I’m not sure He knew He was going to die.
Not like this. Not in the grip of swirling dust and noonday sun. With the cries of His friends and family all around Him. On the efficient timeline of the empire’s cross.
The gospel writers certainly thought that Christ was self-aware and knew the time was coming. His face ‘being set’ toward Jerusalem. His teachings on the need for a seed to fall into the ground and die.
But if He was human at all this is hardly a revelation or insight, right?! Like us, for Jesus it was just a question of when…not if.
On that Good Friday morning it would have become clear though, as judgement was passed and scourging meted out and a cross beam hand-selected for Him to bear. In those moments Jesus encountered death as we all do: unavoidable.
What is so curious for me in this reading of the text is how, in those final scenes of Christ’s life, a host of other characters found themselves caught up in the story. And much like Jesus’, we might assume that their Friday unfolded differently then they anticipated or desired.
Simon got man-handled by soldiers and told to carry a cross. Women who had found dignity and welcome in Christ’s presence saw their hope fading with every step. Two criminals met their end, long-in-coming by feared nonetheless. Soldiers mocked, only to discover that they’d killed a holy man.
And in their stories we should see ourselves. In the moments of our lives where unexpected tragedy struck. When we came to the end of ourselves. When we failed to meet expectations. When we were swept into darkness.
Good Friday’s coming might not feel like comfort, but what it brings is the affirmation that in all death’s unexpected forms and comings…we are not alone. Christ knows that road, and there He holds us.
This is our hope.
Lenten Reader 2018
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