Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Standing Near the Cross of Jesus {Mary's Soliloquy ~ A Good Friday Monologue}

This blackness . . . it’s frightening. I can’t see. It’s midday. What’s happening? What was that thunderous roar? The ground shook.

I was watching him. My son bowed his head and breathed his last, when the sunlight had failed and the mid-day sky has been swallowed up and the land has been veiled in this dreadful darkness. There is something horrendous happening. I can’t explain it.

Standing at the cross, I cannot recognize him by his appearance. At every lash that shredded his flesh, my heart frayed. But, as they stripped him down and twisted together a crown of thorns for his head, and mocked him and spit on him, in His eyes I recognized him by his love. As he called to his beloved disciple to take care of me now in his stead, I treasured his faithful obedience.

My heart aches like the soldiers have taken the spear that they pierced into his side and plunged it into my soul.

Righteous and devout Simeon told me it would come to this. I am shrouded in darkness in the middle of the day and my mind recalls the night when a dazzling light broke through the midnight darkness.

That night I gave birth to my firstborn son, and the glory of the Lord shone brightly. And the heavenly host praised God and sang: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” {Luke 2:14}

Forty days later, we came to Jerusalem for our purification with my firstborn son. We had named him “Jesus”--as the angel told us to for he would save his people from their sins. And we came to present him to the Lord--as was written in the law of the Lord--with our two turtledoves.

That was when old Simeon took my baby up in his arms and blessed God and said:

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.” {Luke 2:29-32}

Joseph and I marveled that day at what Simeon said about Jesus. Then his words pricked my heart as he told me that a sword would pierce my soul.

I didn’t grasp what he was saying, but I tucked it away in my heart. I have pondered many of these mysteries. As the shadow of this cross has fallen on Jesus, so too has the promise of life.

How many times have reminded my soul that with God nothing is impossible? When I’ve been prone to flee in fear, my prayer has been: “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” {Luke 1:38}

It’s been over thirty years and my grief-stricken heart is again yielding and as I do, I am seeing.

This is why he came. This cross. He knew all along. When he was twelve we were in Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover and we left him behind without realizing and we lost him. How could I lose my son? After three frantic days we found him and he said to us, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” I did not understand, but I stored it in my heart. He submitted to us, and he “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

As he worked with Joseph in the shop, his hands sawing, sanding, shaping, smoothing, crafting wood into useful and beautiful creations, he knew this was the work he was living for. All of his living was for dying. He came to serve. He came to save.

I have lost my son again. His hands now nailed on a crude crossbeam of wood, his blood is pouring out as a sacrifice. He came to die. There is a mystery here. Greater than I can comprehend right now.

My heart is wrenched at his suffering. The inner turmoil in my mother’s heart is too great to bear. As the soldiers cast lots for his garments, leaving him exposed and humiliated in his nakedness, I cast down my eyes.

I wonder if my breath is being extinguished from me even as my son, my Lord, my Saviour hangs now, cursed, in this wretched darkness.

As Jesus cried out with a loud voice and yielded his spirit, a centurion close by exclaimed, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

Yes! Yes, this is the Son of God. Like Zechariah’s and Elizabeth’s John said in the wilderness, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”John testified, “And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

When he turned water into good wine at the wedding in Cana and his glory was displayed, was that not to prove that he is the Son of God?

I am not to lower the power of God to the level of my senses. Once again, as I fail to see all that God is doing, I sing:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.”{Luke 1:46-50}

Oh, that people would turn their eyes to fear my Lord.

In a week, the fickle crowd has changed their tune. Days ago, they sang: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

Then, they urgently raised their voices and demanded Pilate to “Crucify Him!” and yelled in unison, “His blood be on us and on our children!”

And now astonishment and dread fills this darkness and the crowd has run home beating their breasts--themselves filled with confusion, sorrow, and fear. Their dancing has turned to mourning.

This penetrating darkness is blinding.

Can it be that many are blinded to the Light of the world and this darkness is for us to consider that there is something astonishing to behold? When we have lost our way in the dark, can anything but the light bring us home?

Jesus declared, after he had been anointed and rode into Jerusalem on the donkey’s colt, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”

In my grief, I see him hanging there – becoming a curse on this cross. A cross! The most shameful and humiliating way to die. It is too much! He has been betrayed by Judas, falsely accused by the chief priests, delivered over by Pilate, denied and deserted by his disciples, mocked and crucified by the soldiers, scorned by sinners.

Yet, I watched him willingly, silently, carrying his cross out of Jerusalem, outside the city like the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement bearing the sin of the people.

My heart is pierced. The Son of God is the only one worthy to take this sin upon Himself and become sin to appease the righteous wrath of our holy God.

Yes, he called me his mother, but truly He is the Messiah, my Lord and Savior.

He was conceived in my womb by the power of the Most High, and I bore a Son, but He has born my sin and delivered me from the wrath of God.

I will not rush away from the cross of Jesus. God’s mercies never cease. I stand astonished at the steadfast love of God, mourning my Son, magnifying my Lord, and rejoicing in my Saviour. My Lord turns my mourning into joy.

He cried out in victory: “It is finished!” I believe as he said, he has come to give us life. He said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

Did not the prophet Isaiah say:

“ . . . he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all . . .
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.” {Isaiah 53:5-7}

I stand at the foot of the cross of Jesus, flooded with crushing sorrow. But, in his victorious cry there is a whisper of hope. I will anchor my soul to the God of Hope.

He has poured out his soul to death according to the will of His Father. I saw how he gave up His life. His glory shines in this darkness. His death is leading to life, bringing me back to my God.

This darkness will not last. As the prophet Malachi spoke, “for you who fear his name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.”

My soul will wait in silence for God alone, for nothing will be impossible with God.

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