His Voice from the Cross #3

MOTHER TO SON TO MOTHER
by J. Quisumbing

For the prisoner, it seemed like days that he had been hanging on the cross. In actuality, it’s been 3 hours since he was nailed to this cross. He had lost all feelings on his hands but his shoulders felt like they were out of their sockets. As to his feet, it was more a dull numbing ache until he shifts, of which, shooting pain would throb up to his knees. But it was his ripped up back that caused him the sharpest pain. For every breath, he had to push down on to his legs, making his torn back scrape against the rough splintered wood.

The hot afternoon sun was beating down on his brow, drying up the blood over his eyes, encrusting them shut. His hearing was picking up the sounds of the nearby guards and the occassional mocking insults from among the spectators.

Then, he heard an echoing female voice, like the way you would hear in a tunnel saying, “My son, my son…”

At first, it sounded distant. Then…

“My son, my son… what have they done to thee?” the voice said weepingly.

The prisoner recognized the voice right away and it was a lot closer. He cracked open one eye and had to wait for the blurring to clear. As it cleared, he saw that the guards allowed some women and a man to come very close. Amongst them was his mother.

Seeing her brought back a flood of memories.

He remembered seeing her smile as she held out her arms to catch him as he took his first steps. He recalled the many stories she told him of how the Lord’s angel came to her to declare of his coming and of how shepherds of Bethlehem came to see him newly born laying in a manger told to do so by the same angel. More memories came, but one in particular pushed forward.

It was at the time of his ‘bar mitzvah’, when his mother and step father took him for the first time to the great city to partake in the Passover. After the week long celebration was over, he seperated from his family as they ventured home, lost in his desire to seek more knowledge of his heavenly father by holding deep discussions with the religious teachers of the great Temple. They were astounded by this young boy’s questions and understanding of Scriptures. After three days, his mother and step father arrived looking for him. When they approached him, he remembered the look of worry and anguish on his mother’s face. His step father later explained about his mother’s anguish look to him that when he was a babe of 40 days, they brought him to the Temple for his dedication. They were met by an old man who was promised by God that before he died, he would see God’s salvation. He prophesied to his mother of the prisoner’s ultimate destiny which would be like a sword piercing her soul.

As the first-born, he determined to keep her safe especially after he was physically gone. His step father had passed away when he was a young man. His sisters were all married and would not be able to take care of her in her old age. His brothers… he knew with certainty… would die, one by one, by martyrdom. His mother should be spared from being alone. But who?

His eyes shifted to the man who accompanied his mother and the other women. He knew him so well and his heart lightened because he is here. He is trying to be brave but he could tell by the dampness of his cheeks, he is breaking inside. Oh, how the prisonner loved this man. He remembered when this young man first came to him. Once he was a follower of the Baptist, but after the Baptist identified the prisoner’s true identity, he eagerly sought out the prisoner. For three years, the young man followed him in his ministry through every village and every city, preaching the Good News. He became one of the chosen Twelve. From them, he was the one most beloved. And more importantly, because he alone from among the Twelve is here risking his life, he alone will not die by martyrdom. He will be perfect.

The prisoner braced his legs then pushed his torn back up against the cross to breathe. He looked at his mother and said…

Woman, behold thy son...

Then he looks at the one he loved and said…

Behold thy mother.

John 19:26–27


Author’s Note:

I really hope we can have a conversation. Please contact me here at Facebook MESSENGER by audio. Scheduled small group chats can also be organized as well. Or send me a message HERE.

His Voice from the Cross #2

THE THIEF’S GOSPEL
by J. Quisumbing

The thief was getting less groggy now. He remembered drinking some offered wine that tasted sharp and quite acrid. This wine usually was offered to the condemned before the crucifixion to deaden the pain. It didn’t work fast enough.

Now, that his mind cleared, he had to cope with the pain. To do this, he busied himself by scrutinizing his surroundings. He did this very well, especially when he cased a place he wanted to rob.

Execution hill, he knew so well. He had watched the conquerors kill many of his people on this hill since he was a boy. He shook his head. He never thought that he himself would ever end up here.

He looked to his right. He saw no other crosses. He looked to his left and saw only two. He recalled more crosses on this hill and along the road in the past. He was situated on the farthest cross on the right facing the busy road that went into the city. He saw that his partner in crime was on the farthest cross to the left. The middle one was occupied by a man he could not recognize. By the look of him, the conquerors must really hate him. He was definately flogged and on his head was a makeshift crown of thorns. The thorns were at least an inch long and they clearly embedded deep into his scalp. Blood covered his face. He asked himself, why do they despise him so? And not just them, as well. From the big crowd below, he recognized the well dressed leaders and high level priests of his people hurling insults at him. The only other person that could irritate them so, was a roving rabbi from Galilee.

He quickly looked back at him with his eyes wide open. They are crucifying Him! He heard him teach a number of times in the Temple Courts about the Kingdom of Heaven. Oh, he so wished that he could go there, but because he was a career thief, the religious teachers would say otherwise. He believed them and felt that he could not change and there was no hope for him. Until he witnessed something incredible.

He was hiding in a robber’s hole in a quarry used as burial sites for the rich from a nearby village. He and his parter were being hunted by soldiers who almost caught them ransacking their quarters. The thief was holing up in his hole when he observed a funeral procession of a young man from a rich family. Four days later, a large crowd of people gathered around the the burial site of that young man. Among the crowd was the rabbi. The thief was intrigued and decided to come out of his hiding hole.

He watched the rabbi instruct his followers to roll the grave coverstone away even after the cautionary advice of decaying odor from a 4 day old corpse. After the stone was rolled away. The rabbi looked up and prayed, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 11:41-42)

Then he called into the tomb and commanded that the dead man come forth. At first, nothing. Then from the inside the darkness, he could just make out some slight grayish movement. He felt the hairs on his back stand up. The crowd was startled with women screaming as a bound hand came out of the darkness grasping the entrance wall. The rabbi reached in, grasped the other hand and helped the struggling bound man out. He brought this man back to life.

They say that the rabbi from Galilee may be the Messiah. He was never a good student so he was not exactly sure what a Messiah is. But if a Messiah does what this rabbi did, he is truly worthy of following. He could change for him. The thief did make the decision to turn a new leaf. He was so elated that he did not even notice that he was surrounded by soldiers. Apparently these soldiers already arrested his partner who told them where he was.

Then he heard his partner hurl insults at the rabbi, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

Then the thief bolstered himself up and called out. “Do you not fear God 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.”

Then he noticed that the prisoner on the center cross was looking towards him. He did not say anything, but the thief felt that the prisoner was waiting for him to say something. The thief took a swallow and said, “Lord… remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Then the prisoner said…

“Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)


Author’s Note:

The Bible does not really say what else happened to that thief on the cross except that before the day ended, his legs were eventually broken by the executioners to hasten their deaths. He died. And that’s it.

But allow me to surmise based on all biblical stories of those that believed in Him who gave Himself on the cross. I can imagine the thief dying with no fear and then waking up in the middle of a beautiful garden that he had never experienced ever. In that place of paradise, which I truly believe is the Garden of Eden, the thief and those that believe after would find the Lord there smiling. I confess that I myself had dreams of that place. But that is a subject for another time.

Take note that the story from the perspective of the thief is the product of my creative writing, however the quotes are from the King James Version Bible.

I really hope we can have a conversation. Please contact me here at Facebook MESSENGER by audio from 3-5pm Monday to Friday. Scheduled small group chats can be organized as well. Or send me a message HERE.

His Voice from the Cross #1

HIS INCREDIBLE PLEA
by J. Quisumbing

The prisoner’s back was on fire. More than an hour ago, he endured a scourging of 25-30 lashes. He lost count. The whip used was the cat o’ nine tails, an odious punishment tool made up of nine knotted thongs of leather with jagged pieces of metal and bones embedded in the strips. Each stroke was relentless especially when the one wielding it was so enraged because the prisoner made no noise above a moan.

His vision blurred again. By the taste of salt on his lips, he knew that more blood was profusely pouring down over his eyes from the puncture wounds on his scalp. Shutting his eyes tight and blinking a couple of times, his vision somewhat cleared. Looking ahead, he could just make out the infamous execution hill which he knew was north of the city about half a mile from the city gate. Some say that this hill looked like a half buried skull hence its name.

A little strength seem to be coming back to his bruised and cut up legs especially when the heavy burden that he was carrying on his already torn up shoulder was alleviated by the overseers. Earlier, they saw that the prisoner may not make it to execution hill because he was stumbling, falling and getting even weaker with every step he took. So, they stopped the procession, grabbed an unsuspecting spectator from amongst the crowd and forced him to carry the prisoner’s burden which was a roughly hewn cross.

The prisoner finally reached the crest of the hill. He was shoved to where the cross that he carried most of the way was laid out on the ground. Men in red tunics were busily preparing it. He turned his eyes towards a commotion on his left. Another prisoner was screaming out in pain as his hands and feet were impaled onto another cross. Hearing a grating sound to his right, he turned his head to watch another cross being erected, the bottom of which fell into a carved hole on the stony ground. It made a heavy thud sound causing the prisoner already nailed and hanging from it to scream out in agony.

He was then stripped of his outer garments leaving just a loin cloth to cover him. Then, he was roughly shoved down onto the cross. He winced as his bare torn back touched the rough surface of the cross. He braced himself with expectation as his arms were stretched out onto the cross beam. Strong calloused hands pinned his forearms down with his palms facing up. The executioners then simultaneously set the tips of nine inch iron spikes over the prisoners’ wrists. They then, simultaneously pounded those nails through his wrists, expertly missing the arteries with no bones broken. The pain was indescribable.

The executioners turned their attention to his feet. First, they tied his knees together. Then, they bent his legs a little to the left about a quarter of the way up. They rested his feet on an anchored triangle shaped wooden block. With one foot over another, they drove another long spike through, pinning them securely on the sloped block.

Just as he was bearing up to the pain of those spikes being driven into his skin, his own cross was lifted up and manhandled into position. The jarring effect brought even more excruciating pain bringing him to tears and then blacked out.

When he came to, he was gasping for air. He was not breathing properly. His chest felt compressed as he hung there with arms stretched up and his legs were limp. He realized that he can inhale but not exhale. He knew he had to put weight on his feet to exhale. But as he did so his torn back rubbed against the splintered wood, causing a constant stabbing into the open raw flesh. As painful as it was, he knew he had to do it regardless the pain he had to endure.

Then the taunts came.

From his high vantage point, he can see the north road busy with passersby going to and fro from the city. Most of them joined in with the mingling crowd that continued to hurl insults at him.

Someone in a rich robe shouted, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself!” Many laughed and shook their heads. Others mockingly called him the king of the Jews and that he should come off that cross to rule them. It went on and on, and even the condemned men left and right of him joined in. (Matthew 27)

Then another voice said, “Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”

The prisoner recognized that voice. It was the same voice that tried to tempt him during his time of fasting in the wilderness some three years ago. He said, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.”

In his ear, he can hear that same tempter taunt him. “Son of God,” he would whisper, “You have at your command, legions of angels just waiting for you to give the order to destroy those that have done this against you. These creatures are not worthy of your love. See how they mock you. Elijah once asked God to send down fire upon his enemies who mocked him. You command the elements. Reveal your glory to them and watch them grovel in the ground and beg for forgiveness. Do you not see these people?”

He does see them. He looks down at the overseers laughing among themselves and callously gambling over his garment. He cannot get himself to hate them. Then, he scanned the crowd who continue to jeer at him. He saw their pettiness & shallowness; their angers & fears; their ignorance, their frailty & many faults. He also saw inside their hearts and he knew they were lost and hungry for a better life. He once told his disciples that what he saw in people was a flock without a shepherd. He saw each of them as created in God’s image. No, he could not condemn them. He knew that one day, the time of judgment will come, but not yet.

He peered up at the sky. The sky was clear but in the distance he could see angry clouds forming. He knew that his Holy Father was angry and rightly so.

The prisoner braced his legs and painfully lifted his body up. He breathed in, looked up to Heaven and said…

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)


Author’s Note:

Holy Week is just around the corner. Every Week until Resurection Sunday, I will post a story on the last words of this prisoner who hung on a rugged cross and paved a way for you and me who believe to everlasting life.

I really hope we can have a conversation. Please contact me here at Facebook MESSENGER by audio from 3-5pm Monday to Friday. Scheduled small group chats can be organized as well. Or send me a message HERE.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch23 – part 4

THE HARDEST CHOICE – Golgotha

By the time Jesus reached the top of the hill, they already hung the two thieves who were wailing in pain. The executioners quickly took hold of him, stripped him down to his loin cloth and laid on the cross. Cornelius had to fight the urge to not drawing his weapon on them, but instead stood there stone-faced as they drove nails into his wrists. He expected him to scream in pain, but as they pounded on the nails all he did was quietly moan. Once his feet was nailed onto the post, it took eight men to maneuver the bottom of the cross to the hole on the ground and lift the cross on a standing position.

The north-road and the environs around the execution hill were filled with people. Many of them were the chief priests and their lackies. When a soldier climbed a ladder to mount a sign on Jesus’ cross that said ‘Here is Jesus, King of the Jews’, they protested loudly. They demanded that the sign be changed to ‘Here is Jesus who claims that I am King of the Jews.’

Cestus was quite disgusted about the festive mood of the passers-by and those who came to watch Jesus on a cross.

“Just last week, they hailed and welcomed him to the city. Now, they celebrate him hung on a cross. Disgusting!”

The chief priests and their lackies fed this festivities by continually hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” Others were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” [Mark 15:29-32]

The people laughed.

The soldiers too were enjoying themselves by dividing up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man should take.

Then Cornelius heard Jesus speak as he called out, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” [Luke 23:34]

Cornelius’ heart broke to hear him who is in agony think kindly of those who are mocking him and even those who are killing him.

Even the thief who hung on Jesus’ left was mocking him, calling to save him from the cross. But then the other thief rebuked saying, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he looked at Jesus and said, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”

Then Jesus weakly said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” [Luke 23:40-43]


The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q