Bleed (Part 5)

The worst part was that she knew in her heart that he was right.

Life had been hard, and this illness had never been fair. Where was the God her father had told her about in his stories? Where was this God who had saved Noah and his family from the waters of the great flood? Where was the God that protected Daniel in the lions den? If this God loved his people so much, why couldn’t he have kept her father alive? Why was she left here alone to fend for herself? Why did she have to turn to stealing clothes and food to survive?

Wiping the tears from her eyes, she looked down at the clothes she wore. Stolen from the fence of a woman in her home town, but now ripped and covered in dust and blood. Even those few coins this morning had been stolen from a kind neighbor when her back had been turned. Her hand reached up to brush her hair from her eyes, and came away sticky and red. She had never meant to become a thief, but there didn’t seem to be any other way for her to survive. She had been alone in this world for so long. What would her parents think of the woman she had become? Would they call her filthy? Would they know her worthlessness? Would they too seek her death like the beggar had?

Several faint shouts echoed through the streets she had just fled, followed by the sounds of people running. Her breath caught in her throat as the pounding of feet mingled with the sounds of metal on leather drew nearer. Through the tears she could just see the entrance to the alley she was hiding in, and a dark shape crossed it quickly. Moments later she saw what looked like several soldiers cross the entrance as well, clearly in pursuit of the dark shape. The sounds of a nearby scuffle soon reached her ears, and she pressed herself further back into the shadows as the hissing voice of the beggar screamed in terror. A few moments later she knew that he had been captured, and was being lead away in chains.

“I deserve to be locked up just like that man.” she thought. “He is no worse than me.”

Her heart again leapt into her throat as the beggar was lead past the opening where she hid. Four soldiers escorted him past, but the last turned back and spoke aloud to someone just out of sight.

“Wait here for Jesus to pass by. We don’t need any more trouble standing between him and Jarius today. His daughter might not have much time left.” the soldier finished without waiting for a response, turning back in the direction they had come. Soon the sounds of chains and marching faded into the distance. The street became quiet once more, and it was in this quiet that the woman heard the posted guard talking among themselves.

“The boss really believes in this whole Jesus thing, eh?” said a gruff voiced soldier.

“Yeah, well, you know what happened.” a softer voice answered. “His servant had been sick for weeks, and this guy just healed him.”

“Yeah, I know that’s the story, but just how exactly did this Jesus heal him?” the gruff voice responded. “I mean, he didn’t even come to see the guy. Just waved his hand or something and suddenly the servants healed? How do we know he wasn’t already going to get better on his own?”

“He wasn’t going to get better on his own.” the softer voice replied. “The way I heard it, he hadn’t spoken for a week, and suddenly just sat up in bed for the first time in a fortnight and asked for some soup.”

“I could use a fortnight or two in bed.” the gruff man laughed.

“Yeah. I don’t think the rest of us would mind you sleeping for a few weeks either!” the quiet man quipped. “Maybe the boss would give you the time off if you asked nicely.”

“Jerk. I was just saying I could use a bit more sleep ya know.” he continued meekly. “How long do we need to wait for this Jesus guy anyways?”

“I’ll bet he’ll be along this way in a few minutes. It seems he’s always up to something. He’s got the big shots at the synagogue chasing their tails trying to catch him doing something wrong but all I’ve ever heard of him doing is teaching about loving your enemies and giving people forgiveness for their sins.”

“So why’s Jarius going to him for help? They can’t like that very much.” the gruff man asked.

The woman slowly crept closer to the entrance of the alley so she could hear them better, the aches and pains of the attack making her movements stiff and clumsy. Her head ached, but the desire to hear more about this still mysterious man overrode the stiffness in her body.

“A good father will do anything for his daughter when she’s in danger. Even drag his own name through the mud and shame if it means she might have a chance to be okay.” the soft voiced man replied. “I’d give anything to keep my daughter safe. Even when she’s being a downright brat about something, even when she breaks my heart with her decisions, I’d go to the ends of the earth for her. I think Jarius is a man like that, and Jesus knows it.”

“Yeah. I get it I guess.” the gruff man growled. “It’s just going to make his life pretty difficult after this.”

As the soldiers conversation continued, the woman thought back to her own father and all the things he had sacrificed for her. Would he have done that if he would have known? Could he have forgiven her?

“Heads up! Here he comes!” Said the soft voiced man.

Panic returned as the woman realized that this was her chance. The healing she had been chasing was just around the corner. The rising swell of voices found her ears as she stood up carefully, and began trying to dust off the torn and dusty clothes she wore.

Could she face this man Jesus?

to be continued…