—every thread crafted by human hands from the twisted fabric of rebellion against the great I AM. It lay exposed before him: instruments of torture on tables of blood, vomit, and tears; every conceivable torment that had been or was yet to be devised by humankind.
From the seething depths of that open door he felt rather than heard a scream. Muffled at first, it gathered first one voice, then another and another, rising through layers and eons of pain to beat at him in appalling intensity. He fell writhing to his knees, hands clutching his head against this unbearable weight of anguish. Compared to such crushing evil, execution on a cross would be a mere unpleasantness. His fingers clawed at the gnarled roots of a tree as though to counteract the howls with some lesser pain. He had come to this place, this moment, as the appointed interface between heaven and hell. How could frail flesh confront such a task? “Father, Father, if it be possible . . .”
Lest he die right there, he lurched to his feet and circled the stone olive press, drawing cool night air into his lungs. He looked to the trio huddled at the base of a tree, hoping for a word or touch to ease his horror. But no . . . they slept.
Yet, as he studied these men who had walked and slept and eaten with him, he saw in them the faces of countless others who were likewise trapped in their humanity. He alone in his humanity could deal with that dreadful, gaping door on behalf of these millions. He straightened and traced a line of torches winding up the hill.
“Come—Peter, John. It’s time.”
He bore the next hours with almost a sense of relief. He could remain passive; he had only to endure, not to war. Not until the cross thunked into place did the howls assail him once again.
He could still back out, he knew. He sensed, rather than saw, the legions that surrounded him, blocking the sun, ready at a word to evaporate the nails, heal the wounds, succor his spirit, lay the mob in the dust.
Again that dreadful door appeared, this time at a distance, and he himself had to approach it, step by agonizing step. No one forced him; indeed, part of the agony lay in the free necessity of it all. It wracked his body, made him strain against the nails, cry out in anguish at the aloneness of that tortured path. But with the image of those slumbering disciples engraved on his mind, love propelled him toward the abyss.
And then he was on the threshold. His shriek, reverberating through the heart of history, froze time for an eternal instant.
With a final, tortured breath, he gave up the ghost and stepped through the door.
The PRICE He paid for MY sin. . . . May this Easter be especially meaningful and joyful.