Today marks the day that Christians acknowledge that Jesus Christ rose from the dead in victory, securing a clear path for all people to have a direct relationship with God, unhampered by the weight of sin or the sting of death.
Having spent my entire life attending church and pursuing–to varying degrees–a real relationship with God, the Easter message is not a new one for me. However, I found myself this year with a slightly different angle to my reflections.
Jesus’ physical sufferings were tremendous. My first reaction to the gruesome depiction put forth in the 2004 film The Passion of the Christ was, “Okay! Enough already!”
The pain, the beatings, the torture that He endured–these are overwhelming, and so very tangible that it is easy for us to grab a hold of this aspect of Christ’s passion experience.
But what of the emotional and relational suffering that He endured? What of the injustice, unfairness, and betrayal?
A close companion of 3 years sells Him out for a bag of money; an even closer companion disavows that he even knows Him. One “trial” after another before various secular and religious authorities presents nothing but a mockery of court, from outright lying witnesses to schemes to put forth trumped-up charges. A Roman governor and a high priest, both who would rather sacrifice the life of one man than cause disruption and rioting among an entire nation.
He was mocked by soldiers, challenged by onlookers…even self-professed criminals tried to wound His pride and question His veracity.
And He took it all. And then He was beaten, bloodied, and shamed some more.
I don’t have an overwhelming sense of justice, but there are times when I will not let myself be treated unfairly. Ask me sometime about the $25 parking ticket that I spent $11 and 3 trips to the police department to get overturned. In was unfair, and I was determined to make it right for me.
And that was just one instance. In the course of less than 24 hours, Jesus encountered a myriad of injustices against Him, personally. Not an anonymous parking ticket, but insults, abandonment, false testimony, and courtroom travesties piled one on top of the other, aimed directly at His heart.
And He didn’t fight back against any of it. Not once did He insist on fair treatment. Not once did He scream out, “Okay! Enough already!” and then proceed to call down 10,000 angels to punish His antagonists and set all things right.
No, along with His excruciating pain, He absorbed excruciating injustice.
When we consider our sin, our wrongdoings, our affronts to God, it is easy enough for us to admit that we deserve punishment–some sort of physical chastisement for living as law-breakers. But how often do we truly consider the relational damage done by our rebellion, our going our own way? How often do we consider the brokenness that we have birthed in our dialogue with God by living in our fallen state?
Jesus’ passion–His suffering–is not just a physical picture of what we deserve, but He also presents to us a horrifying example of the relational and emotional destruction that we have caused, the unfair way that we have responded to God, the lies and the abandonment and the selling-out that we have ourselves engaged in. And we get a glimpse of God enduring all of that…and yet, still coming to rescue us. In the midst of the excruciating injustice that we heaped upon Him, He walked the walk to the cross, bled and suffocated, and then kicked open the boulder that stood at the entrance to His tomb when He arose again to life in the fullness of His power! He endured, He exerted Himself, on our behalf–we who have lied, disavowed, gone with the crowd, and turned away.
While Holy Week is nearly over, Good Friday 2013 has passed, and sunset will soon come to Easter day, it’s never too late to contemplate the breadth and the depth of Jesus’ sufferings.
Thorns. Spears. Whips. Yes.
Shame. Accusations. Unfairness. Injustice. Even more so.