“Whenever I sin, it is as if I pick up the nails, I fashion the wood, I carry the whip, I pound the hammer, I thrust nails through His flesh, I cast the insults, I stick a spear in His side…I break His heart. But even with all this I have done, He still forgives, He still heals, He still saves, He still pulls me close and calls His enemy…His friend…He still restores my soul.”
From their conversation in the garden, the disciples know that Jesus is trying to communicate something to them. But there is still a veil covering the eyes of their soul. They do not understand what is happening. All that they know in their world is that death is the end. There is no coming back from a grave. There is no defeating the Roman guard. There is no way that human power or human religion gets trumped by a poor carpenter riding on a sad little donkey.
Jesus is going to be arrested. It is inevitable. He’s too controversial. He’s too bold. He’s too serious all the time.
What is this that they have experienced these last three years? Some of them were comfortably fishing on the shores of the sea of Galilee. They were scraping out a living in the counting house. They were working their father’s farm. Some were working in the marketplace when Jesus called them.
And the things they had seen while walking with Him? What stories they could now tell!! Blind men recovering their sight. Dead men walking out of the grave. Sick children finding restoration and wholeness. Prostitutes bound for death by stoning, left alone and given a second chance. Entire families rejoicing at the recovery of their little ones from deathbed illness.
The power they had seen.
The true religion they had seen.
And yet, in these moments in the garden…Jesus talks to them of his time approaching. They were looking for light in the darkness…but instead the light of torches arrives in the garden. The sound of shuffling soldiers feet. The clanging of 30 pieces of silver in one of their own brother’s pockets.
This was not the sound of revolution. It was the sound of betrayal.
Jesus’ fate is sealed with a kiss. Dirty hands grab our Savior and force him to the religious establishment of the day.
Jesus is carried away. The disciples reaction is one of fear and madness. Peter lashes out at one of the captors with a sword, takes off an ear. Jesus stops the melee. Performs a miracle at his own arrest by putting the ear back on….and is arrested.
Stripped of his dignity. Beaten badly. Imprisoned wrongfully. Accused unjustly. A scapegoat for their own fear, Jesus becomes the sacrificial lamb for the masses.
Human Religion puts Jesus on trial.
Human Power puts Jesus on trial.
Human Authority puts Jesus on trial.
It’s easy for me to use words that remove me from the equation. It was they who killed Him…not me. I wouldn’t have denied Him. I convince myself that I’m better than them.
Jesus on trial
Jesus is still on trial today. We can’t give it up. We can’t let it go. He can’t be who He claims to be. It just doesn’t make sense. It’s easier for us to put Jesus on the stand, accuse Him, force Him to perform a miracle, force Him to give us all the answers we want. That is the human way. This is the reasonable way.
But it doesn’t work.
Jesus isn’t at our whim. Jesus isn’t ours to manipulate. Jesus isn’t accountable to us. He is submissive to His Father. He trusts the goodness of God’s heart, even in the midst of terrible betrayal, abuse, unfair circumstance, and even facing death.
He is announced “Guilty“. Some made up conviction. Just get Him to a cross. He’s nothing like the God we were looking for.
I grab my whip made of bits of bone and glass.
I filet his back with it.
I grab the bag of nine inch nails.
I grab the mallet.
I force him to carry a wooden tool of capital punishment.
I lay Him down.
I spit on him.
I hold the nail.
I swing the nail.
I pierce the hands.
I pierce the feet.
I make fun of his teachings.
I watch him wail.
I watch his body heave.
I drop the cross into place.
I crucify Jesus.
I do it.
I kill Him.
It is a good Friday.
I don’t even know that my own sin is the reason why this man has to die.
I don’t realize the story that surrounds this whole event.
I’m unaware of the truth of who this man really is.
I’m only aware that my soul is stuck, and I don’t know the way out.
Maybe it’s time we stop for a moment. Hit the pause button on your life.
Take a moment today and reflect on what this day truly is.
This is the day that not only Jesus died.
It is the day you betrayed Jesus. It is the day you fashioned the cross that you should have worn and placed it firmly on Jesus back. It is the day you comfortably allowed someone else to take your sin for you. It is the day you have denied ever since you were old enough to know you were the one who was guilty.
But here’s the redemptive element…
It is the chance for you to lose your life as well.
Your sin. Your pain. Your suffering.
It all costs something.
There is a debt that you owe that you cannot ever pay by being good enough, attending religious institutions enough, or trying to fix your own life enough.
It’s time to stop today and really re-imagine what you are doing with the life you have been given. All life flows from this death.
There is good news here. But it can only be found in allowing the darkness to be seen for what it really is.
The cross Jesus carried was yours.
He was your substitute.
Your death is the one you see hanging on that cross.
So that life can have it’s way in you.