Jesus has completed the making of the New Covenant. The Law written in the books of Moses is now written in our hearts. Jesus has shown his disciples how to live the law within our hearts, how to live in response to the great dignity he gave us in creation. Now he shows us how to die in that dignity, in the supremely confident knowledge of who our father is and how much he loves us.
It has been dark because of an eclipse for the three hours Jesus has been hanging on the Cross. The heavy curtain inside the Temple has been torn in two. Mary and the other ladies, along with the younger son of Zebedee, watch this gruesome execution in horror and anguish. Now the soldiers are told to break their legs and bring things to a more rapid end. Methodically, they break the legs of the two thieves crucified with Jesus. They pause before moving toward the True Cross, the cross on which Truth Incarnate has been condemned to die; condemned by the arrogant Roman Empire in cahoots with scheming leaders of the religion of Abraham and Moses. One more affront to God: breaking his legs after breaking his heart.
The soldiers will not get the chance, for Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son, has one last message for his followers before he gives up his earthly life. He will die in obedience to his Father’s will. He will humble himself to die on a Cross. But he will not die until he has imparted one last lesson for his Church. Loving us, he loved us to the very end.
With no breath left, with his very last breath, he showed everyone the communion of love that is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Father, he says, I who never left you for I am you, put into your hands myself, my entire self. You entrusted to me the salvation of mankind, and I now entrust you with all that I am as I allow my human life to perish on the Cross. I am the perfect sacrifice, the sacrifice that redeems Man, who fell from grace through the presumption of Adam at the dawn of time.
Mary, he says, you recalled on my walk here to Calvary the words of Simeon when I was a child, and your heart is pierced as you watch your blameless son die like a criminal. But your suffering is not in vain. By your compassion standing at the foot of the Cross, you have shown all my children for the rest of time how to live with suffering, how to take something dreadful and make it holy.
John, so young you did not know to run away like the other men, write down your own account of these events, when you are an old man and have gained true wisdom. The ruler of this world, the Father of Lies, thinks he has won because God is soon dead, but he has fallen prey to his own lies. The God of the Living does not die. I commend my spirit to my Father’s hand, for I am in him and he is in me. Tell the other disciples that death is not the end of man. You are my greatest creation, and my plan is to be with you in Heaven beyond all ages. Remember my instructions last night in the Upper Room. Love one another as I am loving you by dying to self and glorifying God.
This Roman secular state, with its unreliable small gods, thinks that its will and its power give it immortality. This state will die and be replaced many times over, for the power to kill cannot overcome the power of Everlasting Life. I am not executed. I lay down my life for the sins of all men throughout all time.
See how power of the state is shown to be powerless against faith.
See how the instrument of terror is become the means of salvation.
See how the Cross of the Lord is revealed to be the Tree of Life.