Slow rivulets dripped. The red drops marked the path from the judgement hall to the Hill of the Skull. Shuffling feet followed; puffs of dust rose and fell; the ruby drops browned and dried.
Slow rivulets followed the lines of nose, cheek and chin. Drips gathered on shoulders and chest, encrusting the robe drawn taut by the weight of the beam.
It was a slow concourse. The prisoner was weakened by pain; by the loss of his blood. The crowds that thronged the way were at once silent and noisy. The women close to the struggling figure wept. Their grief was inconsolable. Tears dripped from cheek and chin, soaking the shawls thrown over their heads, drawn close around their shoulders.
“Do not weep for me,” his voice was soft and tight with the effort and his pain. “Weep for yourselves; weep for your children ...”
Pockets of men shouted and gesticulated, their faces grim with implacable hate. “Crucify him!” “Crucify!” “His blood be upon us.” They spat and shook their fists at him.
Soldiers moved among the throng. Their task still lay ahead. There were crosses to be filled: two thieves, the other one a king. The Procurator wrote the sign; they nailed it to the cross. First they took their clothes. They nailed them naked to the cruciform; dropped the crosses into holes, raising them to face the shifting crowd.
A small group stood apart. They had no tears left to shed. A woman leaned upon a young man’s arm. He gave her his support, lending her his strength, adding his grief to hers. “Woman, behold your son.” “Behold your mother.” Words from the heartache of the cross melded their relationship, defined their responsibility to him and to each other. Mother and son. Son and mother. They would love each other as they both loved him.
The accusers came. They read the title on the cross: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Angered they protested, “We have no king but Caesar!” They denied their God, they crucified His Anointed One.
The angel told his mother, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
The prophet spoke the words of God, “My servant shall deal prudently ... he shall sprinkle many nations ...” “My righteous servant shall justify many: for he shall bear their iniquities.”
Jesus said, “No man takes my life from me: I lay it down of myself ... I have the power to take it up again.” “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
The life of the flesh is in the blood: the blood running down from the temples pierced by thorns; the blood of the flesh torn out with the beard; the blood of the scourging that stained the whip and spattered the men and the surrounds; the blood that dripped along the path; the drops of blood that crusted his robe; the blood that smudged the nails and soaked the cross; the blood that poured from the sword-thrust in his side: “the blood of the new covenant, shed for many.” Each solitary drip, each smudge, cleanses a myriad million lives and more.
He left the grave to gather up the blood: the drips, the smears and spatterings, the stains and the final outpouring. He carried them to the mercy seat before the throne, the holy place of heaven, an offering once for all, one sacrifice for sins forever. With his blood he bought salvation for anyone who comes to him in repentance, in belief and in total surrender.
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
References: Isaiah 52:13, 15; 53:11; John 10:18; Mark 14:24; Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:12, 24; 10:5-14 and Acts 4:12.
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