Hello Everyone! I am taking a break this Short Story Thursday to put in a timely short story for Easter. I hope you enjoy it and I will be finishing up Choices a week from today.
Happy Easter to all!
Disciple by Cynthia Hall
John 12:26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant, also will be.
“Whoa, Samuel. Wash your face, hands, and feet please before you come to the table. You know the rules.”
Samuel moved back from the table and kicked off his sandals. “Sorry, Mother. I’ve just heard some news that I’m eager to share with the rest of the family.”
“Only your baby sister has arrived for dinner, and although I am sure she will listen to you, at five years old I think you might not receive the meaningful conversation you seek.”
Samuel laughed at his mother’s wit. “I agree, but some day this little cutie will be a great leader for all the people.”
“What makes you think such a thing?”
“Look at her face. The face of a scholar.”
Samuel’s mother did take a minute to look, but not at her daughter’s. It was her fifteen-year-old son she admired this day. Even as a young boy, Samuel was always eager to learn and considered much wiser than most boys his age.
“What has excited you?”
“I want to tell Father the news of Jesus.”
She sighed before answering. “I’ve heard.”
“Tomorrow I want to take Father with me to hear Jesus for himself. Will you come with us?”
“I have to watch the children and you know your father’s feelings about Jesus.”
“I had hoped he would at least listen to him before he passes judgment.”
“He has heard what Jesus thinks, just as you have.”
“I think his thoughts might change after seeing him.”
“I would not count on that. Your father is a hardworking man, dedicated to providing for his family.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“He feels Jesus is a Bedouin, a wanderer of the country with no homeland ties or people.”
“But that is what Jesus is all about. He travels and teaches for all people. He cares about all the people. Jesus says we are all bonded as his brothers and sisters. Whoever does the will of our Father in heaven is his brother, sister, and mother.
The door opened and Samuel’s twelve-year-old twin sisters entered from the garden. We are so hungry we could eat supper even if Samuel had cooked,” Laura said.
Samuel didn’t banter back as usual.
“What’s the matter Samuel, lost for words this day?” she asked.
“He looks impatient, Sister,” Louise teased.
“Hush girls and help set the table. Your father will be coming soon.”
The girls giggled and began setting dishes on the table.
“Why aren’t you in the field with father Samuel?”
“Father sent me to town to collect goods this morning.”
“And that took you all day?” Laura asked.
Samuel was about to answer when his father came in the front door.
“Father!” Margaret ran to her father and threw her arms around his legs.
“Hello, little turnip. Had a busy day?”
“Yes, father. I played with my friend Harry today.”
“Your friend Harry is a barn cat,” said Louise.
“He is still my friend.”
“Of course he is turnip. Now what have we for supper?”
“Stew,” answered Mother.
“Did you get the goat feed Samuel?”
“Have you fed the goats?”
“Not yet. I will do it after we eat.”
“You will do it now.”
“Yes Sir.” Samuel never disobeyed his father. Samuel realized his father worked to give his family a wonderful life, but tonight he was eager to talk about Jesus.
Make it quick, then we will eat together,” said Father.
Samuel went to the barnyard as directed. Every step made him more agitated that his father had put him off. Why would he never listen to him? Why was it that every time he wanted to have a serious conversation with his father, his father would find something for him to do?
The goats gathered around the gate, waiting to be fed as Samuel untied the latch. “Back away so I can get in you fools. The goats didn’t back away, they only continued to push forward. Samuel managed to open the gate only wide enough to squeeze through and snatched the feed bag from the hook hung high in the corner. The goats surrounded Samuel’s legs, clamoring to get feed. Samuel grabbed a hand full of feed and threw it out in a sweeping motion. The goats watched the feed fly in the air then ran to where the feed had hit the ground. Only one old gray goat stayed behind. Samuel tossed out another large handful but the billy stayed put and butted his empty hand.
“Stubborn goat. Why do you think you are special and deserve to be hand fed? Why do you not follow the others? Samuel laughed. “My father would think me a goat I suppose.” He pulled out a handful of feed and offered it to the goat.
“My father thinks I am a fool. In fact, if he were here now and I tried to tell him about Jesus he would say to me, “I do not have time for what Jesus has to say Samuel.”
And I would say, but father, Jesus is teaching the word of His father. And father would say, ‘How do you know what he is saying is the truth?’ And I would say to him, if you would only listen to Jesus you would hear what he knows is the truth. Father would say, ‘Samuel, you cannot be taken in by any street wanderer who claims to be the Son of a God.’”
Samuel took hold of the billy’s beard and leaned down to look directly into his eyes.
“What’s that goat? You say following Jesus is a foolhardy? Yes, yes I know goat, the teachers of the law agree with you and they believe Jesus is dangerous. But I tell you goat that the teachers of the law speak against Jesus because His teachings contradict what the law makers believe. They fear his teachings and they do not want to believe his miracles.”
And this is truly something you would want to remember old goat, anyone who speaks against Jesus will be held accountable. So take heed, old gray.”
The goat tried to shake his head, “nay.” Samuel let go of the goat’s beard.
“Yes, enough for now goat. I must go to dinner.” Samuel took a glance back at the goat while tying the latch. “Why goat, is it easier talking to you than my own father?”
Samuel entered the house to find everyone seated and waiting patiently. He washed his hands and feet again and took his seat on his father’s left, who sat at the head of the table. Mother filled bowls with stew and passed them around the table.
“Let’s begin before it gets cold.”
Samuel took a deep breath and began, “Father, what are your plans for tomorrow?”
“Why do you ask?”
“I want to go into the city to hear Jesus speak.”
“Yes, he’s going to be at the temple courts.”
“I think you have wasted most of the afternoon listening to Jesus already. It took you nearly three hours to get supplies today.”
“But Father, this is Jesus.”
Mother winced and tried to change the subject. “Would someone please pass the biscuits?”
“And what did you learn from your profit today?”
“That I want to follow him.”
“And do what?”
“Learn…teach…spread His word.”
“And that is what Jesus is doing now?”
“Yes. If you would just take the time to hear him.”
“Who gives him this authority?”
“Why God, Jesus he is the Son of God, His father.”
“You believe this to be true?’
“Yes Father. Come with me tomorrow. You will see.” The more Samuel talked about his idol, the more his excitement grew.
“Samuel, if Jesus is who you say he is then why was he seen entering the house of a tax collector? What business would he have with the likes of those people?
“I was told he changed the heart of that man. The tax collector gave half his money to the poor and began to worship God after his visit. (Luke 19 – 19:9) They say the Pharisee prayed before God that he was thankful that he was not like the robbers, adulterers and tax collectors. He felt he was more devout. Jesus said the tax collector humbled himself before God and denounced he was a sinner and asked for God’s mercy. Jesus says that a man who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10 – 15)
“The teachers of the law say Jesus is following Satan’s power instead of a divine spirit.”
Mother suddenly sensed the conversation worsening. “Would anyone like seconds? I made plenty this evening.”
“You believe what he teaches, don’t you Father?”
“I believe he is dividing the people.”
“The people are doing that to themselves, “Samuel retorted.
“He is dividing us...separating you from your family. You choose to believe what he has told you and are convinced to follow his teachings. You have been brought up thinking one way and now you choose to think differently.”
But Father, everything Jesus says is from God. The God that we all believe. He says anyone who speaks against the Son of Man will be forgiven but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven I tell you the truth.”
“Enough of what Jesus says.” Samuel’s father stood and tossed his napkin to the table. “It is time you start listening to your father. I will meet you in the field in the morning just before sunrise for a fruitful day of work. There you will once again learn what is important and the meaning of life. Is that understood Samuel?” He didn’t wait for Samuel to answer and retired to his bedroom.
Samuel was about to say something when Mother reached across the table and firmly placed her hand over her son’s arm. “You can talk again in the morning.”
“I won’t be here tomorrow Mother. I am going into the city to hear Jesus.”
Night fell, daybreak came, and Samuel had walked to his friend’s house so they could travel to the city together.
“Good morning Paul,” Samuel said.
“Shhh,” whispered Paul. My mother will wake.”
Samuel waited until he couldn’t see Paul’s house anymore to speak again. “Father will be angry when he finds that I am gone this morning.”
“He does not understand. I wish he could see Jesus the way other people do.”
“My father thinks Jesus is stirring up trouble. He says he wants people to separate and riot.”
“That is ironic. He wants just the opposite. How can we convince people?”
“I think it is too big a job for us to try Samuel.”
“Maybe, but doesn’t Jesus tell us to keep going?
“To repeat what he knows to be true,” Paul said.
“Jesus is doing it. He has many followers, and I want to follow. Have you changed your mind?”
Paul kicked a couple of stones as he walked. “I do not want to get into trouble with the authorities.”
“There will not be any trouble. Jesus is a leader, a great teacher. You cannot get into trouble for teaching…for following a teacher.”
The young men quickened their pace as they neared the city. Street vendors had only begun to set up when they reached town. Samuel and Paul stopped to buy fruit for breakfast. As Samuel ate he enjoyed the warm morning sun on his face. A soft breeze kept it from being too hot.
“Something seems different today. Can you feel it Samuel?” asked Paul.
Samuel looked into the eyes of the passing people and that he saw fear and angst in their faces. “Yes, I see. We should keep going. We want to get a close spot in the temple courts so we can see Jesus clearly.”
It seemed to Samuel that the street vendors rushed around, trying to arrange their goods quickly. Mothers tugged on children’s arms, as if they were attempting to be somewhere first. Samuel stopped a young boy that ran beside him. “What is the hurry boy?”
“I must get home to tell my parents,” and the boy was gone.
Samuel and Paul kept walking toward the temple courts and after passing a few more parallel streets it was apparent that many people were moving in the same direction.
“They must all be going to hear Jesus speak,” Paul said.
“I don’t know. Something does not feel right.”
Samuel stopped a woman and her children.
“Where is everyone going?”
“Haven’t you heard? The soldiers have three criminals that they are about to crucify. I am trying to get my children home before the trouble starts.” She and her children ducked down a side alley.
“Why does she suspect trouble?” asked Paul. “There is never this much fuss over criminals.”
As Samuel and Paul neared the courts they began to hear people shouting and could barely make their way through the tight crowd. Many people chanted “Crucify him” while others wept openly. It was a puzzling experience for Samuel. The city, a place of normalcy and routine, was now a rush of chaos.
“The woman said there were three criminals, is that right Paul?” Samuel asked.
“Then why are people chanting, ‘Crucify him,’ and why are others weeping?”
Samuel looked through the crowd and noticed a friend nearby. He gently pushed his way through the crowd to get to the man. “Marcus,” he called out. Samuel had to call out his name twice more and wave his arm before he had Marcus’ attention.
“Samuel, this is horrible news.”
“You have not heard? They are going to crucify Jesus.” The noise from the crowd erupted and Samuel thought he must have heard wrong.
“Jesus…they are going to crucify Jesus.” Marcus shouted into Samuel’s ear. “The soldiers have taken him to the courts and as I understand it they are beating him merciless now. Tears rolled down over Marcus’ cheeks.
“You must be mistaken.” Samuel shouted back.
“No mistake. They are marching him to the hill to die.”
“We must stop it.” Samuel began pushing his way through the crowd, but Marcus pulled him back by his arm.
“Wait. You will want to hear this. Jesus is not fighting this.”
Samuel looked into his friend’s eyes. “I do not understand what you are telling me.”
“Jesus has gone willingly to his death.”
“But why? Why would he do such a thing? It is not true. The law makers are telling lies about this, I am sure of it. We must go and see what we can do to stop this.”
Samuel, Paul, and Marcus snaked through the mass of people that were forming a line on the side of the road that led up the hill. Many of them rejoiced while others cried out in horror.
“Look,” pointed Paul.
Over the heads of the crowd, on the distant hillside road, Samuel could see Jesus in the distance. He was beaten bloody and dragging a massive wooden cross on His shoulder. Soldier’s surrounded him. Panic turned Samuel’s stomach and bile surged to his throat. The sound of the crowd seemed to dissipate and silence crept over him. His mind and body went numb as he stared ahead. Time seemed suspended as he stood paralyzed.
“Samuel. Samuel.” Paul shook Samuel’s shoulders.
It wasn’t the shaking that alerted Samuel. Something hit Samuel in the ear, a rock that a young boy had pitched, meant to be an attack on Jesus. “Crucify him,” shouted the boy in anger.
Samuel looked on with wonderment. “Marcus, what do they say Jesus has done wrong?”
“I do not know.”
“We should make our way to the top,” Samuel charged ahead, but the crowd was too thick and when they made it half way up the hill and then they were unable to go any farther.
The mood of the people that stood close to the execution had changed. Most people were silent, or weeping, and falling on their knees in prayer.
“We must stop this,” Samuel shouted. No one looked and when Samuel shouted again his out cries were received badly. His frustrated look was meant with blank stares and tear stained faces. One elderly man pulled on his garment, “On your knees son, have you no respect?”
“I have respect,” he replied indignantly. “Why are you so passive about what is happening?”
“There is nothing more we can do.” That was all the conversation the man was going to have. He bowed his head and closed his eyes in prayer.
Again, someone tugged at Samuel’s clothing. “On your knees, Samuel,” said Paul.
The sight of Paul and Marcus kneeling in prayer arose a burning inside of Samuel. He wanted to jump and scream. He wanted to run as fast as he could. He felt hopeless and afraid. Samuel ignored Paul’s tug and began to move farther up the hillside, scuffing his feet on the ground, inching his way between the tightly formed crowd. He wanted, needed, to get close to Jesus, all the while thinking of a way stop what was happening. He pressed forward but found it nearly impossible to gain any ground. Samuel concentrated on every footstep. The crowd gasped in unison and Samuel looked up for the first time in five minutes.
He watched as the soldiers labored to hoist the enormous cross into the air, standing it on end. The awful image that Samuel was witnessing would remain burned to his memory forever. Samuel had been so intent on making his way up the hillside that he was unaware that two criminals had been hoisted earlier. The soldiers were placed Jesus between them. His hands and feet had been nailed onto the wood, keeping him in place. Samuel was too far away to make out the object around his head but he was close enough to see Jesus’ blood dripping to the ground.
Once again he tried to shuffle forward, but it was no use. His ankles were wedged in by people, and during the attempt to forge forward, Samuel lost his balance and fell to his knees. He threw back his head and screamed in anguish, “No!” Emotion welled up inside Samuel and he was unable to control the flow of tears that followed. Dark clouds covered the sky and a chilling wind broke the warm daytime air. His heart ached with sorrow.
Day grew into night and people slowly left the hill. Samuel never looked up again until he felt a warm hand upon his shoulder. Even then it took all his strength to raise his head and look upward. “Father?”
“Come son, there is nothing we can do here.”
Samuel’s father helped Samuel to his feet and the two men began the long trek down the hillside together. Samuel couldn’t help from taking a look back, his father continuing to move him along gently. They were on the outskirts of town before they spoke again.
“Why did you come?” Samuel’s voice still trembled.
“You are my son and I love you.”
“But I disobeyed you.”
“You followed your convictions.”
“I went against what your teachings.”
“You were trying to better yourself.”
“I am a fool.”
“I believe I am the fool. I realized today that I must make a choice this day Samuel, who will I serve. I feel the Law Makers are not making decisions that will help all the people. Maybe I should hear what Jesus was teaching because it sounds like he cared more for all people. I should have listened to what you wanted me to know. If you are still willing, I would like to learn about Jesus and what he was teaching.”
“You would do that for me?”
“Yes…and I would do it for me and what is right for my family.
Samuel could hardly believe what he was hearing. “I am overwhelmed.”
“I do not agree with what has happened today. If the Law Makers were so fearful of what Jesus had to say, then He must have had knowledge worth knowing.”
“I think Jesus would be pleased Father. Even after His death, his teachings will live on.”
“Let’s get home now Samuel. We will talk more in the morning.”