The spectacle was over. The ground started to shake and suddenly there were storm clouds and thunder. A cold wind sent most of the crowd scurrying back to the city in groups of two or three.
The day was already a nightmare to me, but I stayed there at the foot of the cross, holding back my grief and despair. The governor had given Joseph permission to remove the body. We shivered in the wind while we loosened the boulders and lowered the cross backwards to the ground. There was my Lord, cold and pale, who only days before had been welcomed into the city by cheering crowds.
Mary bent down and gently closed his eyelids and removed the mocking crown of thorns. The iron nails that held his hands and feet to the cross could only be loosened by working them back and forth. As I worked I felt the pain that he could no longer feel. But my pain burned deep in my heart and frustration had become anger and then rage. I could not hold back my tears.
Must I believe him now? He had said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” He said, “Turn the other cheek.” He said, “Forgive seventy times seven.” He said, “Love thy neighbor…”.
Still, I wondered, where were those he had cured of leprosy and blindness? Where were those he had saved from death itself? He was alone, he who had taught and served us, he who had sacrificed everything for us.
I was young and strong then. I reached down and lifted the body of my Savior, heavy and limp, wet with blood that was not yet dry. On his back there were open wounds from the lash. I had never lifted such a weight. One of his arms slipped from my grasp. Joseph tried to keep it from hanging down as he walked beside me with the others. I nearly stumbled on the rough path going down the hill.
Now, heavy rain drops splattered on the dry earth and his body, washing some of the blood and dirt away. My arms were aching from the weight. They were so tired I was afraid I would not be able to carry him all the way to the tomb. Yet somehow, I found the strength.
We laid him on the hard stone floor of the tomb. Outside, the women wept as they prepared to wash and anoint his body. When they were finished we rolled the heavy stone over the entrance. A soldier stood guard so that his disciples could not take the body to claim that he had risen from the dead.
Except for the storm that was raging, I don’t remember the rest of that terrible day. I don’t even remember walking back to the city. My only thought then—he said he would rise again. Could I even doubt?