John never left Mary’s side as they ran along the pathway to Golgotha following the morbid procession. He could hear the jeers and curses being screamed at Jesus and the other two as they made their way to the place of punishment. The screams were mixed with sobs of agony from those who did not find happiness in this event. His own heart felt like it was about to burst.
As he struggled to keep close to Mary in the crowd, his mind kept going back to conversations he had with Jesus when they were apart from the others. Where were the others? He would not abandon this man he loved so dearly.
Inside his mind, his own mixture of screams and agony were trying to fight their way out of his mouth. He knew better. He knew Jesus too well to know that this was the last thing Jesus would want to hear from him. Yet, somehow he knew Jesus would understand the pain in his heart at this moment.
Another part of him, the part that knew this was supposed to happen, was holding him together. Yet, he still questioned, “Why?” Had he not known this was supposed to happen, he would fight somehow to free Jesus from these mad men. Oh, how his flesh wanted to cry out and stop this madness.
Where was Mary? He must stop thinking and stay focused. She found his hand in the crowded street, and their eyes met. There was so much agony in her eyes, yet a strength that he shamefully drew from to maintain his own.
The crowd began to thin out, and the procession slowed down as they came to the base of the hill. Soldiers blocked anyone from going further, except the condemned, those closest to them, and those in authority. He and Mary were stopped, but the soldier could see the look of a mother about to watch her beloved son die and let them pass after the cross was lifted from the ground and set in place.
Mary stood stoically at the base of the cross with tears running down her cheeks as she watched her son die a death he didn’t deserve. John stood beside her with his arm around her. He could still hear the crowd condemning Jesus from the base of the hill. Why so much hatred? All Jesus had ever done was to love them. Why must men despise what they do not understand?
He listened to Jesus assure the one man he would be in paradise for his faith. He listened to Him as he told John that Mary was now his own mother. He heard Jesus cry out to God in the midst of His suffering and then forgive those who were doing this to Him.
He heard one soldier nearby talk about how ugly it is to die like this. To die on the cross was considered the lowest death and was reserved for only the most despised criminals. His mind flashed back to the horrible beating Jesus withstood just hours before. They ripped the flesh from his body and drove eight-inch thorns into his scull. He didn’t even look like Jesus any more. He didn’t even look like a human being. His eyes went to the men who hung beside Jesus – first one and then the other. They still looked like men.
Then his eyes went back to Jesus. He saw a horrible, ugly sight before him. His mind wanted to deny the horror that was before him. But something deep down inside him began to rise up as tears welled up behind his eyes. That still, small voice inside whispered so lovingly to him. Isn’t it beautiful?
Beautiful? What is so beautiful about this?
Look deeper. Look past the ugliness on the surface. Why is he really here?
Then John knew at this moment he beheld true beauty -- a beauty that comes from within. What others saw as an ugly death, John saw as a beautiful sacrifice of pure love.
At that moment, the sky turned black, the earth shook, and as Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” and died, he heard someone say, “Surely, this was the son of God.”
The voice from within assured him that only this part was finished.
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