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Excruciating Injustice

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.

 

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2013 in Theology

 

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Deceased

It’s a strange word.

Deceased.

Looking at it, you might think it means “not ceased” or “un-ceased” as in decode or deconstruct. But it doesn’t. It means that something has ended, usually a life.

Today, Good Friday, we acknowledge that Jesus Christ was crucified–unjustly, terribly, with excruciating pain.

This day commemorates when Jesus became deceased. He died. His life ended.

And the results of His death? That our life might never cease.

He was deceased that we might be de-ceased, that is, that our fate of death might be reversed, and replaced with life that never ends.

So, in this case, deceased does mean “not ceased” or “un-ceased”–not for Jesus, but for us.

It’s a mystery, a wonderful truth. It’s what makes this day of darkness and sorrow, Good Friday, good. Forgiveness and life that never end.

And two days from now, we’ll celebrate the fact that after Jesus was deceased, He too was de-ceased, as He took up His life again in the resurrection and remains alive, with us today.

 

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Life, Theology

 

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Excruciating

This is holy week. Not because my birthday was yesterday (though I was born on Good Friday), but this week is sacred because we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I learned recently that the word excruciating was actually invented to provide an adequate description of the sufferings Jesus endured. It means “out of the cross,” and is intended to take us back to the intensity of suffering that was undergone as Jesus was beaten, impaled, and suffocated–sufferings which are depicted all too clearly in the 2004 film The Passion of the Christ.

I’ve had aches and pains, but I have never really suffered physically. Having learned the origins of the word excruciating, it makes me shudder to think that I may have used it to describe my own minor discomforts. Whatever injury I have suffered, it wasn’t as a result of injustice. It wasn’t a display of defaming mockery. It wasn’t fatal. And it probably wasn’t a result of love, either.

But for Him, it was.

Jesus can rightfully claim to know, to have experienced, excruciating pain.

And I can’t tell him, “I know how you must’ve felt.”

But I can say, “I’m sorry.”

And also, “Thank you.”

This week is a celebration of completion, an opportunity to approach the cross, to experience and remember through religion and ritual, to learn the meaning of the word excruciating, and then to be awed and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the news that what Jesus endured was a love-driven merciful act of grace and forgiveness, which was culminated by His resurrection victory, forever impacting our eternity.

We have hope and love; He got excruciating pain and death.

His sufferings were once for all. Our contemplation and gratitude must never end.

 

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Life, Theology

 

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