The soldier hammered spikes
an agonizing three times,
once in each wrist
and once in his pressed-together feet.
Skin split sending rivers of blood
down his body
and onto the cross
where they stretched him out
on the hard ground.
Those rivers were joined with others
that ran down from his crown of thorns.
The pounding hammer was merciless,
the pain pulsating,
mingling with the searing wounds
from whipping that opened his bones bare.
Romans hoisted the cross then,
dropped it into a hole where it stood,
twice a man’s height,
under which family and friends gaped
in helpless grief as morning hours dragged.
Passersby mocked; through agony he heard:
“He saved others; he can’t save himself.”
“Let this Christ come down now
that we may see and believe.”
But come down to save himself he couldn’t.
He could have called ten thousand angels
to destroy the world and set him free.
But last night in the lonely garden
he’d yielded to the Father’s will
and now would not turn back.
At noon darkness swept the sky,
angry, foreboding, wrathful.
It suffocated everything, refused to relent.
Mothers hurried children inside.
Grown men’s stomachs churned.
Priests lit candles and mumbled prayers.
But darkness overruled the light—and reigned.
At the ninth hour, three in the storm-dark afternoon,
a cry of anguish rose,
an inhuman animal shriek.
From the cross it pierced the dark,
with words from David, darker still:
“My God, my God,
why have you forsaken me?”
In those moments the Son of God
bore the sin of the world
and absorbed the holy wrath of the Father
against mankind’s treason.
In those moments the Son
hung central in the will of the Father,
loved to the uttermost.
Yet from his only Son,
the Father turned away,
absolute holiness unable to abide,
absolute sinfulness in its world-weight.
From eternity Father, Son and Holy Spirit
always until now.
In these black moments,
the Father tore away in grieving separation
from the Son of his eternal love.
And the Son hung abandoned,
bearing the weight of sin without God.
He could have called ten thousand angels.
But he died alone for you and me.