'Who is it that is watched? Jesus - true God and true Man. Jesus my Lord is crucified. Crucified. Yes, that explains where He is while they watch. On the cross - naked and alone.
Certainly he had said, "A man's life consisteth not in the things which he possessth'. He now has nothing: all has been taken from Him, even His garments. His friends have deserted and His reputation is destroyed.
Yet He is not naked, for He is clothed with the robe of Righteousness and He still has the one treasure of man's life, complete Purity of Heart, a stainless conscience. The Pure in Heart see God, so He is not alone. Did He not say so? "and yet I am not alone for the Father is with me."
They watched Him - some of that crowed who had stood outside Pilate's courtyard, people of all kinds who, together with the ignorant soldiers, had by their demand "Crucify him" or by their silence given consent to His condemnation.
We know all this so well but do we remember that what we know from the written record of the Gospels is the revelation of eternal truth? We watch too. We are not commemorating a past event but moving in the realm of eternity. We have not come... merely out of a kind of respect, like attending the funeral of a relative. Nor have we come to pity a friend in His sufferings, like those friends of Job who sat in silence and watched him on his dung-hill.
No, we are here because we belong here at the Crucifixion, we are here not only because our Lord died for us, but because we have helped to bring about His death - for by our sins we crucify the Son of God afresh.
We are without excuse... [and] it is our sins for which we mourn, not for His sufferings. We creep to the Cross in penitence and lowly adoration to worship, for we see love rejected yet still loving. Love wants to be loved, but God who is love does not love in order to be loved. He loves us whatever we do.
Remember our Lord was crucified by ordinary people. It is just the same today. Do we not recognise in ourselves the Pilate who smothers his conscience for expediency and pretends not to be responsible? Have I not often chosen Barabbas, made a sinful choice for the inferior; even the sin of Judas had echoes in my own heart, for to what treachery has not disappointed pride led many disciples of Jesus?
We come and we watch in no spirit of condescending pity but penitently, humbly desiring to weep for our sins.
"And whosoever cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out". The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. He will not reject us however poor our contrition. He will not despise us.
From the Cross He will speak to us and His words are spirit and are life'.
from the Three Hours' Devotion preached at All Saints, Margaret Street, 1956, by Raymond Raynes CR, 1903-1958
Fr Lee Kenyon
Priest, Husband, Father, Lancastrian, Mancunian