There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”
Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
Is dying the worst thing in the world?
Is death the ultimate, unavoidable, and inevitable end?
Is deadness, nothingness?
Dylan Thomas captured something of its darkness in the poem he wrote on the death of his father:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
There are four levels of suffering that Jesus experienced on the cross. They are like four depths of an ever deepening dark night that he penetrates in his drowning in death experience:
- The physical pain of nails and struggling to breathe.
- The experience of rejection by the people he came to save
- Desertion by his disciples.
- And perhaps worst of all, the cutting of the umbilical chord which had always joined him to the Father.
It all comes bursting out in his final words from a broken heart, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
‘Day after day,
Alone on a hill.
The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still,
But nobody wants to know him,
They can see that he’s just a fool…’
I realise of course that the Beatles song ‘Fool on the Hill’ is not actually about Jesus but to me it looks just like him. All alone, perfect stillness, up on a hill, nobody wanting to know him.
And for Jesus, the all perfect, beautiful Son of God to do this, to allow others to do it to him no wonder St Paul talks about the ‘foolishness of the cross’.
At the end he cries out to God and breathes his last.
So for me ‘The Fool on the Hill’ will always be Jesus. And when they all say, ‘he’s just a fool’ or maybe that I am a fool for believing in him, no matter. This Jesus was a fool to love me so much that he died for me, I am more than happy to be a fool for him, to want to find him, to follow him, to try and become like him.
A question for us all:
If he was willing to be a fool for me, how much am I willing to be a fool for him?
You gave up your life
So that my life might be
Richer, Deeper, Fuller, and Longer.
You gave up your life
So that I might live eternal life.
Help me to find you,
And become like you.