He looked down from his cross, from his lofty perch of sacrifice.
He saw the religious leaders, the priests and Pharisees who had conspired to have him murdered. They were hurling insults at him: “He saved others! Let him save himself.” The hatred in their words and the scorn on their faces told him these were people who knew a lot of about God, but they did not walk with God.
He saw the soldiers, doing their job, as they had done dozens of times before. He could see these foreigners taking in the insults of the religious leaders, noting the odd feeling of the crowd, trying to puzzle out ‘what did all mean?’ He looked at the men who had just nailed him to the rough wood, who had beaten him until he bleed, and he gave them words of grace: “Father, forgive them, they don’t have a clue.” His gift of grace was rewarded with an offer of sour wine and shouts that kings don’t die on crosses.
He saw the curiosity seekers, the ones who came out for every crucifixion. They were there to watch the show, to see if he would do a miracle and bring himself off the cross. The longer they waited, the more restless they became. Finally they joined the religious leaders in mocking him, because he wouldn’t do what they expected a Messiah to do. If only they knew.
He looked to his left and saw a man also hanging on the cross. The man yelled at him, “Aren’t you the Messiah? Get us off these things!” A voice responded on the right: “Don’t you get it? We’re dying. We deserve it. He doesn’t.” He looked to his right. The man on that cross said, “Lord, don’t forget about me, because I believe you really are the King.” He said, “When you die today, your life will just be beginning; you will be with me.”
He saw the darkness fall. All of the universe was coming unglued; something was happening that was against the design of the universe. People were looking at the sky, and murmured to each other.
He looked out again. There was his mother, Mary. He saw her tears. He knew she knew this moment had to come, but now it was here, a nightmare worse than imagination.
He saw the empty spaces, where his disciples should have been. There was only one, his friend John. With a strained voice, he told his friend, “Take care of my Momma.”
His breathing was shallower; the time was drawing near. Maybe in that moment, he saw the stream of history. He saw faces and sins, from the lie of a three year old, to the murders done by Hitler, Stalin, and all the villains of history. Maybe, in that moment he saw me. Maybe he saw the times I turned away from him, the times I defied him, the times when I chose what was wrong instead of choosing him. If he saw all that, it amazes me that he still extended grace to me.
Then he cried, “It is finished.” His eyes closed. He saw nothing. Death came.
But Sunday is coming. His eyes will open again. Through eyes of grace, he will see me, not as I am, but as he died for me to be.