As I prepare my heart for Easter I’ve been reading through all of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ last days before his crucifixion. Because I am a mother, I can’t help but imagine the reality of the situation through Mary’s eyes.
Here it is, as I imagine it:
She didn’t even know how she had come to this point. The beginning was miraculous to say the least. The old priest, Simeon told her about the prophecies, but that was 33 years ago. It seems like a long time ago, but it has been such a short time that she had with her son.
It was just hours ago that James, her younger son, came flying through the door in the middle of the night announcing that He had just been arrested. Before she got to him he had been tried, and mocked. Spit on and beaten. She saw Pilate order him flogged. She couldn’t bare to watch as the lead tipped whip thrashed against her son’s bare back, ripping the skin and muscles to shreds. Maybe that would be punishment enough, maybe Pilate would convince the crowd to set him free. But still he was sentenced to death; the most humiliating death on a cross.
She screamed, she yelled, he was innocent! More innocent than any human who has ever lived on this earth. He had done literally NOTHING to deserve punishment, much less death. And she knew! She was his mother. Not once did she need to break out the rod with Jesus. Not once did he ever disobey. Not once did he make fun of his brothers, or make them feel inferior to his perfection. Not once did he retaliate when others ridiculed him and poked fun. He was PERFECT.
So how did it come to pass that here he was, sentenced to death, beaten, mocked, bruised and bloodied, carrying his own weapon of demise down the streets toward Golgotha?
He stumbled, she cried out in pain for her son. “Someone help him! Oh God, please, someone help my baby!” Then someone stepped out. Removed the blood stained cross beam from his shoulders and helped him up. “God bless that man, whoever he is.” She prayed.
John, Jesus’ closest friend found Mary in the crowd. He held her up and walked with her to the hill. She could barely support her own weight from the angst she carried for her son.
At nine in the morning, up on the hill that they call “Skull Hill,” a hill she had always avoided and never looked upon for fear of the gruesome events that happened there, her son was nailed to the cross beams and raised up onto the cross. She watched in horror as her son suffered and struggled to breathe. It was more than she could bare, she bent over and heaved onto the grass.
The soldiers placed bets and rolled dice for his clothes. Even the thieves dying themselves on the crosses next to Jesus mocked him. “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself!”
“Yes, Jesus, yes, no one would blame you. Save yourself. I know you can. I believe you are the Messiah. Show them!” Mary sobbed quietly to her self. If she could, she would do anything for her baby to stop the pain. But even she knew that as much as she wanted to take his place and make the sacrifice herself, or let her son live and show his power, it had to be this way. No other death could do what Jesus’ sacrifice would do: save all of humanity. It would free us all from the bondage of sin and death. For our freedom, an innocent man had to die.
As blood continued to drip from his forehead, arms, feet, and back, Jesus saw her in the crowd standing beside his friend John. He knew that her heart was breaking and since her husband had past years before she would need the support of another son. “Dear Woman, John is your son, now. John, she is your mother.” Suddenly Mary realized, that he was no longer her baby. No longer her son at all. He was her Savior. And not just hers, but the Savior of all the world. It was a heartfelt offer both she, and John, would take. From now on John would be her son, and Jesus would be her Messiah.
Around noon the sky went dark. The atmosphere mirrored that of her heart. For three more hours they stood with him. At three in the afternoon, he cried out, louder that she thought he had energy for, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!” And then, “It is finished.”
And then, Jesus died with his beloved friend and mother in view. Really, he died with us all in view. With the weight of all our sin on his shoulders he breathed his last breath and gave up his spirit.
The mocking crowd quieted at his cries. “Surely this was the Son of God,” one of the soldiers said aloud. When the ground began to shake, rocks split apart, people could not deny that this was no ordinary man. The curtain in the Temple separating the holiest of holy places was torn in two from top to bottom in a way that only God, himself, could have done.
But that last shout that Jesus uttered rang in the peoples’ ears. God has abandoned us. We killed the Messiah. Even Satan, the Enemy, thought he had won.
The Sabbath passed. A day of rest that should have been celebrated, was a day of mourning. A day when His followers had felt completely abandoned by their God. They hid. They made plans to move on.
Then Sunday morning came. Mary cried all the way there. She didn’t want to see his lifeless body again. That bloodied and broken body was not her son. But she would care for him one last time. She brought spices that she had carefully prepared to the tomb. But Jesus was not there. Oh no. He had risen! Her son, no, her Savior, was healed and whole again. God had won. Satan was defeated. Death was conquered.
Because of the sacrifice that Jesus made, grace and freedom now belong to the world. Grace and freedom from sin, freedom to live life to the fullest potential is ours because He gave his son in the ultimate sacrifice… for me.