Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Crucify Him!

Dear Friends,
As the sun broke through the early morning clouds on that Spring day in Jerusalem, the spiritual ones discerned a mysterious sense of anticipation more intrinsically felt than clearly seen. On the Mount of Olives overlooking the Temple, the vast sea of olive trees were beginning to flower, and a gentle breeze carried forth their sweet scent like perfumed incense released to the heavens in anticipation of something holy to come. 

The city was packed with those who had come to celebrate Passover. Crowds filling the streets. Friends greeting each other. Talking. Laughing. Praying. A shout: “Jesus is coming!” The Messiah who healed the lame, restored the sight of blind men, cast out demons and brought the dead back to life. The King is coming! They take off their cloaks and spread them on the road as a sign of submission. Others cut palm branches and spread those on the ground. Some wave the palm fronds as a sign of Jewish nationalism and victory. Excitement grips the crowd. They rejoice and praise God for all the mighty works they have seen Jesus do. As He passes by, they shout out: “Hosanna (O save us..) to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” The crowd is praising God and worshiping Jesus – their Lord and Savior! 

Five days later. Skies dark and threatening. The same crowd. Whipped into a frenzy by religious leaders. The same hand that lovingly laid down a cloak is clenched into a shaking fist. The same hand that waved a palm branch to honor the Son of God now picks up a stone to throw as the Son carrying the cross walks slowly past. The lips that exalted the Messiah in praise now spit on Him as He struggles to stay on His feet. Some laugh when He stumbles and they call out derisively to mock Him. The ones who praised His name five days ago are now shouting, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

We don’t like this story. We are left shaken by the scriptures that speak of this betrayal. How could they acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior one day and spit on Him the next? We are shocked by their unfaithfulness and their fickleness is repulsive to us. How can the same voice that sings praises to Jesus on Sunday, shout words to crucify and kill on Friday? Their treacherous behavior is deeply troubling. Yet there is an enigma about the change of behavior between Sunday and Friday that stirs up an uncomfortableness that grips our soul.

Is it perhaps because we have caught a glimpse of our own face in the crowd? Is it possible that the repulsiveness we’re feeling is rising out of a painful awareness of our own fickleness and unfaithfulness?

We go to church and raise hands and voices in worship to the Lord on Sunday. We speak words of praise, love and adoration. And on Monday we turn and coldly crucify a loved one with our angry, bitter words. We pray for our neighbor on Sunday and ignore her need on Tuesday. We give our anger over to the Lord on Sunday and give a disrespectful gesture to the driver who cuts us off on Wednesday. We thank God on Sunday for all that He has given us and turn away from the homeless person on Thursday. We praise Jesus on Sunday in church and deny Him on Friday at our our friends. 

We are convicted. We repent. Our remorse leaves us feeling unclean and unholy. But on the cross, we are cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. The veil between the unholy and the Holy is torn from top to bottom. (Matthew 27:51) The torn flesh of Jesus becomes a living opening (Hebrews 10:19-20) through which we can all come into the Holiest of Holies by His His love. 

On our knees, we thank Jesus. What He gave to us in love was truly a good Friday.  Amen?