We Want a King Pt.6

I’ve always been afraid to feel. I’ve dodged feelings most of my life. I’ve numbed myself for so long that this day is terrorizing me. I’ve awakened to my own nightmares.

I passed out once already. I don’t know how long I was out, but I was awakened by the cold splashing of vinegar on my face as another nail was driven into my other wrist. I screamed and spit at the executioners. They bound my feet and nailed them too.

When they lifted up the cross and let it drop into the hole, I passed out again.

I’m awakened again, but by the screaming of the thief two crosses down. He’s cursing and thrashing like someone trying to hasten their death. God is being blasphemed in words I wouldn’t dare utter.

I hurt. Excruciatingly I hurt. The pain I was most afraid to feel, however, is the pain that weighed on me heavier than the cross I carried up this hill. 40 years of grief, of sorrow, of sin, of guilt, of shame. This pain I cannot bear. These are blows of a damning variety, and they have bludgeoned my soul more than the Roman executioners could ever bludgeon my back.

There’s a crowd gathered below our crosses. The man in the middle…they’re calling him the “King of the Jews.” ……Jesus??…..

People are taunting him to come down from the cross and save Himself. The thief on his other side has joined the jeering. The crowd below is full of mockers…except the small band of women and a handful of men whose attention is transfixed in mournful silence on the man in the middle.

Listen, I don’t know who this man in the middle really is. I have only ever believed what the religious rulers said about him (a lesson learned too late about trusting them to tell the truth), but something tells me this man is hanging here because of a lie and he is innocent, and although lies incriminated me, I’m hanging here because of the truth…I’m guilty.

“Save yourself! Save us all!!” sneered the crucified thief.

I breathed in a sharp shallow breath. “Don’t you fear God,” I yelled to the thief two crosses down, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve! But this man has done nothing wrong!”

I shocked myself. I shocked the crowd below…but not the ones gathered at Jesus’ feet. Their eyes met mine with pain-filled approval.

My head is spinning…my heart is aching…

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Those are the first words I have heard from Jesus.

He’s forgiving sin? Is he really who John the Baptist said he was “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world?” Could he forgive mine? He’s calling God his father…

Flashes of images, conversations, sound bytes are flooding me all at once…The adulterous woman…He forgave her….”Your Messiah will come to you riding on the foal of a donkey”….”If I by the finger of God cast out devils, surely the kingdom of God has come unto you.” “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except by me…” I heard the Roman guards quoting him while in my prison cell…

My lungs are losing capacity. My conscience has condemned me. My guilt has stabbed my heart and I’m bleeding out…but hope is rising in me…

“Jesus, if you really are a king, the Son of God, the Messiah, remember me when you come into your kingdom!” I cried out.

Jesus answered me, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

***************

“As if a million rivers washed me, all my guilt was swept away, as this Savior in His mercy somehow carried all my pain.

And the Father God embraced me, and I heard Him call me “son”, because the penalty of  sin was now resting on that One…

Jesus, the man in the middle.”

I wanted a king…I needed a savior.

Three crosses“He paid a debt He did not owe. I owed a debt I could not pay.”* (Crum)

*”He Paid a Debt He Did Not Owe” © 1977 Ellis J. Crum, Publisher (Admin. by Sacred Selections R.E. Winsett LLC)

 

Advertisements

We Want a King Pt. 5

My death sentence was handed to me today.

There’s not enought time! My whole life…every dream, every hope, my plans….ripped from me! I curse Caiaphas! I curse Pilate! I curse the entire Roman Empire! Tyrrants! Blood-sucking murderers! My life has been diseased by the edicts and trickery of the leaders in this nation…

Death row gives you time to think.

I was nine when Herod ordered baby boys ages 2 and under to be murdered in my village. My mother was nursing two twin boys, who were 15 months old when that Heinous Villain ordered his police force to break into homes to slaughter Jewish boys. I wasn’t strong enough to fight them off, and I’ll never forget how my mother screamed when they tore those boys away from our arms. She threw herself at the feet of the commanding officer and begged for their lives. He kicked her. He kicked her so hard she hemorrhaged from the inside out, and she was never able to bear children again. I spit and swore and fought with all my might, but I couldn’t stop them. I couldn’t save my brothers…

We were never the same. My mother “disappeared” after that–stolen away by depression, and numbness. I could never get her back. My father, who was gone when the murders came, could never make sense of it all and drank himself to death within a year. But I, I, on the other hand, decided I would never be a fool of this regime! What they stole from me, I would steal 100 fold in my lifetime. But I would be clever!

Now I’m in the same prison as Barrabas, that infamous murderer and I feel as poisoned as he in my heart.

Am I bitter? Heck, yes! Now I’ve been betrayed by the ones who supposedly are closest to God! I’ve been sold out in exchange for what? For what?

My every waking thought is murder, darkness, destruction, hatred, bitterness, envy, and pride…and severe regret. No, I’m not innocent. But death? Crucifixion?

Tomorrow I’ll carry my cross. Tomorrow  I will die alone. Not even God is going to look my direction. I’m a lying, murdering thief. I know it now, and it’s too late.

We Want a King Pt.4

Part 4 of a short story for Holy Week

I’m an idiot! I should have known better!

Passover is happening in the city this week. Pilgrims from all over are gathering here in Jerusalem to celebrate with family and loved ones. The town is inundated with tourists, and every market buzzing with the fresh clientel. Of course a person in my line of work gets a little excited. In large groups you can do a little pushing and shoving, and lifting of belongings without much notice.

Of course the Roman government would “up” their security measures during this holiday. He must have been a new guard on the policing force because he was cocky, and I didn’t recognize him. At least I hadn’t seen him before. But he saw me. I was helping an older gentleman “offload” his cart in the market place. I helped him offload a few of his coins too when his back was turned. Petty theft, I was sure. But this guy blew it all out of proportion! I’ve been arrested!

I thought that Caiaphas, the High Priest, should be able to get me out of this. I’ve done a few jobs for him, and surely he needs my help if he is going to successfully get rid of that Jesus character. But I should have known that Pharisees have no loyalties. Instead of coming to my defense, Caiaphas sent false witnesses to my jail cell who have now blown my cover and exposed me as a criminal. Why would he do this to me? Instead of standing trial for petty theft, I am now going to stand trial for all of my crimes! What is happening to me? How did I become so disposable?

I’ve always had an alibi! I’ve done so much good for the Jewish rebellion. It can’t be ending like this for me. I know the penalty for thieves like me…

To add insult to injury, the only topic I hear talked about in this prison cell is that man Jesus. Some have said he is a miracle worker who has come from God Himself. The stories they are telling are extravagant. There’s no way that so many miracles could be attributed to one guy. I saw the man. He was riding on a donkey! There was nothing powerful about him. He gets his influence from the stupidity of people. That’s all.

This is madness! I’ve got to get out of here!

 

 

We Want a King Pt.3

Part 3 of a short story for Holy Week

National pride is a beautiful thing. Especially when you know what you could be as a country, or what you used to be. It’s the stuff post cards are made of, and wall calendars that hang in our homes.  Our balladeers sing the songs of the glory days, and we listen with longing. This is where we freedom fighters draw our inspiration. We’ve got to get our country back!

Okay, I’ll be honest. I started out a Freedom Fighter, but I got a little jaded, and maybe a little greedy. When you start showing some initiative to make changes, some of the most interesting people come out of the woodwork. Cash starts exchanging hands for “secret operations,” and I’m talking BIG cash! That’s when I learned about the how deep the treasury is with the religious ruling class. Oh, they’ll pay alright, but their “jobs” are some of the most devious. But hey, for the right price, I can be devious!

You know, when you’ve got nothing to live for, you can be bought for the right price. Some people call it “selling your soul”, I just call it making a living. Everyone knows outside of a miracle, there just isn’t any future here. I hate to have to live like a thief, (sort of), but a man has to make a buck. Heck, I’ve got nothing but what I aquired with my own hands–legally or not, and I’m sure not giving it up for some big government. I’m not going to be their slave! No, I’ll be a thief before I’ll be a slave!

Judas Iscariot, was one of those guys who joined the rebellion early on, but then he just seemed to disappear. I found out recently that he has been hanging out with that Jesus guy, and I thought, “That’s interesting! What the heck is Judas doing? “True, I’ve never seen a homeless man with as much influence as Jesus, and He does have quite a big following these days, especially now that the Jewish community wants to make him king! Then I learned Judas was the treasurer for that entire band of men who followed Jesus! “That Rascal! I should have become better friends with that guy!”

Jesus….He’s aquiring quite a following, but He is political suicide! Judas better play his hand well, because I don’t think that Jesus will be around much longer if you know what I mean. Judas picked a loser, but he may still make a buck yet.

You got to hand it to people like Judas and me. We found a way to provide for ourselves while sticking it to the man! We are inside saboteurs! You’ll probably read about our names in history some day. We are a different kind of “war hero.”

 

 

We Want a King Pt. 2

Part 2 of a short story series for Holy Week.

What I love about political turmoil, is that you can take advantage of the fears of people. I mean, when people are insecure about their futures, you can make them any kind of promise, and they will latch on to it. The promise becomes a distraction of sorts, because while people have their hopes set on the promise, you can steal their rights out from under them. Yes, political turmoil contains just the right conditions for thieves. That’s why I got in the business.

Dominating powers pay well to have their agendas pushed. I am fortunate to work for the ruling religious class of my day. I wouldn’t call myself religious, but I’ll fake it for the cash. Pharisees are pretty eager to spend their fortunes if it means buying themselves position, and as a thief I’m pretty apt to accept their deals.

It’s just too easy, I mean really! Take for instance the political rally yesterday when that guy Jesus came riding through town on a donkey. The crowd went wild! They were shouting and dancing, waving palm branches, and making such fools of themselves falling all over this guy, that they weren’t minding their wallets, their children, or their houses back home. Well, I wasn’t exactly “on the time clock” yesterday, but, come on, it was too much of a temptation not to pass up. I stole some things. Okay, I stole a lot of things…for myself. Every good thief needs to be tipped once in a while.

I don’t know what people see in this Jesus guy. I’ve heard that he supports paying taxes to Caesar. Not only that, when corporal punishment was due for an adulteress caught in the act, (a scenario I helped set up with the Pharisees for a handsome sum), Jesus refused to stone her, and somehow pursuaded the others with rocks in their hands to put them down and walk away. Absurd! This is who they want for king?

I usually keep my political views to myself, so forgive me, but there are lots of things about this guy that just don’t add up. However, I’ve heard some of my bosses talking about getting rid of Jesus…now that’s a paycheck that might add up just right. Who cares about politics when cash is being doled out, right?

We Want a King

A short story series for Holy Week

I think I get it now. Our country is run by tyrants. We believe we can be better than this. We have a dream for a better country…one without oppression, where our children can grow up in freedom and opportunity. A country where everyone lives from the same moral page, and the Golden Rule is still esteemed.

We have some fighters among us trying to start a revolution, but we are getting weary having to wait.

Whoever our next leader is has to be strong. He has to be able to throw off the oppression of the over-reaching government. He has to re-calibrate our monetary systems and get rid of the dishonest scales and the pilfering tax collecting agencies. He must be strong and give us national pride again. Give us something to believe in!!

They say our next leader is riding in today from the East Gate of the city on a donkey. You can be sure we will be there lining the streets. We have large palm branches to wave, and slogans to shout!

“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!!”

Oh, did you think I was talking about America?

Yes, this candidate looks very promising!! He appears humble now, we just need to see if he has any military training. Someone said he once kicked dishonest merchants out of our local religious temple by making a whip out of cords and throwing tables over. Yes, we could use a guy like that in our national government! Clean up house!!

What we need is more force! More “in your face”leadership! Someone who can’t be bullied! Someone who is willing to unite our country again. We want a king!!

“Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!!!”

…….

If this guy can’t get the job done, I say we kill Him. We’d be better off to release a murdering criminal back into society than deal with another lame candidate.

Lucky for us, crosses are being constructed this week.palm branches

Welcome to Holy Week. AD 30