Friday, April 2, 2010

The Sacrifice

(In remembrance of Good Friday, I wrote this post from Mary’s perspective as she is gazing on the cross. Most of it is embellished from how I think she must have felt, but it is the true story of God’s only son’s crucifixion.)

I was taking a walk in the beautiful sunshine when I heard it. The cry came from not one person, but many! A steady wailing came from several streets over, and I ran to see what could have happened. Thoughts flashed through my head faster than I could interpret them: Had someone died? Was there a stoning going on? Neither events were uncommon, but I was afraid all the same.

“Mary! Have you not heard? Were you not there?” my friend Ada asked. I looked at her in puzzlement and her eyes got wide and fearful. “Oh, Mary…it’s Jesus. He’s been arrested,” Ada cried.

Those words alone were enough to knock me to my knees. I had known something would happen to my son, the only son of God, but I had prayed that nothing would. From the crowd’s murmurings, I gathered that Jesus had already been tried before the Sanhedrin, and they had passed him off to Pontius Pilate, the governor.

I followed the crowd, not knowing if I was walking or running, my heart beating wildly. I caught a glimpse of my son, and saw that he was heavily burdened and in pain. My heart broke for him, wondering if he knew exactly what was going to happen. We got to the place where Pilate was, and Jesus was put before him. My heart beat in time to the words, “Please, God. Please, God,” and I could think of nothing else.

“Are the things these people say about you true? Are you the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked. Jesus replied that he was and Pilate looked at him in bewilderment. Then Pilate shouted, “It is Passover, the time where I release one prisoner. Which do you want? Jesus or the murderous Barabbas? Who shall I turn over to you?”

The crowd thundered and screamed, “WE WANT BARABBAS!” My heart sank to my knees. I knew what would come. Surely my son would be thrown in prison for life.

“And what should I do with this man called Christ?” Pilate asked, looking fearful of their answer. “CRUCIFY HIM!” the crowd shouted.

Time seemed to slow to a stop all around me. A crucifixion? They wanted to crucify my son, God’s son? No! That could not be what they said…they were only going to throw him in prison, right? The sound became deafening in my ears, and I realized that the crowd was serious about my son’s crucifixion. Did they not see that he was the son of God?

Pilate brought out a bowl of water and washed his hands, signifying that he had nothing to do with Jesus’ death. I couldn’t believe how cowardly he was being! Perhaps he had no power over the raucous crowd, but to kill an innocent man? That was too far!

Jesus was then made to walk to the place where he would pick up his cross. The soldiers beat and mocked him, leaving scars on his face and back. My perfect child was being brutally mocked, and the crowd was letting him? Except for the few hundred people who were sobbing over the coming death of Jesus, the rest of the city was allowing the only Son of God to be killed.

My son was so weak he could not carry his cross. A friend had to help him, and I was eternally grateful for the burden of it being taken from my son. Every step he took was determined, but sad. I could see in his eyes the great pain he was bearing, and not from any physical source.

Every step I took led me closer to the cross. Every breath brought me one step closer to seeing my son die. I could not take it anymore. I had to talk to my son. I ran ahead of the crowd, pushing and shoving my way through. I got up to where Jesus was, although a few feet away, and I cried, “Jesus!”

He looked at me, and somehow seeing his determination brought me a peace and calm that transcended my soul. He nodded at me that he was not doing something against his will, and I breathed the words, “I love you,” in his direction. A small smile lifted his lips, but it came from sorrow rather than happiness.

Once more, the crowd swept me away, bringing me closer to the moment I dreaded most. Nothing could compare to seeing my son die…nothing at all. Not the moment when I found out I was pregnant by an angel, not the moment when I told my fiancé and parents, not the moment when I gave birth to the Christ-child.

The nails were driven into his hands and feet with three resounding pounds. My heart broke with each one as I watched tears flow down my son’s cheeks. “God,” I whispered, “I do not know what you are doing!” Anger and pain flowed over me, but a whisper came from the God I loved: “I am with you, daughter.” The anger eased, though the pain tripled, as my son was hoisted above the ground.

A mocking sign over my son’s head read, “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Oh, how I wanted to rip it down and stomp on it! They did not believe it, it was only sarcasm. Then a cry came from my son.

“My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?” Jesus cried.

I began sobbing at those words. The hopeless, confused words of the son of God. The one who was being crucified unfairly by people who had no idea who he was.

Then Jesus cried, “It is finished!” and let his head drop one last time. He was gone.

I stayed many hours at the foot of the cross, crying and asking God why this had happened. My heart was full of misery and sorrow, and I knew I would never forget the day that the son of God died on a cross.

Did God have a plan? Was He even there? Once more whispers in my heart soothed my spirit, and I knew for certain that God had a plan.

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