Sweat cascaded down his furrowed brow. His calloused hands were aged with wooden splinters. He eyes stared intently down at the handcrafted project already using too much of his confined workshop space.
His chisel and pick glided up and down the rough edges of the large wooden cross. He held his breath praying that his visitors would soon be here to pick up their wooden atrocity. He wanted no part their designated occupation, the Cross Maker.
The crosses he made were used in crucifixions of zealots, criminals and those who did not agree with Roman His hands were used in making the crosses, were not his hands also used in crucifying their victims.
He’d sobbed, begged and pleaded with the Romans about not wanting to be the cross maker. They refused to listen; instead threatening his very life. Perhaps this was the cross his life was meant to bear.
Intently absorbed in his own self-pity and thoughts, he did not hear his workshop door open.
”Are you done yet, cross maker?” a gruff voice asked.
Quietly glancing up he nodded, “Just another few moments, please. I am just almost done.”
”Well, you’d better hurry,” a second voice interrupted. Salvia spat from his mouth landing on the carpenter’s shoe. A snicker and holler filled the woodshop air.
The carpenter struggled to maintain his composure in the sight of the Roman centurions
”Hurry, cross maker,” the larger Roman centurion cursed. “This cross is needed for a very special man. We wouldn’t want to wait any longer, would we?”
The carpenter gasped in fear, “No, sir. We would not want him to have to wait.”
Large hands roughly grasped the front of his shirt. “Would you like to know who the special man is, cross maker?” The carpenter nodded, holding his breath with anticipated fear.
“A man from Nazareth, a carpenter like yourself,” the centurion snickered. “He claims to be the Almighty Son of God, King of the Jews. His crucifixion is the most anticipated event of the year.”
“Though I do not understand,” the carpenter’s timid voice replied, “how you can laugh at the death of innocent man? Should not your own vulgarity and cruelty allow you the same fate?
“How dare you question,” the centurion’s flustered in anger,”the decision of Pontius Pilot or the lordship of Caesar himself.”
He grabbed the fearful carpenter by this shirt again. “You shall pay for your insolence, cross maker. Tonight you shall tremble at the hand of the mighty Roman empire.”
“Pick up your cross, “the centurion harshly responded. “Tonight with you will see your finest handiwork used.”
The carpenter struggled underneath the weight of the large, wooden cross. He struggled to maintain his composure to not fling himself at the mercy of the Roman centurions’.
The cross was trudged along a steep, muddy path. The carpenter lost awareness of how much time had passed, minutes, maybe hours, he silently presumed. The weight of his cross was the only awareness he had.
Amongst the volatile crowd, a lone figure stood apart, his back was crusted with blood and deep almost claw like marks. At first glance one may assume, he’d been attacked by a wild beast.
The carpenter continued staring at the lone man, his body wrapped in single strips of a once white, blood stained cloth wrapped around his lower body. Blood trickled down his face as crown of thorns was placed upon his head.
“This is today’s victim, cross maker,” the centurion asked. “I am sure he would like to meet his unseen executioner. “
The carpenter was shoved roughly in the direction of the lone man standing against the crowd. For a moment the eyes of these two strangers locked. The carpenter stared into eyes overwhelmed by the compassion and love gazing from the stranger’s eyes.
“Are you him,” the carpenter silently whispered in the stranger’s directions. “The one promised so long ago. Are you the one I’ve waited so long for?”
The Lord whispered.” Will you take up your cross and follow me?”
Bewildered the carpenter replied,” Have I not already, Lord?
As the carpenter’s cross was passed onto his Lord, it became the cross his Savior was truly meant to endure.
In the years to come this cross maker would bear many more crosses, including the cross of life.
Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”-Matthew 16:24
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