Christmas From the Cross
A story from the imagination
It is not a long distance to the ground from the crossbar of a Roman cross. The blood that coursed down his contorted frame pooled in the dirt just below his feet. It is not a significant distance from Bethlehem to the hill called Golgotha just outside Jerusalem, where three crosses stood driven in the ground.
The thirty plus years that had elapsed between the manger and the cross, however, had spanned an incredible distance.
It was Mary, Jesus’ mother, who first perceived how far she had come from that difficult, joyous, lonesome, attended by the hosts of Heaven night so long ago in a borrowed stable. Her heart had raced with joy and excitement as her first-born son had entered the world and everything and everyone had grown quiet in uncertain amazement. Few knew or understood that God had come, in flesh and blood. While Heaven’s choir spoke of peace, and lowly shepherds bowed in worship, the world hurried on in busy inattentiveness.
Here, now, while this scene of unfolding agony breaks her heart, the riotous crowd mills about, jostling, cursing, gambling for his meager garments, and the angelic chorus is silent. There is no voice from Heaven, no sudden intervention of the miraculous, no angel army sweeping down the corridors of the cosmos to right this wrong.
John could not speak. His eyes were wet with tears of anguish. Had the Savior really lloved him most and yet, somehow, he had missed the verbal cues that would have prepared him for this hour? Could he, should he, have done more? He might have armed himself as had Peter, striking a blow against the injustice and reprehensible nature of these acts now perpetrated in his presence. Surely he could have done something, anything, to stop this madness. He was a thousand miles from where he wanted to be, from where he thought he would be. Fear and rage battled within him and he was frozen in an impenetrable darkness of despair.
On the cross, the Savior gave no hint, by voice or movement, of the war he was waging — a war of pain versus peace. When he spoke, the words were quiet and measured. Even in the midst of these incontrovertible circumstances his actions and reactions were not unlike He had always been. The pain, from the rudely driven spikes tearing flesh and crushing bone, could not match the peace that came from knowing — from Bethlehem to Calvary, His life of obedience was unblemished. He endured the pain brought to Him from the evident hatred of those He lloved most; and peace enveloped Him because He knew He would soon utter the words, “it is finished.”
Reflecting on all those years took only a flash of His infinite mind. He knew well every minute, relished every second, from His incarnation to the intensity of this white-hot hour.
He remembered every afternoon in the carpentry shop with Joseph, making furniture from the very trees he had created, every morning at the feet of Mary as she diligently taught Him the words and precepts of the very Law He had written; every night alone in His tiny room, cocooned by the very universe He had spoken into existence.
All those hours, days, weeks, years with the twelve; those unsearchable moments when thousands were fed with meager fare, raging
storms were silenced with a word, blind and lame and sick recovered from their maladies, and death was replaced with life, now flooded His mind with satisfaction.
Perhaps it was visible to no one else. The leaders and teachers in the Temple could not see it when He answered their questions at the tender age of twelve. Along the road to Bethany where Lazarus had been recalled to life, near Capernaum where He had often demonstrated His power and spoken the Truth only to find rejection, in the sand at the shore of the lake where He and His closest friends gathered for a sunrise breakfast, in the heart of Judas when he left the supper early, and in the eye of Pilate who cowardly failed to defend what he knew to be true – they had all missed it. But He had seen it, the shadow of a cross.
It was hard to see that incredible night when the angels of Heaven proclaimed His birth – He had come to give His life a ransom – and in the manger – the shadow of a cross.
© Weaver 2002