Jesus, I don't know what your death means.
I'm afraid to die. I'm afraid to let go of this life and its pleasures. I fear the ridicule, rejection and pain which you endured for me.
I know that to be your disciple I must live by the cross that saved me. But, I also understand the fear of the apostles who betrayed, denied and abandoned you. I understand Pilate's confusion and desire to wash his hands of the whole mess. I understand the blood-thirst of the crowd calling for Barabbas' freedom and your death. I understand the Pharisees' suspicion of you. I understand the soldier's making fun of you. They were used to kings who ruled by the sword, not by the Spirit.
It's you that I'm not able to understand.
Your death turns everything upside down. How can we believe in such a weak God? How can we trust that a God who didn't save himself would ever be able to save us?
Yet you showed that, through the whole ordeal, you were in control. You assured your disciples, "I have the power to lay down my life and to pick it up again." Why didn't you come down from the cross, then? Why didn't you show them up for the hypocrites and fools they were? That's what I would have done. I would have protected myself. I would have shown my power. I would have let them know whom they were dealing with. Everyone would have believed. No one would have doubted me. Fear and awe of me would have bent their hearts to my will.
Ah...that's it. You want to rule our hearts not out of fear but out of love. You want us to give our hearts freely to you, not snatch them away from us.
Oh Jesus, how could you ever love us after what we did and continue to do to you? How could you ever believe that a crowd that humiliated you, spit on you and tore you to pieces could ever have it within them to love? Yet, you bet your life that at least some of us would understand and believe.
Jesus, I don't know if I can love the way you love. I don't understand why this all had to happen. I can only look up at you with gratitude. I can only marvel at the love God has for such people as we are.
(image by Georges Rouault)