The Death of Death

To mark Good Friday, an excerpt from Gene Edwards’ “Christian fiction,” The Divine Romance. Readers will find many details to quibble with (as I did) but for didactic purposes, this meditation on the crucifixion is unique and breathtaking.

Half blind, near death, He dragged the wooden beam up the loathsome hill. Through blood-filled eyes He caught His first glimpse of Golgotha, and heard the sound of hammers laying finish to the instrument of execution.

They turned the Carpenter around so that He might see what it was that lay upon the ground before Him.

The cross!

He had not seen it since that day … the day before the birth of eternity.

He raised His bruised head and groped—with eyes nearly blind—to see if all else was in its place. Yes, there the nails, the mallet, the derisive sign, the gall. All were present, having been inseparably linked to Him for unnumbered ages.

Again He cast His eyes down at the cross lying before Him. None on earth nor in the skies could e’er have guessed that beam of wood constituted the single most destructive force in all universal creation. Powerful enough to destroy everything ever created.

But something was missing!

Slowly He looked about, surveying the whole macabre panorama. There it was! In the hands of a Roman soldier. The spear!

Something within Him, a sense of completion, filled His being. A soft smile struggled to the surface of His swollen face.

“On with it. Crucify Him!” someone in the crowd screamed.

“Oh, you have no idea what will be crucified this day,” He whispered. Then, turning His eyes heavenward, He whispered again, as if to universes unseen, “All things are ready.”

And with that simple word the whole habitation of heavenly places emptied, as the angelic host hurled itself into time, there to fill every roof, hill and mountain around about Jerusalem. Ten thousand times ten thousand swords were drawn by outraged and weeping angels. Every sinew in them strained, waiting for a command—any command—that wold allow them to unleash vengeance upon that hill.

Pitilessly the soldiers began to shove Him down upon the beam of wood, only to discover His utter willingness to lie down upon this cross and stretch out His hands and feet. Nor did it escape their eyes that their captive opened His palms to waiting nails.

One of the soldiers, hesitating for only a moment as he contemplated this strange Man before him, reached for one of the long, cold spikes, and the heavy iron mallet. He pressed the nail hard against the wrist and raised his hammer high into the air.

The Carpenter raised His other hand slightly, and time stood still!

Within the very core of the spirits of every angel, bursting like fire, came the unspoken, and quite unbelievable, command of their Lord. For a single instant they hesitated.

“Now!” commanded the Carpenter.

*  *  *  *  *

He had given them not only a command but an ability to do something which, until now, only He had ever done. To accomplish His will He had now allowed His messengers to become masters of time and space. They would know what only I AM had ever known before: for the next few moments they would be able to move to any point in time, space… or eternity. They could roam the corridors of time, breaking into any place in history at will. They would trace across all points of time—and to many places in eternity—moving, if necessary, in both directions of eternity, even to the age before the ages and, if need be, to the final end of all ages.

Hurtling faster than even they could conceive, each went to His appointed place, to perform His Master’s will.

*  *  *  *  *

It was the angel who bore the simple name Messenger who plunged backward through all time, then back through all eternity past—even to that age before all things, save God! Arriving there, he found a lamb—slain—upon a wooden cross. Lifting high this, until now, unknown trophy of endless love, he bore it forward through eternity into time, and finally to Golgotha, there to make that cross—and lamb—one with the cursed tree and the Carpenter who lay outstretched upon it.

Another angel went to that long forgotten place where Eve and Seth had once laid the body of ancient Adam. In the gifts and powers of the spirituals, the angel clutched into his arms the first-born of our race, and bore him forward through time, coming at last to Calvary. You see, within the very bosom of Adam lay all the descendants of the human race, for they were—after all—in Him. Further, in the bosom of that first man lay not only all the species of mankind but even the Adamic fall, the curse, and the self nature which had invaded, plundered and twisted man’s soul.

Adam, and all mankind in him, was carried in angelic hands to the place of the Carpenter’s execution.

One of the archangels rose from off earth’s plane, stood above this planet, and called to time past and time future, commanding all governments, rules, dominions, and principalities from all earth’s ages to come forth. Capturing them in his mighty arms, he swept back into time’s sphere and made flight towards Jerusalem. Standing before the cross, he waited.

But one of the angels did not stir from his place. Golgotha itself was his appointment. On one side of the cross stood a crowd of Hebrews. On the other side, a garrison of Gentile soldiers. Between them, seen only by eyes that belonged to the unseen, was a wall. An insurmountable wall! Wrestling the wall into his powerful arms, the angel lifted that barrier up, paused before the cross, and waited.

Waited for the tick of time to sound once more.

*  *  *  *  *

Arm and hammer began their furious journey downward toward the nail, but not before the returning angels plunged their booty into the bosom of the young Carpenter.

The hammer smashed against the nail, and there were crucified in that instant

The first man, Adam
…..Adam’s race
……….The fallen self
……………All governments
…………………………rule … and

Yea! Crucified upon the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

*  *  *  *  *

Once more a nail was pressed deep into the other wrist. Once more the soldier drew his arm in a mighty upward swing, and once more the Lord froze time in its journey.

At that very instant one of the angels arrived at the base of Mt. Sinai and began to furiously hurl stones in all directions. He paused. There they lay, the smashed, long forgotten, tablets of the commandments and the law of Moses. Quickly the angel clutched them to his bosom, turned and darted again for Jerusalem’s holy temple.

Arriving at the temple courtyard, he went straight into the Holy of Holies. Terrified, yet obedient, he lifted the mercy seat, reached inside the box of hammered gold, and brought forth the sacred copy of the law. He then gathered from within the temple every rule, every regulation, every ordinance that ever had been penned, proclaimed, or dreamed of.

He was about to depart when he heard again the Lord’s voice within him. Turning, he called forth all ritual of worship. Once more he would have departed, but turned again at the prodding of his glowing spirit. He now called forth all observance of all holy days. Finally he called forth even the Sabbath.

At last he left the temple, only to be stopped again. He breathed hard, turned and called forth even the temple!

Now he rose high above the earth, and in a voice that reached all ends of all times, he commanded every rule, regulation, ritual, decree and ordinance that had ever been observed by any religion ever practiced upon the face of the earth … to come forth!

Once more the burdened angel plunged downward through the skies, into time. He arrived just in time to lay his profound burden into the bosom of his Lord. He stepped back.

The hammer smashed against the nail, and with it,

All law
…..all rules
……….all ordinances
……………all holy days
…………………….all ritual

were crucified upon the cross of Jesus Christ our Lord!

*  *  *  *  *

The soldiers bound the Lord’s legs, pressed them hard against the wood, and nailed His feet to the cross. Ruthlessly they kicked the stake into a waiting hole. There was an awful thud and a pathetic groan.

Overhead the heavens were growing dark with some sick and mysterious cloud. Every moment the sky grew darker and more foreboding. Citizens of earth clutched their garments about them and shook inside at the sight of the foulness gathering in the sky above them.

What they saw were but small drops of vast, unholy things seeping through from unseen realms. For the angels were now on the darkest and most dreadful of their journeys. Across time and space they had flown, into every year, hour and minute of human history. Into every village, town and city. Across plain and desert, down even into the seas, they had plunged. Rising, they brought back their dreadful cargo to Jerusalem, careful to stay in the invisibles, that they not destroy the earth with the very stench of their black wares. Darker and thicker grew the massive thing, as numberless angels endured their burden until the appointed moment.

The Lord of earth grew faint upon His cross. His time was at an end.

With groans and wails and agonising cries, the angels lifted their foul booty and stepped into time, carrying with them every sin of every man and woman who had ever lived!

Bringing together into one place this vile, pulsating, living thing, they cast it all into the Lamb of God—who now became sin incarnate. All sin was now accumulated in one place—in Him. Divinity now experienced that one thing which it had never known. In the flood of that indescribably hideous invasion, the Lord of glory, forsaken by all Holiness, cried out in delirium,

My God, My God
Why hast Thou forsaken Me?

One of the archangels, blinded with rage and consumed with revenge, cried out savagely to his peers,

Now, Now
… the ends of eternity,
Vengeance, Vengeance!
Now, now!
… the ends of wrath,
Vengeance, vengeance!

Once more, to allow for the greatest of all retributions, time stood still.

*  *  *  *  *

Streaking across time, they flew forward, and having come to time’s end they pressed hard into eternity future. With swords raised and with eyes spewing fire, they broke into the last instant of the history of the kingdom of darkness, crying

You—unholy equals—
… your appointed hour.

Without pity, without care, they whirled about the dark citizens of demondom, encircling them in fiery, blinding light… and drove them, screaming, back across eternity, back through the portal separating the invisible from the visibles, back into time—back toward Golgotha.

On they mercilessly drove their gnashing, screaming, unholy prey, back toward the cross.

Time moved, but only for a second, allowing two archangels—with flashing, swirling swords—to hurl these dark fiends into the bosom of the only begotten Son of God.

Now went up a defiant cry from the angelic host as has never before—nor ever since—been heard. The whole host of angels and archangels swarmed again, this time across eternity future, to finish a battle begun long ago in eternity past.

“This time, Victory!” they screamed, half mad with rage.

*  *  *  *  *

Inflamed with revenge, they flooded into the final moment of the last age of the ages. For one instant they paused, elect angels coming in the full brightness of their power and glory. “Now!” screamed Michael as the holy angels of God charged forth against the legions of the angels of damnation, driving them back toward the inevitable cross. And with them, in full retreat before two archangels gone quite mad, was the infernal leader—the angel of light—at last receiving his sure damnation.

Back through time they were hurled. In chaos and disarray they were driven up Calvary’s hill and, by some unutterable means, were drawn inexorably into the very bosom of their enemy.

And so was crucified

the prince of darkness
…..and the
kingdom of darkness
…..upon the cross
of Jesus Christ, your Lord!

*  *  *  *  *

While time continued its rest, yet other elements of creation gave way to the all-destructive cross. While angels watched in amazement, the entire world system began to pour into the bosom of the Crucified One. The whole earth, joined by the visible creation itself, began to melt away and vanish into the young man upon the the cross. Time, eternity and heavenly places soon joined them.

The eyes of of angels, viewing events from outside of time, watched as all things disappeared.

Before them now stood only a cross, hanging in a great void. Truly, He had kept His word. He had put away all enemies.

The cross of Christ had swallowed up and put to death… all things.


*  *  *  *  *

A cold chill swept over the angels. They had momentarily forgotten the one last and greatest enemy: That one with whom even they could do no battle.

Death now appeared before the cross and gurgled in an obscene roar.

We meet again,
And this
For the last time!

Death stretched out his cloak and began relentlessly moving toward this, his greatest and final victim. The young Carpenter raised His wounded head, smiled, and said,

Yes, Death
For the last time.

With that the young Carpenter moved once more His blood-soaked, iron-pierced hand. Time began again. Golgotha reappeared. Earthly things once more came into view. The Lord Jesus was now breathing His last breath. The Angel of Death moved inexorably on. He covered the young Carpenter with his seraphic wings and began squeezing the last of life from his prey.

And Mary’s Son cried out with His last breath,

……….Your hands
……………I commit
………………..My Spirit.

With that, the Carpenter died, carrying with Him all enemies, save Death!
Death now threw up his defiant fist in final victory and shouted,

I have ended
…..even Life!
I am victor
All things.

Death turned to go, darkness radiating from his face in black, triumphant glow.

Out from somewhere, in a mystery beyond all knowledge, some immeasurable power laid hold of Death. The black angel turned and screamed. Marshalling all his strength he brought forth a force to bear upon this unseen power that caused the archangels to drop to their knees in fear.

Angels, who had never dreamed that even one power so great existed, watched two such powers in mortal combat.

For a moment it seems these powers were equal and that Death might wrest himself free. But slowly, relentlessly, the Angel of Death was drawn toward the still, dead figure hanging upon that wondrous tree. At last, his strength drained from him, the Angel of Death screamed in horror, and disappeared into the bosom of the Nazarene.

And Death himself did die!

And so were crucified all things. And such was the death of the Son of God.





Oh, yes,
There was one other thing.
Placed upon the cross
…..that day—
You were crucified with Christ.

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