It's the Sunday before Easter, AKA Resurrection Day. Good Friday is five days away. It's a day when a lot of churches celebrate Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus rode in to Jerusalem on the donkey amidst the shouts of "Hosanna!"
But, today I have something different on my mind...someone different, actually. I've been thinking about Jesus's mother, Mary and the crucifixion. I read somewhere that Golgotha, the place of a skull, actually does look like a human head. The writer said she was there, and the top of the cliff had two natural caves and looked like just what it said, a skull. She also said it overlooked what used to be the Eastern gate in to the old city of Jerusalem. Now, I've never been, so I don't know what the place looks like, but thinking of it this way put a new perspective on things for me. The writer quoted John 19, so I went and read the chapter and began to see things in a new light. I'm not going to copy and paste the entire chapter; you can read it for yourselves, but take note of Pontius Pilate. Can't you just hear him thinking, "Them pesky Jews! Sure wish I didn't have to deal with all their silly notions!"
Kind of makes me wonder if, under other circumstances, he might have believed on Jesus. But, I got sidetracked. Wasn't going that direction. :)
Anyway, here's the verses that stood out, when I read chapter 19. "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home." John 19:25-27 KJV.
Since I am a storyteller, bare with me for a few minutes.
It's hot. The sun is beating down on your head. It's also noisy. People are everywhere, and they are not quiet. Your feet are killing you. After all, you just walked up the hillside. But, the pain in your feet is nothing compared to the pain in your heart. The religious leaders you have counted on all your life have just ordered your son to be crucified. Men who were supposed to be honorable in battle have beaten him, whipped him until he is almost unrecognizable. The stench of sweat and blood permeate the air so that you can't even take a breath without it filling your nostrils. When they drove those spikes in to your firstborn's hands and feet, you felt them, too. You wanted to scream for them to stop. You wanted to grab up a spike and kill them all. You wanted to hold your son like you did when he was a tiny baby, and yet, you can't forget the many times he told you he was about his father's business. You didn't always understand what that meant, and you don't understand now, but just remembering the peace in his eyes when he said that, keeps you silent.
Your sister is there by your side, arm around your waist holding you up. Mary Magdalene is there, too, and in some weird way, you feel more sorry for her than for yourself. You wrap an arm around the younger woman's shoulders, but you have no words of comfort. All you can offer her is your embrace. She leans on you and all three of you cry together.
John is standing a couple of feet away. He hasn't left your son's side the whole time. You love him for that. You wish you could tell him so.
Then, you wipe a hand across your eyes and look up in to the eyes of your baby boy. He isn't a baby anymore, of course, but you still think of him that way. He looks at you, and then he looks at John.
"Woman," he says, "behold thy son!"
You follow his gaze to John, and then you hear his next words.
"John, behold thy mother."
You want to tell him there is no need for this, but you can't speak, because the effort of holding back your sobs is too great.
Jesus says he is thirsty, and they give him vinegar. You can smell it from where you are standing, and you can't help but cringe at how it must have burned his mouth and throat.
And then, you heard the words you so desperately did not want to hear, "It is finished."
Jesus bows his head, and you know it's over; he is dead. You would have fallen to your knees, if John and your sister hadn't held on to you, and you can no longer hold back the sobs.
A soldier pushes you out of the way, then, and starts breaking the legs of the other men who were crucified, but when they came to your son, they saw he was already dead, so they just plunged a sword in to his side.
Then, as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus came and began to remove his body, you felt a tug at your elbow. You turn, and there is John, tears streaming down his face.
"Come along, Mother," he is saying, but you do not want to leave.
Somehow, walking away feels like betrayal. But, he is insistent.
"Let the men tend to him," John says. "The sabbath will begins shortly. When the sabbath is over, we will bring spices and anoint him properly."
Knowing he is right, you allow him to take you to his home, but it feels like your heart is being ripped from your chest. You're just not sure you will make it through the sabbath, not with your reason for living now dead and gone.
Aren't you glad, moms that there is hope beyond the grave? Aren't you glad you know the ending, here? I don't know about you, but I wish I could have been there three days later, so I could have shared in Mary's joy at seeing her son risen from the dead. What a hallelujah morning that must have been! And, what a hallelujah morning it's going to be when all the dead in Christ rise to meet Him in the air!
I don't know why God put this on my heart to share, but I pray it blesses you and causes you to ponder a bit more on Him and what a sacrifice He made for us all. God bless, and happy Palm Sunday!