The Real Knife

He was dripping with his own blood. 

The sight made me want to recoil and shield my gaze, but instead I shuddered, swallowed hard and tried to focus on his eyes; the only part of him I could be sure was uninjured.

Except the anger and scorn I saw reflected there was almost as painful to see as his rent flesh.

“You don’t have to do this,” I began hoarsely. 

“I deserve it,” he shot back. “I should’ve known better, shown more self-control; I was stupid to do what I did,” as he spoke, he slowly drew the knife in his right hand across his left arm, red liquid welling up from the path it traced, joining a dozen other similar scars.

“And this is helping?” I winced. 

“No one willingly gives themselves to folly! I should’ve been more mature than that; instead I acted like a complete idiot,” he dug his fingers into his face with more malice than anguish; fingernails scraping across his skin, gouging angry lines into his flesh. “Only a fool would make the same mistake so many times: I deserve this.”

“But what good is it doing?!” I cried, “You’re only making things worse! How can responding this way possibly change what you’ve done?”

“Maybe if I punish myself hard enough I will change; maybe if l burn into my memory how wrong I was, I will never fail like that again. At the very least, if I can’t stand to see how utterly flawed and broken I truly am, I will make sure no one else has to.” With that, he plunged the knife deep into the flesh of his shoulder, and blood spurted; splattering across my face. I stifled a scream, recoiling; my heart both hammered and ached within my chest. I couldn’t keep watching. 

“You’re killing yourself!” My voice cracked. “You’re killing any chance you have of healing. You’ve said yourself how important your words are, yet here you are, using them for merciless torture against your own soul! What of kindness? What of grace?”

“I don’t deserve kindness,” he rasped through gritted teeth. “I keep failing to learn, when I know the truth; when I know better—grace is for those who change, not for those who fail to,” he slowly twisted the blade, a red stain spreading out across his shirt. 

Torn, I reached out and grabbed his hand away from the knife handle. “Don’t—!” I gasped. “Don’t you see there’s a better way?”

His eyes welled with sudden tears. “No, I don’t see,” he whispered hoarsely. “I know no other way to cope with the pain; the pain of knowing what I should be, and the pain of knowing I’ll never be him.”

My trembling hands clutched his, blood and salt mingling as the tears gushed down my face. “Friend, give it to me,” I entreated, “I will carry your pain. Let the words carry the pain out of your mouth to me, I will hear you; surrender your guilt and your shame, Wisdom will hear your prayer. She will make your burden light. That is the higher way, not this,” I rubbed my hand across his arm gently, mindful of the gaping wounds.

“No!” He jerked backward suddenly as though he’d been stung. “I can’t. I won’t let the depths of my depravity be seen… you’ve already seen too much…” It was only then I noticed him reaching to withdraw a trembling hand from his pocket; light glinting off a pistol.

“What are you doing?!” I screeched. 

“Removing the problem. I will fix this; fix my sin—” He raised his hand to his head. 


I clenched my eyes shut involuntarily as the gunshot echoed around me, sickening me to my core. As the sound dissipated I realised I was still holding my breath; when in the growing silence a sudden cry made me start, and I reopened my eyes.

A body lay on the ground, blood rapidly pooling beneath it, but it wasn’t him. He was standing in the same place, the pistol smoking in his hand as he gazed in shock upon the still form at his feet. 

“He—He jumped in front of it,” He stammered. “He ap-ppeared out of nowhere a-a-and took the bullet for me,”

I looked upon the scene, suddenly calm. “Yes,” was all I could reply.

“But—why?” He got angry then. “Why would someone do that? I was going to rid the earth of my sin! I was going to end my suffering; cease being the thorn in everyone’s side. I’d found the way, and now He’s ruined everything! Did He even know what kind of a man he wasted His life on?!” He beat the palm of his hand to his forehead, his very being radiating his anguish.

“It wasn’t the way,” I murmured gently. “He is the Way.”

“What?” He barked at me shortly. 

“He is the only way to be saved from yourself,” I said simply. “The unbearable failure you carry, the depth of the darkness you feel, all your hopelessness and desperation for change; He took it all in that bullet meant for you.”

Glassy-eyed, trembling, blood-soaked, he stood staring at me; hand still gripping the pistol.

“You can only be free of your failure when you let Him take it; when you face it in His face… when you are brave enough to surrender.”

He looked down at the face of His saviour, pale with death, blood darkening on the ground. It was then he quietly began to sob. “I failed,” he cried, brokenly.

“I know…” I whispered. 

Ughhnn…” He groaned deeply, coughing out the words as if it were ripping the air from his lungs. “I’ve murdered… I’ve sinned…” 


His trembling hand finally lost grip on the pistol and it clattered to the ground, his knees following shortly behind as he knelt by the body. His breath came in rasps. “Forgive me…”

“You’re already forgiven, dear one.” 

A knife was still protruding from the flesh of his shoulder. I tenderly reached down and removed it. He doubled over; groaning, sobbing. The pain seemed to finally register. 

“I don’t want to fail again…” he gasped. 

I smiled. “You will,” I answered softly. “But it will not be the end. You will survive the shame. You will have the courage to look your failure in the eye, and forgive.”

His face crumpled. “Oh, it hurts!” He moaned. “It hurts worse than my own wounds to let Him take them.”

“I will carry the pain for you,” I murmured compassionately. “I will be there, and you will be okay.”

As he fell sobbing into my embrace, finally surrendered, I watched slow tendrils of healing begin to flow beneath his skin; mending the bleeding gashes and cleaning away the blood. The body next to him began to glow where it lay, the stain of blood evaporating along with his wounds. Within a few moments, he gave a great sigh, and a cloud lifted: I, the Spirit, and the Body of the Son come alive again with it. I smiled at the One who had given His life. He smiled back, and I noticed his scarred flesh; scars He would never lose. Only I knew what the cost had been. We both knew that salvation had come to the man, and he would never be the same. The sacrifice had been worth it. 

From our vantage point in the spirit realm, no human eyes had seen the blood, the wounds, nor the life he received from the One who’d so willingly laid it down. For it was not a physical knife that had wrought such bloody abuse upon his soul.

It was his sin.

His own words. 


“He himself bore our sins in his body… that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”1 Peter 2:24 

“Sharp words cut like a sword, but words of wisdom heal.” Proverbs 12:18

Further Listening:
"Fool With a Fancy Guitar", Andrew Peterson
"Worst Parts", Eric Peters

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  1. He took the blow, that you and I might be His child again. And when I was just about to give up all hope.
    Thank you, Jasmine!


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