Getting or Receiving

Life Notes—March 25, 2010 

“It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him.  Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha!  You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!’”  Mark 15: 25,29-30 

Two thousand years ago, people didn’t get it.  They observed Jesus, dying on the cross, and said, “If you’re so great, save yourself!”  If he was truly the Messiah he would come down from the cross so everyone could see and believe. Priests and scribes mocked him and said if he saved others he should save himself.  But he didn’t save himself.  He didn’t pounce, super-hero-like from the cross to the ground.  He just hung there and died.  Luke (23:34) even records Jesus saying from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Two thousand years ago, people just didn’t get it. 

Two thousand years later…do we get it?  I confess: I don’t—at least not intellectually.  What more could Jesus hope to accomplish by dying such an awful, shameful death than by continuing to live a full life of teaching and healing others?  How much more quickly and effectively would the Gospel have spread if Jesus carried it himself beyond the Jordan River valley?  Where was the glory in dying young and humiliated on a cross? 

Many Christians believe Jesus had to die such an awful death because the punishment for the sins of the world would necessarily be awful beyond description.  Jesus knew if he left any of that punishment behind, left any sins unpunished, we would not be seen righteous in the eyes of God and there would be no eternal life with our Maker.  Some Christians further believe that, as witnesses to Christ’s suffering, we are made more humane.  Having seen how miserably we are capable of treating others, we are inspired to fight suffering and injustice.  Others draw strength and comfort knowing how Jesus suffered, making their own suffering more tolerable.  Jesus walked a painful path before us to help show that we, too, will get through our pain. 

Many of us speak with familiarity and emotion about the crucifixion, but do we really ‘get it?’  Do we really understand why this God-man was destined to be utterly destroyed by the world he was born to save?  My brain may not get it; but my heart recognizes this holy and suffering servant who traded his life for mine.  My soul rejoices in a love so pure; and ‘getting it’ pales in comparison to receiving it. 

This Sunday we celebrate both Palm Sunday and the Passion.  Tom’s sermon title is “Living Words,” based on the scripture Mark 15:25-39.  Life worship is at 10:45 in Brady Hall.  Traditional worship in the sanctuary is at 8:30 and 11:00.  Contemporary worship at the west campus at 9:30. 

Come home to worship this Sunday.  Come, rejoice and receive.

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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