The dead man whose body we contemplate on the end of Good Friday has finished a day of extraordinary kingship.
Pilate, in the middle of his interrogation, had him scourged; when he came back, in that ghastly beaten shape with thorns and purple upon him, still he was master of himself. Where are you from? Pilate asked, adding Do you not know that I have power to release you? His voice remained sure: You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above.
He remained strong to the end. Saint John says he carried his own cross—even scourged and beaten as he was. And with that strength of body there was strength of character. He knew what was happening all the way through. In fact, even though he was the victim, he seemed somehow to be in charge—as if, even though they were killing him, he was choosing to allow himself to die. Did he not end it all by saying, It is finished?
He was calm and strong to the end, and although many of us ran away, not all of us did. He had said to Pilate, Every one who is of the truth hears my voice. Even there, nailed and hanging in the torture of drawn-out capital punishment, he was taking care of his mother and his friends. He made a new family, right there, right at the foot of the cross: Woman, behold, your son! And to the disciple: Behold, your mother! We had thought of his dying as isolation and abandonment, but now it seems quite the contrary: as he was dying, he created new community.
His self-possession to the end, his strength, his loving provision for his friends: all this shows us that what we experience on this day is the effectuation of kingship. When they nailed him to the cross, they put him upon his throne. There he did what from the beginning he had been prepared to do: he became the ruler of the universe. Lifted on high, he became king, drawing to himself all who hear his voice.