Earth’s saddest night
The stars over Palestine were dim that night. Not because of any obscuring clouds, or silvery mist, or plant-refreshing rain. It was the dry season and the atmosphere was crystal-clear, without fleck or flaw.The stars were dim because of their own tears—tears unbidden, which could not be restrained. The dew was heavy on the olive leaves and on the sparse grass were crystal beads of water. For the night wept, as well as the far away stars and the very darkness seemed to groan in agony.
Down in a garden one lone figure bowed. The world has ever since loved the olive trees because they shadowed His grief, in part only, from the far-dimmed stars and the night. No grief had ever touched a soul that was so keen, so all-powering, as that which reached the Master on that saddest night the world had ever known. Desertion by friends would be bearable—the shadow of tomorrow’s cross could be endured; the cut of the nails and the thrust of spears could all be borne—but beyond these, alas! the Master felt a keener grief!
Through long ages the world had sinned. Backward lay the savage cruelties of unrecorded savage wars. The cry of innocent and unprotected children, of lone murders in the silent night, of sin-stained women in despair, of a world’s savagery and open guilt, all came to the Master in a single wail—pleading for mercy and absolution.
It was the total of a world’s grief and its pain, the total of its crimes and atrocities, the acme of its secret murders and its flagrant, open abortions, stretching backward through the ages. The suffering of forty centuries was laid upon one soul.
That was the secret of the Master’s plea: “If this cup may pass, O, Father.” No wonder the stars were dim with tears, no wonder the tropic night wept heavily, no wonder the darkness groaned out its grief, as the Master’s prayer was heard around a world.
Earth’s saddest night will always live in romance, story and song as the tenderest, sweetest memory the world has ever known.