SHADOW OF DEATH
Novel #7 in THEY MET JESUS series
It’s now 6:00 AM and the Temple hierarchy has managed to find liars to testify against Jesus in their middle-of-the-night illegal court. They can already smell Jesus’ blood. They drag him through the street to Governor Pilot’s palace. Rome controls all executions. Pilate interviews Jesus in private. It doesn’t take Pilate long to realize he is standing before greatness. He decides to save Jesus’ life by having him scourged with iron bits on the tips of the whip. Jesus’ back turns to raw meat.
Barely alive (most people die of scourging), Jesus is presented to the “holy” mob. They still are not satisfied. “Crucify! Crucify!” The death penalty is granted. It takes two chapters in my book to struggle with Jesus on the cross. This is some of it (which I wrote fifty years ago when I was 17):
The pain. The writhing, seething, shooting pain. How can another moment be like the last? It can’t. But it is.
On and on, endlessly, each joint screaming, calling out for mercy. Relieve me! Relieve me! But there is no relief.
Still the pain. The pain that shoots through the body like fire arrows. The pain that tangles up the muscles like fish in a net. The pain that mounts, ebbs, then comes back more horrible than before.
“…Oh, my God, my God… Keep me strong. Strong for them.”
…On and on, deeper and deeper. Harsh, horrible, hideous, hanging on, never letting go. No relief, no release, no anything but this excruciating pain. Oh the pain…
The spasms. The unrelenting spasms. They’re back. They knot Jesus’ feet and twist them, involuntarily pulling at the rusty stake.
Jesus, God is nearby. He’s touching your feverish brow and enveloping you in his love. And the angels. They’re preparing for your homecoming. Remember? Remember how it used to be?
The longer Jesus’ weight is carried by the spikes, the more his joints slip out of their proper location. The droning of his pain slips almost secretly from his nerves and little by little sneaks into his bones.
Harder and harder it becomes for Jesus to claim his next breath. Still harder to exhale.
His muscles shattered, his shoulder bones dislocated, part of him dehydrating, part of him bloating.
The rhythm of indistinct breathing interrupted only by the spasms that gradually creep up his legs.
Jesus’ heavy laden heart struggles with his dehydrated broken body to pump thick, heavy, sluggish blood to a resistant, barely living being.
“I…uhhhhcgk…thirst,” he whispers.
One last request. It is time to will himself to die.
Can they refuse? No! Look! Someone has had mercy on you, Son of God! He’s taking a sponge dipped in vinegar, and now…and now…he is offering it to you, thirsty Savior. A drink.
With the weariness of dying, Jesus takes the vinegar and it momentarily helps the nausea.
His tormented swollen heart labors slower and slower.
Gradually and increasingly surrounded by a contemptible, mocking serum, his heart strains even harder as it struggles to pump just a few more drops of blood.
Slower it pumps, and slower…
…Everything is getting so dim, so hazy, so blurry…
Where is everything going?
Around and around. Spinning, spinning, back, farther and farther, faster, faster, faster!
Finished. Your work all completed. Everything as you knew it would be. And now, oh Lamb of God, die! The sacrifice is completed. But for your sins, Son of God? No, of course not. You have none. You’ve been perfect, unselfish one, from your human birth, the whole way. All of this has been for the others.
…Everything is drifting so far away…
So far away…
So far away.
No one here…
So hazy…All alone…
…Something drawing… something… something drawing you to it. What is it? Where is it coming from?
Look up! But the pain—the cramping relentless pain.
Torturing to the very end.
But look up.
Don’t you see?
He calls out.
Yes, he’s coming for you!
“Father…uhhhhcgk… I know…uhhhhcgk…you’re there.
My spirit…uhhhhcgk…it’s yours!”
Just a little more now!
Just a little closer…
Jesus’ head lifts up in all the defiance of death. His body jerks and writhes, his knotted muscles strain.
Just a little closer now…
His heart swells…
And with a loud piercing cry that shakes the foundations of the earth, Jesus sends his liberated spirit rushing at last to the outstretched arms of God.
OH, MY SON! MY SON!
(Later in this volume is his resurrection and appearances to his startled friends.)
Katheryn Haddad was born in the cold north, but now lives in Arizona where she does not have to shovel sunshine. She enjoys hot weather, palm trees and cacti in her yard, and a computer with the letters worn off.
With a bachelor’s degree in English, Bible and social science from Harding University and part of a master’s degree in Bible, including Greek, from the Harding Graduate School of Theology, she also has a master’s degree in management and human relations from Abilene University.
Her newspaper column appeared for several years in newspapers in Texas and North Carolina ~ Little Known Facts About the Bible ~ and she has written for numerous Christian publications.
Currently she teaches English over the internet every morning, using the Bible as a text book. Most of her students are Muslims. She has taught some 6000 thus far, and has former students, now Christians, in hiding in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Jordan, Uzbekistan, and Palestine. “They are my heroes” she declares.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Writers of the West, and is also an energetic public speaker who can touch the heart of audiences.
Purchase SHADOW of DEATH HERE
A couple days ago I introduced you to Kimberly Rose Johnson and her latest release, AN ENCORE FOR ESTELLE. Kimberly was gracious enough to share an excerpt with everyone here today. Check it out!
Estelle Rogers willed her galloping heart to slow. Why had she come back to Oak Knoll, Oregon? It wasn’t like the people here had welcomed her with open arms six years ago.
But that was then. Things were different now. Helen Wood had invited her for a visit
over the summer, and she could never say no to the one woman who’d accepted her in spite of her flaws. Besides, she needed time away to think about her future. Estelle
squared her shoulders, raised a hand, and pressed the doorbell beside the farmhouse door.
The door flung open. “You’re here!” Helen’s smile lit her eyes.
Estelle blinked. Helen looked like a young Mary Tyler Moore—she looked fantastic.
Could this be the same woman she’d grown close to all those years ago? Granted when she’d last seen Helen, she’d been recovering from a stroke, but a different woman stood before her now. The rosy-cheeked brunette looked fifteen years younger than her fifty five years. “You look amazing.”
Helen blushed and waved a hand in front of her face. “Derek sent me on a spa
vacation. You should try one. You’d love it.”
The mention of her one-time boyfriend didn’t affect her like it used to. Helen’s son
was now happily married, and she adored his wife, Kayla. “If I didn’t know better, I’d
say you’re hinting that I need a makeover.”
The older woman shrugged. “Not at all. You look lovely as usual.” She stepped
back, opening the door wider. “Come in. I can’t believe you’re actually here. I was afraid you might change your mind.”
“How silly would I be to do something like that?” If Helen only knew how many
times she had almost cancelled the trip. But she would never reveal that to her dear
Helen looped her arm through Estelle’s. “I prepared lunch for us in the garden.”
“I love your garden. It’s so serene. I’m glad the weather is cooperating today. I
noticed you’ve had a lot of rain lately.”
“We have, but summer doesn’t usually start here until July. Welcome back to
Oregon.” She chuckled. “I remember how much you enjoyed my garden the last time you were here, so I’ve been praying the weather would cooperate.”
Of course she had. Helen was like that—she had no qualms about asking the Lord
for a sunny day.
“You’ll be staying in the guest cottage while you’re here.”
Estelle stilled. “I thought your . . .” What does one call a man who works around the
farm doing odd jobs? “handyman—”
“His name is Blake, and he moved into the barn so you could have the cottage.”
“That was nice of him, but the barn?”
Helen patted her arm. “Now don’t you worry about Blake. He’s a grown man and
can take care of himself. Besides, he and Derek built a nice room out there. He has all the comforts of home.”
Estelle raised a brow. “If you say so.”
“I do.” She guided them through the house and out the French doors that led to the
Estelle caught her breath. Water bubbled from a fountain near the cottage. A light
breeze rustled the leaves on the birch trees overhead. A large vase of multi-colored
flowers sat in the center of a round table covered with a white cloth. “It’s more beautiful than I remember. You’ve added some new features.”
“I’m glad you like it. This space has been a labor of love. I spend as much time as I
am able to out here.” She motioned toward a wooden chair padded with pillows. “Have a seat. I’m so pleased you finally took me up on my offer to take an extended vacation.”
“Me too. Although whether I stay the entire three months you had in mind is up in
the air. If I’m needed in LA, I’ll have to return.” There was no way she could put Jeff off for three months—it wouldn’t be fair to either of them.
“Of course. After all, you’re a woman in constant demand. What with your
restaurant and acting career.”
“I don’t know how in demand I am these days. I gave up acting years ago, and my
restaurant runs smoothly thanks to my executive chef and my fantastic manager. Between those two, the only thing I’m needed for is paying the bills.” She sat up taller. “What’s for lunch?” She wasn’t hungry, but anything was better than talking about her professional life.
Helen’s face lit up as she pulled the cloth off a serving tray. “I prepared a chicken
salad, fresh fruit, and for dessert I made homemade peach ice cream.”
“That sounds delicious.” She allowed Helen to serve her then bowed her head as her
hostess offered a blessing for the food.
“Amen.” Helen placed a cloth napkin in her lap. “I wasn’t sure what you like, but I
remembered you enjoyed this dish when you were last here.”
“You have a good memory, especially considering you’d had a stroke shortly before
I arrived. I’m surprised you remember much about those weeks.”
“I recall pretty much everything. It wasn’t like I had a lot to do to fill my mind.
Having you here helped with my therapy.”
How had she not managed to find the time to visit this sweet woman sooner, and
more important why had she been so nervous? Helen was as kind and genuine in person as she’d been in their weekly correspondence these past six years.
Helen’s face brightened as she looked past Estelle. “Good afternoon, Blake. I’d like
you to meet a friend. She’s the one staying in the cottage.”
Estelle turned to face the man. She sucked in a breath. He had to be over six feet tall. His dark hair had a messy look that she liked. Get it together. He wasn’t the first
ruggedly handsome man she’d ever met. Plus there was Jeff.
He looked down at her with chocolate brown eyes. “It’s nice to meet you. Helen has
told me all about you.”
Estelle shot a look toward Helen. “Don’t believe everything you hear.”
Oooh, I LOVE where this story is going, and I think you will, too.
Amazon buy link:https://www.amazon.com/Encore-Estelle-Melodies-Love-Book-ebook/dp/B071Z3C5SG
I’m offering a short post to let you know I have two guest posts today that I believe you would enjoy.
Her site if offering a giveaway regarding her summer promotion, so make sure you read all about that, too!
It’s also my rotation at Inspy Romance, and this picture intrigues me every time I see it. Those animals are swimming in that gunk and it just gets me. I used that picture to talk about the writing process and the middle. I sure do struggle with that!
Remember, to celebrate ENGAGED releasing the 26th, I am giving newsletter subscribers a FREE e-Read of Book 1, ENTANGLED!
It’s been quiet in this corner for a lot of reasons.
- End of school year madness. Why does it surprise me every year?
- Loss of a dear, dear friend
- Tom’s travel schedule
- Co leading a small group study with Tom
- Oh, and I’m releasing ENGAGED this month!
ENGAGED is the third book in the Surrendering Time Series. ENTRUSTED was about surrendering the present. ENTANGLED was about surrendering the past. ENGAGED? You guessed it. Surrendering the future.
I loved ENTRUSTED, but the process was a challenge because it was new and I was full of doubt. I did not love ENTANGLED. The story has been a favorite with readers, but I couldn’t relate to Carla, so it made the writing process difficult. I struggled more with doubt. The second book syndrome is real.
ENGAGED has been fun to write. It brings back some humor and sass that I had in ENTRUSTED and carries a theme I know too well. Surrendering your dreams for God’s plans.
I’ll share more as time is closer, but for now, there is a chance for one US winner to win a signed copy of ENGAGED.
Visit Patti’s Porch and leave a comment on the post. Of course, you need to read the post. It’s a good story, and all true. I’ll never forget how that all came together. Only God.