Fiction by Gary Piper
Tossing and turning Jesus tried over and over to go to sleep but he couldn’t shut his mind off. The more he tried to calm himself the faster it raced. Had he done enough? Would his message be remembered? Would the disciples be able to carry on where he left off? Would the raising of Lazarus over shadow the meaning of his own death? On and on his mind raced faster and faster.
Suddenly the sounds of the night and the twinkling of the stars formed a symphony of peace and his thoughts began slowing down. The warm spring breeze blew across his face taking him beyond time into realms of eternity. Gazing heavenward he recalled He and his Father forming and shaping each star. Stars are like people he thought each one is different, each one has it’s own story, each radiates it’s own light, yet each star received it’s power from the same source, the Creator.
One of the disciples stirring in his sleep broke Jesus’ concentration coming to a sitting position he breathed a sigh of relief as he saw his Heavenly Father gently touch each one. However, there were only eleven he slowly started looking for the twelfth one. Seconds later against the starlit horizon he saw the silhouette of the missing disciple. He instantly recognized him as Judas then without warning suddenly a cold wind swept across the camp. As the wind chilled him, Jesus heard a familiar voice, “I will win Son of God, you will die and I will win then I will be the Son of God,” he recognized the voice from his temptations.
Silently Jesus prayed for Judas about half way through his prayer he was stricken by a stabbing pain shooting through his heart. He had suspected Judas would be the one for some time because he was most vulnerable to Satan’s trickery and treachery. Judas was a faithful follower but in mind and body only not spirit. Softly and tenderly the Mighty Starman, the Creator, the Son of God cried for his friend. “Father, please forgive him,” he prayed as the pain of the coming crucifixion weighed on his heart.
Deep in his spirit he heard the words of another familiar voice, “Do not worry my Son all heaven prays for you and awaits your return.”
As the pain rapidly faded Jesus smiled at his sleeping friends and said aloud, “It will be good to be home again Father.” Minutes later he fell asleep.
As the borrowed donkey clip-clopped down the road toward Jerusalem. Jesus sat tall in the saddle made of cloaks from people walking with them. Questions were fired at him from all sides, people who were ill cried for help. A couple of times the disciples had to push back the crowd. But Jesus sat silent, almost as if he was miles away. Occasionally his eyes would meet someone else’s and he would break his concentration temporally to say a silent prayer. The person would then shout, “Thank you, Jesus I’m healed.” But for most of the ride Jesus sat in silence, his mind was thinking of times past.
He remembered learning from and working with his dad in the carpenter shop. One day as they were building a plow somehow a nail jumped into his hand and Joseph hit it with a hammer. Even now his face winced as he looked down at the scar. He wondered if the pain would be the same when they nailed him to the cross.
He remembered hearing stories in the market place about the coming Messiah. “Israel will rule the world,” they would say.
“No power on earth will ever be able to make slaves of us again,” another would say.
“I wonder when he will come, things are getting worse and worse,” someone else shouted.
“Why can’t we tell them mother?” Jesus would ask.
“Because the time is not right. God will choose the time and hour for you,” she would always say.
Jesus smiled when he recalled the wedding where she had him do his first miracle. “God’s time indeed,” he laughed. His mother sure was proud of who he was. Tears began rolling down his cheek as he thought about what all this was doing to her.
“Your spiritual growth Jesus must be the most important part of your life, you must grow in spiritual stature and spiritual wisdom,” he recalled his parents saying over and over again.
He remembered asking, for the first time what spiritual growth meant. “To grow spiritually means to experience God in every aspect of your life as well as the lives of all of God’s people, and in world,” was their answer. Then he smiled to himself as he remembered his forty days in the wilderness when he and his Father in Heaven really got to know each other.
As he looked around at the ever growing crowd he thought how each one was walking in his own wilderness. Tears again began running down his cheek as he saw God seeking them. His heart ached because they only experienced the moment.
For the first time since he set out for Jerusalem he was starting to get depressed. Then in less than a heart beat a face flashed across the panorama of his vision. It was an ordinary face, a face in pain and without hope. The face became covered with an ugly black veil and died. Then he was suddenly transported to the cross and he saw the same face but this time the face was covered by a pure white veil it was alive. Gone was the pain, gone was the hopelessness. Somehow He felt the power to keep going coming from the face and his depression was replaced with a renewed resolve to keep going. “That face will live only if I keep going,” he said to himself. Then another strange thing happened time seemed to stop and the vision began repeating itself each time with a different face yet with all the same characteristics. And each time he grew stronger and stronger. Millions and millions of faces later it stopped. And the last face lingered for a little longer than the rest. “These are the reasons I must go on,” he said to himself. (Oh, by the way the last face he saw was yours.)
On and on he went and with each step of the donkey he became stronger and stronger, in fact never had he ever felt this much strength. One after another the experiences of his life filtered through his mind. Once in awhile he would stop and turn one over and over and relish it.
A few days ago he asked the disciples who he really was. It seemed like forever before they answered, but suddenly Peter shouted out, “You are the Son of God.” As Jesus relived the moment, he spotted Peter in front clearing the path. He began praying, “The events of the next week will take Peter to the edge of destruction, so I pray for him, Father. Hold him fast in your heart and give him the strength he will need to go on.”
By now the crowd had grown by many people all shouting, “Hail to the King! Hail to the one who had come to free us. Long live the Messiah.”
Suddenly he felt someone touch his leg, “Master, you must get the crowd to quiet down. Please talk to them, they are drawing to much attention and there are enemies in our midst,” said the voice.
Jesus turned and recognized the man as one of the Pharisees who had started to believe in him following the raising of Lazarus. He also knew that the events taking place this morning must happen. In one way the words were like the stones Elijah used to build an altar. And on the other hand they were like the stones used to stone people to death. “I cannot,” he replied, “For if I did all the stones would cry out. I have come into this world for this purpose, and for this purpose I must leave this world. For I fear not fulfilling my purpose more than I fear my enemies.”
A short time later Jesus began to feel the presence of someone he knew well. Their last face to face meeting happened shortly after Jesus left the wilderness. He turned and came eye to eye with Satan. “Son of God,” Jesus heard Satan say, “Your reign will be short lived and the time is coming when I will be the Son of God. All these people will be shouting for me, because you will be dead.”
“You will never win, I have come so that these people may have eternal life,” Jesus replied.
Satan continued, “In a week you will be in the grave which is my domain. For all eternity I will have power over you just has I have power of all these people. Even if you raise yourself from the dead, as you say you will you will die again just as Lazarus will. I will win in fact I have already won.”
To the casual observer Jesus just appeared to be riding as he has been for quite awhile, no one knew of the conflict he was already waging for their lives.
“You are not the keeper to the keys of life and death. You will have no claim on the grave you will have no claim on death. Life began the instant God breathed into these people his breath. Death began when people choose to expel that breath. I have come so that man can once again experience the breath of God. At my death there will be a wind that will blow on the earth that has not blown since the day man was created. If these people so choose to inhale that eternal breath, death will have no power over them. If they choose not to they will spend all eternity with you, now be gone Satan,” Jesus commanded.
“I will go for now, but you and I will meet again and then you will see I will be the victor,” and he was gone.
As they approached the city Jesus thought about all that God had done for him during his life on earth. He thought about his love. He thought about the peace God had given him during those times when the world and those around him offered none. He thought about the great blessings God had in store for Jerusalem. And then he looked around as saw that Isaiah was right people had their eyes open but they did not see, they heard but they did not listen. “If you, even you had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes,” he cried out loud.
From a distance God watched as his holy city changed into an evil monster as it swallowed his Only Begotten Son. Then barely audible the entire audience of heaven heard a familiar voice, “He is mine now, and he will die.”
Turning to God the Arch Angel replies, “We are all ready for battle Creator, just give us the word.” But as Jesus slipped into gates of the city the lips of the mighty Creator remained silent.