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Reflection on the Death of Jesus

March 23, 2016

by Pastor Gib Giblin

The crowds were cheering and the crowds were grieving. Some called for the death of Jesus. It is better, of course, for one man to die than everything being lost, isn’t it? But there were the others, the poor, formerly lame, the rejected but loved by the very man who now carried his own cross down the street, cacophonous with crying, jeering, curious. How can this be happening? He is so loving, kind, merciful, giving. He claims to be God. If ever someone had godlike qualities, it was Jesus. He does not just teach, He explodes our minds with a different view of God; not the harsh father figure sitting in heaven with wrath and vengeance, but the loving, watchful father of the prodigal son, waiting for his son to turn and return and running to him. Healing all the lepers even when only one returned. We saw hope in the future, what was God doing in sending Jesus? But now, here he comes. Horrible. He is unrecognizable. Beaten, scourged. It is like they have taken every frustration and hatred toward life out on Him.

Do I just look on, looking as one who wants to see, observing but not joining in. Why not, I ask myself? Because, another part of me says, you will feel the pain. If you join in you will feel discomfort and thoughts that might be revealing about who I really am. Do you really want to go there, Gib?

Why am I afraid to join in? To feel the pain of Jesus walking and collapsing under the cross, feeling grief with the people who loved Him. To anticipate the excruciating pain of an iron spike penetrating my flesh, wiggling helplessly, unable to escape, unable to get away from the pain, having to push up on my feet to get a breath. The physical agony and anguish is overwhelming. Maybe I don’t want to go there because it makes me feel guilty and inadequate. It should have been me, not Jesus. I deserve to die for my rebellion against God.

As I join in, into the death of Jesus further, even against my desires, there is more of which to be a part. The physical was tough, the emotional/spiritual was worse. Jesus knew this was coming and He foreshadowed to the disciples, saying things like: when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself. He is right; I am drawn to Jesus, even Jesus on a cross. I am drawn to Him, the God-man, a perfect representation of the Father in human form, who has taken my place and died for me. Jesus knew. In the garden He prays, not my will but thy will be done. [Sorry, I still cannot get the thy out of my vocabulary.] He is sweating drops of blood because of the intense stress he is under. I join in and watch, moving as closely as I can picture; I am there, watching my Lord; I am moved with love, respect, anguish, tears. In a way, in my mind, the garden is more emotionally moving to me; Jesus submitting to the will of the Father. O Lord, help me submit to You as well. I want to, but like the sleeping disciples, my spirit is willing but my flesh is weak. Help me to love You with all of my heart, my soul, my strength, and my mind.

Yes, I already rejected the jeering crowd calling for the death, but at some point I do cheer and rejoice in it. But that does sicken me, too! I know what His death means to me, many others – the power of His resurrection, a changed life, a new life in Him – forever changed in ways I do not even know – called into a foreign world of following, to obeying, submitting to understanding His words in the garden,”not my will by they will be done.”

Yes, I am in and desiring to go deeper and share with others my Jesus. Don’t fight it. Join us as we reflect, look and rejoice on Resurrection Sunday.

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