Thursday, April 2, 2015

I Went Hungry, I Went Black And Blue

There are a couple of times a year when the snugly cozy pictures of Jesus appear and I think to myself, is that really the image the Bible portrays? You've seen them at Christmas, the beautiful baby boy in a manger. We forget that he is very God - rescuer, redeemer, trampler of sin, death, and pain. We disassociate the coos of a baby from the cries of a savior.

It happens at Easter too. We love resurrection and victory. We admire the strength and power it took to overcome the world. We clean Jesus up and put him back on the throne for Sunday morning.

Not so much with the crucifixion. We sanitize it and grit our teeth through it and all the while think, can we just press fast forward, past the bloody Good Friday? 

However, there is a fundamental problem with airbrushing the vivid and bloody scenes of the agony leading up to and including the punishment and assassination of Jesus.

Sanitizing the crucifixion means our real pain and suffering gets airbrushed too. Our agony and our cries are muted too. Denying the reality of the bloody crucifixion denies the reality of our bloody pain. Moreover, it denies the truth that Jesus suffered fully and finally, on our behalf. He knows our pain because he has endured it himself. 

The crucifixion of Jesus shot a flaming arrow deep into the heart of suffering. 

He alone knows the depth of your agony. His sympathy and compassion for you comes from knowing first-hand what rejection, pain, and torture feels like. He understands what it's like to be beaten down and trampled upon.

For all the ways Jesus communicated love while he walked this earth, it was in his bloody death that Love shone brightest. Jesus came to earth as the son of man for this very reason. To die. For you. Why? Why would he do it? 

To say, I love you.

From each trickle of blood the gospel whispers, I love you.

It was a desperate move. Not desperate in the sense that Jesus had no other option. Make no mistake, he chose this rescue mission. 

Desperate in the sense of the extreme occasion, the intense situation, the shocking and outrageous action required. Desperate because he knew what it would take save his people. Desperate because we, who were without hope, were in trouble. We were a desperate people. Our situation, extreme. Truly, our desperate times call for a desperate measure.

These words are from Bob Dylan's modern day love song...

I'd go hungry; I'd go black and blue,
And I'd go crawling down the avenue.
No, there's nothing that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love.

...they might as well compose a hymn.

I went hungry, I went black and blue.
I crawled down the avenue.
There is nothing I did not do,
To make you feel my love.

Even if you're having a hard time believing it, it doesn't change the fact that it's true.

Friend, whether you feel it or not, Jesus loves you. He died for you.

Questions, doubts, and cold hearts don't stop his love for you. 

Easter is not about you finally getting yourself together so you can put on your bonnet and take your cleaned-up self to church.

Easter is about the storms that are raging on the rolling sea and on the highway of regret. Easter is about Jesus bringing the winds of change, and they are blowing wild and free. When the whole world is on your case, Jesus says, I offer you a warm embrace. 

There's nothing I didn't do,
I went to the ends of the earth for you,
That you might know my love.