We all have an inner circle of friends, an elect few with whom we share everything in our lives; all the good, and all the bad. Think about a couple of your closest friends, and with them in mind, imagine for a moment that you’re faced with an incredible challenge. Something physically or emotionally painful. Something you would rather find a way around instead of confronting it directly, but you know you have to do it. So you go to your friends for support and fellowship before you undertake your trial.
But for once, your friends don’t pull through. Not a single one of them. They’re physically with you, of course, but they don’t offer the support you need. Some are focused on minor issues in their own lives instead of on helping you. A couple are just so exhausted that while they’re with you, they’re half-asleep instead of really being there.
Finally, it’s time to face your challenge. You say farewell to your friends and prepare to walk this road alone. You an only hope your friends will pray for you.
Instead, your single closest friend denies even knowing who you are.
You’re disappointed. Heart-broken. Maybe angry. But above all you probably feel betrayed.
Take a moment and endure what it feels like to be flogged to the brink of death. The skin ripped off of your back as trained soldiers lash their 9-pronged whips, you can literally taste the pain. Feel the blood running down your back. To have nails driven through your hands at the wrists, and to be suspended in the air, the weight of your body held up only by those nails. To slowly suffocate as fluids fill your lungs inch by inch from the bottom up. You can feel yourself dying, the life draining from you even as your lungs are filled.
Taste the blood and sweat as it streams down your face. It tastes almost as bitter as the knowledge that in your darkest hour, your best friends turned away from you.
Now imagine that at any moment, you could choose to end your own suffering and punish those that wronged you. Would you? I know I would, in a heartbeat.
But Christ didn’t. He could have saved himself at any moment. He could have left the cross for those that deserve to die, left this death for you and me. Instead, he subjected himself to the single most excruciating method of torture that humankind has ever seen, so that we could be spared.
Do we deserve this? Of course not. But he did anyway. Today, on Good Friday, take some time – even just a few minutes – to reflect. Christ didn’t have to do anything for us, yet he endured public humiliation and crucifixion on a cross.
Here are a few thoughts on Easter from other speakers and artists that I have found thought-provoking and enlightening. The first is a spoken word piece about Jesus and Barabbas, and how we can learn from this segment of the Easter story. The second is a song written by Cornerstone, the a Capella singing group from Faulkner University.
Never forget God’s amazing, incomprehensible gift to us through Christ Jesus. That he subjected himself to crucifixion – that he could have saved himself at any moment, but chose not to for our sake – that he died for us. And remember the story doesn’t end here; Jesus rises on Easter Sunday, completing his triumph over death and over Satan. He lives!