(A meditation based on John 19:16-42 for the 2010 Good Friday Tenebrae service)
I don’t know how many people saw Jesus hanging on the cross; it was a good number, I imagine. We are told of quite a few people being there, such as his mother and some of his followers as well as some Roman soldiers. We are also told that a lot of people were able to read the inscription that Pilate had placed on the cross since the place of crucifixion was near Jerusalem.
I am sure that no one who saw him hanging there ever forgot it.
We need to see him there, too, and we need never to forget what we see.
We need to see him being faithful to the very end.
We need to see him having been betrayed by one who had walked with him.
We need to see him having been denied by the one who was perhaps closest to him.
We need to see him having been rejected by the very people he came to save.
We need to see him having been executed by the very kind of worldly power that he came to reject.
We need to see him with the nails in his hands and feet.
We need to see him humiliated by the soldiers who gambled for his clothes.
We need to see him hanging between two others who had been crucified.
We need to see him with a sign hanging over him that mocked him even as it told the truth about him.
We need to see him making sure, even as he died, that his mother would be cared for.
We need to see him, in case we doubted the reality of his humanity, speaking of his thirst.
We need to see him expressing the completion of his ministry and of his life.
We need to see him when the spear pierced his side.
We need to see him being taken down from the cross.
We need to see him being placed in the tomb.
We need to see Jesus, crucified, dead, and buried.