Holy week this year has been very different than any other year for me. I have been thinking alot about Christ and the path he took. How each day of Holy Week has such different meaning, and the whole of the week holds the entire scope of the human experience.
Obviously, Good Friday is by far the most physical suffering Jesus endured. But can you imagine how he felt, just the night before, breaking bread with his apostles and knowing he would be betrayed? Or, and my eyes always fill with tears at the image...of Christ kneeling to pray in the garden of Gethsemane and turning to find his apostles had fallen asleep when he asked them to stay awake and pray? The deep ache and loneliness, the despair as he cried out to God and asked to be spared. Scripture says an angel came to comfort him, as he sweated great tears of blood.
Can you imagine?
He came to be fully human and walk this earth as we do. He was, at the same time, fully divine. A mystery our human minds cannot encompass. But he experience the very depth of despair we can. He felt it all...he was betrayed, left alone, mocked, belittled... anything and everything we can go through. He felt it all.
This is the beauty of Christianity. We love a God who knows, intimately, every aspect of our lives. He has felt it all, experienced it all. He knows our struggles and forgives our iniquities. He accepts us back when we fall. He gave himself to the world, knowing he would have to be sacrificed. He sat in the garden, alone, praying to God. He asked to be spared, but also said "Thy will be done."
And then, then he was betrayed, arrested, and walked calvary. Was mocked and beaten. Spit upon. He carried his cross, he was crucified. He was raised among thieves, to die like a criminal.
And even then, he was Jesus. Even then he was gentle. He was already fulfilling the prophesy as he was in agony of death. When asked by the man next to him to remember him, he said, "Today you will be with me in Paradise". Already, he was becoming the bridge between God and man. In his own human agony, he was saving humanity. As the blood that saved the world was being shed, he was already saving. He asked his Father in heaven to forgive.
And then, he died. The temple curtain was torn, the world plunged into darkness. The centurions at the foot of the cross declared that he must be the son of God. The dead rose from their tombs.
And they took him down. The wrapped him and gave him to his mother. This image is what haunts me. His mother, who birthed him, who nursed him and loved him, who followed him every step of calvary...she was given his body. She knew who he was. She knew he was the son of God. But the agony of holding her dead son, her baby...takes me breath away. She had watched him suffer. She had watched him walk with a crown of thorns. And as she did, she must have been picturing his small hand in hers. She must have been remembering him teaching in the temple. She must have thought of the first moment she looked into his eyes. And she had watched him die.
We have seen many images of Christ being held by his mother after he was taken from the cross. But for me, the most beautiful, the most realistic depiction is Michelangelo's Pieta.
The first time I saw it, I didn't understand. This is her child, and she is not even holding him close. But now, as a mother, I see it differently. The horror of the moment, even though it was prophesied, even though she knew it was his destiny, it overcame her. She cannot even touch him, she cannot cradle him close. She can only reach one hand in supplication to God as she looks down at him. She cannot even look at his face, her suffering is so great. Michelangelo had great insight into the human mind. He depicted something so horrific and sad in such beauty.
So this is Good Friday. A day we mourn the suffering of our Savior, but also a day we look forward to what we know is coming- his resurrection. His glory. On this day, we were saved.