“There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome, who, when he was in Galilee, followed him and ministered to him; and also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.”
Let me share with you what it might have been like for someone present at the cross that day…
Jesus, look at you! Ahh, my Jesus, how will you ever say my name again? This day has been so sad, so long, so awful – but I wish to God it weren’t over! Look at you, look at you, my Lord!
I saw you early this morning, more weary than the centuries since Abraham – since Adam. My heart broke. I said, “What is he thinking? Does he love me now?”
I saw you stumble out of the city, so torn by the whip that you could not lift the crossbeam or drag it behind you, but grabbed it at your stomach. Your blood-soaked robe! I started to cry.
I saw you dying. I saw you slump between the wings of your own arms – and then you looked at me. You recognized me among the people. You gazed at me. You killed me, Jesus, with your eyes. You killed me, and I stopped crying. I grew cold and dead, and nothing mattered, and I have stayed through the storm. The soldiers stayed for duty. I for…for love, for fear, and for this – that I have nothing else apart from you, nothing. I stayed. I stay. I am here. I am watching.
A little light, a dreary sort of gray light, is returning now after the darkness. The wind is freshening. But it’s the end of the day, really. My day. Our day. You departed in the darkness. You are dead. Look at you.
You lean from the straight wood. High go your arms, numb to the spikes, high like wings reaching the wind, but empty; your body is pitched forward from the pinch of your shoulders behind; your head is bowed down to earth; your hair is a rain around your face, limp and lifted by this fresher wind. Oh, Jesus, your head hangs so low that I can see the flesh of your back. I can see the whip-wounds, like mouths: open and tongue-less and white and Jesus, silent Jesus, Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! How can the world be the same without you? Jesus! This silence shrieks at me. How can people stroll down the wet roads as if nothing has changed? You are dead! My heart that you shamed in me, my heart is dead – huge and heavy and tone-dead, and I can’t even cry.
Salome is crying. I envy her. The other Mary is holding her: two old women bent against each other, weeping. I want to be old. I want to be almost dead. I want to be dead! I don’t want to be! Oh, I don’t want any of this to be. I want to scream it all away and – – gone! Gone! The cross and the hill and the city, the sky and the day – gone! I want to slap those smug people strolling by. Jesus! Jesus! You are so dead!
But I love you!
But I will never hear you say my name again.
O Jesus, you will never walk from a morning mist, fresh from your Father; reaching to me and murmuring my name. You will never say, Peace, to me again. You will never say, (Steve) again.
Put your name in there…because when we look at the cross as those present that day…that would have been the thought…because they were not looking at the cross through the resurrection.