Gasping out his last breath. Calling out for help. Alone. In pain. Suffering at the last instead of peace.
Not the kind of death we want for ourselves or those whom we love. Over the decades that I was a pastor I was with many people in their last days, hours, even moments. Almost to a person they died peacefully. Beautifully even. Surrounded by friends and family in many cases they breathed their last breath of earth.
Good Friday is a day that will not let us sanitize either death or suffering. It will not let us think that every death is like the ones I witnessed over those years. Jesus’ death was not so.
Those opening words above were not just about Jesus – they were about my dad. I had never thought until I woke this morning about my dad’s death in the shadow of Good Friday. But he died alone. And his death was unpleasant and unthinkable from all we can tell. It still haunts me. As does – and should – the death of Jesus on that long ago Friday.
Today is a day to be uncomfortable. To remember there is pain in the world. To remember that not all deaths are peaceful transitions. Not all passings are easy. Not everyone’s earthly journey ends as it should or might.
Jesus’ death changed everything. But it changed nothing. Something to ponder today.