It seems chaotic. Crowds moving, people hollering. Some are mocking and laughing. Others simply shake their heads as they pass by. For many there, vicious — almost indescribable — anger is thinly veiled beneath jeering and taunting. Never has laughter been so spiteful.
And then there are a few — just a few — who stand still. Silently, mournfully, disbelievingly, gazing upward at a bloodied and broken man, still hoping that any moment now they will awake to find this has been a horrific dream. But it’s not. It won’t go away. Nothing has ever been more real. Nothing has ever seared the eyes of his loved ones and friends like this sight. And nothing will ever look the same.
The crowd itself is diverse. There are young and old, male and female, rich and poor. Some people just happened to be passing by on the way into town, some are there for the show, and others are there to make sure that death truly transpires. There are many Jews, but also Romans. Soldiers and government officials, to be precise.
Everything about the moment seems wrong. A man who had been righteous, merciful, gracious, and kind is now maligned. He who had preached love is hated. The one who had claimed to be a king is strung up as a criminal. The one who was supposed to save the Jews from their oppressors has been handed over by the Jews to their oppressors to be killed. The only human who has ever tasted true innocence or breathed true righteousness is condemned and suffering death for sin.
It is as if nature can’t bear the burden. People who died long ago are raised. The earth quakes. The day becomes dark. The holy place of the temple is exposed as the curtain tears in two from top to bottom.
Here, in this moment, the most bizarre convergence of wills of all time takes place: the will of man for the death of God and the will of God for the life of man. Death approaches for Jesus as life draws near for us.
In between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday there is a day to pause and remember. Remembrance is huge in the Bible. To remember in a biblical sense is more than just recalling facts, it is re-participating-in and re-applying.
This whole weekend is a time to re-participate and re-apply the truths of what Christ has done for us in dying and rising victorious over death. This is a meditation I wrote some time ago and have adapted for this occasion of remembrance.
Psalm 77 has been precious to me over the years. As I reflect on Asaph’s experience in battling with discouragement and despair, this one thought overwhelms me: Remembrance is a means of grace.
God knows our frame. He knows that we are weak and prone to forget the most important things in the most important times. In his grace, he gives the church rites of remembrance so that we will always be forced to remember the most important things.
Imagine knowing you’re right, but having no one believe you. Imagine having the power to stop something evil from happening, but the wisdom to let it happen.
Imagine knowing that you are about to undergo indescribable pain and eternal torment, but you cannot express it; no one understands. Imagine needing your friends in an hour of great distress and having every single one of the people you have trusted and loved and helped abandon you.
Imagine being utterly alone and misunderstood. Imagine enduring the mocking of people who are blind, but mock you, the only one who can see. Imagine standing trial, accused by liars while embodying truth.
Imagine being rejected by your own people—the very ones you came to help. Imagine being falsely judged guilty by a ruler desperate to keep his authority, all the while realizing that you are the one who gives him his authority.
Imagine being condemned for your claim to kingship when you actually are the King. Imagine being whipped and beaten, crowned with thorns, and mocked by soldiers while the armies of heaven stand, awaiting their orders from you, their Great Commander.
Imagine having the power to uphold the universe, but not the strength to carry a cross because you’ve been wounded so badly by your own creation. Imagine seeing your mother weeping and your ‘believers’ not believing as you approach the hill of your imminent death.