I watched him die. There was nothing I could do about it. There is nothing worse than seeing your child die in any circumstances, but the way he died made it even worse. He’d been beaten and whipped so badly that I barely recognised him. The agony was etched across his face. It was just so cruel. And there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I was helpless. It’s a mother’s duty to look after her son, but I just stood there, powerless, as his life ebbed slowly away.
To add insult to injury, the soldiers and passers-by mocked him. The soldiers even gambled for his clothing while he was nailed to that cross, dying. I wanted to shout at them, to stop them, to ask them to help my son, or at least ease his suffering in some way, instead of acting as if he was there for their enjoyment. It broke my heart.
And as he hanged there dying, flashbacks came to me of moments that I treasured throughout his life. The moment I first held him and wrapped him in those swaddling bands to protect him from the cold, Bethlehem night; those extraordinary visitors we had when he was born; the first smile; his strange disappearance in Jerusalem; the day he first worked with Joseph in the workshop; the day he told me he was beginning his ministry of teaching and healing. The way he spoke to me, it was clear he was saying goodbye. He knew his message would get him into trouble with the religious and political leaders: I think he knew that they would end up killing him; but it didn’t stop him. Nothing would stop him from carrying out God’s will. And now his journey has ended here; his life in the hands of people who have nothing but hate in their eyes.
He could have complained. He could have given in to self-pity or anger – and would have been perfectly within his rights to do so. After all, he didn’t deserve what was happening to him – it was so unfair! And yet, he was selfless, as usual, thinking of others before himself. He looked at me, and our friend, John, and made sure that I’d be looked after. My dear, dear, son, looking after my interests, when I should be the one looking after him. But out of the deep, deep hurt, healing has come. And he did often say that he would rise again on the third day. Is it foolish to believe that this isn’t the end? Is it possible that out of the darkness, light will come? Jesus has brought hope to so many people. Is it foolish to believe that there is still reason to hope?