On this Good Friday, I encourage you to take a few moments and ponder the cross. I offer you two opportunties.
THE VIDEO ABOVE
It;s only a couple of minutes long, but it slows me down and helps me realize how costly grace is each time I watch.
A WRITTEN REFLECTION
I wrote the following piece a couple of years ago. It’s by design grammatically sloppy and will drive stRick grammarians nuts, but the cross wasn’t neat and orderly. These are words and images that tumbled out of my heart after spending time daily for six weeks pondering the cross in art from over the centuries. I hope it speaks to your heart about Jesus incredible sacrifice for you. Here is the reflection:
The cross was not a piece of jewelry, wall ornament, poster, or tattoo. The cross was not beautiful. The cross was a blood-stained electric chair smeared with urine and fecal matter. The cross was a guillotine encrusted with bits of flesh and matted hair from a thousand decapitated criminals. …A dirty syringe silencing a beating heart …A gas chamber covered in claw marks.
The cross was a thief, stealing sons from mothers. It was a calloused listener turning a deaf ear to twisted words from twisted bodies. It did not blink as pierced hands found themselves straining and tearing beneath the weight of a broken body. It felt nothing as feet full of bone shards from a spike shattering them ebbed precious blood. The cross did not care.
The cross was an ugly, vile, torturous form of execution. Do not pretty it up too soon.
Jesus cross was not beautiful. It was not special. Used and reused for countless other crucifixions, the wood was undoubtedly soaked by blood from prior bodies broken. A foul stench surely choked him as soldiers saddled him with it like a beast of burden. Who knows how many men and women had soiled Christ’s cross when the last wisp of life ebbed out of them.
As he bore, its unrelenting weight upon his back, a conflict of surfaces occurred. Slick with his own blood the cross wanted to slide from his back while simultaneously blood struggled to coagulate and stick to the encrusted surface. Scabs tore free as fast as they formed. Scabs from a back tattered by the vicious bite of a scourge.
Tongue thick, a mouth of cotton, a head screaming from dehydration while thorns bite unmercifully. Sweat no longer stings his eyes for there is nothing left to sweat. Enduring all of this, bearing all of this before a laughing crowd, while being stripped naked and mocked. Naked. Bare. Alone. But not alone.
Hundreds of people jeering. Taking pleasure in your humiliation. Taking pleasure in your degradation. In the midst of that throbbing mass a lone figure, your mother watches you humiliated. You see her heart die a thousand deaths as you die a death for thousands. You long to hold her and comfort her. You beg inside to die if nothing else to end her pain because you cannot imagine watching your own child suffer so.
Your muscles scream for relief as you drag this unbearable weight. When you finally arrive to the top of the hill, you collapse on the ground with nothing left to give. This sweet moment of relief is shattered as harsh hands wrestle your hands into submission so they may be unmercifully pierced. Ring, ring, ring, turns to a deeper, baser, thud, thud, thud as the spike bites deeper into the wood.
Darkness clouds your vision.
Pain turns to numbness.
Memories flicker in and out like dreams trying to be remembered.
The sky darkens.
Breathing becomes agonizingly difficult now.
You could lift yourself a bit before an take air into your lungs.
No strength left to do that anymore.
Air won’t come in unless you gasp.
Short gasps, becoming shallower.
No fluid for tears.
Darkness is coming.
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