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.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch23 – part 5

THE HARDEST CHOICE – Golgotha

Hours past and the sky starts to darken. Cornelius noticed a commotion at the trail that came to the top of execution hill. The guards were blocking the way of some women and a man. Then he recognized the mother of Jesus and John, the youngest of the Twelve, brother of James.

Cornelius approached them and ordered the soldier, “Let them pass. It’s the condemned man’s mother.”

As he guided them up, he whispered to John, “Where are the others doing?”

“Hiding, I believe.”

“Why is she here?”

“She insisted.”

John and Mariam came close to the cross. The other women held back and wept. It was such a strain on Mariam. Her legs weakened as she looked up at her son whose face was caked with dirt and blood, almost unrecognizable.

When Jesus then saw His mother, and John supporting her, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to John, “Behold, your mother!” [John 19:26,27]

The sky became even more darker and in the distance thunder can be heard. The crowd was thinning out. By Cornelius’ reckoning, it was around the ninth hour.

Then Jesus’ chest spasmed up and he shouted, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”

Some of the bystanders heard what he shouted and they wondered if it was Elijah he was calling. And if so, will Elijah come and save him?

Jesus then called out again, “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” After he begged for a drink, he uttered one last time, “It is finished!”

The Praetorian centurion in charge was standing nearby as Cornelius went to confirm he was dead.

“He is dead,” Cornelius said.

“Certainly this man was innocent,” said the other centurion. “I was there when he was flogged. He made no sound, not even a whisper. I thought how brave he was but now, after watching all that had happened, truly this man was the son of the gods!”

Cornelius whispered to himself, “No… he was the Son of God.”


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FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 013

faithful-encounters-cover-w

ANDREW THE FIRST DISCIPLE
30 AD Jordan River Valley

“John… Are you awake?” Andrew asked.

“I am now,” he said amusingly. “I know what you are thinking. You want to leave here and search for him.”

“I have the feeling that you will argue that we don’t know what he looks like. We have no idea where to start to look for him.”

“Well… I have one idea,” John said. “We stay with the master because he knows who he is.”

“It will be hard to leave him, but I have a strange feeling we are suppose to.”

“I hope we find him soon or else our brothers will not be too happy we’re not back.”

Andrew laughed at that. “I guess we should speak to the master about returning up north before winter sets in. Simon will probably be grumpy if I, that is, we… don’t show up for Fall fishing.”

“I am sure your brother and James are killing each other as well as driving my father crazy over who is the better fisherman.”

They both laughed again. “We better get some sleep, Andrew. The morrow will be busy.”

 

Andrew was carrying some bundles into a tent. John was not far behind also carrying bundles. Then, another of the Baptist’s followers came to them and told them to meet the master by the road.

They found the Baptist talking to some soldiers belonging to Herod Antipas’ palace at Jerusalem.

“Do not extort money from your brethren or even from foreigners. Make no false accusations. And be content with your pay,” the Baptist instructed.

When he saw Andrew and John waiting, he dismissed the soldiers and a small crowd watching. Then, all three meandered toward the shade of a large tree to watch the foot traffic on the dusty road. For a long time, they just stood there looking at the passersby. John and Andrew looked at each other. John shrugged his shoulder. Then, the Baptist took a half step forward, like he saw someone he was looking for.

“Behold,” he said in a soft voice as he gestured with his hand. “…the Lamb of God!”

Both John and Andrew looked towards where he pointed. At first, they were not sure who among the foot traffic was the Baptist pointing at. Then, they noticed a lone individual garbed like what most Galileans wore. He just went off the road and started walking up a hill.

They both looked at each other, then they faced the Baptist.

“Go,” he said. “This is as it should be. Farewell.” Without saying another word, he walked away.

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Greeting friends…

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