(inspired by “Come, Healing Cross”
from J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion)
In all this faceless wall of flesh
that marks His march of death
why must I bear the load of One
condemned to hang upon the Skull?
Are not my clothes and skin the same
as many here who’ve come to view
His punishment for blasphemy?
Because I have no choice
I shoulder now the splintered weight
and focus on the stones beneath
as upward toward death’s hill we climb
(My strength has been a source of pride.)
I pause to wipe the sweat and spit of jeering mouths
and shore up timbers for the steeper stretch ahead.
Briefly, as this sweltering gauntlet
seems to close its tomb-like walls
oppressively upon my way,
imagination places me in His dark path.
But then the vapors of my mind’s mirage
burn off as noonday nears.
Though straining fast to look away
I feel compelled to turn toward Him
as if His glance has cast its net around my eyes
(as if His heart knew where to cast).
Surrendering, I turn His way
and indescribably am drawn
to depths I cannot now express;
I feel the farthest reaches of my soul
are hauled aboard a sturdy ship
and lain secure upon its deck.
Turning back toward the Skull
I sense the wooden weight becoming
more than I can bear.
The strength upon which I rely
is fading fast
and not a single soul
within this wailing wall of flesh
will stoop to help me on.
Unthinkably I somehow feel
inside my inner self compelled
to draw upon a greater might than I possess
which seems as though it lies within my reach.
I look again upon the One
whose surrogate I have become.
His broken, bruised and crumbling frame
has surely trudged its final steps
and leaves a wake of life’s blood
like a river through this fleshly gorge.
How can it be
that as my gaze meets His once more
within the bedrock of my soul
I sense a power more secure
than any ever known
and feel it offered me?
How does this One who now appears
to cling to life with thread-bare grip
save strength enough to somehow help
the man that’s helping Him?
I know not how or why,
only that in these final weary steps
I see in places deep within
a sturdy ship a-sail upon a crimson tide
which flows from out a barren hill
with me aboard,
at rest in Him.