Each service in its own way, was substantively overwhelming. There is something about commemorating the passionem. It matters not how often the story is heard/read/told; the impact of the Christ's betrayal, trial, denial, suffering, sacrifice and death strike the core of my being.
Do you remember the days preceding His betrayal? He made his way down the path on a donkey. Can you see the crowd laying down their cloaks and palm branches? Can you hear their exclamation? Hosanna! They thought "their" time had come to prevail over a mortal enemy. Indeed, their time had come for something more important. And they missed it. So caught up in their earthly oppression, they missed their eternal blessing.
Do you see Judas in the garden as he greets his Lord with a kiss? How many Judases have you encountered in your life? What does your Judas look like? A best friend? Your boss? Neighbor? Spouse? Parent? Child? How did your Judas's betrayal affect you? Demotion? No bonus? Job loss? Divorce? Relocation? Loss of home? Bankruptcy?
The crowd gathered to rally for the release of a criminal. What undeserving person has been given preference over you? Who was given a free pass while you suffered, especially when you had done no wrong? Who kept his/her job while you were laid off -- if though you were more competent, experienced, and diligent about your work?
Have you ever been beaten? I have. Beaten and thrown against a car so hard that the impact made a dent. I still remember the owner of the car knocking on my door and demanding I pay for the damage. Beaten physically. Beaten financially. Beaten professionally. Beaten academically. Beaten by people who claim to share my faith. Raped by one who claimed to have been called to spread The Gospel of Christ. Beaten in ministry by one who claimed he would never do exactly what he did.
See? There is indeed, nothing new under the sun. The same kinds of things that have happened to you, that have happened to me, happened thousands of years ago.
As bad as those occurrences were, nothing I have experienced (I'll let you decide for yourself) compares to the suffering of my Savior. And as a I sat in that little recessed area last night, having listened to the final passage by my reading partner, Brandon, the three percussive sounds representing the hammer, rang out. And the third strike sent a wave through me, as tangible as if a seven-inch nail was being driven -- into me, through me.
On that path to Calvary, as one preacher put it, He defeated shame at its own game. Even today, those who have fought to defeat or bring shame on ____ (you fill in the blank), are in a quandary about their own situations. So, as I await the rising of the sun - the Son - on tomorrow - Resurrection Day, these thoughts are swirling around in my head --
- There is none other who can die for sin. He did it once, and once is enough.
- We can all die in sin if we choose to stay on the wrong path (any path other than His)
- We can all die to sin when we choose Him -- the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6)
There is spiritual death and physical death, and for both we can die in sin. Before that however, decide whether you want to die to sin. Fact is, we all have to go the way of physical death -- whether we live in a big house, a little house, no house, the Palace on the Idokopas Cape, or the White House. I pray before that happens, you hear the hammer ringing.