I do have a chapter for The Farmers’ Sons ready to go but today I wanted to share this excerpt from Fully Alive, the Biblical fiction story I shared a bit from last year (maybe the year before, actually) in honor of Good Friday.
I haven’t completed that story but hope to continue to work on it this year.
I will be back with a chapter from The Farmers’ Sons tomorrow.
Josefa woke with a start, cold sweat beading across her forehead. She tried to remember where she was, the only sound her rapid, pulsating heartbeat . She looked around and slowly her room began to take shape in the moonlight. She’d had the nightmare again. The one she’d had night after night. The nightmare of that day in Jerusalem, when her family had been there for Passover.
The day Yeshua died.
The day five years ago when Yeshua had been murdered on Golgotha.
She remembered it like it had been yesterday.
Voices full of rage echoed within the city walls.
Her father had trembled next to her with shock, anger, confusion. He pulled and her younger brother close. “Keep walking. Don’t stop.”
Her mother followed, tears streaking her face, sobs shaking her body.
“Father, why would they do this?” Tears soaked Josefa’s face as the crowd enveloped her, jostled her into other people.
She didn’t understand. Why were the priests of this city demanding the death of the man who had brought her back from the dead? What had he done that deserved death?
She screamed in protest, but no one could hear her and if they could, they weren’t listening.
“It’s not true! He saved me! He brought me back from the dead!” She tried again, her throat raw, her voice hoarse. “He gave me back my life!”
A man shoved her hard to the ground.
“Shut your mouth, you blaspheming liar!”
Saliva dripped down his chin as he screamed. A tremor of fear rushed through Josefa and she looked away quickly. It was as if he was possessed. Maybe he was.
Jairus stooped to protect her and swung around toward the man, anger clouding his vision. “Never touch my daughter!”
The man was screaming again, standing over her and her father. “You are nothing, Jew!”
“I am a leader in the synagogue, I am a holy —”
More people were shouting at Jairus and Josefa now, shouting at anyone they felt were followers of Yeshua.
“You are nothing!”
“Blaspheming scum, go back to whatever city you came from.”
“Do you follow this man? Then you should be put to death with him.”
Jairus jerked his head toward an open area near the city wall.
“Myriam, Ephra, Josefa, come. We must leave.”
Josefa turned to follow her family but paused, looking over her shoulder at the yelling crowd, at the sudden appearance of Yeshua through the crowd, struggling to walk under the weight of what looked like a large piece of wood. She watched in horror as he fell onto the stones, the wood on top of him. Blood dropped onto the dirt from his face, his hands, everywhere. Josefa couldn’t see any of Yeshua’ skin that wasn’t bleeding.
She broke from her father’s arms and stood along the edge of the crowd as Yeshua walked by, reaching out, her fingertips touching Yeshua’ bloody garment, hanging in rags off his shoulder. She jerked her hand away and held it to her mouth as she began to sob.
“Yeshua. Yeshua,” Josefa choked out. “I believe in you, Yeshua.”
Yeshua looked at the ground as he fell again, and she wondered if he even knew she was there. A Roman soldier dragged a man from the crowd and tossed him to the ground in front of Yeshua.
“Help him! Pick up the cross!”
As the man helped lift what the soldier had called a cross, another soldier lifted Yeshua to his feet. Josefa’s heart raced as Yeshua stood slowly, raised his eyes toward the crowd and found her gaze.
His eyelids were swollen, blood running in rivulets from what appeared to be thorns bent into the shape of a crown on his head. He looked at her with an unfocused gaze as he hooked one arm around the man and the other around the wood. Hot tears stung Josefa’s eyes, rushed down her cheeks as Yeshua moved his gaze from her and looked back to the ground, shuffling his feet forward in step with the other man.
A strong hand gripped her wrist and pulled her backward, through the crowd. She looked up into deep blue eyes, a smooth face stained with dirt under a Roman helmet. The soldier’s face was young, but his eyes were old. She expected a rebuke but instead his voice was gentle, filled with compassion.
“You must leave this area. It’s not safe for young girls like you.”
She could hear her father calling for her, but Josefa couldn’t pull her eyes from the soldier’s.
“Come, Josefa!” Jairus said sharply, prying the soldier’s fingers from his daughter’s wrist. “Let’s get away from here.”
Her father’s voice broke with emotion and when she looked up at him, he was rubbing the back of his hand across his face.
“I can take no more,” he whispered hoarsely.
She looked up and the soldier had turned and was following the crowd, to where she didn’t know.
She followed her father and they found the rest of their family waiting for them by the city gates.
“We must leave, Jairus. It’s no longer safe,” Myriam whispered, trembling.
Jairus pulled her close and nodded. “We will go and collect our things from Lieber’s and begin our journey this evening. I will see if I can convince him and his family to come with us. The Romans are thirsty for blood this day.”
“What are they going to do to Yeshua, father?” Josefa asked, fear shivering through her.
Jairus shook his head. “I don’t know, Josefa. Keep walking.”
Jairus’ brother declined traveling away from Jerusalem, begging Jairus to remain for Passover.
“Traveling on Passover is forbidden. We will be safe here on this side of the city. The Romans are only taking care of a troublemaker, a man who called himself the Son of God.”
“But Uncle Leiber —”
Jairus scowled at his daughter. “Josefa. Be silent. Go prepare the afternoon meal with the women.”
All these years later, Josefa still remembered how darkness fell later that day, how the ground shook and she fell to the dirt courtyard outside her aunt and uncle’s home in fear.
She screamed, reaching out for something to hold onto but finding nothing. As the ground rose up beneath her, the sun darkened, and she couldn’t see her parents or anyone else.
“Yeshua! Yeshua! Help me!”
Bricks fell from stone structures around her, striking her and then blackness settled over her and all was still.
She woke to her mother’s voice that day and again, five years later, she heard her mother call to her. And again, her mother took her in arms and again she told her everything would be okay and prayed over her, asking for Adonai’s protection.