Its early morning building up to Easter 2018, and we’ve done Easter so many times it’s a familiarity that requires very little conscious thought. A short period of the sacred overlaid on the profane and the mundane.
It’s not as easy as you might think to push the regular stuff to the side and consider Holy week and the passion of Christ. Easter deserves our consideration, God deserves our time to think about Him and without a remote control, the world doesn’t pause very long at all. A smart phone with connectivity is merely a metaphor; we can switch off our data and sever the link with the World Wide Web, but our brains cannot disconnect from life and its concerns: dentist visits, school reports, super rugby.
In this last month, I read one of these daily verses about Jesus being a man of sorrows:
“He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows* that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3 – 6, NLT)
Although Jesus, being fully human, will have laughed and had a sense of humour, Scripture doesn’t dwell on any of that and reveals that he was ‘a man of sorrows’ and ‘acquainted with deepest grief’.
This is what makes it a solemn time for us to observe. Our collective sorrows weighed him down. I imagine my own sorrows and my own sins and they are difficult enough to bear, but to have the sins and sorrows of the whole world…from the beginning of the world until now that’s got to be – at a guess – 70 billion* distinct and common sets of moral failure and personal suffering to deal with.
(* I assumed on the lower end of the scale because these demographers speculate human births from 50,000 BC, which is not consistent with Biblical history).
That’s a heap of moral failings to have to deal with. It’s too incredible to actually think about, the weight of all that sin.
I remember a number of years back, reading a book by an American actor named Bruce Marchiano, who in his audition to play the role of Jesus, decided to be a smiling Jesus, with a heart of joy.
It remains, to my mind, a stunning portrayal of Christ with a humanness seldom seen on the silver screen. However much He was filled with joy, the torment of the cross speaks to the lengths he went to in securing salvation for us:
The picture you can get is of a man on a mission, a sinless Son of God in a world of evil, with everyone misunderstanding Him, His own disciples slow to grasp what He was doing, and the would-be shepherds of the time (the Rabbis) salivating over the idea of putting him to death, like wolves.
Nobody got his mission ahead of time. I like the way this author explores this idea:
His test is over and yet Scripture says that the scars remain, even in heaven.
Like the world in the 1st Century in Palestine, many still don’t understand today what He went through. The fact that he went through sorrow for me is reason to praise. And I can’t but think that Jesus is not scowling or sorrowful now.
Having finished the work of the cross, the many mansions are filling up.