This past Good Friday, in lieu of doing a traditional sermon, I wrote a monologue from the point of view of Mary, mother of Jesus, reflecting on the cross. Here is the monologue.
I just can’t believe any of it. I feel numb, utterly numb. I’ve never even felt this way before. I thought I knew what was coming. All the signs were there, I knew this was coming. But nothing—nothing, could have prepared me to lose my son, my beautiful son.
I should have stepped in! What kind of mother just stands there and watches while their child is beaten and bruised and tortured and then murdered? And for nothing! He is the only one who hasn’t done anything wrong! He is the only one who is perfect, and they sought him out. They chose him. They whipped him, bruised and bleeding. And I watched. I should have done something. But I was so helpless.
Why didn’t I just yell out, or ask them to take me instead? It would have been less painful! There is nothing they could have done to me that could possibly have hurt worse than watching my son—my own flesh and blood strung up in front of my very eyes. Wait, have you not heard the news yet?
It happened today. I mean I guess it’s been happening for a very long time in some sense. We knew it was coming. They have been after him for so long, just looking for an excuse. Oh, I could just murder someone right now! Sorry. Let me start over. Let me start at the beginning…
About thirty-three years ago, I was in a very different place. Oh, how life changes! You wouldn’t have even recognized me, I was just a kid myself. You may have heard the story—the girl who was found to be pregnant before marriage. I didn’t do it. I mean I didn’t do anything. Nobody believed me initially. It was so weird and news travels fast in a small town you know. But my husband, Joseph, he was a good man. He prayed, and listened to an angel, and agreed to marry me anyway.
I spent most of the pregnancy staying with my cousin, Elizabeth. I remember the first time I felt the flutter inside me and then the kick. He was strong, you know, not like most. And I just had this sense that he somehow knew more than I did before he was ever born. What a strange thing to say, I know.
But he was different. Not like James or Joses. I mean he was my first kid, but it was more than just him being a first born, there was something special about him from the beginning.
Now don’t get me wrong, Jesus was not an easy child! In fact, he was the hardest child to parent, by far. But he always held a special place in my heart. He was one of those kids far wiser than their years, wiser than I had ever been. He was constantly getting in to trouble, but not like kids normally get into trouble. He was getting into trouble for doing things differently, for standing up to the kid down the street, the son of the religious leader, who was always picking on the younger kids. Things like that.
He can’t really be gone. Can he? I just spoke to him, before they arrested him.
I have so many regrets! I would have done everything differently if I could, if anything could possibly have kept this all from happening. Sorry, sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Oh, the night he was born! You would not believe the pain. Yeah, the labour was rough, but I was young, that wasn’t the difficult part. I had this sense the whole time that I was bearing and delivering someone special…it was a great mystery and a great pressure, or responsibility. I had this immense joy, but a simultaneous sense of grief. Like I had glimpsed something most beautiful, but fading, like the most joyful thing in the world was going to be my undoing as well.
Not even eight days later, we went to the temple for the normal purification rites, and to have Jesus circumcised and this elderly man comes up and takes Jesus right out of my arms to bless him. Part of me wanted to just hold him forever and never let go, but a bigger part of me sensed I couldn’t keep Jesus all to myself. So, this guy, Simeon, held him and prophesied over him that he was the one we had been waiting for, the anointed one, the saviour.
Everyone thinks their kid is special, right?! But what an amazing and weird feeling. I had just cleaned up his diaper and wiped his spit up off my shoulder, only to be told that this little, helpless babe was the promised one. My little guy. “Proud mama” doesn’t even begin to describe what I was feeling.
But then Simeon said something that I never forgot. He told me that a sword would pierce my soul too.
I knew what the prophecies said. I knew that the chosen one would suffer in order to deliver all of Israel. But nothing, nothing, could prepare a mother for the hurt and anguish and anger and bitterness of losing a child.
I just don’t understand what to do now! We waited for deliverance for so long, and I knew he had to suffer, but he’s dead. He’s gone! I just made up the anointing spices, so we can go on Sunday morning to the tomb, but how is he going to save us when he is dead?!
I’m supposed to hope. But forget hope for a second! This just doesn’t make any sense at all!
I’m so angry! We prayed for deliverance, we prayed for a miracle. Jesus could have gotten himself down off that cross, but he didn’t. He let them finish him off. He let them. How could God do this? How could a God who loves, allow this kind of horrible suffering? How could he allow one he loves to be murdered on a cross like this?
Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself again.
Where was I? Right, I was telling you how I knew Jesus was different, special. When he was twelve, twelve, you know how most twelve-year-old boys act? Well, not Jesus. We went up that year to the festival to celebrate like we normally did. All of our family and friends were headed up to the city too. Jesus used to love that trip every year. And it is almost impossible to keep track of all of your kids in the city square during Passover. But since he was twelve, we let him explore a bit with his cousins.
After the celebration, we all packed up to head home. But you know how it is, we counted heads and started walking with the pack. To be honest I don’t know how it happened. I felt like a terrible mother. It was a whole day before I realized that Jesus wasn’t with us. Joseph and I both thought the other had him. Am I the only one who has done this? By the time we talked to all of our friends and family and headed back to the city, three days had gone by. Can you imagine a twelve-year-old boy left to his own devices in the city for three days after a huge festival?! It was mayhem! But, of course, there Jesus was in the temple courts with the teachers of the law. He was listening and asking questions, pushing them on their beliefs, making them think about their theology. Brilliant!
But I was so angry! I was so mad that he didn’t just come and find us and tell us he wanted to stay. I would have let him stay, I just thought we had lost him forever. Uggh. I knew then and there that that boy was going to be my undoing someday. You know what he told me, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Can you believe him!?
Oh, he knew how to make me mad. But, oh, how I love him…loved him. It was obvious from that point on, that he really was the one everyone had been talking about. Before he really started teaching much, just on the side, when he was still just working on houses, we were at a wedding. A bunch of his disciples were there, and it was quite a party. Let’s just say, everyone had had their fair share of wine. So, I went to him and told him they were already out of wine. Giving me a hard time, he played it off and says to me, “Why do you involve me?” I knew he could do something about it, so I told the servants to do whatever he told them. Pretty soon, we have the most amazing wine I have ever tasted, just flowing out of the jars.
That’s when his ministry really began. Seeing that happen, a lot of people started following him and his teachings. He did so much—healing people, casting out demons, touching the sick, making everyone feel loved, included. He was truly remarkable.
You know it would take a lot to believe that your own kid is God’s son, God’s chosen one, right?! But there was no doubt for me. I travelled with him for a long time, listening to his messages, seeing everything he did. There was a time I actually tried to stop him, for his own good. I didn’t want anything to happen to him, but I couldn’t stop him. He knew what he had to do and reminded me of that all the time. I was just trying to protect him, like any good mother.
But it all caught up to him. He never cared what the religious authorities said, unless it was in line with what God had said. And so, they started looking for a reason to kill him, put him to death so that they could squelch the remnant of us who had risen up under his teachings. It didn’t take long. That disciple Judas, I knew you couldn’t trust him! I just know it was him. Remarkably, Judas was absent today, from all of the festivities.
So that brings us up to today…They arrested Jesus, found some false pretence to sentence him under. And then the religious authorities got the crowd all hyped up to release some other man instead of Jesus, as was the custom, and to crucify Jesus. To crucify him!
I can’t go on. I can’t do it. I don’t know how this happened. I don’t understand. You know what the worst part was. It wasn’t the torture, or the insults being hurled at him. It was right before he died, he called out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, Lama sabachthani.” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
How could God do this? Allow this? Then he breathed his last and the curtain of the temple tore in two from top to bottom. Such a loud cry he let out, my heart rent in to pieces, and Simeon’s words rang out from my memory—”and a sword will pierce your own heart too.”
The prophet Isaiah was right… “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We caused this. I caused this! His death was so that I could have life. I cannot bear this. This can’t be the end of the story!