Another Easter. Remembered by some, ignored by others or exploited as a mere few days break from work. We in the pro-life movement tend to know its real meaning.
First He is interrogated, abused, threatened, both by the imperialist thugs who have raped His country and by the collaborators who have allowed the invaders to have their way. Then a group of soldiers throw Him to the ground, beat Him and spit in His face. They make fun of Him, push Him around, punch and shove Him. But the sport is just beginning.
He is tied to a post and whipped with a weapon so cruel that it often causes death. Its a multi-stringed whip, each strap weighted with lead balls that rip and tear lumps of flesh off the body. So bad are these thrashings that they expose the bowels and organs of the victim. If death doesn’t occur at the time it usually takes place days later when infection sets in.
As part of the mockery one of the soldiers suggests that they make Him look like a king. After all, he shouts, He claimed to be a king. They all laugh loudly, enjoying what all bullies enjoy. A pretend crown is made, composed of the razor-sharp thorns that grow so readily in the area. They are around four inches long and so dangerous that the locals use them like knives.
The clumsy headpiece, consisting of dozens of thorns, resembles an upturned bowl. It is placed on top of His head and then pushed, hard, down onto and into His scalp. It lacerates and slices the skin, causing even more pain and loss of blood.
A crossbeam weighing more than a hundred pounds is slung across His shoulders and He is shoved into the public streets, forced to carry the weight to His place of execution. Already faint from agony and exhaustion He drops to the ground, where He is shouted at and kicked. People He considered friends and brothers turn away and hide. Old enemies laugh at the state He is in.
More soldiers scream at Him to stop. They push Him down to the ground and step over Him like He was dirt beneath their feet. Three of them hold Him down while another produces a set of thick, rusting nails six inches long, and a large, heavy mallet. The first nail is hammered into His wrist. The initial blow of the mallet pounds on the head of the nail, splitting flesh and ligament, splattering blood over His body and over the sandals and tunics of the guards.
Another nail, into the other wrist. And then the area around the ankles. Sometimes it takes several blows, sometimes the skin and muscle simply cave in, so weak have they become. The world spins, the people shout, the overwhelming pain washes with the confusion and the fear into an ocean of horror.
This is a form of judicial murder so evil that even the ruling authorities will abolish it soon afterwards as being too cruel. He has been treated with the very worst kind as well. Often wrongdoers are tied to the cross and left to die of thirst and exposure. But not Him. Every sinew of His body screams out for relief. So alone, so despised, so perfectly and utterly good.
Death will come when there is no strength left to lift the chest and breath. It is excruciating to breathe at all because it puts pressure on the wounds, but nothing can extinguish the lust for life. Finally, though, the muscles give way, the blanket of numbness smothers all else and it stops. It stops.
A soldier pushes his spear into His side and a mixture of blood and water gushes forth. The sure sign of death. They take Him down. But it is still not enough. Guard His body and tomb, the collaborators demand. So they do.
Then the world begins again. First a few, then more, then hundreds see Him alive. They feel His wounds, eat with Him, laugh with Him, weep with Him. So sure are they of His resurrection and truth that they themselves are prepared to face deaths as bad as His. They abandon selves so as to gain everything.
Today? He is still abused, beaten, mocked and spat upon. But in the finally analysis it does not mater. Because He died, because He rose, because He is risen. For you and for me.
Coren has two new books out: All Things Considered (Fenn), a collection of his columns, and JRR Tolkien: The Man Who Created The Lord of the Rings (Stoddart).