Thursday, April 05, 2012

Familiar But Oblivious

We are so familiar and yet so oblivious.

We can recite the circumstances and meaning but we fail to comprehend the depth of their significance.

We attend events and hear recitations but we are ignorant of the implications.

We have crosses around our necks, in our ears, on our key chains, on our bumpers and various other spots but we do not pause to consider the horror of the reference. Would you wear an electric chair around your neck? Would you put little lethal injection syringes? Or hang nooses in the sanctuary of your congregation? Or put a picture of a guillotine on your bumper?

We trivialize our sin by committing sin carelessly knowing that we are forgiven, treating the death of Jesus as marginally significant.

We even purchase chocolate crosses, place them into children’s Easter baskets along with eggs purportedly delivered by a furry mammal. We bite into the representation of a death instrument and savor the flavor rather than savoring the forgiveness and vowing to live up to Jesus’ death.

We are so familiar and yet so oblivious.

Please don’t read these words as blame. How can we not live in this culture without being very familiar with the symbols of the Passion Week? They are everywhere. But “familiarity breeds contempt” is the adage. When we see something a great deal we stop respecting it. It’s just the way we are.

But DO read these words as a challenge to change that! To bring us to the depth of appreciation requires deliberate effort. And Jesus deserves that.

Good Friday was not good. It was only made good by what Jesus did there and on Easter.

The cross was not good, but a cruel, torturous instrument of death. We sing about it, see a beautiful icon while in worship, we speak of it freely - and become so familiar that we are oblivious. It was only made good by Jesus’ work there.

Sin is not trivial. The violence of Jesus’ beatings and death reveal the brutality of our sin against God.

Why did the cross have to be so awful? Because of the awfulness of our disobedience to God, our sin. The price of our forgiveness could not be cheap because sin had turned this world completely upside down.

I CHALLENGE YOU to get a fresh glimpse of the cross this week. Watch “The Passion of the Christ,” or read an analysis of Jesus’ experience of suffering. Here are just a couple of the many available:

Is it wrong to have crosses all around us? Not if we are living the transformation that Christ died there to make. Not if we are reflections of the revolutionizing power grace, forgiveness, mercy, reconciliation and surrender that Jesus’ suffering released. Not if we wear them in awe of Christ rather than because they are nice. There was NOTHING nice about the cross!!

It IS WRONG to take Jesus’ work for granted. As Scripture says:

“How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” Hebrews 10:29 (NIV)

Between now and Easter, would you join me in taking time to contemplate Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, mocking, beatings and crucifixion -- and how our sin sent Him there. THEN we will truly celebrate Easter!

Boldly, Herb

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Anonymous said...

Mark 15: 22 - 38

22 Then they *brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. 23 They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He did not take it. 24 And they *crucified Him, and *divided up His garments among themselves, casting [g]lots for them to decide [h]what each man should take. 25 It was the [i]third hour [j]when they crucified Him. 26 The inscription of the charge against Him [k]read, “THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

27 They *crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. 28 [[l]And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with transgressors.”] 29 Those passing by were [m]hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, “Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; [n]He cannot save Himself. 32 Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him.

33 When the [o]sixth hour came, darkness [p]fell over the whole land until the [q]ninth hour. 34 At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” which is translated, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” 35 When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, “Behold, He is calling for Elijah.” 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, “[r]Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. 38 And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

How incredibly tragic...awful. Do you feel the weight of it? Just makes me cry. The cross IS terrible. 3 days isn't long enough to mourn, or feel depth of this action....His action.

Anonymous said...

Herb... yes! Jesus is Lord! God came to earth in the form of a man. He experienced the same kind of suffering that we all suffer just by living here on earth. In that way we can suffer with him and count it good that we can suffer as our savior did and we are blessed by that. But then God in the form of a man named Jesus did a new thing. He chose to die on that cross. For me and for you. For all who are willing to believe.