I’m screaming (usually on the inside): “Stand up for yourself! Tell them you are innocent!!”
I don’t mean to get frustrated with Jesus. But I have just reached the point in the story where I have gained the utmost respect for this man who has offered love, healing, and peace to everyone he comes in contact with. He is blameless. He has spent his short life performing miracles, healing the sick, hanging out with the outcasts, and showing people how to love the unloved. He is giving them the key to life beyond this evil, sick, depraved world. And he has nothing to show for it, no material things anyway. He does not boast, is not rude, is not self-seeking. He is the epitome of 1st Corinthians 13.
And now, the lights start dimming and the semi-scary, doom-delivering music starts playing quietly.
His haters can sense his power. They don’t like that he claims to be God. They don’t like he is making scenes and disrupting the peace. But, the bottom line, they don’t like the fact that he is a threat to their positions, their “titles”, their religious rituals, their mini kingdoms. So, since he owns nothing worldly for them to take away, they go after the one thing that (they think) will destroy him: his life.
If I were him, I would be tempted to grab Peter’s sword and cut off the servant’s left ear (that is, if I hadn’t passed out after watching the right one fall off). My mind would quickly go back to that self-defense class I had in college and ram the palm of my hand under their chins.
Thankfully, it wasn’t me standing there.
Jesus does not stand up against the false accusations that are being hurled at him with anything more than matter-of-fact, seemingly emotionless responses. And I’m over here going “TELL THEM THEY ARE CRAZY AND THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT! DON’T LET THEM HURT YOU!”
What’s more..he had the power to call down any number of angels to rescue him. And he chose not to.
Some would call him a sissy. His style seemed passive, which some would equate to weakness. Look deeper into his messages, and you will see the highest degree of wisdom possible. Take a modern day example. How effective are we when we try to get our point across about a hot topic? What actually works when trying to convince people that our opinion is the right one? Plastering our stance all over Facebook and seeing how many “likes” we can get? Giving people a list of reasons why their beliefs are not backed by scientific evidence? These strategies usually come across as condescending and leave people feeling defensive. Jesus met people where they were and talked to them in stories that they could understand in such a way that left them feeling understood and cared for. He didn’t give them a reason to respond with “don’t act like you understand where I’ve come from.”
Looking back, his teachings are mostly quiet throughout. He doesn’t FORCE his teachings on anyone. If you believe, you believe, and you are blessed for it. He sees your faith even if you are quiet about it. He knows your heart. He has no need to scream and condemn and put you down because of your sin. He doesn’t care that you don’t have a degree in Bible history.
It is this gentle, humble, on-my-level spirit that reels me in. I suppose that’s why I make it to John chapter 17 and then skip over to Acts.
Let’s skip on to Sunday, ok? GIVE ME THE EMPTY TOMB. My mind can’t fathom and my heart can’t handle the weight of the cross. I can’t help but think, “God, why did you have to do it this way? Why a human sacrifice? Why to someone who was 100% innocent and did everything the way you wanted it done?”
Then I remind myself what Jesus himself knew: the suffering was part of the plan. He had to, as he said, “fulfill the prophecies.” He did it to redeem mankind. He did it because he was the perfect atonement for sin. And I have to accept that, no matter how uncomfortable it is, if I want to have hope in something greater than this world. (If it sounds crazy, there is a reason.)
I want to be mad at the crowd. I like to think that if I was living at the time, I would stand up for him. But my heart knows, as much as I want to deny it, that I would probably be so ingrained in the culture and swayed by their influence that I would have gone along with them. And I have to forgive them, since this man I love has forgiven them.
I read about him dying in the most cruel, humiliating way anyone could die.
And I want him back. I want him to keep living. I want a “happily ever after” Disney story.
But it’s not my story.
And the author has something planned that is greater than anything I could plan. Unlike most stories, death isn’t the end here. Go a little further and you will find that there is indeed a “happily ever after” for those who choose to acknowledge him. In dying, he destroyed death; in rising, he created new life.
Some read his death as an END, I read it as a INTRODUCTION to the next book.
So keep reading, friends. If you skim through Friday like I do, just remember that Sunday is coming.