Our Father"Go to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father. To my God and your God.'"
"It is finished."
I heard him say the words himself, with the last gasp of breath he was able to draw as he hung upon that horrible Roman cross. He spoke so few words, after they forced their torturous wreath of thorns into his brow and hammered the spikes into his hands and feet, that it's easy to recall every phrase.
"Today you will be with me in paradise."
I remember wishing, when Jesus turned to the criminal hanging next to him and uttered these words, that he was speaking them to me instead. Was it wrong of me to envy a thief who'd been condemned to die? I'd been forgiven by Jesus, too, and all I wanted afterwards was to be near him, to sit at his feet, to listen to his stories. I didn't know much about paradise then--I still don't, I guess--but just the thought of "today you will be with me" made me wish I could trade places with that robber. I'd spent many days with Jesus in the past couple of years, but it seemed that instead of it being the beginning of a new life, like I'd hoped, it was just another desperate ending.
"Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."
How could Jesus say that? It looked to me like they knew exactly what they did. They were unflinching in the execution of their duties, which included treating this innocent man as something less than human. They mocked him with steely precision, as if they'd been practicing their jeers for ions, and perhaps they had. Their voices never cracked as they dared him to save himself if he was really the King of the Jews. Once, though, when a soldier offered him a sip for his parched tongue, I saw the kindest look--like a streak of purest sunlight--pass from Jesus to the man. For one instant, their eyes locked. In that moment, a solitary soldier knew exactly what he'd done, and he backed away from the cross with his head bowed in remorse.
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Now my heart was breaking along with Jesus's. For once, Jesus didn't address God as his father, and it hurt me to hear it. Ever since I've known him, he's called God "Father"--infuriating the leaders who accuse him of blasphemy. The soldiers thought he was crying out for Elijah to deliver him in his hour of need, and mocked him even more. And the soldiers weren't the only ones. His own people--who had followed him from place to place and promised they'd leave everything for him--now turned their backs as if they'd never met the man. Even his mother and John and I couldn't bring ourselves to gaze into the broken face of his agony. For in his face we undoubtedly would have seen the sins of his betrayers, but not only theirs. We would have seen the horror and the treachery of our own wretched sins, as well.
"It is finished."
Joseph of Arimathea asked permission to care for the body of Jesus. He had become a disciple but now, instead of following where Jesus led, he led the rest of us to the resting place he'd prepared beforehand. He wrapped my friend in cloths of linen and placed him in a tomb that he'd recently hewn from a huge rock. I myself saw the men roll an enormous stone in front of the opening and I wept bitterly. I needed to hear the Master's lovely words one more time, to feel his grace touch my heart, to see his face. I wanted to cry out "Father! Help me!" But I couldn't. I just couldn't.
"Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?"
It was the third day, and I was back at the tomb again. I couldn't have stayed away if I'd tried, even though my tears still fell so freely that I could hardly see the path. Was this the gardener speaking to me?
"Someone has moved the stone away!" I said to the man. "Where have they taken my Jesus? Tell me where they've laid him!"
I fell upon Jesus and clung to him, until he spoke these words:
"Go, and tell the others: I go to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."
Not just your heavenly Father, Jesus? But my Father, too? How can these things be? Dear Jesus, I believe you. I do!
With that, I ran to find the disciples, my heart filled with a joy unspeakable.
It is finished.
Posted by Katy on 02/18/05 at 04:48 AMFallible Comments...
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