Need | A Salvation Story Imagined

Recently God helped me to more fully understand the depth of my need for His work on the cross – that even if I could stop Him, I wouldn’t, because I need Him to save me and to save everyone I love. This was hard to express and when I sat down to write it, what came out (below) was unexpected. Please don’t freak out that the “Judge” is a woman. I’m not questioning God the Father…it’s just creative writing.

I stand, hands clasped tightly behind my back to stop them trembling. There is no noise to muffle the pounding in my ears, against my ribs, in my stomach. Breath comes fast but not fast enough.

Photo by Tito Balangue

Photo by Tito Balangue

Concentrate. In through the nose, out through the mouth.

Somewhere nearby, a crow is cawing. Gray clouds shroud the sun and a cold breeze bites at my ankles.

I fix my eyes just above her head, on the words engraved in the stone wall behind her, “Justice Shall Prevail.” Though I’m staring at the stones, I can tell she isn’t looking at us. She examines the scroll before her, reading every word. When she looks up, her face is hard and cold, like metal. She’s here to judge me. To judge us all.

She doesn’t ask if we are guilty or innocent. She already knows.

To my left, stands everyone I love. To my right, looms a crude wooden platform and behind that, a pile of stones so tall that it casts a shadow over us. There is no one else, save the Enforcers. No one to condemn or defend us. The record speaks for itself.

My children, two boys and two girls, old enough to answer for themselves now, stare ahead as I do. Except for the youngest. He looks hard at the ground. Silent tears roll down the cheeks of my oldest daughter. I can feel her crying.

“Guilty as charged!” The judge’s voice hits me like a bullet. “For rebellion, treason, betrayal and murder. You know the penalty.”

For a moment, I can’t breathe. But I will not move. I will not turn my head. The judgment is no surprise. I know. We know – we all know – what we have done.

Except the youngest. “We’ve done nothing wrong!” He shouts. “Mother, tell them! We’ve done nothing wrong!”

My eyes burn. I open them wide to keep the hot tears from spilling out. In a moment, they will take us to the platform, lie us on our backs side by side and strap us down so we cannot move. Then they will pile stones upon us – stones equal to the weight of our crimes – until we are crushed to death. But what scares me most – what hurts me most – is that my own son seems to have forgotten the difference between right and wrong.

His screams grow louder and the judge bangs her staff against the stone wall and the Enforcers scramble toward him and a sob threatens at my throat and then I hear him…not my son…but him.

“I will pay!” He thunders. “I will pay for their crimes!”

Olive Press at Public-Domain-Image.com

Olive Press at Public-Domain-Image.com

Silence once again engulfs us and I snap my head to look behind me. He walks toward the judge, meeting her eyes with his. A plain, simple man in appearance, but something about him is different. He is determined yet tender. He stops between me and the platform.

I am frozen in place. The judge’s eyes pierce the man as she asks, “Do you know the cost?”

“You know that I do,” he answers softly.

I watch something like sorrow pass over her face as she warns, “I cannot stay with you.”

“I know that, too,” he whispers.

For a moment, she looks away but then turns her face toward him again…softer now…not like metal…but like, like love. Is that possible?

“Thank you,” she says.

“You’re welcome, mother,” he replies.

Mother? I stare, forgetting to breathe. Then he looks at me for the first time and I feel as though I’m melting beneath the warmth of his eyes. It’s like I’ve known him all my life, as though he is my brother, my father, my friend. And I can hardly bear the thought of him taking my place. My chest aches and I before I know what I am doing, I find myself on my knees in the dirt, crying, “No! No!”

He rests a strong hand on my head and whispers, “But you cannot pay. Even your death will not be enough.”

I begin to sob and I don’t understand my own tears. I cling to his bare feet, my hair, soaked now with tears, falling around my face, and all I know is that I never, never want to be separated from him.

“But you can’t!” I’m shouting now.

“I am the only one who can.”

Between sobs I plead with him, “I am a traitor. A murderer. All my life, I have been lost, confused. But, but, but now you’re here and when I look in your eyes…I’m… I’m not lost anymore. Please! Please don’t go!”

“If you try to pay for your crimes on your own, you will die and we will be separated forever. But if I pay for these crimes that I did not commit, I will live and we will be together again.”

“How can that be?!”

I hear the judge’s steady voice, “I wrote the law and my son will fulfill it.”

“How do I know? How do I know you will return?!” I demand.

He puts his hand on my chin and turns me towards him, brushing the hair out of my eyes, “I came here today to save you.” He pauses, shifting his gaze to each of my children – even the youngest, who looks defiantly at the ground. “And to save them.”

Dread, sorrow and shame overwhelm me. Grief and desperation ravage my body and I can’t get air. And I know…I know that I need him…this man with eyes that see into my soul…I need Him to die…so that I can live and so that I can be with him again.

“Do you want me to save you?” he asks.

I look down, clawing at earth with my fingernails, “Is there no other way?”

“There is no other way.”

Helpless, I collapse, “Then, yes. I need you to save me. I need you to save them.”

“Yes. You do.”

He takes my head in his hands, bringing my forehead to his lips before stepping away. Afterward he speaks to each of my children, though I cannot hear his words.

Finally, he looks toward his mother. She turns and walks away.

Alone, he climbs to the platform and lays himself down in the shadow of the stones…the stones that should have crushed us all…the stones that will now crush him.

As we all watch him go, it is my youngest son who weeps the loudest of all.

One of my new favorites by Hillsong…

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