MEDITATION ON OUR LORD'S PASSION: And There They Crucified Him
CRANACH, Lucas the Elder
Christ's Head with Crown of Thorns
1520-25And there they crucified him.
Consider first, that the Apostles did not express so great an action in many words, which thou mayst easily understand, both by the accustomed punishment of the Cross, and by the hatred of the Jews, and by the ancient oracles of the Prophets. For first they pulled of his garment with great insolence, & renewed the wounds, sticking unto it, making his sacred body bleed, and appear all naked. Secondly, they outrageously threw him down upon the cross, which lay on the ground, thinking it sufficient if he were nailed alive on the cross. Thirdly, they pulled one hand to the hole, which they had bored, and draw a nail through it with a hammer; and the blood issued forth abundantly, according to the old figure: They struck the Rock, and the waters flowed out, and the Rivers swelled up. Fourthly, when on hand was fastened, they took the other, and stretched it to the other hole, which being far distant, they pulled it, either with they hands, or with cords, with all their force; and that being also fast nailed, they came to the holes for his feet, and with great violence they brought his holy feet unto it, and (as St. Cyprian saith) fastened them with nails. David did plainly fore show this stretching forth of our Lord in these words; I am spread abroad like water: I am wasted and decayed with the extremity of pains, and destitute of all strength, like water poured out, having no power to stay in any place. All my bones are dispersed, that is, are loosened, & pulled out of their places, the cold, dryness, and extension upon the Cross dissolving all the joints of my members. They have dogged my hands and my feet, they have numbered all my bones: so cruel was this extension of his members, that every bone, being pulled from another, might easily be seen. Thirdly, they lift up on high the tree of the Cross, clothed with this solemn host; and let it fall down with great violence into the hole, which they had rigged for it: For so was the brazen Serpent lift up in the wilderness, & the host of the Sacrifices were won’t to be offered unto God by lifting them up on high. In all these things do thou ponder and think upon the most bitter torments of thy Lord; behold the banner of the Cross lift up; look upon the streams of blood running down from his hands & feet; go quickly and draw whilst the springs are flowing, and before their veins be dried up.
Consider secondly, why thy Lord close this death of the cross for thy salvation, and no other death. There are many causes thereof.First, because there was no death more long, more grivious, more ignominious, nor more proper and fit for the procuring of thy salvation. For he would not have his body divided; that the Church his mystical body might be preserved whole. He would not be burnt, with any other fire, then the fire of charity: He would not be strangled with a halter, drowned with water, or smothered with earth, least he might seem to have retained something to himself, and not to have shed all his blood most liberally for thy sake. Secondly, that being lift up on high, like an host, he might place himself , as a Mediator, between God the Father and mankind, Being the only Mediator of God and men, reconciling the lowest things to the highest. Third, to throw down the Devils, the Princes of the air, quite out of the air into Hell; or at the least to subdue their forces. Fourthly, that he might see thee with his eyes a far off, draw thee unto him with the chains of his blood, recived thee at thy coming with his arms spread. show thee his inward parts, and hide thee in his wounds, bind thee unto him with the links of Charity, have thee, engraved in his hands, always before his eyes, keep thee imprinted in his heart, and with his feet fastened to seek nothing but thy salvation. Fifthly, that thou shouldest no more fasten thine eyes upon the ground but lift them up on high, behold him a far off, run unto him, require of him thy salvation, and all good things, think upon him always in all thy business, follow his life, and fulfill his Commandments. Here of thou speak, whats ever thy spirit shall put into thy mouth.