SIMON THE LEPER part 3

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

In the days of King David to the Judean exile to Babylon, this city was both the legendary king’s residence and government buildings. Most of the palaces were torn down by the invading Babylonians. Only a few government buildings were still standing. Then, when the exiles returned, the old city was rebuilt but remnants of David’s line did not rebuild the palaces. By the time the Romans came, the City of David was mostly made up of the residences of the rising middle class.

They rode through the old city’s porticos, then Simon stopped the wagon in-front of one of the surviving 3-story government building which he had taken over. A servant came out to tie the mule to a hitching pole. Both Simon and Lazarus alighted off the wagon and entered the building.

“Master?” said a stout man slowly getting up from behind a wide desk. “We were not expecting you for a couple of days.”

“I know, I know Joral,” Simon said. “Lazarus and I are here in the city to see my cousin at the Temple. Since we were in the neighborhood, I thought I’d check on the renovations upstairs.”

Joral trailed behind them as they crossed the lower floor where laborers were busy unpacking bundles of processed wheat husks. Some of them carried several bundle to an adjoining room where a millstone can be seen moving in circle.

“How many bags of flour produced today?” Simon asked Joral as they ascended a grand staircase.

“Only about 9 bags. One of our asses became ill. We had to wait for a replacement.”

“You see, my son,” Simon said to Lazarus. “This business requires constant overseeing. If Joral was not here, there could have been a longer delay in fulfilling the order. This is why you must pay more attention and remember that the clothing you wear and everything else comes from this business.”

“Yes father,” he said with a slight hint of exasperation.

Simon was smiling inside when they reached the second floor. The went down a hallway a little to where they can hear hammering. Jorel pushed open ornately carved double doors to reveal a vast room.

“As you can see, Master. They took down the walls of 3 rooms to form this large room. I believe this room can hold over a hundred people.”

“Excellent, Jorel. This large room should bring in some extra revenue. When will they finish the renovations?”

“In 3 months or so, Master.”

“Good… just in time for the summer festivals. Very well, we must go. It will be a long climb to the top of the Temple Mount.”

To be continued…

PREV


Author’s note:
Though my story is basically fiction, the character of Simon the Leper is an actual Bible personality who actually lived in Bethany, a village in Judaea on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. He is only mentioned in two verses in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark. There is no other reference of him in the Bible. So, I asked myself, ‘what was his story? How did he catch leprosy? And how was he cured?’ There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them had no names at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic liscence, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.

SIMON THE LEPER part 1

A Bible Short Story by Johann Quisumbing

The winter was in its last days in the village of Bethany just 2 miles from the busy city of Jerusalem. The last remnants of snow had disappeared around the hillsides surrounding the village. Warmer days will again bring back the greenery.

Simon, a successful and quite wealthy tradesman of barley and wheat, came out of his house just in time to meet with an incoming caravan of two dozen or so donkeys loaded with merchandise from the fields of Gilead.

He welcomed the head drover from the distant free cities up north.

Grasping his forearm in greetings, he asked, “Did you have any trouble on the route?”

“There were a couple of attempts to rob us, but your suggestion to stay close with the Roman patrol was to our advantage,” his friend exclaimed cheerfully.

“You see?” Simon chided, “the Romans are good for some things!” They both laughed together. They were discussing more business when suddenly Simon hears a delightful glee coming from the gates of his house. He turns just in time to catch the embrace of his six year old daughter who came out in excitement pointing at the packed donkeys milling around not too far away.

“Yes, yes Mary,” Simon was laughing. “You and your sister, Martha, have surprises hidden in the packs somewhere.”

“Oh, Abba! Can I see it now?” Mary asks eagerly.

“No no… My little sweet cherub. You and Martha will get your gifts later tonight. Meanwhile, did you leave your sister to do all the kitchen chores by herself again?”

Mary looks guiltily down, her sandalled foot fidgeting the dust on the ground.

Simon chuckled loudly then turns her towards the gate and said, “now, go help your sister and later after supper you can see the gift I have for you.” As Mary neared the gate, he looked around and asked her, “where is Lazarus? He was supposed to be here with me learning about the business.”

Mary stopped short and turned around looking guilty.

“Mary? Where is your brother?”

Mary quickly broke down under his continuous stare and cried out, “oh, Abba… He told me not to tell!”

“Mary? Tell me now.”

Looking down at her feet, she confessed in a quiet voice, “He went to the quarry with his friends.”

“Go along and help your sister,” he said smiling. “I promise I will not tell your brother.”

Simon spoke to the head drover for another 15 minutes while his servants unpacked two of the packed donkeys. Then he instructed him to bring the caravan to his warehouse in Jerusalem. He watched the caravan moved away, then he turned and walked towards the southern gate of his village.

Bethany is a fair sized village with many large homes belonging to wealthy people some of which were not all Jews. As Simon walked through the busy street into the marketplace near the southern gate, he was fondly greeted by his neighbors.

Simon walked through the southern gate, turned right on a gravel path then proceeded to follow it for several minutes. It was not long until he heard laughing voices of young people just below him. He walked to the edge of the pathway which looked down into the quarry pit which is also the burial sites of his family and the people in his village. There he saw his son showing off to a young girl and six other young people laughing away at his waving arms and balancing act on a loose boulder.

Simon then called out, “Lazarus!”

A young lad of about twelve years looks up then waves his hand in greeting. Simon gestures to him to come up. The young lad says goodbye to his friends and quickly worked his way up the hill to where his father was waiting.

Heaving heavily, Lazarus reached his father with a big grin on his face.

“Well, my son, did you forget that you were supposed to be with me today and learn the business that feeds you and clothe you and give you shelter over your head?”

“I am sorry, father.”

“You are coming of age. You are not an apprentice anymore. You will one day take over the business and I can retire to a ripe old age,” he said chuckling. “Come. Let us return to the village then we go to the city.”

To be continued…


Author’s note:
Though my story is basically fiction, the character of Simon the Leper is an actual Bible personality who actually lived in Bethany, a village in Judaea on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. He is only mentioned in two verses in the Gospels according to Matthew and Mark. There is no other reference of him in the Bible. So, I asked myself, ‘what was his story? How did he catch leprosy? And how was he cured?’ There are many such characters in the Bible, many of them had no names at all, but yet there are worthy stories to tell about them. With the help of some sanctified imagination and some artistic license, I felt their stories should be told especially of their faithful encounters with Jesus Christ.

His Voice from the Cross #6

STORY HEARD & BELIEVED
by J. Quisumbing

Guard duty can be quite tedious at most times thought the Praetorian especially when he is tasked to watch over anyone who is not the emperor. However, for the past few days, he and his squad of men were ordered to guard a most unusual man who came from the farthest eastern part of the empire. This man is from a strange people that only had one god. There was a small population of them in the poorest quarter of the city of Rome. Except for this man, he had very little interaction with them.

What made this man interesting to the Praetorian was that though this man was scheduled to be executed, he chose to spend his last hours spinning an incredible tale to him. Chained to the Praetorian, he told him of how the son of this one God made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Then, how he purposely became a prisoner condemned to die on a cross.*

[* Philippians 2:6-8]

This man was a master storyteller. He captured the Praetorian’s imagination by transporting him back in time to that hill with three crosses. He watched the prisoner suffer cruelly more than any other condemned on a cross. He could see his battered body; his face swollen from a beating; his back shredded by a scourging; and a crown of inch-long thorns driven painfully into his scalp. With all that had happened to him, he glimpsed the true heart of the son of this one God when he pleaded for forgiveness even when those that caused him pain deserved divine punishment (Luke 23:34). Afterwhich, he learned a lesson of grace poured out through faith, when the prisoner reassured the thief who hung on another cross that he will be with him in paradise (Luke 23:43). The Praetorian was even touched by the prisoner’s concern for his mother’s earthly needs when he entrusted her well being to his disciple’s responsibility (John 19:26-27).

The storyteller then brings his tale to the final moments. In the darkest hours of his suffering, the prisoner cried out with a loud voice inquiring why God his father had forsaken him (Matthew 27:46). The Praetorian asked if the prisoner was regretting his choices and was casting blame to the one God. The storyteller explained that the words uttered was him calling out for all to hear that prophecy was being fulfilled here. He explained that everything that the prisoner went through was planned by the one God.

He thirsted and was given a vile drink of vinegar and gall. After which he declared that it was finished (John 19:30).

The Praetorian asked, “what did he mean?”

The storyteller explained that what was finished was not only the prisoner’s earthly life, not only his suffering and dying, not only the payment for sin and the redemption of the world—but the very reason and purpose he came to earth was finished. His final act of obedience was complete as is according to the Scriptures.

“Afterwhich,” said the storyteller, “the prisoner looked up at the sky, then said…

‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.’

Luke 23:46

…And with those words he breathed his last.”

The storyteller’s head slumped forward on his chest. The Praetorian thought he fell asleep. As he gazed at the storyteller’s slumped head, his mind raced. Somehow, he was not satisfied with what he thought was an unsatisfactory end of the story. How can a God of justice doom His son to death? It made no sense to him. Then the storyteller spoke while his head was still slumped.

“Praetorian, I can guess what you are thinking,” he said. “When the prisoner spoke his last words, he showed his complete trust in his Father. You see, he set foot into death in the same way he lived each day of his life, offering up his life as the perfect sacrifice and placing himself in God’s hands. He knew with certainty that he will not be left in the grave.”

“How?” asked the Praetorian.

The storyteller’s head came up smiling. “He knew it because it was written in our Scriptures. ‘For thou wilt not leave my soul in Sheol (hell); neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.’** And sure enough, on the third day, He rose from the dead!”

[** Psalm 16:10]

“Three days! What happened to him during that time?”

“It is not easy to comprehend. Do you recall the story of Lazarus and the rich man? (Luke 16:19-31)”

The Praetorian nodded though he didn’t really understand its significance.

“That place where all dead go is called Sheol. You know it as Hades. It is written that during those three days, he went and released those who were in Abraham’s bossom. He called it paradise which was a place of comfort and rest for those that lived by faith in the old days since Adam to the thief who died on the cross beside him. After he resurrected, he eventually ascended to heaven and brought them (the ransomed dead) with him, so that now paradise is no longer down near the place of torment, but is up in the third heaven, the highest heaven, where God dwells. There, they wait and look forward to when he returns again not as Savior but as Judge to make the world right forever.” (2 Corinthians 12:2–4)

“Storyteller, I desire to be with him… with him who gave his life for me and for all of us. What do I need to do?”

He smiled and said, “You are already doing it. You have listened attentively to the story and already believed (Romans 10:17). And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6). Eternal life is yours because you believe.”

Then, they both heard voices approach the chamber they were in.

“Praetorian. My time is very close. Soon, I will be taken from here and my life will be poured out like a drink offering. You need more understanding. Go! Seek out other believers and learn from them God’s words and be blessed.”

The doors opened and other guards entered to lead the storyteller away. As they were almost out the door, the Praetorian asked, “Storyteller, what was the prisoner’s name?”

The storyteller smiled and said, “His name is…”

JESUS CHRIST

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we must be saved. [Acts 4:12]

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. [1 Timothy 2:6]


Author’s Note:

We finish my tale on His Voice from the Cross. This 6 part story, though creatively written, was based on the Bible accounts on Jesus Christ’s last few hours on the cross. The first 5 parts were from first hand perspectives but then I chose that the 6th part be from the perspective of a Roman guard hearing about Jesus’ story some 40-50 years after the crucifixion event.

The storyteller, by the way, is my imagined character of Paul who biblically shared the Gospel to his Praetorian guards even while chained to them.

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 #5

REPRIEVED & PAID IN FULL
by J. Quisumbing

It is now the ninth hour. The day had been long and tortuous. The prisoner had suffered personal humiliation from his own people when they unjustly tried him under the cover of darkness. He was abandoned by those that were closest to him except for one. He endured a punishing scourging by a wicked whip. Mocked cruelly by foreigners then crowned with an entwined ring of thorns into his scalp. Though found not guilty, he was still condemned to death as a political pawn for the corrupt. He was paraded through the city while bearing the heavy tool of his execution on his bruised shoulder. His wrists and feet were impaled on a rugged cross. And for hours, he hung there in constant torture.

As his body lost so much bodily fluids, extreme dehydration caused him to be delirious. in opening his eyes, the world began to spin until everything became very blurred. He closed his eyes but the sensation of spinning continued. He didn’t know when he lost consciousness but when he again opened his eyes, he was standing in the midst of a very bright light. It was familiar and comforting.

Then he heard an echoing voice… “Behold… the long awaited court is in session. Assemble all…”

His vision cleared and he found himself in a vast bright arena. All around him, he felt the presence of a multidude but he could not see them. Instead, his focus was at the center, where another figure waited. Though he knew this figure was of spirit, he chose to appear as a human male. The prisoner knew him as the Accuser. Then, in the middle of a round platform appeared two human beings, a male and a female. They both stood there with blank eyes. They were not aware of their surroundings nor of where they were.

The prisoner then moved to another platform that was much higher and on it was a golden bench which he knew for certain is the Seat of Judgement. With no hesitation, he sat and knew it was his rightful place. Upon sitting, he felt another presence… a much greater and familiar presence.

Then, the Accuser launched into his tirade about the human creatures before him. He spoke like he was reciting from a long long list of transgressions made not by these individuals but by humanity as a whole whom these two represent. The Accuser spoke of deeds from humanity’s past, present and future. Since time was not a factor here, the droning of his voice seem endless. However, the Accuser would, on occasion, return to the act of the first sin that started it all.

“All they had to do was not to eat of the forbidden tree. It was an easy commandment to follow. ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’* But yet they did. These are creatures that Thou hast made in Thine image. They were so easily swayed by my trickery to believe that they could be like Thee. Even when they were discovered in their sin, they cowardly blamed everyone else including Thee, Lord. The court demands that Thy justice be done here.”

[* Genesis 2:16-17]

The prisoner again felt the loving warmth coming from the greater presence that surround him. A gentle voice whispers into his ear, “Thou knowest what to do, my Son.”

The prisoner then spoke, “Accuser, you are right to say that all of humanity have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are without excuse and have earned death… eternal damnation.** As the righteous judge sitting on this holy seat, we have come to the decision… to give them the opportunity of redemption.”

[** Romans 3:23; 1:20; 6:23a]

“How, Lord?”, cried the Accuser. “Only the righteous may enter Thine own realm.”

“Again, Accuser, thou art succinct to say that there is none righteous, ney, not even one.”***

[*** Romans 3:10]

The prisoner stood up, came down off the high platform and went to stand before the man and woman. He studied their blank faces for a few moments. Then, he turned to face the Judgement Seat to find that it was filled with another who was so bright that he could not see His face, but he knew who He was.

He nodded to him and said, “I will take their place.”

Then he woke up gasping for breath. The excruciating pain is back and in full force. But he felt it no more and knew. One more prophecy to fulfill. He called out…

“I thirst.”

A soldier poured a mixture of gall and vinegar on a bundled mesh of hyssop. He secured the mesh on the tip of his spear and raised it to the prisoner’s chapped lips. As he sipped on the sickly sweet-sour drink, all he thought was ‘done’.

Then he said…

“It is finished.”

[John 19:28,30]


Author’s Note:

When the prisoner said ‘I thirst’, he fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 69:21 which says, “For my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”

And…

When he finally stated ‘It is finished’, he used the Greek term Tetelestai which means in essence that the debt of sin was paid.

I really hope we can have a conversation. Please contact me 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 #4

FORSAKEN FOR OUR SAKE
by J. Quisumbing

The disciple whom the prisoner loves was hot and sweating profusely. He slowly scanned the sky. The sun should be shinning a quarter down from it’s zenith at this ninth hour, but the sky was unusually dark due to heavy cloud cover. The heat should be normally dry which he preferred, but the humidity in the air was thick and heavy. If it felt bad for himself, (looking up to his master on the cross) how much more worse for him.

Since midnight, the disciple tried to stay with his teacher, his master… his proclaimed friend… after his arrest in the olive grove garden by the Temple guards by order of the High Priest. He followed them to the grand house of the high priest and managed to get in because he was kin to his household. It was hard for the disciple to just standby and watch him go through a contemptable farce of a trial that the religious leaders held against his master through most of the night. He hated it most when they mocked him, hit him on the head, spat on his face, then handed him over to the foreigners for execution, who nailed him to a cross on execution hill. This was where he found him when he went to fetched the prisoner’s mother.

Looking up again at the master, he saw a look that he had never seen on him before. He saw a desperate look of despair and forlorn, like he was carrying the weight of the world. Then he watched him look up, take a rasping breath and shouted out to the heavens…

Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?
(My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?)

Mark 15:34

The disciple heard scared voices from the crowd behind him. Some thought that the master was calling for Elias (Elijah). Elijah was a great prophet of old who called out for fire from heaven to smote his enemies and was carried into heaven in a fiery chariot. They searched the skies for Elijah riding on that same chariot to destroy them and save him. The disciple knew otherwise.

He recognized the master’s words from the Scriptures. It was from a psalm written by King David long time ago (Psalm 22:1). Somehow, he knew that his master, who hung on the cross in such agony was not calling out blame, but instead he was calling out for all to hear that prophecy… The Prophecy made by Isaiah (Isaiah 53)… was being fulfilled here.

The disciple understood. Many a times, the master had predicted that he would be handed over and put to death. He and the other disciples strove to prevent this from happening but to no avail. He realized that this was what the master wanted to happen. For months, the master challenged the religious leaders of their hypocrisy, daring them to act. They did act and had succeeded but it was not of their design. He gazed up at the cross. This was the Lord’s doing. This was his plan.

He now understood what the Baptist meant when he declared him to be the ‘Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world’ (John 1:29), except that unlike the lambs offered as sacrifices at the Temple, this lamb had a will. And he willed to offer himself to take our place. Tears pooled in his eyes. He thought of what his master truly had to endure. He realized that the words he uttered were not because of physical pain. The real pain was being truly cut off from the presence of God… his Heavenly Father. What was most incredible was that the Lord God turned his back on his Son for love of us. It was then he heard his master’s voice echoing in his mind saying…

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16


Author’s Note:

I really hope we can have a conversation. Please contact me 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 #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.

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #13

Obedience to Government or to God?

Acts 5:29
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men…”

There are times that I get arguments that the verse above gives us liscence to not obey the government (usually around April when it’s time to pay taxes). Of course, for some, I suspect that their motives has nothing to do with obeying God either. Nevertheless, it needs addressing.

Let’s start with a clear statement of the Lord’s will.

Romans 13:1-7
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Now, I understand that this is a hard pill to swallow especially in these problematic times when people feel betrayed by those in government. For myself, I take comfort in the words of Jesus when he said, “The truth will set me free.” And the truth is, all human beings make mistakes including those in government. So, I tend to be forgiving. Why? Well, my take on Romans 13:1-7 is that I give much credence to those in office because I trust God and leave the outcomes to Him.

1 Peter 2:13-17
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

How about the Apostle Peter’s statement above, ‘We must obey God rather than men’?

Let us look at the context of Acts 5

Acts 5
12 At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all together in Solomon’s portico…
16 The people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together as well, bringing people who were sick or tormented with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.
17-18 But the high priest stood up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public prison.
19-20 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and leading them out, he said, “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple area the whole message of this Life.”
21 Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple area about daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the Council together, that is, all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison for them to be brought. 22 But the officers who came did not find them in the prison… 25 …someone came and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple area and teaching the people!” 26 Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned).
27-28 When they had brought them, they had them stand before the Council. The high priest interrogated them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this Man’s blood upon us.”
29-32 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

Every Christian will stand on a crossroad where they will have to choose between obeying God or the government that want you go against God’s will. I pray that we choose right regardless the circumstances.

To Him be all the glory.

WORD Sent Forth #18

The Sign You’re on the Right Path

As Christians, what sign can you look for to see if you’re on the right path?

To answer this, ask yourselves, how does the world treat you right now?

Jesus illustrated that if we are to follow Him, we must walk the path that the world would not take. The world would always take the wide and easy route, but that way leads to destruction. The path that Christians should take is narrow and difficult. [Matthew 7:13-14] It is the same path that Jesus took himself and it led to the cross. What point am I trying to make?

John 15:19
If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.

The verse above is a gauge that will show you whether you’re on the right path.

Before we go on, let me say that I am NOT saying nor implying that Christians should outright declare war with the world. On the contrary, reach out to the world as witnesses of Christ, but do not be too surprise if people reject you and even persecute you.

1 John 3:13
Do not be surprised… that the world hates you.
2 Timothy 3:12
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…

Take heart, though, when you walk this part, you are in fine company.

John 15:18
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

By the way, blessings are found on this path.

Luke 6:22
Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!
Matthew 5:10-12
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
1 Peter 4:13-14
But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

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.