Thursday, April 17, 2014

BRUTAL

They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together.  Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any.  Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.  

Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him:  “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’”Yet even then their testimony did not agree.  

Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?”  But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 

“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”   

The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked.  “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

They all condemned him as worthy of death.  Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.
~ Mark 14:53-65, NIV ~

It is Maundy Thursday.  Jesus ate his last supper with his disciples on this day.  This is the date we remember him humbly washing their feet, instituting the holy remembrance of communion with them, leaving them with all the most important things he wanted them to know before his departure, agonizingly praying in the garden with a weight of awareness, and being unjustly, covertly arrested.  This is the night he stood trial before the Sanhedrin. 

I've been spending special time the past 5 or 6 weeks focusing on Jesus in deeper ways during the season of Lent.  This is always a time of intentional meditation for me as I prepare my heart for the celebration of Easter's joyous hope.

Last week, as part of the personal devotions I start my day with, I read the above passage from Mark 14:53-65.  As so often happens while reading the Bible, God opened His word to me in a fresh way.  It suddenly occurred to me as I read verse 65...

We beat up GOD!

The Maker of the Universe contained his almighty power into the constraints of a human body, just to offer me, to offer you eternal hope, and we beat. him. UP.  We didn't like the way He did things, so John 19:3 says we "slapped him in the face." (NIV)  Matthew 26:67-68 and Luke 22:63-65 also attest to how brutal we were with the very One who spoke us into existence.  When I read in Matthew 27:30 how the Roman soldiers repeatedly beat Jesus in the head with a mock "king's staff", it's a mystery to me how He ever even stayed conscious enough to carry a cross to his execution.  A swollen face, a bleeding lip, a black eye, and abrasions caused by our hands were the reward for His daring to come into our presence to guide us home to the Truth.  And all of that was before He was ever scourged or crucified!

Too often, it becomes easy to read the Bible and shake our heads thinking, How awful those people were in those days.  Yet, if I am truly honest with myself, I am the one spitting, slapping, mocking my Maker.  Every time I tell God that I don't appreciate how He has allowed my children to struggle through the challenges of hemophilia, ADHD, Asperger's, asthma, severe allergies, anxiety disorder, and most recently, some form of unknown arthralgia, I am striking out at Him.  When I question whether or not God really cares because my husband is between jobs again, I am the one saying, "Are you really the Messiah?".  My crankiness and explosive frustration with fighting my way through medical bills, or treatment plans with the doctors, or special accommodations with the school all deny His goodness, and instead amount to spewing my toxicity in His holy face.  

Never mind that He has never failed me.  Never mind that He always provides.  Never mind that His plan always works out MUCH better than my own.

I am in the crowd of brutality.  The redeemed cursing the Redeemer.  I am the fool blinded by my expectations of how things were supposed to be rather than how God perfectly plans them to be.  And here bends my humble Hero.


I am saved in spite of myself.

PRAY:  My God, I will never feel the full weight of my sin, because You bore it all for me, in spite of me.  Forgive me Jesus.  Make me new in my attitude and thanksgiving this Easter.


 ~ Barb Dittrich

Photo image courtesy of Jose Reyes via 123rf.com
 

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