Friday, July 2, 2021


I was thinking this morning about what I would like readers to know about my book - especially those readers who make it to my site through a google search, or those who continue to come to my site to see what I am up to because they are a part of my "Followers" club. And it occurred to me that either way, most, if not all of you might be wondering what to expect from the stories in this book. 
              And so here is a chapter. I hope you enjoy it.

The Centurion 

Mark 15

“What are you doing, Father?” the Centurion’s son asked. He was seven. 

            “I am getting the crosses loaded,” he replied.

            “Who will die?” the boy asked.

            The Centurion looked down at his son. He was a good boy, but he was always asking questions. And this question was harder than most.

            “A couple of criminals,” he replied. “And a man named Jesus.”

               “Jesus. I remember him.”

            “You do?”

            “Why him, Father?”

            The last cross thudded into the wagon. It would be unloaded tomorrow, early at the Praetorium, ready as requested.

            “There are many who do not believe the things he says,” the Centurion told his son honestly.

            “Do you, Father?”

            The Centurion reached for his son. “Yes, I believe so,” he said.

            “Then you must do something, Father, you must save him.”

               Save him?

            He was an officer currently stationed in Jerusalem and had eighty soldiers under his command. But his voice did not overshadow that of the chief priests. He was not above Pilate. Or even, the people.

            No. This man the Jews called Jesus would soon be taking his last breath. And he could do nothing.

            Barabbas, the criminal, had been chosen for release instead of the good man, the kind man, the man who'd healed his very own servant and caused the blind to see.

            The morning came soon enough, it was clear and beautiful, and as he led Jesus into the Praetorium, the great hall, he thought again of the words of his son. He assigned one of his soldiers to clothe the man in purple as he watched. A crown of thorns was woven and pushed into his head by yet another. Jesus did not cry out.

            He’d crucified many before Jesus. But not like this. Never – like this.

            Jesus had been spat upon. Hit and whipped until the flesh of his back lay open in ribbons. And when a soldier under his command took the purple robe off of him, Jesus was pushed through the doorway; past the stable and the kitchen, to the central road where he would walk to his death.

            “Hail, King of the Jews!” He had spouted the words along with the rest of them. Yelled them out as if he was nothing.

            And he had worshiped him – mocked him – in order not to be singled out.

               The cross-beam was heavy, too heavy. Even he – had struggled to unload it from the yard at the Praetorium.

            The crowds were large. The yelling, the noise, ran through his ears. He could not think. He watched Jesus’ feet. He watched him walk the road and its stone path, slick from many travelers. He watched his sandals, the back of his heels, the way he stepped – firmly. As if he hadn’t been beaten, as if – he was a king.

            The way was not flat. Stairs came and went, and people, so many people breathing and watching and speaking when they might have been silent. Tears. He saw the tears. The silence of some as they watched him. As he followed behind him.

            Archways, so many archways above him. Like so many rising suns. The sheep gate. Dark tunnels, and windows with people peering from their depths. Watching – whispering about the man who would soon die. The path was narrow, like the minds of the people when it came to the teachings that they would not receive.

            Jesus collapsed, the beam thudding to the ground. Everyone stopped. Voices halted. A man passed by. He knew the man and stopped him with his hand.

            “Bear his cross,” he demanded.

            The man, Simon by name, the father of Tobias and Rufus, stopped.

            “I have just left Cyrenaica,” he said. “I am tired.”

            “Bear his cross.”

            The centurion knew the man to be thoughtful, if not a bit eccentric. And he was well-built; strong. He was tired, but he could carry the cross.

               Simon pulled the beam to his shoulders, looking at him only once as he did so. His eyes had softened. A look came from the eyes of Jesus, a look the Centurion couldn’t quite place. And then it came to him.

            Years ago, when he was stationed in Capernaum. When his servant was sick. He could not work. And the Centurion had been in the marketplace, taking care of some skirmish he could no longer remember when he saw him. 

            “Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented,” he’d said, though others stood nearby, including some of the apostles.

            Jesus had said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

            His heart had pounded. Jesus, in his home? “Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof,” he’d said. “But speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, ‘Go,’ and he goeth; and to another, ‘Come’ and he cometh; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he doeth it.”

            Jesus had watched him. He’d looked into his eyes. “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel,” he’d answered, placing a hand on his shoulder. His words as well as the gesture had surprised the Centurion. 

            “Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.”

            Finding a soldier to take his place, if only for a short time, he’d journeyed home only to find his wife crying.

            “Come! Come!” she called to him, pulling him by his robe. He’d removed his helmet. His wood staff was laid quickly on the table. “Our servant is healed!” she continued. His children had looked on, their eyes wide and bright; the son of questions, and his two daughters – one and two years older, smiling widely.

            The bed where the servant had lain for weeks and had writhed within was empty. Following his wife out to the stables, he’d met the servant amidst his duties, and they had spoken for a time.

            “There is warmth in my heart. A Glowing,” the servant had said as he touched his chest. “I am healed…”

            The walk was slow, labored, and the voices only increased as Jesus made his way to Golgotha. The place of the skull.

            The place frightened his children. His wife. And he – he was tired. It was his duty, and yet… The dark face in the rock above them threatened as he approached. Where evil resided, goodness would die. This was what he knew. The man named Jesus was good. Because of the miracle. No, because of the faith he’d offered before the miracle. Yes, and Jesus’ power, these three had healed his servant.

            Jesus was exhausted. The Centurion could hear his breath, shallow and labored, he could see the sweat dripping from his back. He could smell it.

            And they were here, near the base of the hill, near where the people usually shopped for food or other goods. They were here for a purpose. To see Jesus crucified. Many looked afraid.

            He had told his wife, his children, to stay home. It would not be good to see this. Even seeing the thieves would spin tales of death for months to come. He would not allow it.

            They did not come.

            But he was here. Here.

            It was not his duty to drive the nails into Jesus’ hands and feet. No. But he ordered it. He almost – felt it. He heard the tears, the laughter, the voices in prayer – in hate.

            No, it would not be long now.           

            Jesus was lifted up.

            The women cried at his feet. His mother. His friends. His apostles. The wailing broke through the clouds and continued to the heavens.

            He could not breathe.

            The superscription read: THE KING OF THE JEWS. Just like that. No one cared about the thieves hanging next to him. No one even looked. What they cared about was getting something to take home that Jesus had owned. His clothing. His robe. His sandals.

            He wanted none of it.

            But questioning eyes probed.

            “Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself, and come down from the cross,” a man said, passing by the cross.

            “He saved others; himself he cannot save,” a chief priest mocked.

            “Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe,” a woman spit.

            “Save yourself, and us too,” the thieves on either side chided.

            Still, there was something in the air. Something that wrapped around Jesus that he could not see… He felt it. Something like… light.

            Amidst the darkness, the thick darkness that was suddenly covering Golgotha, the Centurion felt it. It was the sixth hour, an hour not typical for darkness, and he was not afraid. Something had happened to him.

            For three hours he stood in the darkness, feeling the light, and while others railed at Jesus, he felt only peace. At the ninth hour, Jesus spoke.

            “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The words whirled into the air and found a place inside the Centurion’s heart.

            Was Jesus forsaken?

            He looked up at the skies. A single tear dripped down his cheek. His son’s words echoed inside his soul, “You must do something, Father. You must save him.”

            “Behold, he calleth Elias,” one of the women said.

            A soldier ran, passing him quickly on the left. In his hand was a reed. “Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down,” he said.

            The Centurion knew what was in the reed. Wine and myrrh to deaden the pain. He also knew that Jesus would not take it. It was His time, and He would die.

            For him.

            For all of them.

            Jesus cried out. His voice was loud. His head, once erect, fell to his chest.

            A thunderous noise met his ears. The rain pelted his cheeks, washing away the lone tear that had stopped there. The ground heaved. Fear filled the skies as the women who loved him best held one other.

            The Centurion was still standing. It was not like him to kneel on duty. He looked up again, searching the heavens.

            “Truly this man was the Son of God.” The words were spoken. They filled the air, his soul. He knew that God had heard him.

            A soldier near him scoffed. He could hear his anger above the rain, the thunder, the shuddering of the ground. But the man’s words of hate no longer mattered.

            Only this.

My next book is already in the works: Old Testament Stories of Faith and Healing From the Least of These. MY QUESTION: WHAT STORIES HAVE MEANT THE MOST TO YOU THROUGH THE YEARS FROM The Old Testament? 

Help me get a jump-start on the next book by letting me know below. If I use your story idea, I'll send you a free book. (only one story per person, please, and no duplicate stories).

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