We Cannot Disengage, John 19:1-3
The Innocent is punished and the punishment is somehow cruelly relished.
His prison clothes mock him. Those in power over him use polite words of honor in ways that slight him and belittle him. “Hail, King of the Jews!” (v 3). Right words, wrong heart. How can such regal words be turned into profanity? What heart and voice can do such twisting? Power cannot resist opportunity. Once was not enough. “They kept coming up to himÖ” (v 3).
Pilate could not make a case against Jesus, but things bigger than Pilate had been set in motion. We cringe at the sight; we sense our participation in the noisy scene; we see innocence and guilt entangled and inseparable; we see fear build upon fear; we find ourselves present in the heart of Jesus and in the hearts of the false accusers. We can look away, but we cannot disengage.
Yet, the love of Jesus seems to engulf the whole scene. The love of Jesus seems to absorb all the vitriol and venom. Can love survive this environment of hate? Can love leave that courtroom and reach my soul? Condemnation and love launch from the scene and race toward us, and the trial proceedings take place in our hearts and lives.
Oh, how Lent and Passion week make Easter so necessary. Can Easter really blossom where hate so freely blooms? We can turn away from depictions and remembrances of this terrible week, but we cannot disengage from its message. Hope is on trial; love is on trial; mercy and grace are on trial. We are there.
The scene has a turmoil that seems to grow and spiral toward disaster. But the turmoil cannot break the embrace of love. Hope is, indeed, on trial, but it has not conceded to power or fear. We read. We close our eyes. We open our hearts and minds. We receive what Jesus offers. We anticipate what must come, lest we die.
Hail, King of the Jews
Rejection pierces his heart;
Thorns pierce his brow.
Betrayal slaps his soul;
Soldiers slap his face.
Laughter saddens his spirit
As those he deeply loves mock his name.
The Innocent stands condemned;
Hate stands to cheers.
Betrayal slaps his soul;
Hatred slaps Love’s face.
Cursing covers their fear;
Self-righteousness and pride mock his name.
Hail, King of the Jews.
Condemnation is the purple robe he wears.
A crown of thorns, fearful lies,
Tears and love flow from his eyes.
The Lord of Life condemned to die;
Help us as we hold the burden in our hearts until we can lay it down.
A word about the series
The Lenten season has always inspired many people to create everything from poems, art and music to a completely new direction in their lives. This Lenten season Tabernacle will be exploring many of those creations in the hope of inspiring you to compose in a medium that is natural for you. The paintings in the Sanctuary are of the Biblical Stations of the Cross. The artist, Grieg Leach, completed them in 2010. They will help us to visualize the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus. In addition to the paintings there is a Lenten devotional booklet, Return to Me, which is available in print or online. The Stations of the Cross also inspired these devotions, written by Terry York of Baylor University. Living with these two bodies of artistic expression based on the Biblical Stations of the Cross throughout the season of Lent should help us as we seek to return our lives to God by walking with Jesus though his final days.
Pray, read, think and return to God.
All scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible.
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