On a Lonely Hill

The rain came in torrents now, washing the bloodied body; making red rivulets cascade down the hill. When the lightning came, I felt closer to recognizing Him. It seemed to me that all nature was in anguish. I could imagine that at least nature realized Who He was, as I ... I knew. No one on earth knew better than I.

I tried to leave. But if He was still aware, I couldn’t take the chance. It hurt so much to stay, exactly as if His pain was mine. But, it would hurt more to leave.

Lightning struck again, thunder, the earth shook and, still, I couldn’t go. John (beside me) seemed to understand and I was thankful for his shoulder; again and again.

I kept looking from the cross to the crowd, to the sky. My head was reeling. But, that paled in comparison to my heart. Never, ever, had I imagined a day like this!

Yes, I worried about Him. But, I knew He was King of Kings. It was only a matter of time until they would realize, through one of His healings or teachings, Who He was.

Less than a week ago, people from all over Jerusalem had met Him with palm branches that they laid before Him. Hosannas were shouted and praises sung.

Now, where did these people come from? I thought the whole country knew and loved Him. So many had been delivered and healed. Scriptures flashed through my mind: "Wounded for our transgressions ... By His stripes we were healed ... Marred beyond recognition ..."

He stirred! There was yet life! Perhaps ...

"Woman," He directed his eyes, then, toward John, "behold thy son!"

Then, to John, "Behold," turning those eyes, so full of anguish and pain, to me, "Thy mother." John reach his arm around me in an act of comfort. We wept together.

Were His last thoughts and words going to be concern for me?

Where were the angels? Why would God let this happen? Where was that angel that came, so many years ago, with the news that changed my life forever? Surely this could not be what He meant when He said, "If I be lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men unto me." Lifted up? On a cross?

The thieves, on either side of Him, were from two different worlds. One was full of hatred, resentment, mockery; chiding him to send for angels.

The other was accepting of his guilt and, vindicating my son, said to Him, "Remember me, when You come into Your Kingdom." He received the amazing reward for His faith; "Today, thou shalt be with Me in Paradise!"

I looked around the darkened hill for one kind face; one who had the faith, one who could change things. Yet, there was none.

Then, I heard the anguished cry, "My God, My God! Why have You forsaken Me?"

I understood, I thought. For, I could discern no evidence of God, my Father, in that dark hour either. Was He gone? Had He abandoned mankind? I wouldn’t blame Him.

They were dividing the spoil. The dying men could watch them. Jesus’ robe was in one piece (woven that way especially for Him) and they thought that unusual. So, they threw the dice for that.

They offered nothing to me. I didn’t care. For, I had the memories, in my heart, of that wonderful night in Bethlehem; memories of shepherds, angels, wise men, stars ... memories of childhood laughter, of His little arms around my neck, His kisses on my cheek ... the sweet nursing sounds of that Baby, the fluttering eyelids, the memories of little God sleeping peacefully ... His first prayer, His certain distinguishing traits.

He was different, in a wonderful way, from all my other children.

Then, His voice brought me from the memories, "It is finished! Into Thy hands I commend My Spirit ..." John heard it, too.

The soldiers came, having broken the legs of the thieves on either side, to also brake His. But, they found Him gone. A spear was thrust into his side, letting the blood flow. It was already separated. The water stood apart, proving He was dead.

We sat down in the drizzle, weeping. We wept for Jesus, for the cause He had carried right to the end ... for the things we could not understand ... for good, and fairness, mercy, understanding ... for all the wonderful things He did ... for the laugh and the smile that we would not see again ... for the great opportunity that earth had missed. He would not sit on an earthly throne.

Someone came, begging us to get out of the rain, saying that Joseph of Armatheia and Nicodemus were taking the body. They would show us the place.

It was a new tomb. No other bodies had been placed there. As it was sunset, we would come on the first day of the week. Strange as it seemed, guards were placed there.

Suddenly, I was tired. I could not deal with all I had believed so fervently; all the dreams, hopes, cares. My mind was overcome with memories of the faces of those healed, helped, liberated. I saw the thanks, the relief, the love in those eyes.

The night crept in and I fell victim to slumber; wondering, as I yielded, how God would deal this out ... how He could make any good thing come from it ... how there could be victory in this hideous defeat ...

© 2005 by Joan Clifton Costner

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