Fri.Fiction: (Guest- Jennifer Slattery)

I have the privilege of hosting Friday Fiction today.
If you are participating, post your story on your blog
and link to your site at the bottom of my post.
(anyone is welcome to join us)

For my Friday Fiction entry,
I want you to meet my guest blogger,
Jennifer Slattery.


Jennifer Slattery

As was the custom, Jesus gathered His disciples in an upper room to celebrate the Passover meal. Only on this night, it felt different, like darkness lurked among them.

The Rabbi glanced at Peter and held gaze as if there was so much more needing to be said.
Everyone spoke in hushed tones. Was something wrong? Had they forgotten anything? Had an item been prepared incorrectly?

When Jesus spoke, the room went silent. “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins.”

The disciples exchanged glances as a thousand questions burned on their tongues, but no one dared to speak.

Jesus continued, the flame of a nearby candle reflecting in His eyes. “For I will not drink wine again until the kingdom of God has come.”

Peter sat up straighter. His fingers twitched at his sides, anticipating the smooth leather of his sword’s handle. Was it time for liberation? Would their Messiah finally overthrow their Roman oppressors, restoring the Jewish nation to its previous glory?

Everyone leaned forward—everyone except Judas who busied himself with a loose thread on his tunic. Anticipation mounted as the disciples awaited orders.

Only orders didn’t come.

Sorrow filled Jesus’ eyes as He lifted a loaf of bread in the air. His hand trembled with emotion as He tore off a chunk. “This is my body, which is given for you.” He looked John in the eye and held his gaze. “Do this in remembrance of Me.”

The rest of the meal continued in awkward silence. A few hushed questions passed from ear to ear, but no answers sufficed. What did He mean the bread was His body? And how would it be broken?
Memories of words spoken by Jesus predicting His death flashed through their minds, but they quickly shoved them aside. Their leader couldn’t die—not Jesus—the One who calmed the sea, healed lepers and brought life to the dead. Surely they misunderstood…hadn’t they?

But then Jesus spoke again and his eyes narrowed on Judas. “Hurry, and do what you’re going to do.”

An icy breeze swept across the room. Judas squirmed beneath Jesus’ steely gaze. Then, like a slithery snake, he bolted to his feet and hurried out of the room, leaving the other disciples to shake their heads in confusion.

When Jesus looked at them once again, His eyes grew moist and His voice took on the soothing tone of a father comforting a timid child. “Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for Me, but you can’t come where I am going.”
Simon Peter’s eyes went wide. “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus reached out and touched Peter’s hand. “You can’t go with Me now, but you will follow me later.”

Panic pricked Peter’s nerves. “But why can’t I come now, Lord? I’m ready to die for you.”

“Will you really lay down your life for me?” Jesus shook His head slowly, tears brimming in His eyes. “I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times. But don’t be troubled.”

Jesus knew Peter was going to betray Him, yet He loved him anyway. Don’t be troubled, He said. Trust in God. Trust also in Me. Don’t let your failure stand in the way of My love.

After the meal was over, Jesus led the disciples to a moonlit garden. Before long, their full bellies lulled them to sleep. While they slept, Jesus cried out to the Father in anguish. “Oh, Father, my soul is overwhelmed to the point of sorrow. If there is anyway, let this cup of suffering be taken from Me.” He glanced at his disciples huddled on the ground, broken and in need of restoration. Closing His eyes as tears flooded His face, He surrendered to the eternal plan—the plan set in motion before mankind took his first breath. There was no other way. The salvation of all mankind lay upon His shoulders. “May Your will be done, Father.”

And then in a flash, everything came undone. One minute Jesus was praying, and the next He was surrounded by angry soldiers. They arrived with blazing torches and lanterns, weapons drawn. The disciples rushed to His defense, raised swords glistening in the pale moon light. With one swipe, the high priest’s ear was sliced from his face.

“No more of this!” Jesus locked eyes with His disciple and spoke with a firm, commanding voice. “Put away your sword. Don’t you realize that I could ask My Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and He would send them instantly?”

The disciples stepped back, swords falling to their sides. This didn’t make any sense. Was their leader admitting defeat?

They fled, each one running in a different direction, leaving Jesus in the hands of His captors. Everyone but Peter and John, who followed at a distance. The soldiers brought Jesus to the high priest’s chambers. John rushed inside while Peter cowered in the outer courtyard. His muscles quivered with adrenaline, his heart pounding in his ears. A cold wind swept over him as dark clouds filling the night sky.

All around him, people chattered like spectators awaiting the gladiator games. They huddled near doorways, gathering in packs of threes and fours.

“Have you heard what has happened? Did you see the man dragged into the high priest’s chambers?”

“Wasn’t that Jesus, the one who raised Lazarus from the dead?”

“Pshaw, a man with power to raise the dead could stand up against a Roman army.”

A girl with long black hair draped over thin shoulders turned to Peter, her eyes widening with recognition. “You!” She jabbed a finger in his direction. “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean!”

Peter stumbled backward, shaking his head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” A bead of sweat trickles down his back.

Spinning on his heels, He ran to the city gate in search of a place to hide. But there was nowhere to go. He’d been branded. Now, he was “one of them”.

“This man was with Jesus!” A servant girl pointed an accusatory finger in Peter’s direction.

“I don’t even know this man!” Peter shook his head emphatically.

“You must be one of them,” a bystander said, “we can tell by your Galilean accent.”

Peter’s hands clenched in fists as his eyes narrowed on his accuser. “A curse on me if I am lying—I don’t know the man!”

Before the final word rolled off his tongue, the rooster crowd. Peter grabs his hair, eyes scrunched shut, as Jesus’ words come rushing back. “Will you really die for me, Peter? Before the rooster crows you will deny me three times…But don’t be troubled.”

Peter was more than troubled. The guilt was unbearable. As they nailed Jesus to the cross, his heart screamed in anguish.

Clank! Clank! Clank!
Jesus cried out as the thick metal pierced his flesh.

Jesus’ words swirled through Peter’s head again and again. “Will you really die for me, Peter? Will you really die for me?”

He crumbled to the ground, heart wrenching in his chest, as tears flood his face. How could he deny the One he loved? How could He deny His Lord?

And then it was over. Jesus breathed His last and his executioners placed His limp body in a cave while the rest of the disciples attempted to get on with their life.

How do you move past that kind of failure?

The guilt was crippling. Paralyzing.

But God’s love didn’t cease. Even now, even after all Peter and the rest of the disciples had failed, God’s love pursued them.

Three days after the crucifixion, Jesus rose from the dead and sought after His disciples. He found them on the Sea of Galilee trying to return to their old way of life. He knew their hearts. He heard their thoughts. He felt their pain.

But that was in the past. The sins they had committed were paid for. It was done, and now nothing would stand in the way of their intimacy.

Standing on the water’s edge, Jesus called out to them. “Did you catch any fish?”

“No.” A muttered response, laden with sorrow. The men worked harder, faster, as if doing so would numb their searing heart.

“Throw your net on the right side of the boat, and you’ll get some!”

It was a déjà vu moment—a replay of the events leading to their initial call. As the disciples pulled their bulging net from the water, John cried, “It is the Lord!”

Peter dropped the net and turned, his vision blurring with tears. In a flash he plunged in the water, working his arms faster and faster until he could feel he could feel the cool, wet sand beneath him.

Water dripped from his face and hair as he stood trembling before his Lord. Would Jesus rebuke him? Turn him away? The very thought was unbearable. But no words of condemnation were spoken, nothing but an invitation to come and dine—to be restored.

From the time of Adam to the day of the cross, man’s sins have separated them from God. But God’s love for us is so intense; He was unwilling to let anything stand in the way of His love. When Jesus died on the cross, He took the sins of all humanity—your sins, my sins, Peter’s sins—upon Himself and paid the penalty we deserved so that we can experience authentic intimacy with Him forever.

~ ~ ~

Jennifer Slattery lives in the Midwest with her husband of sixteen years and their fourteen year old daughter. She lives in her head most of the time, but when visiting the real world, she likes to run, bike ride, and take long, romantic walks with her forever-love. She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the Christian Pulse and Samie Sisters and is the marketing manager for the literary website, Clash of the Titles. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, E-zines, and compilation books and has saturated the web many times over and placed in numerous contests. Now she uses her contest-winning skills to help other authors take their manuscripts from good to great. Find out more about her services at Words That Keep and catch a devo or two at her personal blog, Lives Out Loud


Debra Ann Elliott said...

Thank you for hosting FF. The story is beautiful. I had tears. Beautiful story Jennifer.

Josh said...

I love re-tellings of Bible stories. You did a great job of adding additional emotion to the story of Jesus that we know and love. I loved reading your perspective of the events and how you imagined them going down. It still leaves me speechless when I think of the sacrifice He made for me. Thank you for sharing this. It blessed me!

Marijo (Mary Jo) Phelps said...

Beautifully written - I am doing a Christmas and Easter combo today and you are doing Easter - I love this!

Jennifer Slattery said...

Debra, thank you! For me, it was powerful to try to envision what Peter must have felt like after Christ's resurrection, knowing he'd failed Christ. And to see Christ welcome him back. I think we often let past sins stand in the way of our fully experiencing the love of Christ. We must repent, for sure, but once we have, we need to move on, resting in God's forgiveness.

Josh, amen!

Marijo, Easter is one of those holidays I believe we could celebrate daily as we walk in the new life that day offered us!

Yvonne Blake said...

Thanks for being part of Friday Fiction, Jennifer. (I hope you join us each week on your own blog.)

I love to think about Bible stories and all the emotions behind the actions.

Yvonne Blake said...

(That didn't come out right *blush*)
I'm glad to have you on my blog, and I hope to see you link up with us each week on Friday Fiction.


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