I have a friend who directs a ministry — a widows-and-orphans, least-of-these, near-to-the-heart-of-God sort of place.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
She’s one of those gentle souls who personifies meekness, who wears quiet strength like an outer garment over her sweet, joyful obedience, and whose goodness might get on your nerves if it weren’t so darn endearing.
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Soft spoken. Tender hearted. Tirelessly pouring her time, energy, creativity, and love into the lives of those she serves.
Were you there when they pierced Him in the side?
I recently found out she’s being persecuted.
Peter warned us that our adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. And Jesus Himself assured us that the world would hate us. The world hated Him, too.
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
But “the world” wasn’t alone in that hatred. (There’s comfort in ambiguous labels, isn’t there?) One of His closest friends betrayed Him and another denied knowing Him. Those entrusted with His sacred texts and the spiritual oversight of His people ordered His death. And the enraged crowd that gathered before Pilate to demand his crucifixion wasn’t a bunch of Romans or gentiles or faceless members of “The World” club. They were the same people who’d listened as God incarnate taught truth in the temple. They’d witnessed Him healing the sick and raising the dead. Perhaps some had even been fed among the five thousand.
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
If we studied the Bible every waking moment of our lifetime, we’d never fathom its depths. Mystery prevents us. God’s thoughts are higher than ours, His ways past finding out. And besides, we look through the filthy lenses of self-interest, twisting every promise to our gain instead of God’s glory.
Were you there when they rolled the stone away?
No, we’ll never wrap our minds around the fullness of truth, even the revealed parts. But, knowing our limitations, Jesus gave us a summary. And He used small words. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.”
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble . . .
My friend isn’t being persecuted by the world. She’s not being reviled by the “sinners” she embraces on a daily basis. Indeed, I’m sure she’d take that sort of suffering in stride as coming with the territory.
tremble . . .
No. Her accusers are the saints. Members of her own board. And the issues are petty to the point of bizarre. I have no doubt the Father of lies is whispering in their ears, stirring emotions subconsciously, hissing suspicion, distrust, insinuation. But even if Satan is a schemer, they are the ones who choose to listen, amassing an arsenal of fiery darts, unleashing their venom on my friend. They bear their guilt.
When I heard, I was outraged. The more I thought about it, the madder I got. I stoked the fires of righteous indignation, cooked up an extra-spicy tongue-lashing stew, and then boldly force-fed it to the offending parties (in my imagination, of course). But then I came to my senses.
Why waste time day dreaming? Why shadowbox when I can appeal to the Champion for the real deal? By golly, I thought, I’ll pray God thwacks those meanies over the head with some heavy duty conviction, revealing the evil of their deeds and causing them to writhe in agonized repentance.
Armed with this intent, I marched into the throne room of the King.
Did you know He is risen from the dead?
The Word of God is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword. I hadn’t even made it through point one of my prepared speech, when He unsheathed it and poked me.
“Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” What? No! You see what they’re doing . . .
“Blessed are the merciful . . .” That’s true, but I certainly don’t see them showing any . . .
“And there arose a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.” My point exactly, Lord. If they weren’t so controlling . . .
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God, and was going back to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, girded Himself about.”
What are you saying, Lord?
Okay, fine. If that’s what You want. Father, forgive them. They know not what they . . .
Oh! Sometimes I want to shout, “Glory!”
Self-revelation often comes at the most inopportune times. Have you ever looked into the eyes of your supposed adversary and seen a reflection of yourself, angry, clutching a jagged stone, ready to condemn?
Have you seen the cross set against your wretched pride and conceit, and in that instant watched every vestige of self-vindication vanish in holy, white-hot truth?
And He took a cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is shed on behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.”
Christ, have mercy. Heal your body, O Lord, from our self-inflicted wounds. What was once spewed as a curse, we now ask as a blessing: May Your blood be upon us, and upon our children.
“Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.”
* * *
First posted at
The Master’s Artist
in April, 2009.
Remembered at last night’s
Good Friday service.
We do well to tremble
and to shout.
Have a blessed and glorious Resurrection Day, friends.