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A BarBe Award Winner: Redemption

“I don’t want to die.”

“Who says you’re going to die?” Benjamin asked trying to catch his breath but looked away from his friend and out toward the sea where another boat of tired fishermen was coming ashore.

“Everyone.” Jeroboam said.

“Maybe you can do something else?” Jeroboam’s mother tried.

Jeroboam stood at the door holding his mat under his arm. He didn’t have the heart to turn around and ask his mother what else he could do. She would try to say something. She, a clever woman after his father had passed, had kept the household despite the lack of a man. Jeroboam’s uncles had called on her. Even proposed marriage to help keep the family afloat as the law required, but she denied it.

“My son, you have a second chance now.”

They had been too close to the last messianic uprising. The Romans came in treating all the Jews as guilty. Slaughtering without mercy, his brother and sister, old enough to look guilty but young enough not to run and hide before getting swept up in the Roman nets, were easy prey. That was how his leg had gotten so broken that he had become a cripple. Others called him lucky.

He tried not to look into his mother’s eyes. Not wanting to see the pleading expression, he was afraid it would just cause more pain.

“I have no skill.” He snapped, “I have no trade. This is all I know – begging!”

“I don’t understand why you didn’t ask that carpenter to bring your father back to life if you’re just going to sit at the gate and keep begging. At least he would have helped me keep this family from falling apart.”

“It’s all I know. It’s my job!”

“You’re no longer crippled. Do you really think anyone is going to give you anything? Your father…”

“Did not see fit to teach his son any trade!” The anger rose from deep within.

“How could he? What could you do on a boat? You need your whole body to stand and pull up nets of fish. You need to be able to carry those nets to the market to sell. Your father did the best he could with what he had.”

“He’s gone.” With what he had, Jeroboam’s mind roared. As if he had a choice in being crippled. “He’s gone and I have nothing.”

“Maybe this healer will come back and call on you.”

“I hope not.” Jeroboam said. “I don’t know what I would say to him.”

“So, you go back to the city gates to beg even though you are no longer crippled? What would the carpenter say to that?”

“Yes. If I went out with the men fishing, how long do you think I would last? What do you think I would get?”

“A skill?”

“My muscles are weak. I don’t have the strength they have.”

“Excuses!” His mother shouted. “You have a second chance, Jeroboam. I am your mother, and your leg has affected me more than anyone besides yourself. Go and learn. Do what you’re told and cast your nets.”

“Catch anything?” The man asked Jeroboam.

Jeroboam leaned against the boat trying to catch his breath after a long night of fishing. He looked toward the man whose face seemed hidden in the sun. He shook his head unable to talk. The man waited as Jeroboam tried to gather the strength to rise to walk and catch up to the other men who carried the nets half full of fish. He watched them walk out of sight, before leaning back again. It had been a poor night.

“Not a lot.” He said finally.

“What’s wrong?” The man asked Jeroboam.


“Nothing?” The three Rabbis stood in a half circle around Jeroboam. “You have nothing to say about your leg.”

“Rabbi Josiah, you know me from birth, you know what has happened to my family. The hardship we have endured. God has seen fit to heal me through this man Jesus of Nazareth.”

“Do you think he is the Messiah?”

Jeroboam laughed. Never in his wildest dreams had he imagined what it would have been like to laugh in the presence of not only the Priests who have known him from his birth, but also a Pharisee who stood close enough to listen. Was this what Sarai felt when God told her she would bear a child at a late age?

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?” Another rabbi asked.

“I was lame and now I’m not.”

“And he made no declaration of who he was to you?”


“He spoke to you.” The Pharisee asked unable to keep his silence any longer. “People saw you have a conversation. Who did he say he was?”

Jeroboam was unable to help the smile. “I don’t know who the man is. I do know he is from God. For God has healed me on this day.”

“Tell us what he asked you?”

“Did you hear?” Benjamin asked running to Jeroboam.

“What? What?” Jeroboam asked unable to contain the laughter seeing his friend run up with so much excitement and vigor.

“They’re going to crucify the carpenter!”

Jeroboam took in a deep breath. His eyes felt sunken. The two men, friends since childhood, stared at each other. Thoughts whirling, Jeroboam felt like crying but could hardly breathe.

“Does this mean he isn’t the Messiah?” Benjamin asked.

“I don’t know.” Already thinking of his lost brother and sister. One supposed messiah took away his family and left him lame. Another healed him. Both slaughtered by the Romans.

“Does this….?”

“I don’t know!” Jeroboam snapped. “I don’t know anything! He didn’t tell me what to do. He healed my leg and suddenly, I could walk. He didn’t tell me what to do after. He…” Jeroboam felt his breath grow short and shook his head.


“He told me not to tell anyone and I ran around screaming like a fool. The one thing he told me not to do, I did.”

“Elisha thinks they’re going to start killing his followers too.”

“Elisha thinks a lot of things.”

“Do you think they would kill you too?”

“Why? I didn’t follow him. He just healed me.”

“Still. The Pharisees saw it. Others saw it. Everyone knows. Even the Rabbis spoke to you for hours after it happened! It’s not like it’s a secret, Jeroboam!”

“I don’t want to die.”

“Who says you’re going to die?” Benjamin asked trying to catch his breath but looked away from his friend and out toward the sea where another boat of tired fishermen was coming ashore.

“Everyone.” Jeroboam said.

“What’s wrong?” The man asked Jeroboam.

“What do you mean?” Jeroboam asked thinking why a stranger would be asking about his personal business. The men were now out of sight with the nets of fish. Benjamin had said to not let them go to the market alone in case they took advantage. Benjamin was with them though. Hopefully, it would be okay.

“Your heart is troubled. I see it. Unburden yourself, friend.”

“I just thought something would change.” Jeroboam said looking down unsure why the words came out so easily. He took a heavy, exhausted breath.

“What do you mean?”

“Nothing has really changed. I thought, my leg was the cause of all my problems. Now that my leg is well….”

“Aren’t you healed?”

Jeroboam was tempted to throw up his arms in dismay. Everyone knew. “Yes. I am the one Jesus of Nazareth healed.”

“One of many,” The man smiled, “But I wasn’t asking you that. Why are you burdened if your leg is now well? What is the difference between your leg and your heart?”

“Nothing has really changed. I am still sad. I am still weak. Maybe more so. Besides aren’t the Romans going to eventually hunt down all who were affected by this healer.”

The man put his arms around Jeroboam. Jeroboam felt his body shutter in the man’s arms. The tears wanted to come but held their own as he came to an understanding that somehow in some weird way that this man knew not only what Jeroboam felt but felt it more intimately than Jeroboam understood the inclinations and movements of his own heart. How was this possible?

Jeroboam withdrew from the hug and investigated the man’s face. It was him! It was the carpenter! How? How had he not recognized it?


“Do you really think death is the end?” The man leaned in and smiled. “Who believes death is the end?”

“Everyone.” Jeroboam said, “Everyone says I am going to die.”

“For what? For being healed. Like you had a choice in the matter?” Benjamin pointed into his friend’s chest.

“I did. He asked me if I wanted to be healed.”

“And now?” Benjamin asked looking away again, not wanting to accept the request that was coming. Sometimes you get so close to someone you see the request looming on the horizon before it happens.

“Break my leg.” Jeroboam asked indicating one of the large stones on the ground.

“And where will you go then? To go sit with the beggars at the city gates, I’m sure. What is it they will ask you when you return?”

“Why are you trying to still sit with us?” Adam, one of the beggars asked at the city gate.

“I don’t know where else to go.” Jeroboam said as he rolled out his mat to sit on.

The other beggars groaned. Someone muttered a curse. Others spit on the ground. While even more shook their heads. Jeroboam stood looking at his mat before crouching down to sit on it.

“Maybe go somewhere else.” Adam said.

“But Adam,” Jeroboam tried hearing him say his friend’s name compelled him to say it again, “Adam.”

“If I were here when the prophet came by, I wouldn’t have come back to this place ever again.”

“Didn’t Solomon say, ‘As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool to his folly’?” Another one of the beggars shouted before laughing causing a few others to laugh.

“You don’t belong here.” Another man said.

“I don’t know where I belong!” Jeroboam muttered as he took a step back giving a pained expression to Adam. Surely his friend would do something to ease the tension. Adam looked away.

As the other beggars began to get rowdier, Jeroboam bent hearing the man’s words in his head. He didn’t know what to say.

The man that people were calling the messiah spoke with such authority that it marveled him. The rabbis didn’t speak this way. They spoke in careful circles trying to come to terms with themselves. They knew hard opinions have consequences.

“Pick up your mat and walk. Tell no one.” The man had said.

Jeroboam felt his head hang. If he could do this now, maybe things would be okay. He was healed but this time, he didn’t have to tell anyone. As he walked, he could still hear the beggars behind him spitting and complaining. The weight almost disappeared immediately as he saw his friend Benjamin running up to him nearly out of breath.

“Did you hear?”


“I said, Break my leg.”

“And where will you go then? To go sit with the beggars at the city gates. What is it they will ask you when you return? They mocked you for being whole, will they not mock you for reverting?

“What else can I do?”

“Just come out on the boat with me. You can see it isn’t so bad. I will teach you everything. We can fish together.”

“I don’t know.” Jeroboam said.

“You don’t know, or you don’t want to?”

“They’re going to kill me!”

“Maybe, but they want to kill the louder people not us. We are ants to them. Look at how the Roman’s view us. We are an inconvenience. They don’t care about what we think or feel. They don’t care about our beliefs or what we value.”

“Break my leg.” Jeroboam asked but Benjamin saw his resolution was wavering.

“No. Because I don’t want to see you go backwards. God has given you another chance. What are you going to do with it? What are you going to make of it?”

The leap was tentative at first, the second more daring. He couldn’t help the laughter bubbling out of him as he ran a little circle around the other beggars. The crowd roared watching him. Some seeing, while others just laughed uncomprehendingly.

The Romans advanced to see what was going on. Jeroboam looked to see the man who had already disappeared into the crowd.

“What happened?” Someone shouted.

“What happened?” Someone else.

“I was healed by Jesus of Nazareth!” Jeroboam shouted, laughing.

“The carpenter was here? He healed you?” Someone shouted.

“The messiah!” Someone shouted.

“Romans will kill him if he claims to be the messiah!” Another shouted.

“Jeroboam? Is that you?” Benjamin laughed seeing his friend running.

“Benjamin!” Jeroboam shouted running to wrap his arms around him.

“Take him to the Pharisees!” Someone shouted.

“Get the Rabbis!” Another shouted.

“What was it like?” Benjamin asked as soon as the other men in the boat had drifted to sleep.

“What” Jeroboam asked fidgeting a little. The boat was uncomfortable. His body hurt, not used to sitting in such an odd position.

“No one is around. They’re asleep. What was it like to be healed? What did it feel like?”



“He asked me if I wanted to….” Jeroboam’s voice trailed off. “He…”


“It felt like fire.” Jeroboam said not wanting to repeat the story.

After speaking to the rabbis, the joy had left him. They had somehow taken it. Not that Benjamin would, but somehow, he just wanted to keep the story inside for a little more time before…. Before what? He didn’t know. Someday, he might have to say something. But more than likely not. Jesus of Nazareth was dead. Nothing would change it. Everything was over.

“Fire?” Benjamin asked and Jeroboam could hear the smile in his friend’s voice. “That’s it? Fire?”

“Yes. It felt like fire descending not only on my body but my soul. There was a moment where I felt like I was in contact with the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He was wholly different from everyone around. It was like feeling fire. I danced when I felt it because I felt so much joy. Dancing seemed like the only thing that made sense as a response to it. It sounds stupid, but I would give anything to feel it again.”

“Do you really think death is the end?” The man leaned in and smiled.

“It is you!” Jeroboam shouted and then whispered. “But how? Didn’t they….?”

“Does God not have dominion over life and death?”


“I couldn’t believe it. I just thought you healed me and then left.” Tears began streaming down his cheeks. “Then I did the one thing you told me not to do.” Jeroboam opened his mouth to apologize but then clamped it shut. Somehow, he knew the mere inclination of his heart was enough for this man. As inside his heart he felt a fire start to burn within again.

“You looked like you were going to fall down.” The man laughed. “You ran so fast on your healed leg! I was so happy for you.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“Why is everyone so obsessed with action? What can you do that hasn’t been done already?”

“This is not what I thought it would be. It’s not….” Jeroboam shook his head helpless looking down at the empty net at his feet.

“Maybe you got so used to being helpless, you forgot to see what it was like to be able to stand as a man. Now you have the responsibilities of a man. Your leg was not an excuse to anyone but you.”

“But my father didn’t….”

“I know. I know. Do you remember the question I asked you before I healed your leg?”


“Do you think it only pertained to your leg and not your heart as well?”

When Jeroboam said nothing, the man smiled and laughed. Jeroboam wiped tears from his face and sniffed.

“But my heart is not well.”

“Very well then, Jeroboam, I have a question to ask you again.”

“Do you want to be healed?” The man asked, smiling down at Jeroboam.

Jeroboam looked up from his mat. A tear ran down his cheek. The question penetrated. The crowd around pressed. Noise erupted as no one seemed to hear them speaking. But Jeroboam heard the man perfectly. He nodded slowly not quite sure what the man was offering.

“Jeroboam,” The man’s voice was clear and furious as he looked down. Already Jeroboam began to feel a fire burning inside of him as it glowed from behind the man’s eyes. “Do you want to be healed?”

Kris Green lives in Florida with his wife, three-year old son, and new baby girl. First published in 2018, he was a finalist for the Chester B. Himes Memorial Fiction Contest. Last year he had three short stories published. This year, he has had thirteen more as well as six poems.

14 responses to “A BarBe Award Winner: Redemption”

  1. Green Linda Avatar
    Green Linda

    Fabulous and insightful.

    Well Done, Kris. Your Dad is VERY PROUJD of you!! He always knew you were “the gifted one!” God Bless you!

  2. Clela Fatlee Avatar
    Clela Fatlee

    I vote for Redemption

  3. Alina Gustave Avatar
    Alina Gustave

    Powerful message…thank you for this …I need to continually ask God to make my someday today

  4. Rafael langschwager Avatar
    Rafael langschwager

    Excellent read!

  5. Esperanza Castro Avatar
    Esperanza Castro

    Me gusto mucho!I like this story very much!

  6. Esperanza Castro Avatar
    Esperanza Castro

    Excellent read!

  7. Hella Schafner Avatar
    Hella Schafner

    I enjoyed this read very much

  8. Jeanne DePhillips Avatar
    Jeanne DePhillips

    Fantastic read! Definitely gives the reader “food for thought”. Powerful words that will inspire all who read this.

  9. Hella Schafner Avatar
    Hella Schafner

    The story was so compelling with a strong message.

  10. Kirk Freeman Avatar
    Kirk Freeman

    A very good story is "Redemption" and the healing of body n spirit of man thru the Messiah Jesus Christ. Has my vote!

  11. Maurice Billington Avatar
    Maurice Billington

    Love it. The power, theme and gift of the title act is well woven through the prose. Gets my vote.

  12. Cheryl Avatar

    Fantastic work. You are amazing!Thanks for sharing this.

  13. Ralph Avatar

    My vote is for redemption!

  14. Mark Cisstko Avatar
    Mark Cisstko

    I vote for redemption!

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