The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” (John 19:7)
Today we remember a day where the course of human history was forever changed; we remember the day that love was lived out, unto death. It is a day we reflect on and remember when Holy took on every shred of brokenness and pain into His very core for the sake of love and redemption. Today, we remember a day that set in motion a living hope —a day that set in motion the provision of rescue for all mankind.
My heart can’t even handle today.
I started my day in the Book of John, reading chapter 19:1-37. I decided to read the account of Christ’s sentencing, crucifixion and death from the book that was written by Jesus’ most beloved disciple. Although many mourned that particular day, I’m sure that the gut-wrenching sorrow John felt was deeper and more personal than it was to many others. He was witnessing the cruelty and gruesomeness of sin being unleashed on his Lord, his friend, whom he loved.
As I was reading through the scriptures, I felt a need to be closer to the text. I wanted to move beyond the chair at my dining room table. I needed to put myself in a place where I could really understand and see the words that were unfolding before me. I wanted to get as close to the foot of the cross as I could.
The foot of the cross, it is a painful place to be. It is a place where I feel a rush of various emotions. It is a place where my shame and despair meet redemption and love.
But I must go there. The closer I get, the louder I hear the words echo… “and according to that law, he ought to die”. Those words, dear friends, I know are meant for me. The law that reveals my sinful nature; the law that sentenced my soul to death.
Then, I am there. The cross before me — so big and heavy. My eyes gaze upward. I want to turn my head away in guilt and shame as I look upon the One who, willingly, is suffering the sufferings that were meant for me. But, l can’t. As I look upon the beaten and bloody face of Jesus, I see it. His eyes meet mine. All that I see is love. In that moment, I realize to turn my head away, is to reject Him.
When the image of suffering is too much to handle and when it seems that I can grieve no more; death. It is the ultimate separation; I struggle to understand. A whole new level of grief is now felt.
I feel grief for knowing that His death is mine replaced. He bore a death that is undeserved of Him. I cast my eyes and gaze upon His body. A body that was beaten, ravaged by a multitude of horrific floggings, a body that was nailed to a cross and, now, a body whose spirit is gone.
I feel indescribable grief. I remember how when our eyes met I had, in that moment, known He was my everything. But, now? He is gone. My heart can’t handle the separation. I finally saw and understood His redemptive love, just to have it ripped away from me.
But, wait…this isn’t the end.
Friends, I urge you to put yourself at the foot of the cross. Work your way through the mocking crowd. Work your way through the smirking religious people who are feeling accomplished by their love and dedication to the law. Work your way through the soldiers who are worn and tired from beating and crucifying this man called Jesus.
Find your way to the foot of the cross. A sacred place. There, it will be just you and Him. Come just as you are…broken and shamed. It will be uncomfortable, because you know that all you see is meant for you. It will be humbling. But, I can tell you, it will be worth it. The moment you look upon his face and look into his eyes, you will see it too. The love, the mercy, the grace…the redemption. I pray that in that moment, you too will accept His sacrifice and love rather than turning your head away in rejection.
He loves you…even unto death on a cross.