Approved by God
by Ahab Alhindi, from his new book Limitless Intimacy
The wind is blowing from the west where the quarter sun still lingers on the horizon. The roads are jammed with torch-wielding spectators pressed together, trying to make their way to the Hill of Skulls. The scraping of a three hundred pound wooden cross dragging in the dirt road can be heard above the noise of the crowd. One man walks through the streets, dragging a wooden cross. The trail left behind the man looks like that of a wounded ox plowing a field. The crimson-stained earth is being turned by the rugged timber, creating a stream of blood.
“Breathe,” He tells himself with every step. “Breathe.” The pain radiates off His swollen and flesh-stripped back makes every breath and every step seemingly more impossible than the last. He looks up, only to see the eyes of anger glaring back at Him. Nostrils flare as a man pulls the saliva from his throat and as if through a cannon, releases it onto the judged man's beard and His torn and blood-stained face. Holding the man's eyes in His own, He sees the man through the eyes of His Father and sees three short years in the future when this man will be worshiping Him in Jerusalem. He reaches out to the man, dropping the massive cross to His side and alerting the guards. The whips come flying with shouts. “Pick It UP! Where is your Father NOW?!” Among the whipping and the shouts, Jesus grasps the man’s arm, pulls the man’s ear to his mouth and whispers, “You are worth it. I forgive you.” The man rips the calloused and blood-soaked hands of Jesus off of him, his eyes widened and brows standing on end.
Jesus collapses to the ground under the hail of abuse, crawling on all fours toward the salvation of mankind. His hand brushes the top of the splinter-ridden cross, and girding Himself, He lifts the front end with two hands over His head and wrests it upon His shoulder, already bruised from the weight of the behemoth cross He is dragging through the city. A man from the crowd sprints out from the mass of people and comes under Jesus to support Him. “Rabbi, I will take it from here.” Before the man could finish, Jesus surrenders the cross, places His hand on the man’s strong back, and confesses His thanks with the blood-stained cross shadowing Him. He steadily walks up the hill, remembering the choice He has made. He attempts to make eye contact with each man, woman, and child He passes, and as He does, Jesus whispers, “You are worth it, you are worth it, you are worth it.”
“Strap him down!” the lieutenant orders. The soldiers seize the beaten body of Jesus and wrap the coarse rope around each limb. The burning of the rope goes unnoticed, His limbs being numb with pain. Lying on top of the rugged cross, looking up to the darkened sky like a sheep to the slaughter, not a word proceeded from His mouth. The soldier's hand pins His left shoulder to the cross. Jesus, startled by the man's grip, looks up and says, “Jonathan, you’re worth it.” “How do you know my name?” the soldier asks with confusion in his voice. A grin flashes across the mutilated face of Jesus just as the nail is placed spike down on His palm. “Begin!” the commander ordered. The pain, like lightning, shoots through His body, a violent scream erupts out of His mouth, causing each person within the sound of His voice to quake. “OOOHHHHHOOO!!!” The sound ripples through the hills—the air being sucked out of each person's lungs the second it touches their ears. Through eyes nearly swollen shut, Jesus peers up. Jonathan, the soldier, grasps a small wooden board from the ground, kneels next to Jesus’ head, and takes the hammer in hand. Jesus flinches, pulling His head away. The sound of a nail meeting wood relieves His nerves for the moment, as a sign is hung above His head reading, “KING OF THE JEWS.” The mocking truth lay right above His head.
“LIFT HIM UP!” the commander barks. The stars flash past His eyes as Jesus is raised up above what is now the blood soaked ground. “HE SAVED OTHERS, LET’S SEE IF HE WILL SAVE HIMSELF!” one man shouts across the crowd. The weight of His body pulling Him down makes it nearly impossible to breathe. Jesus pushes down on His nail pierced feet, sending shocks of pain through His already pain-riddled body, lifting Himself up to pull in as much air as possible. Then He drops His weight, which pulls on the fresh wounds on His hands and feet, as the air He worked so hard to capture escapes without resistance.
Eyes closed, heart pounding, body trembling with exhaustion, Jesus sees, in His mind's eye, His Father walking toward Him.
Father: It is almost finished My Son. I am so proud of You.
Jesus: Thank You, Father.
Father: I want You to see something. Come with Me…
The open white space they are standing in begins to transform into a café.
The Father points out a man.
Father: This is Tim; he loves You and has dedicated his life to You. He manages a restaurant, but You are his main passion. He is righteous and able to approach Us because of what You are doing right now.
Jesus: I can see his face. Tim, I choose you. You are worth it.
The room shifts again as the Father is approaching a small house with a young mother playing with her child in the back yard.
Father: This is Jessica; she is a loving mother and a true friend of Yours. She is righteous on no merit of her own, rather through what You are doing today. Do You see her?
Jesus: I see her. She is beautiful. Jessica, you are worth it and you are righteous. I love you.
The scene transforms again to a single room with two beds. A young mother is putting her two boys down to sleep.
Father: This is Melissa. She has been through so much pain and struggle and still she chooses You. You are her anchor and her hope. What You are doing today My Son, changes the world as a whole and it changes people's lives.
Jesus: I love you Melissa. You are worth it; today you are righteous.
Father: This is James... This is Sabrina... This is Chris… This is Eden...
The Father introduced Jesus to every person who would ever be born and to those who weren’t given a chance to be born. Father God explained in detail how each life was affected through the act Jesus was committing in this moment. He described how this one act was giving each person the opportunity to be considered the righteousness of Christ. Therefore, it was for the joy set before Him that He endured the cross. Grinning, Jesus looks over at the Father and says, “Dad, what’s next?”
Father: One last thing to do. What You are doing today allows Me to forgive anyone who believes in You, but first We must pay for each individual sin. Jesus, You are guilty of…
Jesus cries out as the sword pierces His side, pulling Him back into the natural with the words still ringing in His mind: “You are guilty.” He closes His eyes and enters a high-speed video of every sin to be committed. The footage is startling. Jesus, knowing each person committing each act, suddenly realizes His face is on some of the people’s bodies.
Jesus: Father, why is My face on those people?
Father: It is a trade Son; their guilt makes You guilty, Your innocence makes them innocent. I’m sorry, but I have to leave now. I will see You soon. I love You.
After witnessing and forgiving every sin of those who chose Him, Jesus whispered, “It is finished,” and gave up His spirit.
Ahab Alhindi interned for Steve Backlund in 2012 as a Southern California Regional Catalyst. He and his wife, Jessica, are now itinerant ministers for Bethel Church in Redding, CA. In addition to their role in ministry, they own a local coffee shop and restaurant. Ahab's heart is to see the Kingdom of God flow in every part of society and to see the body of Christ walk in her fullness.