© James H. Dobbins, Ph.D., 1997-2005
I stand here at the foot of the Cross, almost in disbelief, looking at my Son whom I love so dearly. How could He suffer so much and still live? This is the second time I have had to offer my Son to His Father. The first time was preceded with such joy. But then Simeon spoke, and my heart was chilled, a chill that never left. And now, with the shouts of joy at His entry into Jerusalem still echoing in the streets, the prophesy of Simeon has come to pass. The sword which has hung over my heart for 33 years has struck; struck so very, very hard. I keep telling myself over and over; God's will be done, God's will be done. How can I stand here when He is up there, my beautiful Child? Everything in me is up there on the cross with Him.
I can still hear the cruel whips as they tore into His flesh, His cries carrying across the courtyard. I cannot stop thinking of the many times I held that body, my little baby, washing and cleaning Him, scrubbing Him when He came inside from playing or helping Joseph; watching Him grow strong and tall. His body was so perfect, so unblemished.
As He grew to be a young man, He would come inside after working all day with Joseph, and He would sit beside us. In His gentle way He would teach us the ways of God. After Joseph died, how I loved those times when we would just sit and talk. He taught me so many things. Those times alone with Him were so precious to me. When He left home, just a short three years ago, my heart was filled with anxiety for Him, for I had never lived a day without the prophesy of Simeon coming to mind. Is the time now?, I would ask myself. Yes, it is now.
I look upon Him, who never hated anyone, and His body is now covered with the marks of hatred for Him. Hate is so powerful, but it will never be as powerful as His love. I remember well the feel of His infant skin against my hands that night in Bethlehem as I held Him and hugged Him and kissed His little hands and fingers. Now, I see before me the world's response to His love. I can only hope that some day others will love Him as I do, as I always will.
As a child, He was always into everything, always helping Joseph and me. How often did He bump His little head? I lost count. But each time He came to me for comfort and I would hold His precious head in my hands and kiss His brow, and give Him comfort. And He would always put His little arms around me and kiss me back and thank me.
Now, as my heart longs to give Him comfort, to hold Him and wipe His brow, to kiss His forehead once again, I am held back. I can only touch Him with my heart, for He is crucified. His forehead is now kissed by a vicious crown of thorns. This crown of hatred has not defeated Him, for in His sublime dignity, He looks at me through blood-streaked eyes and says "I love you".
Oh, how my arms ache to hold Him, to embrace Him and shield Him from these men who torture and mock Him, these men for whom He only has love. A little while ago, He looked up and said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do". All they did was jeer, even one who hangs with Him. Will His executioners ever understand?
I look at Him suffering so, listen to His groans of pain, and I can hear the joyful sounds of the crowd echoing across the valley as they begin the slaughtering of the Passover lambs. How ironic. They prepare for a feast honoring God for delivering them, while God's Son is murdered at their request. He told me this would happen, and why, and I know it is God's will, but that does not make the hurt in my heart any less real, any less painful. It is only because He told me that I can bear to see Him in such pain and still live.
I was standing nearby when they threw Him down so cruelly on the rough hewn Cross. Splinters impaled His already lacerated back. They had just ripped His garment off, that seamless garment I made for Him just before He left our home three years ago. All the wounds from His scourging last night were torn open again, and His whole body trembled from the pain. He looked at me as He lay there, His body weak beyond description, His blood already soaking the Cross, and I could do nothing. It was so painful to do nothing. I thank our Father in Heaven for not making my beloved Joseph witness this.
Then they stretched His arms out so unmercifully, driving those huge nails through His hands; those wonderful, beautiful hands. The pounding of those hammers will echo in my ears, and my dreams, for the rest of my life. I can still see His little hands that night in Bethlehem, the tiny fingers wrapped around my thumbs and grasping at my lips as I kissed His hands.
How can I tell you how awestruck I was that night? The Son of God come among men. I could not stop looking at Him. I was so happy then, feeling His little hands touch my face. They were so soft, so pure, so clean. And Joseph was so kind to me, helping any way He could. I can still feel His little hands pushing against me as He nursed for the first time. He was
such a joy.
As He grew, His hands were always helping, always serving. Whenever they would get nicked by a wooden plank, or a tool in the shop, He always let me care for His wound. He knew how much I loved to do this. I would hold His hand and wash it and bandage it if necessary. As I did, His eyes were always on me, those eyes which poured love upon everyone He met. Often, when I finished, He would hold my face in His hands, kiss my cheek and thank me.
As He went from town to town in recent years, His hands spread love and forgiveness and healing everywhere He went. I remember Him telling me about the crippled man at the healing pool, the poor man who had been there so long and could never touch the water. My Jesus healed Him instantly. And the lepers He healed; there were so many. Once He healed ten of them at once, and only one came back to give thanks. And the woman caught in adultery. I still wonder if she understands the gift He gave her as He laid His hands on her head and forgave her and entreated her to sin no more.
I pray He did not do this for her in vain. And Lazarus, and the centurion's daughter, and Peter's mother-in-law, and so many others, all healed, some by His touch, some by His mere presence, some even raised from the dead. But always healed and restored, never rebuked. Those who needed Him were never turned away. He gave so much to so many.
Jesus told me once that sin is like leprosy of the soul. It eats away at the soul until finally nothing is left and the soul dies. He told me how He had been sent by the Father to bring healing to the souls of men, but I did not fully understand. I am beginning to.
I stand here now, looking at those beautiful hands so maliciously nailed to the Cross, those hands which have healed so many. I see the hands which blessed John, the youngest of His followers, and the others. John stands here with me, the one whom Jesus loves so much, and whom I love as my own. The others have scattered, even Peter; my dear, sweet, enthusiastic Peter. I want so much to reach out to comfort the hands of my Son which move no more, bless no more, heal no more. His fingers, immobilized by the hatred of men, are now curled around those cruel nails.
One of the two thieves begged for forgiveness. My Jesus, from the Cross, forgave him. He even promised this man would be with Him today in Paradise. Paradise. It is such a foreign sounding word right now.
Jesus just spoke to me. It startled me when He did. I didn't think He had the strength left. He gave John to me as my child, and me to John as his mother. But He called me woman! He only did that once before. In His agony, is He delirious, does He realize who I am? Oh, now I understand, now I remember! He is giving me all of them as my children. He told me one
day that I would be the mother of all God's children, and I just laughed. I thought it was just His teasing. I did not understand how this could be. Now I am beginning to understand. Is this why He called me woman at Cana?
He is so weak. His body slumps down and it is so hard for Him to breathe. It has been almost three hours now. How long will He have to suffer this? To breathe, He has to raise Himself by pushing up against those horrible spikes piercing His feet. When He does, His torn back rubs against the splintery Cross, and He groans in pain. Every move He makes is agony for Him. My heart cannot take the pain I see in His face as He struggles so, but I cannot take my eyes from Him. I must share everything with Him, for that is all I can do. It is the only way I can help Him.
Those feet, which walked so far and carried Him to teach and help so many, can carry Him no more. Those beautiful feet. Last night, He washed the feet of His twelve companions. None but John are here to wash His feet now, to give Him comfort.
I can't bear it; my heart is torn apart. A moment ago He cried out, asking why God had abandoned Him. His cry pierced my heart like another sword. But now, He is giving Himself to the Father. He is reconciled. It is finished. His body just collapsed, lifeless at last. It is done. His pain is over, for which I thank the Father. Mine continues, which I offer
to the Father.
John is taking me back to his house. It was so painful to have Jesus lowered from the Cross and laid across my lap. I held His cold, gray, lifeless face tightly against me, embracing all I had left of Him. That poor, tortured face would feel no more the cruelty of man.
As each spike was pulled from His hand and fell to the ground, the soft thud echoed through my soul. His lifeless arm swung down like a cruel pendulum. The awful crown was pulled from His head and thrown down so casually, thorns breaking off, thorns covered with His precious Blood. He was slumped forward, His chest draped over the cloth used to lower Him to the ground; to my arms.
I kept wiping and wiping the blood from His face and body, removing fragments of thorns and splinters, until the water I had was gone. I would have used my tears, but I had none left. He was so brutalized. I could hardly recognize Him. My baby, my child. What have they done to you? I moved automatically, almost in a trance.
I can hardly believe it has actually happened. The whole sky went dark, so very dark, when He died. Heaven itself cried out in pain. We heard people say amongst the crowd that the veil in the Temple, the veil that enclosed the sanctuary of God, was torn from top to bottom when the sky darkened. Top to bottom; no man could do this to a veil so high. What does it mean? What now? What will we do? What will Peter do? How will I live without Him, without my Child?
To add insult to injury, they even thrust a spear into His dead body, almost like testing meat to see if it is cooked enough. Had they not done enough, insulted Him enough?
We are almost to John's house now. We stopped here to rest for a moment at the crest of the hill on John's street. I am so weary. As we look back at Calvary, I can see the empty Cross, the cloth used to lower Him still draped around the outstretched beams. The sun is low. The three crosses are silhouetted against the evening sky as Passover begins. How barren Calvary looks, almost innocent. No noise, no trace left of the horrible cruelty just done except for the empty Cross.
Will the world recover from what it has just done? Will it ever understand what has just happened? My Son is dead. My beloved Son. The Son of God.