Today is Good Friday, the day we celebrate the awful death of Jesus. We celebrate because of what that day means. But for me, it is also a day of painful introspection – realizing that the body on the cross should have been mine. The voice screaming out as a result of God’s forsaken presence – that voice should have been mine. The permanent scars in the hands and feet should be visible in mine. I realize that debt could never be fully paid by me. That punishment would have to be born by me for all eternity. I rejoice, for my Jesus bore my eternal punishment in completeness that day. The debt was exhasuted. That’s why, in spite of the awful gory scene, this day is good.
So, as I have been thinking this morning about the last moments of Christ, my mind wandered back to the last week of His life. Last Sunday, was Palm Sunday. The crowds were following Jesus with their expectations.
- Jesus had recently raised Lazarus from the dead and there were HUGE crowds following him around and to greet him in Jerusalem.
- It was Passover and Jerusalem was full of perhaps a million people for this sacred day.
- Jesus created a lot of “buzz” in this crowd. So much that the religious leaders were very worried about his influence on the large crowd.
- The large crowd heard that Jesus was coming and greeted him with palm branches saying, “Hosanna, blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.”
- The Jews were tired of being subjects of the Roman Empire and thought that Jesus was finally going to pronounce himself as king and crush their adversaries.
- Instead of riding in on a large white horse, or a donkey, Jesus rides into town on the colt of a donkey! His feet were probably dragging on the ground!
- People did not understand.
- Their expectations were not met and many of these same people, in five short days, would be crying, “crucify Him!”
People did not understand this Jesus. On Palm Sunday they were looking to Him to meet their human expectations. He didn’t. Fast forward 5 days to today. He disappointed them… they were now crying “crucify.” They didn’t understand what last Sunday meant. It didn’t make sense to them that a conquering king would ride into town on a donkey to overthrow the powerful Roman empire. So they killed him.
Often I don’t understand what is happening around me. Jesus in my life can often look as powerless as a simple man on a donkey. And to my shame, my response is often the same as the Jews that week. He didn’t meet my expectations – I won’t look to Him as Lord. I will look to my own agenda. I will look to find another way to meet my expectations. I won’t trust Him because His ways don’t make sense to me. The cross He’s given me to bear is not the cross I would have chosen; therefore, He is not good or loving or …
I approach this day, aware that had I been in the crowds that day, I would have been screaming “crucify.” The only difference is I was born 2000 years later. But I am no less guilty than they – my heart often crucifies Jesus and removes Him from the place of Master in my life. I approach this weekend, not fully comprehending the man who just hours before the garden, washed the feet of those who that night would desert Him. That is a holy love. To say to traitors “meet me in Galilee” is amazing. Had I been there that evening, I would have also run away in fear.
As I stand at the foot of the cross, I stand here with a contrite heart, seeking forgiveness for my nagging bouts of behavior that resemble distrust and traitorous blasphemy, broken over my shouts of “crucify.” But as I look up, I acknowlede that He, the Creator of the universe, is indeed my God and that His death brings life. As I stand here broken over my distrust, convicted over my unfulfilled expectations, I find grace. I find mercy. I find a voice saying “meet me in Galilee, my child – I have greater expectations for you.” Christ did not come to meet my needs any more than He came to meet the needs of the Jews that day as they were looking for a conquering King. But He came, bringing exactly what they needed. He came bringing what they didn’t even realize to ask for. The implications are truly marvelous. That grace is truly amazing.
“Oh the wonder of the cross. Christ became sin for us. Took my place, bore the wrath, we stand forgiven at the cross.”