Never has the Via Dolorosa been as long as when I staggered upon it in agony on the way to the place of the skull. I buckled under the weight of the cross, my strength failing me after my mortal flesh had been tormented with countless merciless whipping and lashing and flogging, sapping me of every ounce of might until I had none left in me to even cry out in pain.
But what was my crime? Do you see any darkened blemishes of guilt on my hands? Whose blood had I shed? Whose light had I snuffed out? There were a fickle people, but I loved them anyway. Had they not just days earlier spread their cloaks and palm leaves before the colt I road in on, shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord”? And then the hatred I saw in their eyes as they were baying for my blood, crying “crucify him!” So much hatred in the eyes of my own seed.
So much hatred in the eyes of that those that accused me, so much hatred from those that gave false witness about me. So much hatred in the eyes of those that stripped me of my clothes and dignity. Blinded by their own hatred, they blindfolded me, took turns to strike me, and their voiced laced with ridicule and contempt, demanded that I prophesy who had delivered the last blow. I wonder if they could see the pain etched on my face through the mangled mixture of their hatred and the blood streaming down my face from the crown of the thorns they had put on me. So much hatred.
They thought me powerless, and at their mercy. They did not know that I could appeal to my Father and He would have at once sent me more than 12 legions of angels to avenge me. But all I could think about, and I staggered about like a drunkard, being tossed this way and that by every fist, was you. It wasn’t nails that kept me on that cross, it was your face before me. I was in anguish, not because I couldn’t save myself from the cross, but so that you would not have to feel the aguish and weeping and gnashing of your teeth for eternity, repaying the debt of your sin. I longed to feel comforted by my Father, I longed to feel His presence, but I suffered it being taken away from me, because of you. Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabacthani. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Do you understand that in that moment when I hung on the cross, the stench of your sin that rose from my body and met my Father’s nostrils, repulsed Him so much that He turned His face away from me? I and my Father were always one, until that moment when He couldn’t bear to look at me and declare that I am His Son with whom He was well pleased, because I reeked of sin. I reeked of your lies, I reeked of your fornication, I reeked of your blasphemy, and I reeked of the blood you shed. I became sin. And my Father, being holy, could not bear to look at me. They may have beaten me, scarred me and marred me. Their whips may have eaten away at my flesh, ripping away layers of it with each agonizing lashing. They may have driven nails into my hands and feet as one would knock them into a piece of wood, causing me anguish and agony as they slowly tore deeper into my flesh when I began to sag on the cross. But they could not take my life. Nobody murdered me. I surrendered my spirit to my Father when the work of atonement had been complete. You see, I could not surrender my spirit until I had completely drunk and drained the cup of wrath and sorrow the Father placed before on your behalf. So pain took its prolonged pleasure on my body until my appearance was disfigured beyond the point of any human being and my form marred beyond human likeness, just as the prophet Isaiah had seen.
So don’t be misled into thinking felt no pain because I am God. I saw the cup that was set before me in Gethsemane. I saw that the contents were my Fathers’ wrath and fury, and that I had to drink from it. Who can withstand that? Twice I asked my Father to remove it from me if he was willing, my soul sorrowful to the point of death, praying earnestly until my sweat became like drops of blood. My Father sent an angel to strengthen me. There was no other way, I drank it. I felt the full force of the Father’s wrath. I drank it. I felt the darkness and desolation that is that is separation from Him. I drank it. I drained it and then pour myself out as an offering for your sin. The sun hid from me for three hours, as my Father hid his face from me. When I knew that I had accomplished what I became human for, I cried out in a loud voice “it is finished!” Tetelestai! In Greek, paid in full. Your debt had been paid in full