I knelt at the foot of the cross, my knees grinding into the rocky gravel. My head was down-turned, my hands gripping the gnarled and splintery wood for dear life. It was as if that wooden post was the only thing keeping me from falling into the darkness around me. Above me, I could not bear to look upward as Jesus hung dying.
“Father, forgive them,” I heard his weak voice, “for they don’t understand what they are doing.” I knew that it was Me about whom He was praying. I didn’t nail the nails into his hands, nor dig the hole, nor push down the thorns on his head. Nevertheless, I was to blame. I knew it instinctively. Somehow, I had known it all along. “Guilty!” A voice from somewhere accused me. It was true.
I gripped the cross harder with both hands,still unable to look upward, ashamed. As His body began to succumb to the pain and physical trauma, I could feel the vibrations from his quivering gasps for breath. His lungs filling with fluid, he was drowning. All I could do is hug the cross, my own body racked with helpless sobs. I couldn’t have stopped it.
The cross shook as Jesus painfully filled what he could of his lungs one last time and spoke. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit…it is finished.” With that, his body could take no more. I felt the final shudder, then nothing. I could feel my heart breaking along with his. So utterly alone.
I could feel the vast darkness closing in around me, the sky above me angry with thunder and lightning. The cross, the crowd, the hillside disappeared. I felt myself begin to fall as my hands lost their grip. “Father, please forgive me,” came my pitiful cry. “I understand; it was me. It was because of me!” No answer came.
Unbearable shame filled me as I began to fall faster into the darkness below. “That’s it,” I thought. “I am dead.” Then I felt something hit my head, soft and wet. I put one hand to my head, and on my finger there was one small, red drop. Suddenly, the darkness was gone and I was surrounded by light. I was no longer falling; I hung there, neither rising nor falling.
I felt a strong hand reach down to grab me. Suddenly, everything bad I had done flashed in front of me, then faded away. One by one, I acknowledged them. I owned them. They were mine. Every time I had hated, had been jealous, doubted. Every time I knew that I had hurt God’s heart, knowingly. They were too many! No way could I be good enough! There was no way to hide it all; my weakness was exposed! I just wanted to be somewhere else. “Let’s get this over with!” I shouted to no avail.
But on and on they came…and went for what seemed like an eternity. The blood was somehow changing me into something else — something better. I felt … new.
No longer was I alone on that rocky and dark hillside. No longer was I falling, helpless, into the darkness.
No longer was I heavy with the guilt and shame.
A strong and reassuring voice boomed, as if it was from the thunder. “Get up.” I looked up as Jesus’ strong hands supported me as I got to my feet. I stood next to him, trying to look at him. His body was so bright that the only thing I could bear to look at were his eyes. Those eyes, so deep, so caring, so knowing, so full of love for me as he spoke. “Your sins are forgiven. You are mine, and will always be. Now go, and sin no more.”
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20