After sharing the Last Supper with Jesus their leader who became their servant, Judas, one of the twelve disciples who’d been there all the way, who’d seen and done so much, left suddenly, no one knew where he’d gone. Jesus asked His disciples to go with Him to the garden at Gethsemane.
A little tired and probably a bit drowsy from the wine they sat down and fell asleep. Jesus had asked them to keep Him company but their eyelids grew heavy. Little did they know as they sank into stupor that it was all going to get a whole lot worse.
Alone and in agony of spirit Jesus prayed through the small hours, He knew what was coming but wrestled with the destiny laid before Him. He knew that this the only chance forever for the whole world. In the end He simply gave in to it “Father, Your will, not mine be done…”
And so He roused his slumbering friends, chiding them for their weakness, Then it all kicked off and there were soldiers and shouting and there….there was Judas, the betrayer! Kissing His Master on the cheek sealed the deal, rough hands seized Him and led Him away. Bewildered, frightened they followed in the black night that had closed in around them.
Hours later, beaten, whipped, spat upon, pierced by thorny crown, bleeding and stumbling Jesus staggered under the weight of the cross they laid on His back. Falsely accused, tried in secret, abandoned by those closest to Him and utterly alone He was being led to that terrifying place of death.
Someone came alongside as He stumbled once more and took the cross for Him. Broken body, bruised and bleeding skin, gasping for breath as they drove the nails through His hands and feet. Still the watchers scoffed and mocked Him, “save yourself” they shouted. Even then He was able to utter the words “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing”
Long hours of agony as pain ripped through flesh, muscle and bone, sour wine to drink, strength fading and yet… The one on the left of Him asking that he not be forgotten, that there might be a last ditch chance of redemption, a better ending than the one he deserved. And in those dying moments the promise… “Today you will be with Me in Paradise”. A promise for all mankind, that it would never be too late for anyone to find their way home, to Him.
In the final moments the cry “It is finished” and He gave up His life for every one of us. We may need the second chance at redemption, may need to feel the power of that forgiveness, may need to stop the scoffing and the doubting and see Him for who He really is. The Saviour of the world, our Saviour, hanging there for you and for me with that promise on His lips, “Today… you will be with me”
His heartbroken followers, His mother and others stood desolate in the dim light as the sky grew dark. overwhelmed by grief and guilt. They saw only the end of everything, all their hopes, dreams, futures had lain with Him. Now what?
Nothing would ever be the same again, lost like sheep without a shepherd, this was the worst day they’d ever lived……a time for remembering, for grieving, for longing for the nightmare to be over.
These beautiful words from the well known hymn say it all
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride…..
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?…..
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.