By Gloria Wessner
The words “it is finished” rang in her ears as Mary stumbled and tripped over the rocks on the hill at Golgotha. It couldn’t be, it just couldn’t be true what had just happened; but it was. There was the cross, with her friend hanging on it. His weary head now bent and bowed over on his chest as he breathed his last, his expression showing one of mixed sadness and love as he had spoken the unforgettable words.
She wanted to run away, to get away from the bloody and passionate scene around her. The huge spikes used to go through the condemned men’s hands and feet, heavy mallets,sundry sounds of sobbing and groaning by friends and family as they watched the lurid scene, the heat and stench, everything all mixed together made an overwhelming and devastating scene. Somehow she couldn’t leave — something kept her there. The Roman soldiers finished moving from cross to cross to make sure the condemned men were dead. They broke the legs of the two men on either side of Jesus, but when they came to him they didn’t break his as they saw he was already dead. Instead, they thrust a spear into his side, and out came blood and water. The stony faced soldiers, having done hundreds of crucifixions, grumbled away to themselves and moved on. Mary looked up and gazed at the three crosses with the men on them, still now with no life in them. Her attention went back to the middle cross, and silently made her way to the feet of Jesus and looked up at him.
The tears fell unashamedly as she saw him. The wicked thorns on his brow left open bleeding gashes around his head and blood stains on his face. The grotesque spikes stuck out through raw flesh and blood from his hands and feet. The whiplash wounds on his back and around his sides left red angry lesions and the fresh stab wound in his side still oozed with water and blood.
Mary sank to her knees as she took in the scene above her. The rocks felt sharp beneath her. Without giving it a thought she sat down, and found herself sitting up against the cross, beneath Jesus feet. She sat there with closed eyes. Something felt wet against her cheek. She brushed it off and opened her eyes to see the blood on her hand that she had wiped off.
Suddenly, it hit her. She remembered what she had heard that was written in Moses’ law that God requires blood so that there could be reconciliation for sins, and that blood represents life. She knew that this blood, Jesus’ blood, was being shed for her, at this moment. Mary sat there. She was sitting in a familiar spot to her, at Jesus’ feet; but now with a whole new personal meaning to her. She saw a discarded piece of cloth lying nearby. She reached over to pick it up — recognizing it as she did. It was Jesus’ robe that she had woven for Him, forgotten after the soldiers threw dice for it.
Instinctively Mary threw it around herself, covering her head. It was comforting, and it was having Jesus’ presence all around her. Trembling, she got up and looked at him once more. It was still a dreadful sight as before, but now his death and bleeding held special significance and meaning just for her.
Grasping Jesus’ robe around her and seeing his blood on her hand as she did, she remembered other things that Jesus had said, of how he must suffer and die. Certain words he spoke also gave her hope — that in three days he would come back to life again. Could it be this meant she would shortly see him alive again? Somehow she knew in her heart that she would.
At the edge of that terrible hill Mary glanced back at the death scene, then turned and viewed the road that she would travel on to meet up with the others. Although her heart was heavy – there was a new hope springing up in her knowing that life was not over; but that a new kind of beginning and understanding were hers to have as she walked through life. She had watched Jesus teach, heal, serve and love people, showing the way to live life by the way he had lived. With her new understanding, she knew that she could live her life by the example Jesus had shown them.
Adjusting the robe around her shoulders, Mary walked down the road with a sure step as she went on her way to meet the others.
Note: The historical fact that Jesus Christ died and then rose from the dead is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. It is the only religion or faith that makes such a claim about its leader. Since God has fulfilled this action of love through his Son, it compels us to respond. You can read the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection in Matthew chapter 26:47 to the end of chapter 28 and in John, chapters 19 and 20.
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