At the Foot of the Cross: A Mother’s Memoir

It was a day like today, at the foot of the cross, when a weeping mother stares in utter devastation at her beloved son’s blood pouring from his nailed hands and feet.

Those hands she kissed with the caressing love only a mother knows. Those feet she washed countless times a day. Scrapes and injuries her lips comforted as her energetic Middle Eastern boy fumbled and played childishly on the dirty streets of Nazareth. Those little hands and feet she beheld in utter amazement at the first sight of the baby boy’s birth. Hands that clutched around her long skirt as he learned to walk.

The same hands she saw stretched out to help the needy, the sick, the outcast as her boy grew into an adult man. Feet that walked the streets of this world to teach and bring the good news of salvation to all.

Is this tormenting view of her crucified son today the visual meaning of the strength of his arm she remember singing to Elizabeth about? The strength to satisfy his Holy Father’s wrath in a torturous death so that sin could be dealt with, once and for all? Is this strength her son’s willing path to the cross?

Mary must’ve stared hard and long, her heart melting in indescribable pain. Her son’s disfigured face is but torture to her heart. The same little face she beheld with caress and maternal love the night he was born. She must’ve wiped the blood from his tiny face with much gentleness and awe soon after delivery. And yet today, she can’t reach up and caress her son’s bleeding face anymore. The stares of her maternal eyes alone, choked in tears, reach but helplessly her son’s hurting face.

Is this the Davidic horn of salvation raised for us all that Zachariah talked about? Is this the prophet of the Most High gasping for air, pieces of bloody flash hanging exposed, thorns on his forehead? Is this the Lord God of Israel visiting and redeeming his people from the hands of the enemies? At the foot of the cross she must’ve remembered clearly now all of Zachariah’s prophetic words.

On this good Friday, Mary watches her offspring suffer. The incarnation and fulfillment of the Edenic prophecy: the very one offspring Eve heard God prophesy about. The one and only offspring to crush the serpent’s head through his death. The one Eve’s heart must’ve longed for shortly after her fall. The one that Able was not. Cain was not. And not even Seth, this “other offspring,” was not. Eve died hoping all along to catch a glimpse of that one promised offspring in her lifetime.

And yet here He hangs, this one offspring all the other offsprings pointed to all along.

At the foot of the cross, Mary pulled out memories stored in her mother’s heart. Her son’s childhood and prophecies, the angel’s words, Elizabeth’s baby leaping in the womb at the sound of Mary’s voice, Zachariah’s prophecy, the Old Testament prophecies, the miracles and the teaching. All pointing indeed to Jesus as the Messiah and Savior of her soul. At the foot of the bloody cross of her mighty Savior, her soul magnifies him still.

Here he is, this One offspring, beloved of a mournful mother, crushing serpentine heads, sinful roars, devouring strikes… so all Eve’s living can live again through his death and resurrection. Here he is, the much awaited Messiah, consummating his death so all humanity can live through him forever. At the foot of the cross, behold the horn of salvation raised for us all!