Friday, April 10, 2009

Beat down

It's Friday. Thank God Sunday is coming.

I sit in my office this Friday afternoon, needing to leave - wanting to leave - but unnerved by it all - by the beat down that occurred some 2000 years ago.

Last Sunday I preached the Palm Sunday message and encouraged those present to ponder why it was that we had to read that story over again. It was a message I needed to hear - one that God clearly laid on my heart to help me to understand the depth of his love for us - how Jesus Christ was the most humble of servants.

Triumphal entry? He knew that while people were cheering and celebrating his arrival this Sunday, that they would turn on him in a matter of days and that he would be betrayed, tried, beaten and crucified. And he entered Jerusalem, just the same.

Triumphantly! And he did it on a donkey - a humble servant entering the city unlike the King's of Old Testament times who always rode in on the finest of stallions. And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred. Entering triumphantly to fulfill his purpose on this earth - to fulfill what the prophets like Zechariah had foretold centuries earlier.

The encouragement was also to be led to the cross in this week. My prayer was that I might be led there, too. In reading and re-reading the varied Gospel accounts of this Passion Week, I have been more intimately to the cross than at any time in my 40 years on this earth.

Today is Friday. I don't like Friday. The weight of my sin and shame is too much to bear. Jesus hanging there - beaten and bloodied because of me - is more than I can bear. I know Sunday is coming - thank God I know that - but the pain of Friday is weighty today, my friends.

Toward the end of Luke's account, Jesus says, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." It was a notion that was on his heart from the moment he left the Garden of Gethsemane, I believe, and is what he still thinks some 2009 years later as we mark the day in which he was crucified.

The Apostle Paul called crucifixion the most humiliating form of execution - it would also have to be the most excruciating form of execution. And so as I sit and ponder what Jesus must have endured on that cross this afternoon, I do so most humbly. It was my sin that nailed him there; it was my failings that nailed Jesus there; it has been my voice yelling "crucify him, crucify him"; it has been me who betrayed Jesus; it has been me who turned my back on Jesus.

And yet...Jesus hung there, nearly out of life, beckoning his Father to forgive me - to forgive you. The beating and flogging he endured are beyond anything we can comprehend, but I believe it was nothing compared to the hurt and anguish in Christ's heart for those who were doing the beating. Had to be, how else could he utter "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing."

My life has been forever changed in this Passion Week. I have experienced things in my time of re-reading the scripture and in prayer, of being led to the cross, that I pray spill out onto others. Tonight, as we gather with dear friends for a time of study, reflection and communion, I pray that Christ's body broken and blood poured out for the healing of the world - for each of us - will transform our lives more deeply than we could fathom.

I pray that from this day forward that we might stop and think about what it is we are doing, that we might think about what it is we are doing here. I pray that we might live in expectant waiting of Sunday. I thank God that Sunday is coming!


janelle said...

There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's veins. And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.

The dying theif rejoiced to see that fountain in his day; and there may I though vile as he wash all my sins away.

Away. Away. Wash all my sins away.

Ere since by faith I saw the stream thy flowing wounds supply. Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be 'til I die.

Amen. Allelujah.

...and welcome back; it was worth the wait.

Billy Coffey said...

Yes Chris, good to see you back.

Good Friday is a weight upon me, a mirror into which I stare at my own ugly reflection.

Good Friday is hard for me. And that's good, I think. If it ever feels anything else, I may worry.

This is a wonderful post.

Steph said...

Wonderful post, Chris, you hit the nail on the head!
I too thank God, that Sunday is coming! we serve a powerful wonderful God!