Holy Week has arrived. Truly my heart’s desire was to be able to gather with my church family this week but that was not the Lord’s will.
I have spent this week in contemplation of the cross. I think as believers we don’t like to linger there. We love to run on to the joyful celebration (rightly so) of the resurrection but we don’t like to sit and gaze at the destruction of the cross. We may pause for a moment but even then, Easter is in the back of our minds. We have that luxury because we know the whole story.
So this week, I have put myself in other peoples’ places. I have read through each Gospel account of the betrayal and death of Jesus but stopped reading at the burial. I have walked in the garden with Jesus and felt his loneliness and desperation, as he knows all that is about to come upon him. As he cries out to the Father for another way but fully submits himself to the pain of betrayal, of desertion, and of physical suffering beyond belief.
I have sat with the disciples as they casually fall asleep when they should have been praying. I hear Jesus’ gentle rebuke and plea and his understanding as he knows how weak we are. I have felt the disciples’ utter confusion and hopelessness as they see their leader torn away and crucified before them. What is going on??
I have wept at the tenderness of Christ on the cross. Experiencing the worst pain I can think of, yet still caring for others. He sees his mother and thinks of her welfare by placing her in the care of his beloved friend. He asks forgiveness of those who are killing him. He ministers to the thief hanging to die beside him and gives him hope.
As he hangs there, the earth is filled with darkness. The Father turns his face away from the sin that he can’t behold and Jesus is left all alone. He cries out in despair and the curtain that separates man from God is torn in two. Scripture has been totally fulfilled in every way.
The Son of God gives up his spirit.