Sunday, April 21, 2019

Victory


Silence.
A heavenly host camped outside of the tomb.  As well as an encampment of shadows and a handful of soldiers who could see neither.

The darkness crawled over the rocks. Slashing and screaming. Their celebrating continuing from the path of the cross.  If you claim celebration as throbbing hatred, screaming death, and hissing in a language that would cause human ears to bleed. Their eyes burning and feet scorching the earth and leaving a trail of death in their wake. The darkness continued to taunt and accuse the light. “Why are they still here?” one creature hissed and slithered down a stone. “They have lost. Their hero is rotting!” a dark mist breathed out.

The Army stayed silent. Hands on swords, armor shining, light pulsing. Waiting.

A path which looked like heat shimmering in the desert began to ripple across the land. The earth began to shake and rocks burst into pieces. A blinding light shot down from the heavens and struck the tomb. Strikes of lightening coated the rocks and streaks of flame torched the ground. Where the darkness had been only ash remained. The black soot scattered in the fury of the wind. The sky lit in a chorus of colors. The veil between heaven and earth was open. The Holy mist descended from on high. The wind became like a howling train and a roar shook the sky.

Then a gasp, a breath, a pause. Power. Thump, thump. A heartbeat. The granite shook. The rock slid. The breath of life. Of victory.

Out from the rock that could contain Him as much as a breeze can stop the hurricane, stepped the Son.  The Army of Light slide to one knee. Heads bowed and swords out. The sky was filled with creatures of light singing and calling. “Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” Wings of the purest gold and voices that seem to melt into the sky.   

His face was the brightest star. His robe was the brightest of white with streaks of lightening flashing with His steps. Crystals like diamonds seemed to circle his head in a crown like appearance that didn’t seem to have an ending. Where the thorns had pierced His skull a prism of color shot out. From His wrists, back, and side where blood had spilt, symbols swirled. Signs no mortal could speak or even look upon. The earth seemed to shimmer beneath His barley contained power.

With the call and the voice Michael had waiting a millennia to hear, he stood. The Son who had been in the grip of death now stood in victory. Jesus looked into the eyes of His warrior and said, “Now. We stand down no longer. Today the heavens and earth testify to the eternal and unchanging love and mercy of the Father of creation. Today and forever more, we reign victorious.”
And from that day to this, the new heaven has been coming. The final war will be fought though we don’t know exactly when or how. But one thing we can be assured of. One day
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and  every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:10-11 
Amen


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Saturday

And the world was silent.
It waited.
It knew this was not the end.
Something big was coming...

Friday, April 19, 2019

The only way


The whip came down and slice through His flesh. With every strike, Michael’s hand tightened on his sword. His eyes burning like coals and fury pulsed like a living creature. Another creature of light stepped up to the commander of the heavenly army.

“How long must we let this continue?”

He didn’t answer. He couldn’t answer. Snap. The sounds of flesh ripping echoed. “Almighty One,” he called. The Son’s face rested on the pillar to which he was tied. He lifted his eyes. He shook his head and spoke into the spirit. “No. Stand down.”

With more strength than had been call upon in the last thousand years, Michael nodded. He looked to his second Gabriel, whose face mixed with horror and fury barely contained.

“The Son has not called. We stick to our mission. We wait. We watch. We do not let the evil one take one step the Almighty has not decreed.” The Army of Light watch as His blood ran down His back in rivers. The earth swallowed the crimson gift as soon as it hit the dusty ground. Even the earth knows how precious the blood of He who stands upon it is.
Surrounding the area is a spiritual veil that no mortal can see through. The humans see hard hearted men with whips, violence, and hate. Then there is the truth.

Festering, putrid dark creatures that war against the very fabric of existence. Blackness draped over the land. Some of them slither along the ground leaving behind a retched stench. Others stand and flash their claws and fangs. They surround the people and drip poison into their minds. They whisper lies. Tails with black scales and eyes carrying the darkness of hell. The Army of Light form the half circle around this cursed and desolate land. This land will never see life again.

Hands at the ready, power pulsing. They push the power into the crowd to threaten the darkness that tries to get close. The angels have only allowed the few that the Master has allowed. There is a plan that is unfolding in front of us all.

The roman soldiers gathered around Jesus. They striped Him and drape a scarlet robe on Him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and pushed it into his scalp. New blood drips down into His eyes. His face is a mixture of ripped skin, bruised, and swollen flesh. They put a staff into His right hand and mocked Him “Hail, King of the Jews,” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him again and again.  “If they knew that this is what He has chosen for them, they would throw themselves into the darkest sea in repentance,” the deep voice of Gabriel rang out.

 Finally they led him away to be crucified. The cross on which He would be murdered was thrown upon His shoulders.  His knees gave away, but the cross stayed on His shoulders. As Jesus struggled to stand, a ray of light stepped forth. To the crowd it seemed to be a soldier who lifted the cross off of the Christ. Had they looked closer they would have seen with what unnatural strength the cross was lifted and passed to another who shouldered the cross and began to walk. A clawed hand shot out to grab at the now cross bearer, but a sword of light cut through the shadow. Michael stepped forth daring another to interfere.

Jesus drained of strength, stumbled up the hill. On either side of the Son, marched the Army of Light. Skin gleaming unlike any armor ever crafted. Weapons no mortal eyes could even fathom or look upon.

The cross was laid onto the earth. Jesus the Christ began to crawl toward it. “After all this, and He still loves them this much.” “We do not understand. We don’t see them as He does. We were created to praise the Almighty. They will choose to love him or not. In their vulnerability, He sees glory. In their weakness, He has prophesized strength,” Michael softly said.

Nails are driven through His flesh. With each strike, a shock wave shook the earth. The Angels of Light did not move. The creatures roared. Then the cross was lifted.  Jesus, with lips almost crusted shut with dried almost black blood, spoke the words, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
“And still He begs for mercy for them from the Father.”
“This is why He came. To carry the sins of this world. Our eternal one is Holy. He demands a sacrifice for turning their face from Him. The Son is the pure and spotless Lamb who generations have been awaiting. He will pay the price.”
The wind began to pick up and the earth shook. The Army began to close the lines when they saw the giant reptile like creature coming. They knew he had been present. They felt his malice and hatred. Now, he came. Swiping at everything in his path, he stalked to the cross. The darkness that dissolve any light in his path followed.
“Michael, do we engage? We must stop him before he reaches the Son!” the angel screamed.
“Do you think that the Son could not destroy this abomination with one swipe of His hand?” Michael roared. “This He has chosen. For them and those that will come after.”
The darkness approached the cross. The One who knew no sin felt darkness engulf Him. The earth cried out, shook, broke, and the sky crashed. The whole earth seemed to tear into pieces. Even the Army from heaven could not summon the light.
Out of the inky black, the whole world heard “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” The very fabric of eternity was torn. And Jesus took His last breath.
In that moment, silence fell. Suddenly, a cry that only a mother’s heart could give pierced the darkness. Mary, the chosen one collapsed into the arms of one of His followers. The pure anguish in her soul even broke the strongest of warriors.

“It is over,” the dark creature claimed and then slid back into the earth.


Michael’s eyes burned as he lifted his sword and pointed it to the scorched earth ahead. “No, it’s not. Not even close.”


Thursday, April 18, 2019

crucify

One word.
Crucify
the war cry was sounded and the players arrived
enough power on that hill to flatten this whole galaxy
battle lines being draw
hatred. loyalty. service. praise. death. life. and most of all
love

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The trial



"Sir, there are leaders of the Jewish people here to see you," the soldier said. I dropped my head into my hand as the headache was already starting. "What do they want?" I sighed. "They say they have a guilty man that they require your judgement to punish." "Exactly what I need right now," I exclaimed as I stood from my seat. "Send them in." "Sir, the leaders say they cannot enter the palace. Their God would consider them unclean." "There God again. Must this crazy God of theirs bring more trouble to me every day?" 

I stormed outside to see the crowd gathering. Immediately, my eyes went to the man they have accused. Nothing particularly distinguishing about him. His face was stoic, staring right ahead. Certainly not like the shifty, terrified criminal I see daily. But there was something that seemed to draw me. To pull at something I have buried too deep. Nonsense! I have been dealing with these Jews and their ridiculous beliefs too long.

"What charges do you bring against this man?" my voice echoed. “If he were not a criminal, we would not have brought him to you,” an older man with a harsh tone replied. How long must I deal with these people I thought to myself. Their illogical customs and traditions. Already I am on watch for the uprising not long ago when they claim I disrespected one law or another. Who can keep track of all their laws?

"Take him yourselves and punish him according to your own law," I stated as I turned away. I have more to do today than listen to the incoherent ramblings of men with a weak spine and less sense than most slaves.

“But we have no right to execute anyone," the same man said. I turned back around to examine this man who dared address me in such a tone. As I stared into his eyes, a pain shot through my eyes and into my head. I shook my head to try and clear the pain. The headache must be affecting my vision as I began to see shadows coming even in the darkness.  I felt a chill up my back thought it had been sweltering a minute ago.  I escaped back into the palace away from this man and his shadows and called the man who they called Jesus in to me. Although I am certainly no Jew, I have heard rumblings of this man. They claim he can perform miracles. Raise men from the dead and other fairytales. Foolish Jews! The only place a man goes after death is returning into the ground.

"Are you king of the Jews?" I questioned him. He raised his head and looked at me. My breath caught. I almost felt as though I were in a presence of someone or something that carried great importance. No shadows gathered around this man, and I hoped that meant my headache was subsiding. "Is that your own idea or did others talk to you about me?" this Jesus replied.

"Am I a Jew? It was your people who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?" I shouted. 

"My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place." He spoke with conviction. He spoke with authority. But he spoke nonsense I told myself.

"You are a king then?"

"You are right in saying I am a King. In fact for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

"What is truth?" Truth! The truth will be whatever I decide it to be. I am the truth. I will decide what side the truth falls on. Although part of me ranted and raved, another part quieted. I despised that part. That is the part that sometimes ponders these celebrations and devotions to this God. That weak part of me that sometimes wanders around the grounds looking for more meaning than a title. I pushed that part of me back and went out to the people.

“I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one of the prisoners at the time of Passover. Do you want me to release the king of the Jews?"
"No, not him. Give us Barabbas."

Again, that familiar pain radiated through me. This time not only did it strike me in the head, but seared down my back. It felt like my insides were melting within me. I scrambled away from the crowd. I had to get away from them. My soldiers followed me. “What are we to do with him?” With a strangled breath, I ordered them to flog him. “Perhaps that will quench their thirst for this man’s blood.” As I sat sorting through this disaster, a messenger quickly came in. “What now?” I growled. “Do the Jews have another innocent man that would like me to skin alive for them so they can celebrate their festival of the week?” “No, Sir. A message from your wife. Her words sir.” I paused. Never had she interfered in my affairs during the day. “She stated that you are to not have anything to do with that innocent man for she has suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”

A dream? How did she know that this Jesus was even here? My wife has had dreams before. She has spent more money than I care to remember on looking for answers to the questions her dreams bring her. I admit at times these dreams have proven to be accurate. A few times I have even benefited from the timely advice.

“Sir, We have done as you have ordered.” “As I have ordered?” I darkly chuckled. “You mean what these senseless Jews have ordered. I have had enough of this charade.”

When I came out to the crowd I saw him. Jesus was wearing the crown of thorns and a purple robe. This is wrong. This is out of control. I have to stop it.

"Crucify! Crucify!" the crowd began to chant. "You take him and crucify him for I find no offense in him," I screamed back into the crowd.

"We have a law and according to that law he must die for he says he is the son of God,” that same blasted man said.

I slowly walked over to this Jesus. I could feel it. The power, the radiance coming from him. Almost like a peace. A peace in all my life, through all of my victories,  I had never found.  "Where do you come from?" I cried.  No answer  "Do you refuse to speak to me? Don't you realize I have the power to free you or crucify you?” My breath felt like fire, the pain was creeping back. I took a step closer to Him trying to ward off the pain and the darkness.

“You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who had handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

I heard a hissing, a whispering, a rasp in my right ear. “You will sentence him to death or your blood and the blood of all you care about will run like a river through the city. You will never find any rest and you will be tormented the rest of your days.” Like a streak of lightening, my whole body lit up in pain. That’s it. I am finished with this.

I turned to the crowd
“Here is your king! 
 Crucify him.”



For a moment, a roar echoed and all was dark. A screech. A sound straight from the pit of the earth. Flashes of claws of teeth. Nightmares taking form. My hands shook as I slammed them into the basin of water. The water turned blood red. It swirled around my hands and then turned black. I gasped and looked up, but no one else had seen.  
More to myself than to the crowd I shouted, "I am innocent of the blood of this righteous man." But I knew it was too late. The end had begun. We would all pay.
Then someone from the crowd shouted, "His blood be on us, and on our children."

Indeed. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Then I followed at some distance

“Hey Peter!” my brother called across the room. “Tell everyone why we call you the Rock!” “I would think that is obvious,” I replied flexing my arm. “My rock hard biceps of course!” “All this time I thought it was your rock hard head!” Andrew exclaimed to a chorus of uproarious laughter. I chuckled myself. “Laugh now, but which of you had the courage to follow the master out and walk on water?” “And screaming for help before all was said and done!” Another brother laughed and clapped me on the back. “Indeed, but at least I got out of the boat!”

As we reclined at the table, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the master stand. Not liking the idea of Him traveling alone on a night like tonight, I stood to join him. Quickly the laughter had gone silent as Jesus wrapped a common towel around his waist, filled a bowl with water, and knelt down to begin washing feet. I never remember a time prior to this where I had been knocked speechless. The sight was as perplexing as watching a fish dance or the sun bow to the moon. My Master on His knees doing the work of a slave.

I watched him take each foot in his hand. Dusty grime from miles of travel wiped away with the touch of his hand. He then took the towel and dried each foot as if He held a precious treasure. After each disciple, He looked them in the eye and gently nodded his head. Each looked disoriented as I felt with wide eyes and open mouths, but they nodded back.

He came and stood before me. I noticed the weary lines drawn across His face, his sunken cheeks, and his eyes looked tired and dull. “Lord,” I whispered, “Are you going to wash my feet?” His head turned and His eyes softened. “You do not realize what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” I choked out and stammered. “You shall never wash my feet!”  “Unless I wash you, you will have no part with me.” “Then Lord,” I replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” He always had this way of looking into me. He saw more than I wanted Him too. To most I was strong, confident, and headstrong. Only He knew the truth. That I never felt as if I were enough.


Again a holy hush fell over the table. It was as if heaven itself had paused and waited to see how this drama would proceed. My Lord took a loaf of bread, and held it in His hands. The same hands that minutes before had griped our filthy earth caked feet. How could one single set of Hands hold so much? I have watched as they held children, grieving widows, broken men. Now, He held the bread and said, “Take; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks He gave it to us, and we all drank from it. He said  then, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Then Jesus said to them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of Me. For it is written:
‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” 

My mind seemed a garbled mess. His blood poured out for all? A new covenant? I didn’t understand. His body would be broken for us? No! We could fight! I would fight with my last breath and consider it a victory if only Jesus lived. I began to shake with fear, but fear quickly altered to anger. My fist pounded on the table and a crack shot through the room. Pain lanced through my hand where a large splinter had broken off into it,  but I paid it no attention. “Even if all fall away on account of You, I never will.”

When He turned to look at me, it was if the whole world fell away. .“Truly I tell you,” Jesus declared, “this very night before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” The words echoed in the room. They bounced off the cup and the uneaten bread. The sunk into my skin and left a smell like death in my nose. It pierced me deeper than the wood that dug into my hands and dripped blood onto my leftover bread. “Even if I have to die with You, I will never deny You.” Even as I said it, I felt a shadow cross over me. Only for a moment, but the lingering doubt crushed the air from my lungs.

 As we walked with Him to Gethsemane, I felt the darkness following. My legs wanted to run and my mind screamed to hide, but the Master walked steady. So I followed. He told us to wait and pray while He went deeper into the garden. I must have fallen asleep though the nightmares that accompanied it gave me no rest. I was at the top of a pit. Confused and panicked as to where Jesus had gone, I swung around and almost lost my balance and fell. As I looked down to steady myself, I saw Him in the bottom of the pit. On His knees, jaw clenched, crying out. I couldn’t make out His words.  But I felt the agony. I leaned forward to scream that I was here. I would come. With a roar of darkness, something cold and hard pushed me. I fell.

I awoke with a start. Jesus standing over me. Could I not stay away and keep watch for even an hour. As He went away again, this time deeper into the garden, it took all the willpower I possessed to not go running after him. Soon I drifted into the dreaded place again. This time I was at the bottom of the pit. Mere feet away from me, Jesus again was on His knees. His hands drug against the ground and the rocks. He barley noticed the blood dripping down his hands as they dug into his hands. Then I saw it. Standing over him was a blackness. Like a cloud only more solid. Like an oil that left a putrid stain of sin. But when I tried to look upon it, everything tilted. I heard screaming and moaning. Suddenly cries of help and terror surrounded me. I tried to jump up and reach for my sword. But my hands were plastered to my side. The darkness was coming for Him. “No!” I screamed. I screamed and screamed until I could taste blood and ash in my mouth. He looked up and when our eyes met, I was jerked awake again.

Groggy from the nightmare and confused by the ache still in my throat, I stood up as Jesus said, “They are here.” I saw darkness and torches. Then I saw Judas and relaxed. Surely there was a reason this crowd had come to get us. Then I looked closer at Judas. Something seemed to almost crawl under his skin. His eyes were black bottomless, but when he blinked they seemed normal again. He walked forward and placed a kiss on the Master's face. Then I knew.

It was him. He would betray Him. The very one who we had all declared the Christ! The Son of the living God! A guard grabbed hold of Jesus’s arm and a red hot fury I have never known burned through me. I grabbed my sword and sliced off his ear. Had I not been so exhausted and overwhelmed, the soldier would now be in two pieces for his comrades to carry home. Jesus looked at me. “No,” was all He said. “This is how it is to be.” I stood frozen to the spot as they drug Him away as I stood in a pile of the soldier’s and my own blood and vomit.  Then I followed at some distance behind to see where they were leading Him. Although in my spirit, it was as if He was still leading them. Though the darkness hadn't discovered this yet. I knew nothing the world has ever seen or would ever see again was coming. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

It was over

This was it. The final time I would be made a fool of. Letting a woman, an unclean, lower, inferior woman not just touch you but dump an obscene amount of nard comparable to liquid gold on Jesus and the dust covered ground which he laid.. Makes me sick. I could feel the shaking start from the pit of my stomach.My one arm began to twitch. The pain deep into my head felt like claws dragging against my skull. Whenever I would revisit the idea about what should be done, I never felt alone. At first it was comforting in a weird way. It wasn't a person but more like a pulse. An awareness. Of course no one else had this gift because that were too busy picking up leftover bread and healing people who don't even deserve a second look. We can help just as many rich ones as the poor ones. And the riches ones we could collect a fee from. Then we would be getting somewhere.

Jesus galloping through city after city while throwing out the Roman occupation. That is what strength looks like. Power and control. I feel the darkness on my left side. I don't dare look. "It's time," the voice said to me. I wish I could place the voice or rather sound. It's almost like no language at all. No one else hears this. Jesus looks at me a few times with a tensed jaw and wet eyes. He knows.

I went to find the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard. Again, darkness clouded my vision. I blinked. Once. Twice. An officer walked up to me with a glint in his eye that promised violence. My mouth curled in a sneer. "You are looking to condemn the teacher Jesus. I am here to discuss terms." The quiet discussions in front of us stopped. "You are one of His?" an old gnarled hand pointed. "I am no ones. I belong to myself. I decide my own fate." A dark chuckle echoed behind me. "What do you want for your services." "I want only what is owed to me," I whispered into the inky black.

Thirty pieces of silver. The price for a slave. Not nearly enough for all of my wasted time. My wasted life. But I wanted this to be over. I needed it to be over. Maybe once this was finished I could sleep again. Nightmares would no longer flood my mind and seep into my soul.

The last meal we had together I kept my hands low to hide the shaking. I spoke to no one. No one noticed. Almost no one. He noticed. There was something in His eyes when He looked at me. An overwhelming sadness. No judgement or guilt. no questions or accusations. Just sorrow. Then it was over. I knew where they would go. I would end this tonight.

The garden was black. Something was wrong. This darkness was not an earthly darkness. The shadows moved of their own accord. It crept like a creature along the ground and slithered along the path. Something inside me screamed to stop. But I couldn't. I wouldn't. This was my choice. My destiny.

I saw Him. Although He didn't look my way, I knew He was aware the moment we had arrived. Almost like He was waiting. The darkness would not approach Him. It circled and pulsed. As He walked forward, it would skulk backwards. It winded backwards to me. It twisted up my legs and settled into my stomach. Through my chest and pain seared in my head. I wanted to scream, but I couldn't. I kept walking.

I told myself He deserved this. He misled me and thousands of loyal followers. By not saving us by the sword, He condemns us to slavery and death. No! He deserves death. This nonsense of grace and mercy. Why be part of a mission that was doomed to failure. That's exactly what all of this will come to. That's exactly what His death will be. His ultimate failure.

"Greetings Rabbi," as I sealed our fate with a kiss to the side of His face. I quickly backed up and tried to gasp. There was no air, and I was choking. Darkness was here. Shrieking, clanging of swords, and unearthly roars of victory. Pain seared through my head and dropped me to my knees. Finally, as they led him away I gasped. At first, the world was silent. Then it was empty. A deep pit that not even the darkness would fill. I had betrayed Him. No. This is wrong. I was wrong! He is good! He is our only hope! What if He was who He said He was?

I ran into the temple shadows until I found them. "I have sinned. I have betrayed and innocent man!" Soft steps approached me. At first I thought I saw mercy. Then I looked deep into the eyes that seemed to hold no soul. Like looking into a mirror of emptiness. "That is your problem." I took the coin bag and threw it across the temple floor. The sound shattered the stillness. Clang, clang, clang. I watched the final coin spin impossibly long, as if it hovered while waiting. Then it fell. It was over. Nothing could save me now. I had turned my back on my salvation. I had chose this path, and I would finish it. I would not ask for lenience. I would not ask for forgiveness. I deserved my fate. I walked out of the temple. The darkness covered me. It was over.