If I had been there on that day, as the Savior of the world hung on a Roman cross, would I have mocked him? Would I have mocked the strange work of God, this salvation in flesh tortured?
We read of more mocking than mourning at the Cross. The faithful are few, and they are the ones who are the misfits and the marginalized, the ones least likely to be heroes in the Kingdom of God. A crucified criminal. A cluster of women, a vulnerable group with limited rights and limited access to their own religion. The Gentile solider overseeing the execution, who can’t help but cry out “Surely, this man was the Son of God. Surely, he was innocent!” They are the ones who stood on the outskirts, but they are the ones who could see.
The disciples are conspicuously absent. Another criminal, slowly loosing breath and blood, scorns Jesus from his own cross. The chameleonic mass who had cheered Jesus only a week before throw insults at him.
When Jesus prays, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” so many faces could have been before his mind. The Roman soldiers, hardened by violence, who have no idea whose body they are breaking. The Jewish leaders, too blinded by their need to be right to see the prophecies fulfilled before their eyes. The crowd, who are aimless without a good shepherd. The disciples, too afraid to stand by him.
"Surely, we would have been different. Surely, we would have been faithful," we think.
But I wonder. I look at my own heart—the one that wants the easy way, the one that wants to be right and in control, the one that thinks I have the answers—and I wonder.
We demonize the Jewish religious leaders, but I doubt we would have looked much different. They were the models of devotion. They took their faith seriously and meticulously applied it to their lives. They studied Scripture and had it seared on their memories. They knew their “theology” and had answers for the hard questions of faith. They knew how God worked. They were confident of their right standing with God and understood what it meant to be “saved.” They led respectable lives. They had it together.
But at the foot of the Cross, they were the ones who could not see. For all the Scripture they had read and studied, memorized and applied, they mocked the One whose story filled its pages. The One they had waited for hung before them, his body broken, bruised, and bleeding, and their mouths shouted insults. They delighted in his downfall.
They couldn’t see God’s work in the foolish things, the weak, the lowly, the despised (1 Cor. 1:27-28). They couldn’t see victory in defeat. They couldn’t see that their need for freedom was greater than Roman occupation. They couldn’t see how small their comprehension was of who God was, of who He welcomed into His Kingdom.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven…” Jesus said. Lord, may we find You in our poverty, our hunger, and our mourning. May we find You in the lowly things. Lord, help us to see.