He could barely breathe. He panted with short labored gasps to grasp at whatever meager volume of air His starving, craving lungs could receive. And He couldn't even get any respite from dreaded suffocation unless He would muster up whatever strength He had in his legs to support all of the weight of His torso in ever increasingly futile efforts to expand His chest wide enough to receive the life preserving vapor. I'm sure He gladly would have made His legs straight so as to enhance His breathing but the resulting increased weight of His body would only magnify the intensity of the sharp, searing, inexplicable pain that resulted from the cruel iron peg that impaled his feet and pressed against the naked, exposed nerve that communicated nothing but agony to His wretched body. The intense pain was unrelenting but it shot through His entire person with even greater intensity, if it were possible, when He made His pathetic attempts to capture only a wisp of the life preserving gaseous elixir.
Like a living butterfly whose wings had been pinned to the display case of a collector, He was affixed helplessly to a wooden shaft with His arms outstretched and bones out of joint. His hands were skewered by rods of iron, in like manner as his feet. They seared with s hot excruciating agony that was rivaled only by that of His feet. The welts and torn flesh on His back and on the backs of His legs, the result of whips whose injury was augmented by the addition of sharp bones or shards of metal so as to mercilessly tear open His flesh, rubbed excruciatingly against the wooden "pegboard" upon which He was matter-of-factly mounted.
His loss of blood made Him woefully thirsty. His lips were parched and His tongue almost stuck to the roof of His mouth. He could barely speak. Naked, defenseless and exposed, He'd been beaten and nailed to a wooden execution stake by tormentors who callously taunted Him as He endured His last moments of life. There was nothing and no one to give Him comfort. The only thing that could rescue Him would be death.
But how did He wind up in this predicament? He was a good man. He'd taught people how to be good people and He was not only their supreme example of what goodness was but He was perfect in everything He ever said or did. He was the ultimate Tsadik as we like to say in Hebrew, or righteous one. So how could such a man ever find Himself in these circumstances? He certainly didn't deserve this! Yet He accepted His death and the agony that came with it willingly. In spite of His circumstances and the intense pain of His last moments, there was not one ounce of panic or apprehension in His soul.
Even in the midst of this torment, aside from His relationship with God, not once did He give thought to Himself. He thought only of the needs of others even to the end. His best friend and His mother stood by helplessly and with great sorrow, apprehension and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. He gestured to His friend to see to His mother's needs while He was gone. Even those who taunted Him, He was quick to forgive desiring only their eternal well-being as of paramount importance. He looked beyond His present state with its unbearable agony with a different sort of eyes into the millenniums that would follow that fraction of a moment in time. His mind dwelt upon every soul destined to live and to die... Billions upon billions of souls... each one of infinite importance, He knew each one by name.
He saw 21st Century Gaza with the little Kaddan boy and his Palestinian family under the siege of an Israeli army bombardment. He envisioned the shell from a tank hitting the home in which he'd lived his regrettably short life, snuffing him out and strewing his body into a million inanimate pieces.
He saw Daniel Tregerman, a young Jewish tot with a promising future blown to bits by a Palestinian mortar, leaving an emotionally scarred family in his wake. The man on that cross knew that all of this would happen. He was the way that God would be if He should ever choose to become a man. And He knew that mankind, in its foolishness, would try to make God to be something that He's not. They would pin God to a cross so as to reshape Him into their own depraved image.
He knew that the Kaddan family would fall victim to a belief system fomented by a false, power hungry prophet who said that God was aloof, stern and demanding. Furthermore, their god would use the poor Kaddan family simply as disposable pawns by which their false prophet could posthumously further his perverted doctrines. But God is not aloof, stern and demanding. He is more like that man on the cross... good, kind, gentle, not enabling evil and yet willing to forgive. Many who hold to the belief system enjoined by the Kaddans also hold to the notion that the Middle East is no place where a Jew may live. They have a sign engraved in their hearts... "Jews not welcome".
He knew that the Tregermans were among a people who held to the notion that their identities as Jews depended upon their refusal to accept the possibility that the Man on the cross could be the Messiah. Yet those people also held tenaciously to the notion that they needed their own place to live because a 2000 year history of persecution showed that they definitely needed a place they could call their own... where they would be free to live in safety. Furthermore, the very book that describes the nature of the Man on the cross declares that their own land, contrary to the view of the people of the Kaddan family, is specifically located in the Middle East. They have a sign engraved in their hearts... "The land is ours but Jesus is not welcome".
The people of the Tregerman family believe the part of their holy book that talks about the land but rejects the part that tells about their Messiah.
The people of the Kaddan family reject the Tregermans holy book altogether, give token allegiance to the man on the cross, and replace it with a different (and dare I say false) holy book.
Furthermore, both families are confused by a group of people who claim to believe in the Messiah part of the holy book but refuse to believe the land part of the holy book and actually refuse, as well, to believe that the Tregermans have any place in God's plan either (but the holy book says that they do). They've spent two millenniums persecuting the people with whom the Tregermans identify. So, every ones understanding of the holy book and the man on the cross is skewed. And as the holy book says "There is none righteous. No... not one."
Each of those groups of people is dominated by what we call “religions”. They are led by people who claim to be experts. But how can "experts" disagree with one another in the way in which they do? Actually religions with their dogmas and rituals only lead people astray. The only expert is that man on the cross and the holy book that gives an accurate account of who He is. Oh, perhaps you may doubt the veracity of that book but it has endured the test of the most intensive scrutiny of science, archaeology, scholarship and time and still survived. Interestingly, if an individual is to be faithful to that holy book, he or she will likely experience some level of ostracism from his family of origin. It's not easy pursuing the truth. But such a person can be credited as the type of person who thinks for him or herself and is bold enough to endure the consequences of his or her faith decision. He is not part of a religion but has a vital and living personal relationship with that man on the wooden cross... the man who would be the kind of man that God would be if He would ever choose to reveal Himself as a man.
This man loves both the Tregermans and the Kaddans and all the people that they symbolize. But His love demands that each individual among them has the free will to choose to love Him back. Unfortunately thus far the Jews and the Muslims have, for the most part, chosen not to love Him in return. And their free wills have led to what we see today... the deaths of two innocent children among myriads upon myriads fallen victim to a history of war and human misery.
I regret to say that absolutely nothing will get the human race out of this quagmire of death except that man who died on that cross long ago. The world is not intended to be the way that it is. We were not made to hate and kill one another. Death itself was not ever intended to be normative. Our problem is that we've gotten used to death and war and the general condition of the world as it exists. We cannot imagine our present state, uncomfortable and foreboding as it is, as being anything other than normative. Certainly politics won't help us. And, to be honest, religion won't either because it gives us a false understanding of God. Furthermore religion divides. We blame one another rather than blaming ourselves. We say “it's the other guys fault... never mine”. We refuse to say “Hey, I could be responsible for some of this mess”. We are enamored with ourselves and how good we are. But the man on the cross sees otherwise. He sees us for whom we are, loves us anyway and is quick to forgive us if we simply ask Him.
Most of we humans have big egos. We think we're God in a strange sort of way. We might say that we're not, but don't we respond with anger when we get insulted? The man on the cross didn't. There, dying, in the midst of His agony, He knew who He was. He was the way God would be if He should ever choose to be a man. And if we would ever want to be like God, we should want to be like Him.
By the way, that man? He rose from the dead. He's alive! One day He's going to make the world into the kind of place that it was intended to be. And inhabiting that world will be people who've asked God to make them into the kind of people He wants them to be without being “religious”... sort of like that man on the cross. They will all come from extremely diverse backgrounds but by being the type of person that that man on the cross is, they'll be the only types of people who will be able to get along with one another.
And there will be no more wars, or sickness, or death or, most importantly, guilt or tears... only good stuff.
I don't care if you're Jewish, Palestinian, or ISIS for that matter. I want that for you and especially that man on the cross wants it for you.