Friday, April 10, 2020
A lot of the time when we think about Good Friday, we remember the legality of it all--the exchange of Christ's life for ours, the redemption not only of mankind as a whole, worthy and unworthy, but of us--the personal negotiation by which we have the hope of heaven. That is very God, too. No one else could have done this, but it is also very distant. It requires effort to summon up an understanding of the transaction that resulted in our opportunity to engage in a life of sin and still end up in eternal reward with the very God we offended. Mind-blowing. Not human at all.
But give Jesus real live hands and feet, mind and emotions, and He becomes something else entirely. He becomes someone we know, echoing the pain of hurt.
For me, it is very real. I did something once that made my husband cry. Not the gentle tears of sympathy or compassion, but the wrenching, groaning, excavation of deep betrayal, of untenable destruction. It was the visible and audible manifestation of a relationship tearing asunder under pressure that even the strongest man I knew could not withstand, a hurt that struck at the very heart of him.
And then there's Jesus. Jesus the forgiver. Jesus the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus the gentle, patient healer. Jesus the betrayed man. I met Him in a new way this morning, reading the Roman Catholic Good Friday Liturgy. In the midst of all the worship, and all the thanks, and all the reverence, come the reproaches of the man that resounded with Dave's misery. Did you ever think of Jesus saying this?:
My people, what have I done to you? Or how have I grieved you? Answer me!
What should I have done for you and not done?
Indeed, I planted you as my most beautiful and chosen vine and you have turned very bitter for me, for in my thirst you gave me vinegar to drink and with a lance you pierced your Savior's side.
I scourged Egypt for your sake with its firstborn sons, and you scourged me and handed me over.
I led you out from Egypt as Pharaoh lay sunk in the Red Sea and you handed me over to the chief priests.
I opened up the sea before you and you opened my side with a lance.
I went before you in a pillar of cloud and you led me into Pilate's palace.
I fed you with manna in the desert and on me you rained blows and lashes.
I gave you saving water from the rock to drink and for drink you gave me gall and vinegar.
I struck down for you the kings of the Canaanites, and you struck down my head with a reed.
I put in your hands a royal scepter, and you put on my head a crown of thorns.
I exalted you with great power, and you hung me on the scaffold of the Cross.
Think you haven't done these things? Think again. Every time we do something we know is wrong, we press in the thorns, we pound in the dreadful spike.
He never said this out loud, but did He feel it? He cries for us, mourns for what was lost and the way He has to buy it back. He knows what we could have been, what He created us to be, and what we chose instead. He knows what He has to do, but it still hurts. He trades His life for restoration. For the joy set before Him, He suffers.
This is the essence of how humanity fixes what is so very wrong. With our world, with our relationships. And it works. Sorrow retreats in repentance. Wounds heal with forgiveness. It worked for Him. It worked for me.
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