The daughter of Zion has rejoiced and the daughter of Jerusalem has shouted. Palm trees have been stripped of branches and coats have been laid for a carpet. “Hosanna! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” were the shouts heard as one stood in the city of Jerusalem. Slowly, excited crowds disappeared as they entered the Temple, while some, a bit bewildered, stayed behind. As time passed, Palm Sunday was covered with darkness and another week was about to dawn.
The morning light broke the beginning of each day and life moved on with the work of another week. Questions were asked but remained unanswered. There was much talk of strange happenings in the Temple. On the sixth day of that week the city awoke to a day that would go on dawning in the minds of every Christian until the end of time. We all traveled outside the city walls of Jerusalem to a hill named Calvary. On the hill stood three crosses with Christ nailed to the center one. While we gathered around, Christ’s first thoughts turned to those crucifying Him and He prayed “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And seeing Mary, His mother, with the disciple John, He remembered her and spoke to her saying, “Woman, Behold thy son! Behold thy mother!” Slowly, one of the malefactors who saw this was the Christ, cried, “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” Christ answered, “Today you shall be with me in Paradise.” And as the fifth hour ticked away into the sixth hour, darkness covered the land. During the next three hours many at the foot of Calvary looked up with helpless eyes to the suffering Christ and shivered as He cried loudly, “My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?” As time approached the end, Christ wearily revealed what He felt through His suffering. The fifth cross word “I thirst” was spoken and some, being filled with pity, took a sponge, filled it with vinegar and gave Him to drink. It is almost all over and for the last time Christ loudly cried “It is finished” which is followed by His last words “Father into thy hands I commend my spirit.” His head dropped and He left the earth. Nails no longer tore at His hands, a crown of thorns no longer pressed down on the head of Christ, and the pain of death vanished. The day was over and we left the hill of Calvary. Cries of sadness and suffering faded away while others satisfied their hatred. But still, though we left the scene of the crucified Lord, our eyes continued to focus on the cross, and the seven cross words rang in our ears. The only words we had to offer were “Surely, He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. . . . He was wounded for our iniquities, and by His stripes we are headed.”
Today we are made alive! The grave of Christ is opened and the stone is rolled away, for Christ has risen from the dead. Today is Easter, which does not mean a flower to wear to church, but which means that today we are born to eternal life. Death is overcome through victory! Someday we shall be changed and will see the risen Lord. With thankful hearts we rejoice and celebrate the three events.
But through rejoicing there runs a shadow of sadness. We are made alive but yet we cannot tear the scene away from our minds. His bleeding body being racked by the tortures of hell and his agonized cry ripping through the darkness have sunk deep into our souls. And we face the empty, Easter grave with tear-filled eyes.
Originally Published in:
Vol. 31 No. 2 April 1971