At the Foot of the Cross
|Sixth Station - James Middleton|
What do you do when you've killed a man?
When, in your depravity, you have beaten him to the point of death, humiliated him, then nailed him to a cross-section of wood to gasp out his remaining breaths? When all your consuming evil descends upon his innocence; crushing and defiling?
Nature knows the proper response to this outrageous act: darkness and rock-splitting convulsions. But the human heart is harder than any stone. And so you mock his shame ('come down! Come down!' You chant, sniggering at the cruelty of the jest). You strip away the last of his dignity ('let's gamble for his clothes! It's not as though he'll be needing them').
He hates you, of course, but of what consequence is the hatred of a dying man?
However, you happen to glance up at his shredded countenance and you see that his eyes are filled, not with hate, but with the inexplicable.
Could it really be?
But yes! He's saying it himself! 'Father, forgive them...' Has this man no bitterness? No hidden depths of anger?
Who is he?
As the skies above blacken and the earth beneath trembles, you realize the awful truth. This man! This man is innocent, and you are the one who deserves his fate. From the depths of your ruined soul, you whisper the terrifying revelation.
'Truly, he was the Son of God.'And with that, your hope is gone. Your chance at redemption is taking his last, shallow breaths. You look up at him with tear-blurred eyes, desperate to confess the burden of your guilt, but knowing it is...it must be...too late.
Too late for you.
But what is this? He's looking down. He sees you there, and through the final agony, he offers...grace? Offers you the last ounce of his life's blood - holding it out in the hands which your nails of rebellion have pierced - and says, 'take! Drink! This is my blood, poured out for the forgiveness of your sins.'
He dies, having been pierced for your transgressions, crushed for your iniquities; the punishment that brings you peace has been placed upon him, so that by his wounds you are healed.