This is the last of my writings from Holy Week 2011. It was a week of study, prayer, meditation, and revelation. Throughout the night when we commemorate His Passion, I was awake and aware of the Lord speaking to my heart in an unusual, very visual way. This is what I saw and understood on the morning of Good Friday.
The tears flowing down my cheeks this morning are of grief and sorrow and longing, but simultaneously of joy. They’ve been coming and going since last night, when I began to read in the Book of Matthew, Chapter 26. I read for a little while and had to stop, because my heart was too full. Verse 31, “and ye shall be offended because of me this night,” did me in. The King James English is sometimes perfectly descriptive. Yes, we were offended because of Him. What shame we earned by that. The Amplified version says, “You will all be offended and stumble and fall away because of Me this night [distrusting and deserting Me].” And how we added to His pain, by abandoning Him in the one time in His mortal life that He might actually have needed us.
And yet He counted it all joy.
I woke before 5:00, seeing His Passion. I feel as if I am in the crowd, in all that He went through on this night, and “the darkest day” is about to dawn. Creation here is grieving with me, as we are having heavy rains that started around 5:30. I thought of Him carrying His cross, my cross, stumbling to fall in the street, and I hoped, silly futile human hope, that it was not raining on Him then. (Writing that last sentence brought me to sobs. As a mother, seeing this young man going through this trial is almost more than I can bear. But He is gracious, and does not wish to destroy me with grief; He allows me to see only enough, only as much as He knows I am ready for. What manner of love is this? I am so unworthy, and still so blessed.)
Abruptly, my eyes are dry. My spirit becomes calm, still, set. At the same time, I have seen him on the cross, raised up for the perishing to look upon and live.
I think I understand the change. I have been aware, since I began reading last night, of the man Jesus. Fully human, we say, but I had not seen Him as fully so before now. He was a man, a young man, with a mother and father and brothers and sisters, with close friends and many acquaintances. He was fallible, and yet He never failed. He always chose right. Fully human, as we were made to be, with the power to choose sin or obedience, the power to break the heart of God–He could have done it. He could have chosen sin, but He did not.
During the terrible hours following dinner in the upper room, He could have chosen to leave, to quit, to give up, to fight back, to destroy the whole damned planet. For we were damned, hopelessly cursed for eternity, apart from what He was about to do. He didn’t have to do it, though. He was human, and He could choose. What I have realized through this night, through my reading and resting and listening and watching, is that part of the pain for Him was that continual choosing. The pain He bore included the decision to keep going, knowing what was to come.
Now, in my observance of this Holy Week, I am aware that His choosing has almost come to a close, and that brings a sense of relief. Surely the torture of the Cross was more than I can imagine, and it was a horrifying way for men to kill a man. (Aren’t we good at that, coming up with ways to destroy one another?) But having been through the tortures of the night, this one final abuse brought with it the sense of completion. The natural body was in its final moments of life; only by supernatural intervention could Jesus get out of this one.
But He had made that choice long ago, and confirmed it many times. He stated it aloud in the Garden of Gethsemane just last night, before all the physical torture began. He would not use His divinity to interfere with this process of fulfilling the Law as a man. He would submit to God’s will, and obey to the last breath of His body. Over and over during the night, He had to choose this. Once He was on the cross, that choosing was in a sense over. The body, nailed to a cross and put up for public display, on exhibit for mockery and abuse, was in final submission to the will of the man, Jesus. He had won a victory already, by making it this far.
What sustained my Lord during those dark hours? “The light shines in the darkness [even this darkness] and the darkness [even this darkness] has not overcome it.” “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (John 1:5; I John 1:5) He was in light, in the midst of the darkness. He was the light in that darkness.