Daily Resurrection Power this Easter Season:
Day 3- Spectacle
“You will conceive and have a son and call his name Emmanuel—God with Us.”
That was the beginning. I suppose that even then I knew, though I was a virgin to this world in every aspect. Something within testified. It was as if two voices spoke together, opposite though not opposing. One was the voice of my heart full of the wonder of the glory of God in the miracle He had wrought. The other a sense of awful dread of what that great news would ultimately mean to me, to my family, to my people. To the son of my womb. I remember the flashing eyes of the old priest Simeon when we brought our firstborn to be dedicated. There was no Emmanuel in Joseph’s line but the old priest seemed not surprised at all when he asked for the babe’s name. Instead he looked intently upon my newborn’s peaceful round face and said the words that were their own fulfillment.
"This infant is destined to cause many in Israel to fall and rise. Also, he will be a sign that will be opposed.”
Then he looked at me and my heart split in two. It seemed the old priest hardly got the words out, they were so low. Yet they carried the force of a storm at sea.
“Indeed, a sword will pierce your own soul, too, so that the inner thoughts of many people might be revealed."
And I knew.
It wasn’t the early days of His revealing. In fact, they seemed bright compared to what came at the last. That day—the terrible one. I shudder now remembering and my breath still stops. It’s a mother remembering the child of her body.
“My son! My firstborn. My own darling who was the apple of my mothering eye and the chief delight to my heart.”
I would it had been me instead. They did crucify women, too, though it was rare. I suppose I hoped somehow, still believed there would be another way open before it came to be. The last time I touched him with my lips, those same that had pressed his soft brow as a babe, the same that had caressed his busy hands when he was a child, and brushed his cheek with its first sprig of beard stubble, the last time when my son was still my son was on that terrible day. His blood was on my lips as John helped me away. I pressed my blood wet palms hard against my face taking in the last smell of him, the last living remnant of what had once been his life. As if somehow I might breath him back to me through that blood. As if I could have given him birth again, as if I possessed the power of his life and could return it. I would not go from that place until he was gone. And still I screamed for them to let me take his body down and bring him with me. His last words were to me.
John has become a son and I live in his care though my eyes are so dim I am not long for this world now. I could only perceive all that took place that day when he came to us after. And now I know the truth and all of it so I wait for our reunion. I know he is not mine as he was once. He is so much more and that day is the center of the whole world though the world is His adversary still.
The cries of “Crucify!” seemed impossible and my world went black as the courtyard rang out with them. He had done nothing wrong. He was so far from my reach with the crowd between us and the procurator standing there beside him on the dais. He already dripped with blood. His hands that had rubbed my shoulders at the end of a day or brought me milk or would take the hearth brush away and finish my chore for me –“Sit down, mother,” he would tell me gently, “Let Me do it for you”— were bound in prisoner’s ropes.
He was carried away from me and I had not seen him since before the feast when he entered Jerusalem and he was hailed with joyful shouting. I had wondered for a moment if, as the angel had said, his name would be great then. That perhaps he would in fact drive out the Romans and ascend the throne in triumph. My son the king of Israel. I suppose we all entertained those thoughts though he assured us, sometimes laughing at our serious projections, it would never be. And we did think him rash when he called our people “His kingdom” as if he were a king already when He was only a rabbi. My son the rabbi.
It wasn’t until after that terrible day even his own disbelieving brothers finally bowed the knee. Like Joseph and his sheaves though we saw his miracles. My son the miracle worker—something every Jewish mother says.. But mine was! We stood huddled together on the wind whipped hill. I had died a thousand times already since the morning sacrifice. He was not recognizable anymore by then. His face and hair like those of a beast for slaughter. And yet he lived on and they hung him up before us.
I know what unutterable means. Trembling with involuntary seizing from his loss of blood, his eyes swollen nearly shut from their beatings. I know Roman boots and the soles of priests’ sandals were red where they had followed us on the road. I wondered if they noticed at all when they took their shoes off that night. He had not suffered so long had He not been so strong. He was a carpenter’s son. And he was undeterred even after shock took him over. I suppose he had thought on it so long that once it began he resigned himself.
But I was not resigned.
I kept hoping my eyes lied through their blur of tears. That it was a horrible trance brought on by my own fears and doubt. My worst fears. And when I beheld him I remember wondering how he would ever recover from the scars his torturers had made on him. As if I still disbelieved it had come to this. Would he ever again have the same face his mother knew so well? I admit I would have had him back even at the very last if it had been possible. Even if he had never fully recovered and I had to nurse him, an invalid, but at least home with me. John assured me that on the night he was betrayed he told them exactly what would take place, though they didn’t grasp it, nor did we until we witnessed it with our eyes. John told me they fell asleep in spite of themselves but I slept little in those days. The air was tense with assurance that we were coming to some kind of climax but no one could have convinced me it would be that. If I had known I would have poisoned Judas’ soup one of those times I let him into our house. He never fooled me and I told my son as much. In those days I simply thought he was not listening to the warnings of his mother.
“Eloi! Eloi! Lama sabachthani?”
He was no longer connected to earth and I was no longer his mother by then. His outstretched limbs, blackened with bruising, skin hanging in shreds like the corners of a too much used prayer shawl, ragged, holy and dyed red with self giving, were bringing the cosmos back to its Creator. My son was bringing many sons home to His Father. The brief race we ran together as mother and son, watching him grow up like a green tree, was run. The victor’s wreath they gave him was a crown of thorns and he wore it that day like a young hero. The cheering crowd that hailed him to his race’s end only shouted abuses. Still he ran on towards the finish. My Son the Hero.
But He was not mine—He belonged instead to Him. He belongs to us.
Humanly speaking, the thought of suffering and death is repulsive. Jesus agonized in Gethsemane and submitted Himself to death on the cross. Life for the world was born through His suffering. The suffering of Christ began in the womb of the virgin. He took off His garment of glory and clothed Himself in the weakness of an ordinary human. He was disbelieved, accused, abused, and rejected by His own community. He constantly experienced men’s distance from God and it grieved Him day after day. He went hungry and thirsty, was weary and without a home of His own to settle down in. His suffering made way for His glory. The cross gives us a glimpse into glory that is otherwise utterly hidden from our natural understanding.
From our family to yours, may the blessings of Easter surround you this season. HE IS RISEN!
This Easter meditation series is excerpted from The Power of the Cross: Epicenter of Glory. Click here to order your copy online.
Mahesh and Bonnie Chavda, 4/6/2017