Sunday, May 5, 2013

Drawn to a Drip

I could not avoid its incessancy.

Drip, drip, drip, drip.

It was an unusually hectic day. My men and I oversaw the execution of three condemned men. Having carried out dozens before, I’d developed a rather callous indifference to the procedures. Keeping a hardened distance was the only way a man could successfully serve on my squad. Several had tried, but found they were not suited for the task.

I knew the two men on the outer crosses to be common thieves, but that man in between them - I wasn’t sure what his real crime was. Many said he claimed to be some sort of king. My men mocked him earlier as he was whipped and beaten. I draped a purple robe over his bloody back to call attention to his proclaimed royalty, complete with a crown of thorns we’d jammed into his scalp.

We had beaten him so badly he could hardly make it up the hill. Despite people screaming wretched insults and spitting upon him, forward he trudged, his eyes seemingly fixed upon an objective of which only he knew.

Submissively, he fell on the rocky Golgotha ground. I then realized that from the abusive whipping, punching, and slapping to the agonizing walk through the streets to this laying himself down, he had voiced not one objection. No, not even a scornful look our way.

Now, it was always my practice when nailing men to the cross to make no eye contact. Attribute it to insensitivity, if you will, but though I’d hammered through many a man’s hands and feet, that grisly sound of piercing flesh and tendon, accompanied by the agonizing screams could penetrate the most thick-skinned amongst us. But driving the jagged spike through the man’s right hand with my heavy iron mallet, my eyes were drawn toward his. And though he screamed out in pain, that same expression of determination to finish this task remained. The blood gushed forth, and I watched as it ran down his arm.

We erected all three crosses and began the long wait for death to overcome them. Some men die quickly, while others battle death right up to their last gasp. If it carried on too long, we’d simply break their legs, rendering them unable to raise themselves up to breathe. Though seemingly cruel, it was perhaps the most humane act that we performed.

My men were shouting and laughing as they gambled for the man’s clothing. The mob both screamed in hatred and cried out in sorrow. Above all this commotion, I began to hear it...It drew my attention away from the turmoil. That sound began to penetrate my soul. My mind could not elude it.

Drip, drip, drip, drip.

What was it? Where was it coming from? I looked with determination for its source, as if it were calling to me.

Drip, drip, drip, drip. 

And then I saw it. The blood I’d seen running down the man’s arm was now falling off at his elbow, down upon the rocks below.

Drip, drip, drip, drip. 

No matter what I did, I was transfixed at the rhythmic sound of his blood splattering one drop at a time.

Drip, drip, drip, drip.

I heard the man cry out in agony and call out to God. At one point, he did something truly remarkable - he asked God to forgive us. He pleaded that we didn’t know what we were doing...and maybe he was right. He was like no other man I’d ever encountered.

The day grew darker and darker, until it was pitch black as the night. The ground shook violently, knocking me face-down, paralyzed with fear. Never have I witnessed such an event, and yet through it all, I remained drawn to the drops of blood hitting the rocks below.

Drip, drip, drip, drip.

I'm not sure what overcame me exactly. Looking up, I felt an undeniable love from this now dead man hanging limply in front of me. Getting to my feet, I stumbled forward. As I reached the foot of the cross, I blurted out what was churning in my soul, though I didn’t completely understand it all:

“Truly this man was the Son of God." *

The instant I professed what I knew to be the Truth, I heard a drop fall yet again. But this one landed with a softer, more comforting sound. You see, that last drop...fell on me.

Mark 15:39 (KJV)