I asked Jesus, "How much do you love me?"
He said, "This much." And he opened up his arms, and died.
Prayer #32: Good Friday
Jesus, why did you die for me?
How did you sustain scourging, a long-thorned crown, and the mob's jeering, leering taunts long enough to heave a cross onto your broken back, and drag it miles to your own execution?
Did you scream out, naked, torn, bleeding, when they drove those crude nails into your limbs? Were you aware they ripped your shabby garments, and cast lots for it? Where, in all that, did you find the strength to answer the prisoners dying next to you?
And when your thirst overcame even your excruciating pain, how did you summon a voice to plead for it? What did it take to hold yourself on that cross for an endless afternoon, when each agonized breath railed against gravity, and the simple weight of your body spelled certain doom?
Through it all, through each ungodly moment of that bloody, brutal day, did you feel truly human and truly divine? Or was your physical character finally catching up with you, pushing you to the absolute limit of man's endurance?
Here's what I really want to know, Jesus. Was your corporeal suffering so profound and immense, that your spiritual strength waned, too? Is that why you cried out in terror and sorrow to a God you feared had forsaken you?
All this, so that a divinity's humanity could make humans divine.
Was it worth it, Jesus? Do we live up to your standards? Are we still worthy of those 30 years in Nazareth, those three years preaching and teaching, that one tortured day to end all days?
Do you look down on our broken, pitiless world, whose incredible beauty is so often soured by its inhabitants' evil, and think, "Why did I bother?"
If you had to do it all over again ... would you?
Faith and Scripture say yes. And if this is indeed the case -- and I believe it is so -- then I am left breathless by your unfathomable love. Love so far-reaching, so deep, so encompassing, so magnanimous, so true, so pure, that you became your own creation, and died to save us.
Such gratitude has been proclaimed for many more years than I've walked this earth. And far greater thinkers and writers than I have expressed it more eloquently.
But the more time I spend wrapped in this body you gave me, I see more clearly just how much you sacrificed for me -- and how little I have done to repay you.
This Easter, resurrect me too. Carry the world with you out of the tomb, and with it, my unceasing cries and petitions. Bear them to your heavenly Father and mother. Take my side once more, as you do every year, every month, every day, every minute, and every breath of my life.
And may I make all hours and seconds going forward an eternal testament to you, and the power of your role in my life, my grace, and my salvation.
I think it's the least I can do.