By Karen Verderber
I watch Him carry the cross in the midst of the crowd. I’m not alone. Others are following, jeering, pushing, clammering to see Him. Some are yelling out ugly taunts. I stay quiet. I’m curious. What evil had this man done to deserve this?
He stumbles. He cannot stand under His heavy burden. People on rooftops gather to watch this mournful march. He staggers and falls. The soldiers escorting Him bring their whips across His back. Slowly, painfully He rises, but soon falls again. He can no longer shoulder the beam. A man in the crowd is ordered to help Him. They trudge on.
A hill stands beyond. More soldiers are there waiting. Many yell out to Him, “Why did you do these things?” He does not answer. His shoulders sag. His body is bent. He comes to a stop. Blood. Wounds. How can He endure this. He drags His feet up the long hill. I can hear His labored breathing. I wonder, how is He still standing. The soldiers tear off His outer garments, push Him to the ground, fit His body to the cross. And still He remains silent, no screams, no cries.
Nails. Big nails are driven thru His open hands and feet. His eyes roll with pain. I cannot look. And the blood. So much blood. Excruciating pain. But He says nothing.
The Crowd becomes quiet. No one has left. I see a woman being held and comforted. Could she be His mother. She tries to speak, but her tears come with groaning sobs. A young man leads her gently away. I think of my own son. Could I watch him treated in this way? Oh what horror!
They raise the cross. He hands in nakedness while the gawkers walk by. Some look uncomfortable. A soldier turns away with a look of grief and questioning. I see His head move slowly and painfully. It begins to rain. Water mixes with blood, pink streams run down the broken body. Those who pass wag their heads and yell—“Save yourself and come down from the cross!”
His stricken eyes fall upon the crowd and our eyes meet. My emotions are inexpressible. I am consumed by His gaze. He who was treated so savagely shows love in those eyes. I see not only love, but kindness and forgiveness. Yes I see forgiveness! My heart pounds with what I feel. My eyes well with tears.
Then I see His head lifting up. He cries out, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” He is praying for all of us. He is praying for me. Love, He has love for me, a sinner!
Then he raised his head one final time. I cannot hear what He says. A soldier extends to Him a sponge soaked in wine and I hear Him say, “It is finished.” His head drops and He dies.
What horror of it all. Why? What had this Man done?
Nothing. He came to give us victory.
My God, my God, why have I forsaken you?