TITLE: The Temptation on the Cross
By Michelle Fout
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Pain had absorbed him his mind was consumed with the throbbing the pulsation of every nerve ending in his body and it wore against his heart. “I am your son” his heart screamed, “make this stop!”
He had given up trying to hear the cries of his friends as they reached out unable to help him his ears were filled with the liquid sound pain produces, the thrum and hum of nerve against nerve. He couldn’t even see them anymore the red haze of his blood trickling into his eyes had become a steady, salty, blinding river.
The silence brought his mind back from the edge of insanity and gave him a focus. He did not know how long it took him to realize what it was he was focusing on but as soon as he had it named the silence was filled with a mocking voice. “If you are, truly his Son, come down from there…you have the power to end this yourself, right this minute, you don’t have to endure this any longer. Come down. Show them who you are.”
His body groaned with desire to do what the voice said. The hum and thrum remained muted and he heard the voices of his friends again and then the voices of the lost ones. He could not understand what they saying, their words had lost meaning, he rolled his head slowly toward the voices of his kinsmen and blinked hard to clear his eyes and through red haze he saw some of their faces. His mother was there. He rolled his head toward the sky unable to look upon her tears he felt his resolve growing paper thin.
“Where are you Father?” he whispered from his heart. “WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME” his soul screamed and the scream reached his ears. He felt shame immediately and heard the voices of the lost ones again. His eyes found theirs, no heights separated them no blood blurred the contact. He heard and saw them clearly.
His resolve drew breath and grew strong again. No. He could not lose this fight. He was tired and overwhelmed but he would not let feelings of abandonment justify abandoning this good work. He agreed with his Father in this. He had agreed with Him from the beginning this thing must be done.
The voices that floated up were taunting him, encouraging him to show them who he was but the pain no longer confused and distracted him from his purpose. He knew who was speaking to him. It was the voice from the desert. He could feel that same oily presence beside him that had come to him in the heat and the hunger. His body had experienced suffering then but now, here, his soul was hammered by it. “Oh, Father, this is what they live with, everyday of their lives. They are so alone. Help me be strong.”
No answer, no power, no lessening of pain. His head dipped forward again all he could see was the stream of blood flowing from matted locks of hair. He pushed against the spike through his feet and struggled to draw a full breath, one last taste of air that was all he wanted from this place. It came short, well short of a full breath but it would have to do. “Father, forgive them…they don’t know what they doing.”
The lost ones screamed louder at him, they had heard his words and the fury that burned in their hearts consumed his blood and his flesh. They shook their fists, their women spat on the blood soaked ground in front of them. Their children’s eyes hardened.
He did not raise his head again. His brothers heard him whisper “It is finished.” One said later that he had never heard such power spoken in all his life, as he did in those three words whispered on that hill.
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