy. But, because he believed God, when terrible things started to happen – he was ready when no-one else was.

At that time, nearly everyone had forgotten about God, they only thought about themselves. God saw how selfish and evil all the people were – and He was sorry that He’d ever made them. They would cheat, steal, lie and murder just to get what they wanted. God was so sad and angry with them, that He decided it was time they got what they deserved. – He was going to send a terrible flood over the whole earth to kill every living creature.

However, there was one good man, called Noah. God loved Noah and didn’t want him to be destroyed when he sent the flood. So God spoke to Noah and told him about a special plan He had to save Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives.

God told Noah that he had to build a very large ………. Well, let me explain. It’s like a boat but it isn’t exactly a boat. It’s also like a very – very large box – called an ark!

And it was to be so big – because God planned not just to save Noah and his family, but 2 of every kind of animal, bird and insect as well – a male and a female. You see God didn’t just think about saving Noah. He thought about life after the flood, and a world which needed animals, birds and insects as well as people.

The ark was to have three decks with lots of rooms on each deck, and it was to be a massive 135 metres long, 13 ½ metres tall (that’s as tall as a three or four-storey house) and 22 ½ metres wide! God also told Noah not to worry about finding the animals to go inside the ark, as He would send them to Noah at just the right time.

The next day Noah said to his three sons, ‘Go down to the forest and buy this much wood.’

‘What do you want all that wood for Dad?’ one of them asked.

‘Well you see son,’ Noah started to explain. ‘God’s told me to build … an ark …’ and he told his sons all about it.

However, the town’s people weren’t so convinced. Why was Noah, building this great big boat-like thing in the middle of one of his fields? Not only that, there were no rivers or streams nearby and it was so big that there wasn’t any hope of moving it! And what is the point of having a large boat-like thing stuck high and dry in the middle of nowhere?

The town’s people started to moan and complain and laugh at Noah. But when he tried to explain why he was building it they replied, ‘You’re mad! God’s not going to judge us!’ But Noah knew that when God says something, He always does it – and carried on building the ark.

Slowly the ark took shape. And as it did, Noah started to notice unusual animals living in unusual places! After all, it’s hard not to miss a pair of crocodiles living in your bathroom, or a pair of hedgehogs nestling on your favourite chair (let’s hope he discovered them before he tried to sit down!). God was sending the animals – just like He’d promised! So carefully Noah collected them, and after nearly losing the pigs to the tigers, he made sure he kept them well fed and in strong pens and cages! (PAUSE)

Even with this very obvious zoo appearing in Noah’s fields, the people of the town still refused to believe that God was going to judge the earth. They were even ruder to Noah about his ‘floating zoo’! But Noah trusted God and carried on working.

Eventually the day came when all the animals had arrived and all the food had been collected. It was a beautiful day, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky! Then God spoke once again to Noah. ‘Go into the ark Noah, you and your family and all the animals I’ve sent to you. In seven days time, I will send rain for 40 days and 40 nights and wipe away every living thing I’ve created.’ So Noah and his family obeyed God, and started packing the ark with food and animals. Then, with the ark finished and all the people, animals and food inside. God Himself – the God of all heaven and earth – closed the door of the ark behind them, sealing them inside. (P) And then they waited! (PAUSE)

God’s plan wasn’t just to send rain, but to flood the earth with a sudden and violent flood that would sweep away everything in its path. Without warning the rain clouds arrived and burst in torrents on the earth. Most of the town’s people were washed away immediately, but a few made it to the ark. They hammered on the side, ‘Let us in! For mercy’s sake, let us in!’

But it was too late, God had shut Noah inside the ark and nothing could be done. After a while the voices disappeared and were never heard again. (P)

Constantly, for forty days and forty nights the rain hammered down. The ark, which had once seemed so big, became a tiny speck on the surface of a vast ocean that covered the whole earth. Eventually, even the mountain tops disappeared until there was no land at all, only water and the tiny ark with its precious contents of people and animals. – The only people and animals left alive.

Then, after 40 days of constant rain, it was as if someone turned off a tap and the rain suddenly stopped, and God remembered Noah and the animals in the ark. For another 5 months the little ark floated on the water until one day, ever so gently, it came to rest on a mountain.

But even though they’d come to rest, the earth was still covered with water. So after another 40 days, Noah opened a window in the roof and sent out a dove, but it came back to him because it couldn’t find anywhere to rest. (P) A week later he sent it out again. This time it came back with a freshly picked olive leaf in its beak. Another week later he sent the dove out again. This time it didn’t come back at all.

So Noah removed the roof covering the ark, and waited another 2 months until God spoke to him once again, ‘Come out of the ark Noah, you and your family and all the animals. Fill the earth with your offspring.’

It was wonderful to be back on dry ground again after so long locked away. The animals raced off to stretch their legs and escape once and for all from that dark, smelly ark. Already trees and plants were growing and there was enough food for the animals to look after themselves. As they streaked away to find new homes and fresh food, Noah and his family also came out of the ark, thankful to be able to leave it behind but even more thankful to God that He’d saved them from the flood.

And when they’d come out, Noah said a very special ‘Thank You’ to God for looking after them all. This ‘thank you’ pleased God and God made a promise, He promised that He would never again judge the whole earth as He’d done this time – even though people were still selfish and evil inside. He promised that the earth would carry on as it should, with summer and winter, springtime and harvest for as long as the world remained. And He gave Noah and his family a special sign to remind them that He would never break His promise. This sign can still be seen today, it’s the rainbow! Whenever Noah saw a rainbow, he’d remember God’s promise.

And today, when you see a rainbow, you can remember that it tells us that God still always keeps His promises.