"... there they crucified him." (Luke 23:33)
"The people stood watching, and the rulers...The soldiers also came..."
The solders were experts of sorts. The Roman authorities had punished criminals for centuries that way. They could explain the details: the pressure on the chest, nearly intolerable, the stretching of the arms...
The sky darkened. The earth groaned.
"Father, forgive them," he cried. The people watched.
"It is finished," he said.
The bystanders hurried back to Jerusalem. They didn't want to miss the great Feast of the Lamb. These were special days. There were these many guests in town. So many important things to do. They hurried on...
"Jesus, keep me near the cross", we sing. It would not have suited us well that first Good Friday. Does it ever suit us? Does it ever suit me?
In the middle of the night, an unexpected wakeful moment, "please, Savior, see me, hear me ...". A congregation at worship, serious faces, "Yes, Lord, you are here." At a sickbed, unremitting pain, "Savior hold me...". All the several family problems..."Lord come dwell among us...". Sins that cling, "Spirit of Christ, make your entrance now...". Jesus keep me near the cross...
They came and they went, those visitors on Golgotha. All through the centuries they came. All those different people. People with basic needs: to come Home, to be saved, to be restored to service, to find new happiness, to find a new community.
Jesus made the cross mobile when he said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross..." (Mark 8:34)