A journey to the cross is a journey to repentance. It’s a journey to deep personal change. Will you take this journey with me?
In today’s reading, Marcus the centurion, watches with intense interest as a third child is healed by the prophet from Galilee.
Seizing the moment, a young mother rushed forward, clutching a limp form in her arms. Upon seeing this mother and child, I was stabbed by pain. Remembered pain. The dark sunken eyes glazed by fever, the pallid skin, the wheezing cough and raspy breath, I remembered it all.
The child was racked with consumption. The disease was consuming her, consuming her body, and with it a mother’s hope until none was left. The toddler didn’t stir a muscle as Jesus looked into her fevered young eyes.
Experience told me this gaunt daughter would be dead within a week. It was the mother who trembled and pleaded—pleaded for her who lacked even the strength to cry.
“Give me the child,” Jesus gently urged. The request took the mother completely by surprise. Instinctively she clutched the girl even more closely to herself.
“Give her to me.”
There was tenderness in that deep voice.
The mother was visibly caught in an inner struggle. I suppose she had held on so long and so tightly that now it was hard to give this frail object of her affection to a stranger. Their eyes met for an instant. He gave a short nod to his head as if to say, “Yes, it has to be this way.” And the struggle was over.
She eased her slumping burden into Jesus’s arms. The child’s head drooped against his chest. He wrapped a big hand around the girl’s head, brushed a wisp of hair from her eyes, rocked her side to side. Then with slow deliberation, he turned from the multitude and faced the great temple doorway.
An intense quiet engulfed the assembly. Moments passed.
“Father . . . Father . . .”
That’s all I heard him whisper. He raised his gaze to heaven and then back to the little one in his arms. With the same slow deliberation he turned back to us.
She squirmed in his arms—eyes bright and clear. Two little hands shot out, reaching for her mommy. The smile spoke ten thousand words. The child was whole. Transformed! Completely healed!
The crowd was ecstatic.
“Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Then for a second time, our eyes met. He knew me. I could see it in his eyes. I don’t mean Jesus recognized me. I mean he knew me. Knew me from front to back, from inside out, from my first day till now. It was a dreadful feeling—a naked feeling.
I turned abruptly from him. My heart hammered in my chest. I began fumbling my way through the crowd, desperate for an exit. I had to get away.
But my child . . . my daughter . . .
Why wasn’t she healed? Why wasn’t she spared?
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