…and the blind see.

by Gina Burgess

My eyes leak tears of great sadness. The darkness has overcome the glorious light.

For hours the darkness shadowed the world and I could not see, nor no one could see. It was as if I were blind once again, but this time the whole of the world was blind with me. But, my tears are not because of lost sight, because of stumbling and tripping. The tears flooding my face and the front of my shirt are because a most beloved face is even now twisted with agony and suffering.

Why Adonai? Why give me my sight only to see this horror? I know Who it is that is groaning in great pain. It is your Son, the glorious Messiah, Emmanuel, King of Kings, Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God. And yet, He hangs there, suspended above the earth covered in blood, and dying for me. I cannot help it, I ache at that thought, and rent my clothes, heap dust on my head and cry out Abba Father. Look upon Your Son, Shaddai. Look at what they have done to Your Son!

The thorns are embedded in His skull, some protruding out below the crown. Blood has covered that beautiful face. The most beautiful sight I had ever seen was that face, a face filled with great compassion. Those of you who love Him already can imagine how marvelous for the very first sight you have in your life is His face!

He wasn’t beautiful as some think. He was actually rather plain of countenance, but He took me out of the darkness into the glorious light of His face. It was such beauty it made me faint with joy. Ah… why, you ask, was his face so beautiful? Why, because I was born blind of a blind man. I am a Jew by birth and the son of Timaeus which means unclean. I received my sight because He said my faith had made me well. I had encountered my Deliverer, and my life was changed forever. I was not only sound of body, but also on the inside. My soul was now glowing, with that glorious light. I jumped up from my spot on the side of the road and followed Him. I vowed to never to leave His side, never realizing… I did not fathom what was soon to come.

Oy vei, oh woe, woe to the world, the life is ebbing from our only hope. I looked at Him and His eyes enveloped me with such love a well could not have held it all. My heart drank and drank from that love. Even in His great agony, He smiled at me. Then He looked at the Romans casting lots for His clothes. Incredibly, He asked YWHW to forgive them for they didn’t know what they were doing. The Centurion’s stern face was melted into awe. How could One treated so, ask forgiveness for the ones who had inflicted such pain? The Centurion had encountered the King of Kings. The one who lived to serve authority had met the Highest Authority, and his life was changed forever.

Listen, what is He saying? “Eli, Eli, lama Shabachthani?” That means, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me? Then He looked down and stared at the Pharisee standing close to the cross. Not close enough that the spatters of blood would drop on him, but close enough to hear the anguish in that voice. Much stronger than possible for One on the cross for so long, yet He would have hours yet to suffer. The stronger ones lasted for days on the cross. I think about that Psalm that Jesus had quoted. I can see the Pharisee’s lips move as he quotes the Psalm to himself.

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me, and are far from My deliverance, from the words of My groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; and in the night, and there is no silence to Me. But You are holy, being enthroned on Israel's praises. Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You delivered them. They cried to You, and were delivered; they trusted in You, and were not ashamed.

I could see him nod his head. He was remembering Abraham, and Moses, and Joshua, and Hezekiah.

But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of mankind, and despised by the people. All who see Me scornfully laugh at Me; they open the lip; they shake the head, saying, He rolled on Jehovah, let Him deliver Him; let Him rescue Him, since He delights in Him.

The Pharisee looked around at the laughing and jeering crowd. His eyes passed over me, but stopped as one after another of the crowd cried out, “Let us see if Elijah comes to save Him.” Others wagged their heads and cried out, “You who would destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” The chief priests also mocked, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the king of Israel, let Him come down and then we will believe Him.”

The Pharisee paled. If this really was God, they would never have dared speak thus to Him. They would never speak HaShem the Name for fear of blasphemy. What if… Yet his lips continued to quote the holy passage written by David so many generations ago.

For You are He, My Taker from the womb; causing Me to trust on My mother's breasts. I was cast on You from the womb, from My mother's belly, You are My God. Be not far from Me; for trouble is near; because no one is there to help. Many bulls have circled around Me; strong bulls of Bashan have surrounded Me. They opened their mouth on Me, like a lion ripping and roaring. I am poured out like waters, and all My bones are spread apart; My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of My bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and My tongue clings to My jaws;

I could see the Pharisee startled expression. Jesus had whispered, “I thirst.”

and You appoint Me to the dust of death; for dogs have encircled Me; a band of spoilers have hemmed Me in, piercing My hands and My feet.

When the Pharisee said “piercing My hands and My feet” his countenance changed to one of shock. His face turned ashen as if all the blood had drained from it. He staggered like one who had taken a mighty blow to the gut. His hand rested on his chest as if he tried to still his heart’s racing. I could see him tremble as he looked up at his King; and Jesus looked on Him with love. His lips barely moved now as he continued the Psalm.

I count all My bones; they look, they stare at Me.

In truth, his ribs were in stark relief. His arms stretched out, nails in His wrists and in the arches of his feet. When He relaxed, the weight of His whole body was on His wrists, and when He pushed up to exhale a breath, His whole weight was on the nails in His feet. His agony was unbearable to watch. With every push up with His feet, blood gushed from His wounds, mixing with the blood caked, and dried causing much misery. I ached for Him. The tears would not stop, soaking my beard and the prayer shawl I had draped over my head.

They divide My garments among them, and they made fall a lot for My clothing.

Yea, the Romans did cast lots for His clothing. The Pharisee’s countenance changed from one of hateful anger to one of haunting longing. He reached up a hand. The Pharisee had an encounter with his Savior and was changed forever.

I was crushed as an olive in the oil press. I was undone. Despair spread through His followers. A Pharisee I did not know whom I learned later was called Joseph, took down Jesus’ body from the cross and carried Him to a tomb. I watched as he and another called Nicodemus carefully washed His body then wrapped Him in spices. From the looks of it, the spices, aloes and myrrh, must have weighed a talent, or about a hundred Roman pounds. They placed a handkerchief around his bruised head and His face, then they rolled a huge stone into place.

My shoulders slumped for I heard in my mind’s eye the last words of my beloved Jesus, “It is finished.”

I stayed there for I do not know how long. I had no stomach to eat and no will to sleep for my sight had been given me and the images of the past days I could not be rid of. The Temple soldiers taking Him in the Garden, the trial of Him in the house of Caiaphas, the trial of Him in the Roman house of Pilate, the sound of the whip slashing His skin, the sound of His blood as it dripped on to the flagstones, the sound of the nails driven into His flesh, the sound of the bones as they cast lots for His clothes. These sounds held held such horror because I could now see the ravages to his body, see the mocking faces, see the whip lashing and the blood sprayed about and flowing to the stone courtyard, see the agony on His face as each nail found its resting place.

It seared my mind and I could hardly stand it. Wearily, I took myself off to bed where I stayed until Sabbath. I knew then, I should thank the LORD for my sight. I gathered the few coins I had from my begging and offered them on the altar as thanksgiving. It was a bittersweet thanksgiving.

When Sabbath drew to a close, the sun had pinkened the sky, but had not yet risen, I took myself off to the tomb again. I knew He was gone, for He had told the thief they would both be in Paradise that day. I knew He spoke Truth, for He was Truth. I thought praying would help heal my grief that my relationship with my LORD was so brief, grief that I could do nothing to help Him or to thank Him for my sight.

I stumbled and fell to my face. The earth moved just as it had the day He died. The stone closing Him in had rolled away and the soldier guards had vanished. I rubbed my eyes, for I thought they were deceiving me. Yet, there were the women, the same who had gathered that awful day, who wept and wailed. They were there before me. An angel sat on top of the stone, his smile more beautiful than the sun.

“Why do you seek the Living among the dead?” he asked the women.

Why indeed? Could this be true. Was my Beloved alive? Had He risen? Joy flooded my being. I leapt up and could not help myself, I danced. The sun peeked over the mountains and I danced as David danced when they brought back the Ark of the Covenant.

Hope beyond understanding filled my soul. I live today because a Man who is the Son of God loved me and healed me. He healed me by giving me sight which no other living, or dead had ever been able to do, giving sight to one born blind. I vowed to my precious LORD that moment that I would forever sing His praises. I would tell my story to any and all who would listen. Now, you know. I have born witness to the facts of these events. Do not sit still, but reach out to Him that was on the cross, but is no longer dead. He is alive. He is alive! He begs to you come, drink from the Living Water so you will never thirst. Come says the Spirit and the Bride, come. Let whoever desires take the water of life freely.

Inspired by a sermon preached by Walter Barnes, Youth Minister, Roseland Park Baptist Church in 2009. (c) Gina Burgess 2015.