The Story of Love takes a dark turn as an evening with friends becomes a night of betrayal. After taking His companions to a garden to join Him in prayer, one of His friends arrives in the company of soldiers. With a greeting of friendship and trust, he turns Jesus over to the enemies. It’s an incredible moment. The Creator is suddenly at the mercy of His creation, and all of heaven is aghast.
Part Five: Cross of Love
While one friend jumps to fight, the rest scatter into the night. His hands are bound and He is led away to the house of the accusers. They question Him for hours, but His answers infuriate them. When He says that He is God in the flesh, they declare His death sentence and hand Him over to the Roman governor.
Pilate is hesitant and finds Jesus to be interesting, but intriguing questions will not stop the anger that is building outside. Already a crowd has gathered and they are yelling for Jesus’ death. Hoping to sully their appetite for violence, Pilate orders Jesus beaten and released. He hopes the sight of His bloodied and bruised body will put an end to the ordeal. But the crown of thorns, the ripping of flesh, and the mocking of the Romans is not enough.
The crowd who had days before sat at Jesus’ feet and come to Him for healing turns their faces. They cry out, demanding His death. As they shout, “Crucify him” in the courtyard, Pilate looks at Jesus. The man’s face is barely visible beneath the blood. His humanity is hard to see behind the agony and the pain. Pilate looks back to the angry mob. “Shall I crucify your king?” he asks.
The answer is not what he expects, but the order is given. Barely able to walk, the One who gave life to all is shortly going to lose His own. He stumbles as He carries part of his own method of execution. He walks through the jeering, angry mob to a place that smells of death and suffering. And then He is nailed to a cross.
The Creator once again looks down on His creation. This time, He sees through blood and torment. He feels the weight of the promise on His shoulders and can scarcely breathe from the enormity of it all. This moment is what was promised? This is how the Creator chooses to show His love to the creation?
This is how the story of love ends on this dark Friday?
It is a day filled with bitterness. Acrimony fills the hearts of the onlookers, and the words they hurl at the One on the cross are cruel.
“Come down from there if you are the Son of God,” yell the people looking up as He struggles for a breath. “He saved others, but he can’t save himself,” is the contemptuous sneer of the ruling class. “If you’re the king of the Jews, save yourself,” mock the Romans standing guard.
Sarcastic and ugly, the tone of the people on the hill matches the gathering clouds in the sky. He was battered beyond recognition. His blood dripped from the ribbons of flesh on His back. And now, His lungs gasp for any bit of air, and all they can do is mock.
The Creator hangs on a cross. The One who made the sun now watches at grows dark. The One who created the wind feels the still of the air as He dies. The Creator is halfway between death and life, racked with pain. Straining to hear the music of creation, all He hears are stinging words of hate.
But all Jesus says to them is, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
The story finds its greatest culmination here, in this moment of ultimate pain and rejection. The Creator shows love beyond comprehension. Because even as the ones He made mock His pain, He speaks on their behalf.
Perhaps He looks back and thinks of each moment that led to this one. He may recall walking through the Red Sea with Moses. Maybe He smiles for a moment, thinking of the songs David wrote to Him. He weeps over the numerous times we promised to be faithful–then walked away.
But in one great moment, everything that had been promised at the beginning comes to completion. The prelude is past, the symphony is nearly done. Everything that was planned is now completed, and as He takes one last breath, heaven leans in to hear His triumphant, whispered words.
“It is finished.”