This is Holy Week. A week where we remember the final days of Jesus, his death, and resurrection.
This week, for me, hasn’t been easy. For personal reasons it’s been a week that I wasn’t quite prepared for and one that kept me pretty bummed.
But waking up today, with a special emphasis on the death of Jesus, made things better.
We could take time today to focus on many things about the cross and its circumstances. We could speculate on the actual time Jesus died or maybe how it came about. Did Jesus go to a garden and pray or not? Did he carry his cross or did someone else? What did he say in his final breath?
You see, the Gospels tell us different things about Jesus’ final day(s). The Synoptics tend to emphasize the humanity of Jesus, the blood-sweating Jesus, the “Father why have you forsaken me” Jesus. While John’s Jesus says “who are you looking for” to those who seek him in the garden and says “it is finished” on the cross. An undeniable and interesting difference.
We could talk about Christology and adoptionism and all that good stuff, too.
But we’ll leave that for another time.
What matters is this: Jesus died on the cross for you and for me. As much as this may hurt you to hear, he died for Donald Trump and your mother-in-law, as well.
Our impressions of Jesus’ death and the significance have certainly changed since the Gospels were written, but one thing I have come to believe that is never mentioned in The Bible is actually very simple. If it was just me, or just you, or even Donald Trump, Jesus still would have died. In a strange, contradicting nature, the cross is universal, yet unequivocally personal.
And because of this, even in the worst of weeks and the toughest of times, Jesus towers over all. Because it was finished some 2,000 years ago on a cross. The cross.
This allows us to be free to choose and free to roam. To make wrong decisions and to feel pain. To have sleepless nights and to want to run and hide. This idea leads us to an image with unbelievable power and purpose.
I’ve been often quoted as saying that these are two of the most important sentences in The Bible.
It’s found in Luke 15, when Jesus is teaching to a crowd, and in the climax of a story about a lost son he says this:
“While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.”
Let it sink in for a moment.
During those heartbreaking times, those moments where there seems to be no hope, those long, dark nights, this father is waiting and watching. He could be tending to his other matters, which he certainly has plenty of, but instead, he’s waiting.
Notice in Jesus’ parable he’s not waiting like we tend to do now. He’s not scrolling through Twitter in one hand and sipping his coffee out of the other.
He’s earnestly waiting.
He’s got his hand over his eyes to block the sun. Just wishing for a glimpse of David Ray in the distance, so he can double knot his shoes and make a run for me.
And as soon as he catches a glimpse. Though, we’re undoubtedly torn, and blistered, he runs to us.
There’s no catch.
He doesn’t walk, just hesitantly ready to forgive. He feels compassion, excuse me, he’s filled with compassion for us, his own, and he runs.
The cross is personal.