I wrote a piece for the ladies auxiliary meeting at my church this Holy Week, and I was encouraged to post it on my blog or in my email newsletter. I thought I’d do both.
I hope it blesses you as we celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord.
Witness to the Crucifixion
(c) Suzy Taylor Oakley
I thought he was the One.
We all did.
The one who was going to rescue us. The Messiah, the one God promised.
But now he’s dead. I guess we were wrong.
I had been watching — from a distance. Listening to the things the twelve men were saying about him. The things HE had been saying.
He sounded legitimate. Sincere. Like he knew what he was talking about.
There had been murmuring in the crowds. Murmurs that eventually turned to shouts of joy. We watched him perform miracles. Unbelievable things we witnessed with our own eyes.
He didn’t speak like the other “holy” men. He was different. He wasn’t pious or self-righteous. He was righteous, all right, but he didn’t lord it over everyone else. He didn’t call attention to his mighty works. In fact, sometimes he told those he healed to be quiet about what had just happened.
This strange man spoke in riddles sometimes. Not riddles to stump us, but stories that didn’t always make sense. But then … they did make sense, when you really thought about them. The stories made us reflect on our own lives. Sometimes those stories were painful to listen to, because they pointed out where we fell short. Sometimes they spurred change in our hearts … in our actions.
Many of his stories drew me closer to God. I guess that’s always a good thing, even coming from a man who turned out not to be who he said he was.
Even so, this man was humble, gentle in spirit, yet he exhibited strength.
One of the strange things he did was in Samaria, where he stopped at a well for a drink during the heat of the day. He spoke to a Samaritan woman, and that, itself, was strange. After all, Jews hate Samaritans. And she was a woman! That didn’t seem to matter to him, though.
He told her something about “living water.” He actually told her he was Messiah. He knew things about her that no one else knew.
Like I said, different. Strange.
The woman from Samaria told everyone in town about her encounter with this man, and the word spread.
I thought he was the One. We ALL thought so. He was so convincing.
But then the Romans came in the middle of the night and took him. After that, things started to happen fast. There was a trial, then another one.
They beat him within an inch of his life.
I was still watching, as painful as it was to witness this violence. They even fashioned a crown out of thorns and placed it — not gently — on his head. They were mocking him.
The strangest part, though, was that he never once fought back. He never got violent, never tried to retaliate. If he was God, like he said, he could have taken them all down in a moment. Like Samson killed all those Philistines, maybe this man could have called to heaven and the walls would fall down, killing all his oppressors. They would’ve deserved that, and more.
But he didn’t do any of that. Not once did he strike back, in anger or anything else.
I couldn’t understand. Why does a man let himself be accused, humiliated, spat upon … beaten? Then more humiliation and pain when he was nailed to a cross — a cross they made him carry — without a moment’s reprisal or any attempt to return violence for violence.
He never spoke a word in his own defense.
But then … maybe he thought all his previous words were sufficient. He hadn’t been secretive about who he claimed to be.
He said he was God.
All his friends, even those who were supposedly willing to die with him, abandoned him. One even turned him over to the Romans.
I know this because I was still watching. Waiting to see what would happen. I’m not sure why. I guess it was just so unbelievable. I couldn’t take my eyes away.
I suppose I was waiting — hoping — for him to show his mighty power. To break free of the Romans and show that he really was Elohim.
Had this man been lying about everything, or was he merely delusional? Those are the only two options I can see.
The problem is, he didn’t seem to be either. Usually liars are caught in their deception, and it doesn’t take long. But even when the Pharisees claimed to trap him in a falsehood, he proved them wrong. Always.
And delusional men usually act crazy, unstable. All you have to do is observe them for a while, and you’ll be able to see this. But he wasn’t like that.
He was different.
I’m so confused.
If those two explanations don’t hold weight, what does? The only other thing that makes sense … is that he was telling the truth.
But I watched him die.
Death is final, right?
So, what happens next?
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