Lat year, I published a collection of ten, first-person Bible stories entitled, I Was There. At the time, I really had no intention of writing another one. Well, I had such a great response from the first collection, that I decided to publish a second.
This one is entitled, I Believe. My Mom has done another amazing job of creating a cover for me, and I wanted to share that with you today. Also, I’ve included a small sample from the new collection. I still have some editing and rewriting to work on, but I hope to have this one available for sale in the next month or so.
I’ve never witnessed the sky grow so dark since that awful day. Pillows of blackened clouds pooled together like a thick blanket, nearly cutting off the brilliant light of the morning sun. Heaviness descended like a shroud, causing the air to feel burdened with despair. I was only passing through, but it would be a day that would forever change my life. Even now, the memories invoke hot tears that slowly trickle down my face. I will never forget the look inside those eyes.
It was early. The morning was alive with the chatter of distant birds, and a breeze that carried the hope of safe travel on its breath. My boys were tired and not at all enthusiastic about our last day of the journey home. I woke them up and allowed the last portions of our food to be consumed. I would eat once we entered our home. As the father, it was my responsibility to make sure my children did not go hungry. I ignored the growls within my stomach and packed our sleeping mats.
Since we had no money, we stayed just outside the city gates of Jerusalem, where many others had also set up camp. My plan was to make our way through the city and continue on toward home. I smiled. The thought of returning home always made me happy. I could almost smell whatever my wife would prepare to celebrate our safe journey. No one in all the land could cook like her. As I gazed at my boys preparing to leave, and thought about the woman who had chosen to spend her life with me, I knew how fortunate of a man I was.
As we entered the city, I realized it was going to take much longer to pass through than I had originally anticipated. Crowds of people were gathered outside the main courtyard. Roman soldiers rushed by with determined looks on their faces. They tried to push the crowd back, but the people pressed in even harder. They waved their fists and shouted at the soldiers. I couldn’t tell what they were saying, but they appeared very distressed. If we didn’t find another way around, I knew our route would become blocked by the throngs of angry protesters.
I motioned for my boys to follow, and we headed for higher ground. We ducked into an alley and walked quickly toward the other end. I could see people standing there as well, but I hoped the crowd wasn’t as large as the one below. We walked out of the alley and stopped. People lined both sides of the path. Some held rocks in their hands. Others carried sticks. There were men, women, and children standing there, looking in the same direction. I stepped around a small group and tried to see what it was that held everyone’s attention.
I could make out some commotion toward the bottom of the hill, but the surrounding cloud of dust made it impossible to see clearly.
My youngest pulled at my cloak. “Dad? What is it? What do you see?”
“I don’t know, Son.” We hurried across the dirt path to the other side where I thought maybe I would have a better view. I still wasn’t able to see very well.
I glanced over at an elderly woman standing next to me. I smiled, but she didn’t return it. There was a glazed look in her eyes that made me uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure why. “What’s happening?”
At first, I thought she was going to ignore me, and not even answer my question. She looked down the hill and then back at me. “You don’t know?”
I shook my head. “No. My sons and I are just passing through Jerusalem. We aren’t from this place.”
She glanced at the rocks in her hand. “They are going to crucify him.”
The Romans were known for their brutality and lack of compassion for any person unlucky enough to become their prisoner. I had never witnessed anyone being crucified, but had heard stories. Whomever this man was she spoke of must be a human of the worst kind to deserve a crucifixion. Those were normally saved for the most heinous of criminals.
“What has he done to deserve such a punishment?” I asked.
“He has defied Caesar by calling himself a king. He also proclaimed to the people that he is the son of God.”
I frowned. That was indeed blasphemy. “What is his name?”
“Jesus of Nazareth.”
My heart skipped a beat. I had heard of the man they called Jesus. The stories reached far beyond the borders of my country. He had healed many who were sick, caused blind eyes to open, and even raised some from the dead. Many believed he was indeed the Messiah that was prophesied about in the ancient scriptures. Others felt he was some kind of magician who performed sorcery. I had no idea what the man was like.
If the Romans had deemed him vile enough to crucify, then there must have been solid evidence of his wrongdoing.
“Why do you hold rocks in your hands?” I asked the woman.
She looked up and smiled. It wasn’t the pleasant curve of someone’s mouth when they greeted a friend or loved one. It was a look saturated with evil intentions.
“This is the biggest thing that’s happened around here. I don’t want to miss my chance to participate.”
To be continued…