Daylight flooded his pallet, the rising sun caressing his face, promising another oppressively hot day. He awoke from his dreamy slumber to the comforting familiar sounds of the household. Mother was probably at the well, the embers of their cooking chamber softly crackling while the muffled scraping of his father’s plane filled the outdoors with sawdust’s woodsy scent. He hastily arose and donned his clothing. His brothers were already tending the animals, making him wonder that he had been allowed to slumber so long.
“Ah, I remember,” yesterday’s memories washing away his concern, “Mother thought I would need extra rest after Jedediah’s accident.”
He had volunteered to dress the neighbor victim’s wounds—from a serious fall from a roof he was mending—bathing his fevered brow, repeated jaunts to the well for fresh water a necessity. The boy’s well-known compassionate nature had as naturally been aroused as a new mother’s concern for her baby. But it was exhausting and draining—emotionally more than physically--on a youngster who cared so deeply about the suffering of those around him. The patience required for such ministrations was not typical amongst his playmates. His mother, although often confused about his lack of rough and tumble play with other children, nonetheless recognized his deeper need to serve even when the tasks at hand were arduous and long.
He had been so tired sleep claimed him, in spite of the varied clamor surrounding him, even the deafening roars of the stormy elements failing to rouse him. Indeed, the rocking and rearing of the large boat, a giant cradle of a bed, only lulled him into exhausted sleep.
White-knuckled, panicking men futilely tried to secure the vessel as the squall—a typical occurrence triggered by the moody sea like a wife’s ire raised by her erring husband—tried to capsize their boat beneath angry waves. Knowing their friend’s all-encompassing concern and healing touches for each suffering individual of the morning crowds had taken up more hours than an average man’s working day, they were reluctant to rob him of the sleep he so desperately needed and so rarely received.
But when the waves and torrential winds began overpowering their craft, their resolve weakened and they roughly shook their teacher’s limbs.
“Master, help us, or we’ll perish!” one of them, valiantly trying to swallow the gall of fear rising in his throat like an erupting volcano, urgently whispered into his ear.
The whisper worked as effectively as the storm’s noises had not, and their master awoke, chiding the men for their lack of faith. Notwithstanding, wide-awake now, he stood and ordered the storm to abate.
“Peace! Be still!” stretching his arms open wide, immediately sensing his followers’ awed confusion in spite of his great weariness.
How he loved these men, with all of their apparent flaws and stubborn unbelief. They had such eager hearts, such a willingness to solve unanswered mysteries. So he continued to speak through stories they could understand, laced with enough unexplained power that it kept them yearning for more. He wanted his disciples to be equipped to handle life’s thorny pathways independent of his presence while he was still amongst them, and training them thus was an all-consuming passionate mission that depleted any remaining hours after tending to the needs of the masses.
“Soon,” he thought, “soon I will depart, but there is yet so much to teach them.”
It was almost finished, this assignment of selfless life drawing to a necessarily painful and sacrificial end. He had discharged his Father’s wishes honorably and without giving in to temptations thrown at him in the process.
He peered down at beloved friend, John, who was standing with his arms bracing Mary as she wept. His pain had always been his mother’s, and this last blow would destroy her without John’s support. His heart ached for her and bled for the enemies nailing him to this cross, even as his physical blood stained the rough splintered wood gouging into his arched back.
During this tortuous assault on his body, Jesus took time away from the anguished shuddered gasping of his pressured lungs to respond to the thief asking for mercy on the cross beside him.
What love! What unspeakable, priceless, freely-given to be freely-received, love—love in the most unconditional, purest form. Humanly impossible to fully comprehend, the all-consuming, time-investing, love of Jesus, Savior of the world sent from God to rescue any who choose to believe.
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