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(Note: I composed the poem “Up to me” for my Easter column two years ago. Recently, I received a letter from Goldie Mingus of West Pittston requesting me to publish it once again. Here it is, Goldie, with a few changes and additions.)

What if the nails did not hurt?

What would the reaction have been

if with every swing of the hammer,

He just looked at them with a grin?

Surely they would have halted

and promptly dropped to their knees.

‘Forgive us, O’ Lord, forgive us,’

would have been their desperate pleas.

Yes, if only there was no pain

when the nails ripped into his hands

spilling His most precious blood

over Calvary’s desert sands.

But hurt they did, the nails, the spear,

for that’s how it had to be.

But it would have been quite different

If only it were up to me.

I would’ve had a Hollywood ending.

Jesus would have shown them all

that legions of well-armed angels

were indeed at his beck and call.

With trumpets blaring and wings unfurled

they would have filled the skies,

the air ringing out with the jubilant sound

of the apostles’ triumphant cries.

Like the greatest super hero

Down from the cross He’d come

The wood exploding into splinters

to the sound of a timpani drum.

Oh, what a scene I would have directed

that Friday upon that hill.

If only I had been in charge,

with no scriptures to fulfill.

But it had to unfold the way it did,

they way God wanted it to be.

His will, as always, had to be done.

It was not up to me.

I would’ve been kinder to Judas, too,

that poor, unfortunate soul.

I would have opened his eyes, his heart,

and gave him a different role.

I would’ve had him go to Christ,

to resolve what he felt amiss,

rather than have him brood and sulk

and betray Him with a kiss.

But Judas had a part to play,

a mission to be fulfilled.

As horrid as it seems to us,

his deed was what God willed.

Judas was a necessary player

in God’s plan to set us free,

a plan that would have been thwarted

if he had left it up to me.

It could not have been easy,

for God to sacrifice His only son.

But whether we humans like it or not,

it’s how He wanted it done.

If we could see through Divine eyes,

perhaps then we would know,

that what may appear as tragedy

is not necessarily so.

To take away the sting of death,

and relieve us of all sin.

God allowed his beloved Son to die,

so He could be raised again.

You see, without the dreaded cross

Easter could never be.

That’s hard to accept, so I’m really glad

it wasn’t left up to me.

More than 2,000 years later,

we’re taught to take up our cross.

We’re told this is the only way,

to keep from being lost.

We’re taught to turn the other cheek,

to forgive as we are forgiven,

to remember there’s eternal life

that someday we’ll be living.

The man who said ‘Thy will be done,”

this most obedient Son.

called all of us his brothers,

said that we all are one.

So, choosing to follow Jesus

I now can plainly see

is actually the only thing

that’s ever been up to me.

Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist every week. Look for his blogs online during the week at