Earlier this year, I published a collection of 10, first-person perspective Bible stories entitled I Was There. (Click HERE to purchase) I had such a great response to the book that I decided to write another one. The proposed title for the new one is I Believe. I plan on publishing first of next year. I still have a couple more stories to write, and then the editing process. I wanted to give you a taste of what’s coming. This story is entitled Love Never Fails. It’s not the complete story, because that would be more than just a taste. Let me know what you think. (This is not the completely edited, polished manuscript, so please ignore any errors)
I wasn’t sure how the day was going to end, but there was a feeling deep inside my being that would not go away. Regret, mixed with dread, churned in my stomach and clawed at my conscience. I have done some things in my life that I am not proud of, but I may have gone too far this time. The addiction had rooted itself into such a level of my soul, that I feared its hold would never be broken. I felt so ashamed.
No one knew anything when we met to break bread together. The secret I carried in my heart would more than likely destroy many people. Some of whom were my closest friends. That fact alone caused me to hesitate, but unfortunately, the damage had already been done. The money burned like hot coals inside my cloak. Even though I loathed the very thought of what I had to do, my greed claimed a larger piece of my soul.
The men I had met with earlier knew my weakness. They devised a plan that would ensnare me and render me helpless to refuse their enticing offer. I always said that loyalty could never be compromised by gold or silver. Apparently, I was dreadfully wrong. They had purchased my services and would force me to hurt someone I truly loved. By the time we met that night, it was far too late to change my mind. They owned me, and they knew it.
I wasn’t sure what the others would say if they found out. We were so closely tied together, like a family, for several years. The friendships I had formed were real, not just casual and fleeting. There were times we didn’t all get along, but that was to be expected. We were following a man who was different than anyone else. We didn’t’ always see things the way he did. We couldn’t possibly. I could honestly say I loved each and every one of them. They knew things about me that not even my blood relatives knew. Hidden things. Secret things.
If they had any idea about what I would do that night, they would be devastated. Somehow I had managed to live a double life for a period of time, and had covered my tracks very well. I would be labeled a traitor; there was no doubt about that. I would have to accept it, and somehow move past the hurt feelings and broken hearts. Somewhere down the road of my life, I would once again find peace. That was my hope.
Things had become rather chaotic leading up to our last meal together. We entered the city under the praises of most everyone just a few days earlier. We were accepted at first, but things began to take a turn for the worst. The religious leaders couldn’t stand our Teacher. On several occasions, they attempted to trap him in lies and deceit, but always failed. They began to see him as a threat and not the promised Messiah. That’s when they contacted me. I guess they could sense my wavering dedication to the man I had lived with for three years.
Shame burned through my veins as I sat there wondering if anyone knew. I had been extremely careful with my meetings. No one ever seemed to notice I was gone. Although I was confident my secret was safe, I had a sinking feeling at least one of the men at the table knew exactly what was going on. Would he say anything to the rest?
When we had all finally gathered at the table, there was an uncomfortable silence for several moments. It was hard to describe. Jesus looked troubled. He sat there looking at us as the soft candlelight danced inside his soft, brown eyes. I had noticed him in that mood occasionally during our travels over the years, but something was bothering him even more on that night. His stare met mine and I couldn’t blink. His eyes bore deep into my soul. Even though he could read my every intention like an open book, he suddenly smiled.
I wanted to feel at ease, but I couldn’t. I looked down and waited until he stood up from the table. He took a bowl and carefully filled it with water. He knelt before Thomas and began to wash his feet. There was a tenderness and sincerity in the action that nearly brought me to tears. This was God’s only son, born into the earth as a man, removed from his throne as a king, and was now honoring the men he called family. I couldn’t understand. I looked around and realized everyone else was confused as well.
He finished with Thomas, and moved over to Peter.
“Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Peter asked quietly, almost in a whisper. The silence felt like a fragile vase that no one desired to break by speaking too loudly.
The guilt and shame gripped my heart even tighter as I watched the scene unfold before me. I had accepted money in exchange for betraying my Master. That was something I would have to live with until the day I passed from the earth. I swallowed the lump of emotion that had formed in the back of my throat. I was so thirsty, but didn’t dare move to get a drink.
“You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand,” Jesus replied as he knelt down.
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” He shook his head and drew his feet back. I knew Peter was stubborn, but there was something else going on in that moment. Something I couldn’t explain.
Jesus reached out and rested his hand on Peter’s knee. “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me,” he said.
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you. You are not all clean.”
My heart dropped after hearing those words. Of course he knew what I had done. He was Jesus. He knew our every thoughts, desires, and secrets. I bowed my head and stared at the floor. If any of the other disciples looked me in the eye, they would see my guilt and shame. They would know the Master was talking about me.
When Jesus was finished with Peter’s feet, he knelt down in front of me. The weight of the silver in my pocket couldn’t compare to the heaviness that hung over my shoulders. Darkness like no other had invaded my heart. I didn’t want to look up.
To be continued…