A Faith that Saves
"Crucify him!" The crowd cried.
Samuel burned with anger.
Samuel locked his jaw. Why didn’t Jesus do something?
Someone shoved Samuel from behind and knocked him down on the stony road.
Sharp pain shot through his raw knees.
"Get up thief!" A soldier yanked on his hair.
Samuel gasped and shut his eyes tight against the pain.
"You should be honored." the soldier's rough mocking voice resonated through Samuel's pain-filled head. "You hang with the King of the Jews today."
A rough post slammed against his shoulders. Samuel gagged as the wind left his lungs. He stumbled but did not fall.
Two soldiers pulled him up by his arms and tied him to the post.
His heart pounded so hard it would surely leave his chest. He hissed through clenched teeth at the men holding him. The smell of urine and vomit that whiffed into his nostrils sent his stomach into a series of lurches. He looked up to see his partner enduring the same treatment as he, but from Eli's mouth poured out a flood of vile words.
A soldier pushed Samuel forward. He coughed and staggered. Eli's mouth never stopped with its vile eruptions, just as it never did before they were caught. He hated his partner. If it were not for Eli and his boastings about their exploits, they would never have been caught.
Weeping swirled around him like a rainstorm as the soldiers pushed Samuel into the crowd.
He prayed his mother would not be there. A pang shot through his heart. His dear sweet mother should not have had such a worthless son.
"Daughters of Jerusalem." The rasping voice of Jesus penetrated his misery, and he twisted his neck to see the man some called the Messiah, but pain blackened his vision. "Weep not for Me, but for yourselves."
A blow on his back sent Samuel staggering forward. He gasped as the muscles in his arms tore. Pinned to the patibulum of the cross, his arms could not move to keep his balance. If Jesus was who He said He was, why would He not save Himself?
A rough hand whipped Samuel around and before him loomed the large Roman nose of a centurion. A blow to the back of his knees sent him backward, gasping. Pain streaked up and down his spine as he thudded against a post. He cried out, protesting the agony that accosted him.
Wham, clink. A hammer hitting a spike. The sound echoed in his head, vibrating off every nerve.
His skin turned cold as panic surged through his body. He fought against the bonds that held him in place.
Minutes later he lay gasping, sweating, and shivering.
Cries of mockery rang out around him. His gaze followed the long ropes that yanked and jerked up the cross upon which he laid. The actions drifting in a fog as his consciousness wavered.
He smelled the bitter scent of gall. Strange, how his senses seemed keener than normal.
"He saved others: Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him!" The gruff, angry voice sliced through the crisp morning air. A volley of angry voices followed it.
Samuel pushed himself up against the foot rest and gasped for breath. "Some King of the Jews!" he gasped, angered that he too would die.
"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." The wobbly voice of the dying Man rose above the crowd’s railing.
"If You be the King of the Jews save thyself." the brutal bass voice of a soldier thundered out.
A memory of a palsy man lowered into Eli's parents' house flashed before Samuel. Jesus had forgiven that man too. Samuel pulled himself up by the arms. Hot searing pain shot through his body as he gasped for breath.
He remembered a weasel-like little scribe saying, "Who can forgive sins, but God only?"
Samuel's body shivered and sweat trickled down his nose. He shook his head.
"If You be Christ, save Yourself and us!" Eli's voice croaked, and Samuel's anger spiked. This fool of a man led him into a life of crime, how could he speak like that to Jesus?
"Do not you fear God, seeing you are in the same condemnation?" Samuel bellowed and coughed up blood. He choked and wheezed and pulled himself up for another breath. "And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds."
Samuel's heart pounded harder as his mind raced over the life of Jesus that he knew . . . talks in the temple and in the streets of His coming kingdom; compassion He showed to people Samuel knew. "But this man has done nothing amiss."
Shame washed over him as the knowledge of his own worthless, wicked life glared at him through his memories. He knew then, who Jesus was. He knew Jesus could only be the Messiah spoken of in Scripture. "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."
Jesus turned to him, blood streamed down his face. He pushed up and gasped for breath and said, "Verily I say unto you, today shall you be with Me in paradise."
Samuel coughed and wheezed and choked, but peace covered over his pain. He was forgiven.
But they cried, saying, Crucify Him, crucify Him. And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath He done? I have found no cause of death in Him: I will therefore chastise Him, and let Him go . . . .
And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
. . . And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.
This is an excerpt from my book Best of Faith, Fiction, Fun, and Fanciful.