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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: End (02/13/06)

TITLE: The Beginning (ii)
By Chris Clement
02/19/06


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I am crucified. My hands and feet rage in pain as blood pours from my wounds. My screams ceased hours ago and now I simply writhe on a dead tree silent, naked, and condemned. Crucifixion is slow and death is patient. I wait anxiously but still I dread the end to come. For one such as me, death means simply to pass out of this hell and into the next.

Below, women wail, but their lamentations are not for me. I die alone. No comfort. No prayers. Only the mocking taunts of soldiers go with me into death.

My strength exhausted, my head hangs low from hunched shoulders. I stare into the mud below that swirls with crimson as if my sins lay before me in convicted blood. My wrongs in life are many and my conscious will not allow me delusions that this end is unfitting.

The blood below is not mine alone. I see a stream of red coursing through the mud. It flows bright and unstained. It crosses to the pool below where the rain and dirt cloud and diminish the life that flowed from my veins. But rather than swirl in the puddle, this blood washes away the dirt like a river or a cleansing spring. I follow its trail leading away. Its path is unmistakable as it flows down the cross next to me. There, another man is pinned by nails, but this manís flesh was torn from his body long before he was nailed to a cross. A crown of thorns is pressed into his brow and his face is washed red. His back is ripped in shreds like a bloody crag. Even in my agony I am amazed at the amount of blood that flows. Were the whole world crucified on that cross with him, the price in blood could be no more. And somehow, in the agony of slow death, my heart finds pity for one such as him.

He speaks and I can barely discern his words. He prays for the soldiers below. He asks God to forgive them. What sort of man is this? Then I see a Roman centurion weeping as he looks upon the misshapen form next to me. I realize something is happening here that I cannot understand.

The women below mutter prayers. They call him Jesus. I lift my gaze again to the man beside me. I gawk at him and thenÖI know. Yes, I know this man. He is a teacher and a healer. He is a man who worked great miracles. Some claim he is the Messiah himself. The living son of God! How does Godís son come to this? Were it not enough to die this death, but to die crucified next to a man whose crime is a message of love, mercy, and hope is like a fifth nail piercing my soul.

I hear my companion in crime, who is crucified as well, yelling at Jesus. He demands Jesus call on his powers to save himself and us. I spit blood as I silence my companion for fear of God. I tell him that this man deserves no such death as we. Then I look to Jesus and speak his name softly. Slowly, he lifts his head and looks at me. I ask him for something and I feel utter shame as I speak. God himself knows I deserve no such love, no such grace, but still I ask. I ask that he remember me when he enters his kingdom. He hears my voice and his soft eyes take me in for ever so slight a moment and I feel as though the pain of my sins were withering away. He opens his mouth to speak. He says that I will join him today in paradise. Then his eyes fall as his strength leaves.

I simply stare in awe at Godís son and I know this is why he is here. I look at the nails in his hands, in his feet, and the blood on the cross. In each nail, in each drop of blood, I can see my sins. I weep and feel tears: tears of sorrow, tears of shame, and tears of gratitude.

I died on a cross built for condemnation, pain, and death. But now I sleep unworthy in the arms of Father God because of a cross built for salvation and eternal life.


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This article has been read 593 times
Member Comments
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Lynda Schultz 02/21/06
Beautifully done. The line that moved me most? "Were the whole world crucified on that cross with him, the price in blood could be no more." Thank you.
janet rubin02/23/06
This is lovely and ought to be published in a magazine for Easter. I think the lack of comments has resulted from its place in the middle of the list and a boring title. The article is awesome.
Jan Ackerson 02/23/06
This is exquisitely written, the best I've read from this man's POV. Something to consider: without the last two lines, it's a stream-of-consciousness piece. But when you put in the last two lines, it begs the question: who's he talking to? When did he write this? Just something that was pointed out to me when I wrote a similar piece. I think it's VERY strong without those lines.
Kate Wells02/23/06
Powerful! It touched my heart deeply. My favorite line...
"I deserve no such love, no such grace, but still I ask."
I know to whom it was written. It was written to ME, and it was written in the heart of each person...to be read upon the recognition of their sinful state and need for the Saviour. God bless you...Kate~
Anita Neuman02/23/06
I agree with Jan - this is the best version of this man's story I've ever read. Absolutely amazing! One correction, 3rd paragraph: conscience, not concious. This is winner's circle material for sure - and so much further beyond that.
Linda Watson Owen02/24/06
Beautifully written account from the viewpoint of the repentant thief. You've skillfully captured details and images that bring these moments to life. Wonderful piece!
Julianne Jones02/24/06
"I see a stream of red coursing through the mud. It flows bright and unstained. ... But rather than swirl in the puddle, this blood washes away the dirt like a river or a cleansing spring. ... Even in my agony I am amazed at the amount of blood that flows. Were the whole world crucified on that cross with him, the price in blood could be no more." Beautiful, just beautiful.
My humble opinion would be to omit the last paragraph, perhaps review the title, and submit this to be published (unless of course you win EC which is quite likely considering the calibre of this piece). Well done.

Julianne Jones02/24/06
P.S. Meant to say that this is the first entry so far that has moved me to tears. The church and the world need to read articles like this!
Shari Armstrong 02/25/06
Very well done -vivid descriptions. This one is yet another to give me chills this week.
Crista Darr02/26/06
Glory! I love that you wrote this first person. His story is ours. Impressive and inspiring work!
Phyllis Inniss 02/27/06
What a great piece. This should surely be a winner.