By Carolyn Shields
This is not a story but rather a time broiled in history, demanding to be relived more vigorously this week. It has been romanticized, forgotten, ignored, distorted, immortalized, and told millions of times, but rarely has it been shared from the enemy’s view. Say a prayer, and let's revisit the Passion...
You must understand that all the enemy knew for years was darkness. That was his domain and where he ruled, caught, killed, lurked and waited: in the shadow of a tree and the dark nights of the soul. The darkness was his breeding ground.
He understood the prophecy as well, that God must take on weak, mortal flesh to repair the wound that we inflicted in the garden. But he wouldn’t let that happen. It was almost comical, and all he had to do was wait, and for what? For a tender, helpless, and vulnerable baby to enter a world enslaved by his sin.
So he waited with us.
But what he didn’t expect was how quietly this Baby slipped into that small city of Bethlehem, so unpredictably discreet while the rest of the world slept. The enemy was caught off guard and crawled back below to wait just a bit longer until He became a Man, always watching. Once, by chance, he found Him alone, hungry in the desert and at the ripe of His Manhood. He tried to prey on His mortal desires, and once more he was thwarted. So instead, as in the garden, he began planting seeds…
The enemy knew it finally took root, that it finally started when he heard those roots savagely fracture through the crust.
The darkness was awakening around him. The pit of hell coiled and braced itself, opened its greedy arms, and was ready to embrace what it lost in the garden: one of us.
The enemy clawed and pulled himself upward along those splintered and thorny roots. The darkness was so profound that he used the smell of the fresh blood above to guide him. He gnashed his teeth, flared, rose, and inhaled sharply. Everything was splintering.
He emerged, as always, in shadow…in the shade of a cross, and he could see that the source of the roots that broke down below were from the crucifix.
A sense of victory pulled him inches closer to the soft, dying, mangled and suspended flesh, coated in tempting sin. And he didn’t even put him there. This wasn’t even his work. His friends were the ones who crucified him. Those He came to save did this. And the warped irony was that it was by a tree that they fell and by a tree that his victory would be won.
The enemy began panting, nearly going mad with the hunger as he watched those lungs cave in, crushed by the venial, mortal, the denial…all things he carefully planted in those vulnerable hearts. His final words were already spoken, barely breaking across his white lips. Clouds were closing in now from all sides, and he summoned the darkness that he so loved. Now was the time, now was the time…
The virgin was still as stone on the ground, and he kept a healthy distance from her, but there was a look seared in her blood red eyes, as if she was waiting for something. That look would have made anyone else take a step back and even he faltered in his advance, but he overlooked her, eyes ravenous on Golgatha and he licked his lips hungrily.
His enemy from the beginning of time was nearing His end, and there was nothing but prey behind that cross—a world of unprotected souls.
And then…one. Final. Breath.
Satan swelled to his fullest height, and the thunder cracked from his ragged throat, roaring his triumph and summoning his legion which exploded behind him. They braced themselves to charge at the crucifix and massacre all that lay beyond it, and as they made a move to swarm forward, a massive, warm gust of air came from behind the cross and breathed forcefully over them. One word was carried on it: Messiah. His hair and loincloth fluttered toward them. Beneath their feet, pebbles began to leap and the earth began to shake. The ground began to roll. The enemy looked beneath his talons to see the roots gnarling up and breaking the stones.
And then, stillness.
Satan’s eyes snapped to the corpse, but it remained unmoved. It was slaughtered. Surely it was finished. But suddenly, His eyebrows angled sharply downward. His jaw set so firmly it seemed as if it were near to breaking like the rest of His body. His nostrils flared and His lips tightly pressed together, and though there was no strength to raise His head, the Holy opened His eyes, and the fulfillment, the fierce, loyal, death prevailing, eternal love and the passion seared from His eyes and locked with Satan’s.
The enemy hissed as if burned and sharply recoiled, knowing instantly: this death was a trap. He was lured to the darkest moment in salvation history by what he thought would be failure, despair, and death. The scent of the sin He carried was irresistible, but it was a ruse. He was not hanging there unwillingly. He was not chained. He was there by choice, suspended by His will, murdered freely, and overcame….and was about to ravage the darkness of hell to reclaim all that was His.
And then from every vantage point, heaven and earth began to cry: holy, holy, holy. And beneath the enemy’s feet, from the valleys, the crusted corners, and the depths of hell, the Word was echoed.
No, this is not a story.
Throughout it all, as this moment is revived each day on marble altars, He never asks us to intervene, to walk the same path alone, to stare down the enemy—He humbly asks that we don’t leave Him. That we bare witness on that holy altar, that we keep watch, particularly during this Holy week, so that we can tell the world precisely what happens next.
And that? Well what a story that is…