Wednesday, March 16, 2016
When I think I fail to live up to whatever standard I, or someone else, happens to have set for me, my opinion of myself ranges anywhere from impatience and disappointment to anger, disgust or depression.
That's pretty dramatic, you say. Well, yes, it is. I do tend to be rather hard on myself. And in all the drama, I assume God feels the same way. In spite of the fact that I intellectually know better, I too often forget that Jesus see us all through the eyes of compassion. I forget that the making of a soul takes a lifetime. As humans, we tend to view the soul as a finished product, especially as we grow older. And on this presumed "finished" product, we may place unreasonable demands and terrible burdens. We think somehow we should know better, do better, feel better. And maybe we should, but at the same time there is a need to remind ourselves there is an unfinished quality about humanity that will remain so until we take our last breath.
When Jesus sees us, he doesn't see someone who messed up again or someone who ought to know better. He sees someone, deeply beloved, for whom he died.
Did you know crucifixion was reserved for those who did not matter, for those who had lost all status? This manner of execution was viewed as highly offensive and vile and it was not customary to write of it or speak of it publicly. In fact, the Bible narratives contain the longest and most detailed accounts of a crucifixion that exist in ancient literature. The intention for those crucified was that they be forgotten. They were considered not worthy of remembrance. Interesting, when Jesus inaugurated the communion ceremony which was to symbolize his death, he said, "Do this in remembrance of me."
The victims of crucifixion suffered mockery, taunting, betrayal, humiliation, helplessness, rejection, bleakness, desolation, abandonment, brutality, gruesome torture. It was an excruciatingly slow death of exposure and asphyxiation, with the last vestiges of dignity cruelly stripped away.
Jesus sees us, not as someone who just can't seem to get it right, but as someone for whom he died such a death. He told us his crucifixion was to be remembered. The biblical account has been preserved throughout the centuries for that very reason. We often view his words "Do this in remembrance of me" as a command. And certainly it is. But in the context, at his last supper surrounded by his cherished companions, Jesus knew he was about to face abandonment by most of them and a death with horrific consequences. Those words were not lacking in emotion, but spoken from deep within. It was a heartfelt plea to them, and to us centuries later, to remember him. To remember the enormity of the price he paid because his love for us is profound beyond measure.
That evening, he saw each of his disciples as he sees each of us, as someone for whom he died. It was at the cross, the fullness of his love was revealed.