Friday, April 18, 2014

Jesus FAIL

As I celebrated Holy Week, I found myself pondering the same things that I seem to do each year. There is almost a dark “real time” anticipation of the events that transpired over 2000 years ago. I meditate and imagine what the week must have been like. I imagine the lingering excitement from Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and the great hope that gripped the hearts of the crowd. I imagine the celebration as the crowds gathered for the Passover. But I also imagine the thoughts that must have been going through the minds of the disciples in the upper room and on Golgotha. Messiah had finally come. The Roman yoke of oppression was just about to be cast off and Jesus was going to lead the way! "Hosanna!"  But then things begin to radically change and unravel with the washing of some dirty feet and the eating of a meal.

Hearts began to sink. Anxiety levels escalated. Tears fell. It appeared to be the end of the line as Jesus unfolded the details of what was to come. As he predicted, He was arrested and beaten. He was rejected by the same people who celebrated His entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. And finally, on Good Friday, He was nailed to a cross, breathed His last breath and uttered, "It is finished." He died.  Finished? He was taken down from the cross and buried. From all practical perspectives, it was over, and as Jesus' disciples gathered together on that Sabbath before the Resurrection, the pain, fear and grief must have been overwhelming.

Was it really finished? Good Friday and Holy Saturday did not carry with them the anticipation, preparation and joy that it does for us today. For those who followed Jesus, it appeared that there was nothing to look forward to, except the same possible fate that met their friend. The end of the line, boys. "Jesus is dead!  And we're next!  You're going to get your wish, Peter!  Believe what you want, Thomas!  But you're doubting ass will be hanging on a cross by sundown!"          

"Where did things go wrong?”, they must have thought have thought. “How did we misinterpret what Jesus had been telling us over the last three years”?, they must have asked themselves. “Were we totally misled?” “Are we all fools? Morons?” “Was our mission with Jesus a complete failure?” FAIL! Their feet were clean, but their minds were cloudy as they waited. The anxiety must have felt like the weight of the world. Fear. Rejection. Anger. Confusion. All of these emotions must have been running wild as they mourned the death of their Rabbi. Their leader. Their friend. From the view of the world, this must have appeared to be the perfect failure.

Time doesn’t permit me to go on and on with the thoughts that flood my mind this morning, but I encourage you to ponder these things as well for one very simple reason. There appears to be two sides to this story. One side tells us that this was in fact, a perfect failure. This side leaves Jesus in His tomb and leaves the disciples defeated, broken, dejected, afraid and probably eventually dead. The other side of the story is victorious. Renewal. Transformation. Resurrection power. The power that took these eleven broken men that cowered in fear, and used them to transform the world. He is risen! This was not a perfect failure, but complete victory!

There are two stories to every story, isn't there? And as we observe Good Friday, each of us stand on the cusp of the breakthrough that changed humanity. From the perspective of Good Friday, and Good Friday alone, we live in a constant duality of existence. Good Friday leaves us in Chaos, fear and defeat. Good Friday blows a cold wind of disunity, rejection and separation. Good Friday leaves us isolated, cowering in fear, feeling disconnected from God and humanity. Good Friday leave us in fear of death. There is a division that exists with Good Friday, and it creeps in to pollute our communities, even with the realization of the Resurrection .      

As we walk through Good Friday, let us reflect on what Sunday will mean to us. Let us remind ourselves that the darkness of Good Friday will eventually be joined and obscured by the light of Easter Sunday. Easter brings order, peace and victory. Easter Sunday brings unity, acceptance and connection. Easter Sunday finds us in community with out fellow man, celebrating in courage as God's cleansing Spirit flows through creation and mankind. There is a oneness that exists for us on Easter Sunday as we see that Christ's victorious redemption applies to us all, without division.

But the questions remains for us all: Are we living our lives in shadow of Good Friday, or the briliant light of Easter Sunday? Do we cower in the upper room, defeated, disconnected and absorbed with grief? Isolated? Alone? He is risen, and if he is truly risen, then why do we not rise with Him? And if we truly rise with Him, do we not all rise together in complete unification?

As we celebrate Good Friday, let us remember that this shadow will pass over. Let us look forward to the unity and completion of Sunday. Death brings life. Let our vision be encompassed with the vision of Resurrection, not death. Let us join together as the Body of Christ, embracing each other as we suffer. Let us carry each others burden through Friday and journey together in unity.  All things are new, my friends!  All things are new!

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