One of the soldiers used a ladder to nail the sign near the top of the cross which read The King of the Jews, written in Aramaic and below it what must have been Latin and Greek. Josephus, Columba, and I were staring up at Him. We could not look away.
Would Yeshua’s Father intervene? Something was happening. The sky grew even darker than it had been. A terrible storm was coming upon us and the wind caused the executioner’s horses to rise on their front legs. A group of soldiers were laughing and casting lots. One of them took Yeshua’s garment. He must have won it. Yeshua hung between the two thieves. Slowly we made our way closer.
The criminals on each side were taunting Him. The pharisees challenged Him to come down from the cross if He was the Son of God. The ones who performed the crucifixion blasphemed Him obnoxiously. This had been going on for some time.
After a short-lived silence as the three on their crosses suffered the pains of the inhumane crucifixion, the Messiah said of those responsible for His suffering, Father forgive them for they know not what they do.
Hearing this, the criminal on His right who had previously also mocked Him, looked toward Yeshua, groaned, and pleaded loudly, Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom.
Yeshua looked at him and said, Amen, today you will be with me in paradise.
But the one on His left spat at Him and swore.
I had to lower my eyes from the sight of His intense suffering. Columba stood next to me. His legs buckled and he knelt on the rocky ground. His face turned ashen and his lips quivered. I dropped to my knees beside him putting my arm around his shoulders.
Coumba cried out: “Jon, will your God rescue His Son? Why must He suffer such pain?”
I knew why and needed to tell my friend the reason. “He suffers for our sins and for those of all men. He pays the price for justice. We know that God is just, as well as, merciful. The mystery is one of God’s love for us. Yeshua is like a lamb led to slaughter, a sacrifice offered like the lambs that are being slain for the Passover Feast.”
Yet it was even difficult for me, raised a Jew, to accept this. How much more beyond the understanding of a Roman. If God allowed this for His own Son, what would become of the friends of Yeshua?
“He is trying to speak. Listen,” Josephus said.
Woman, behold, your son! Son, behold your mother! He said, looking down at His mother and John who stood close to the foot of the cross.
In His agony the Son of God expressed concern for His mother. It was a human quality, love for one’s mother. This man hanging on the cross was both human and divine.
Yeshua said, I thirst.
One of the guards took a sponge, dipped it in a vessel of wine, and stuck it on a sprig of hyssop. Lifting the sponge to His mouth, they tried to make Him drink, but He refused. The guard removed it from Him.
Yeshua spoke saying, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
He felt abandoned by our Lord just as I had at times. I knew He was God’s Son yet also human. We never saw His Father. Now we had seen the Son face to face.
Minutes later he said, It is Finished.
We realized Yeshua would not be rescued by His Father. He spoke from the cross one last time.
Into Your hands I commend My Spirit.
The wind swept over Golgotha. The earth shook, and a chasm in the solid rock surface separated us from our friends. Columba and I were nearer the cross on one side of the fissure and Josephus and Simon on the other. Darkness unlike any I had seen in daytime covered Golgotha and the Temple area beyond.