The God man hung suspended above the crowd on a device constructed to slowly torture a man to death. The eyes of those who had laid palm branches along the road crying, “Hosanna!” as he’d ridden into town only days before looked up at him–-but not in love. Not in admiration or respect. Their hearts were full of pride––pride in dominating the man who claimed to be the messiah.
Perfection himself had come to serve and be slain. He had come in all humility, foregoing all the worship he deserved in order to perform the ultimate act of love. For these sinners. For the very people who sought to destroy him, and in so doing become their own gods.
And yet Christ saw through this. He knew not only the depth of their sinfulness, but of their ignorance. And despite their hard hearts, he loved them still. He cried out for their forgiveness even as he struggled to draw breath. Even as four inch nails cut into his flesh.
In that moment, Christ’s body was weak. Shattered. Wasting away. He was feeling the full effect of this humanity that he’d robed himself in. But he didn’t sin. As the full weight of the pride of his captors bore down on him, he remained humble. He looked out on the crowd and loved them. They broke him, but his heart was broken for them. What a glorious picture of the God man! Both fully God and fully man until the very moment of death.
What would we have done in that moment? Beg to die? To be released? Or would we be overwhelmed with anger, bitterness, or self-pity––feeling as though we deserved better treatment, that we were entitled. The irony is that if we hung there, we would deserve no better. We’ve sinned, and we deserve to die. And yet the only sinless man who has ever walked the earth humbly gave up what he was entitled to––worship by the crowd––in order to show the greatest act of love of all time. To die for them.
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)