To watch them there, three men dying together, it evoked a strange mixture of fury and breathless grief. It was a scene where justice and injustice commingled. It was light clashing with darkness, good with evil. All three men struggled for life as their death sentence pounded firm. They were among the millions of men our world has extinguished for crimes against humanity. But in the array of opposites, a strange unity pierced the chaos. Here were three men made in the image of God and two deserved the grave; one was innocent. Their weakened forms betrayed their storied paths, but their death now harmonized in one agonizing reality: the journey to true manhood and the one to false manhood both lead here. They three shared this cruciform culmination, but their lives could not have been more different.
Perhaps there was a mother there, her eyes filled with tears and memory. How could life have driven her little boy to the tipping point? She watched and remembered a thousand days as her infant grew, as a young boy explored his unfolding independence, as a young man changed into the image of her husband, as violence crept its way in and snuffed out the sparkling hope she once held dear in the eyes of her little man. Where was God then in all the choices? Her son had the potential for great things, but all had turned the wrong way. There was now no anticipation left. Her son hung struggling upon the hill of Golgotha. No generations would remember her. She bore a boy that became a violent man, one who was full of judgments, caught up in lies, a wounder of humanity who caused poverty and grief to all he touched– a man in whom society lost hope and saw no route to heal him.
There was another mother there, weeping that day. All generations henceforth would call her blessed. She had the thousand memories too. But her grief held within it an altogether different shade. Three men hung that day, but unlike the scars of the others, there was no unhealed childhood wounds beneath the nail marks. In this One, there were only the contours of a beautiful man among men. She had watched him live a life of reckless compassion and calculated suffering against a system of injustice. Strength, hope, and confidence exuded from her Man even as his life was leaving him. Where was God now after all the choices? Her son had confusingly broken away as a young man, abandoning his responsibilities as firstborn. Now her heart seemed open to the transformation he offered from his cross, “Woman, here is your son”, and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” Her firstborn was a healer, filled with life and laughter, in touch with poverty and grief, full of grace and truth. How could things have come to this?