I imagine

thinking of Jesus through the passion—
or (more accurately)
superficially depicted
in image after image of weakness—
Jesus as victim—
Jesus as passive,

I then imagined,
in particular response
to those who mocked him on the cross—
those who said, “Let him come down from the cross,
and we will believe in him.
He trusts in God;
let God deliver him now, if he wants to …”
(Matthew 27:42-3; Mark 15:32)—

I imagined in response to those who mocked,
but (more accurately) in response
to particular words Jesus himself said
to the disciples in Gethsemane—
when Judas arrived
with that large crowd from the authorities,

“Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father,
and he will at once
send me more than twelve legions of angels?”
(Matthew 26:53),

and I had this image
of the hosts of heaven
massed in war-like array
with the archangel Michael at the fore,
spear in hand,
and Uriel—
sword in one hand, fire in the other,
and masses of cherubim—
more than could be distinguished and counted—
with flaming swords burning the widest scope of our imaginations—
the very image of formidable, invincible power and might—
waiting to be unleashed—
straining at the leash—


behind the line of Jesus’ conviction,
held back by Jesus’ discipline—
all restrained by the strength of Jesus’ will.

And I imagined, throughout the events of the passion,
their eagerness—those hosts of heaven—to act—
to intervene with force—
their anticipation—their readiness
upon hearing Jesus’ prayer,
“If it is possible, let this cup pass from me …”
(“Yes? Yes? Now?”)
and their disappointment when Jesus kept praying,
“yet not what I want but what you want”
(Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42).

And so I imagined their absolute incredulity
(and frustration?) upon hearing,
“Father, forgive them;
for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
(“What? What?”)

And I pictured God—
apart from the forces of heaven wanting to intervene
with force—
no less interested—no less outraged—horrified—sad,
yet so proud of who Jesus was
amidst it all—

waiting to intervene

with love—

to redeem
not just change it,

and not to impose redemption,
but to offer it—
in Jesus’ strength of conviction,
discipline, and will—

and in ours?


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