Preparing for this Sunday, as one of the audio/ visual guys at our church, I've dealt with a lot of recreations of the Passion Week. Each actor and director puts their own artistic touch on the depiction of the historical events. Some are done simply, dare I say 'elegantly'. Everything shown has a quiet dignity, there is pain but the blood and gore are kept to a minimum. The actor portraying Jesus trudges dutifully, and in the end his almost pristine body is hung upon a cross looking like a perfect Catholic Crucifix carving.
Others go to great links to depict what they see as the most historically accurate recreation of what Christ endured. The screen is flooded with crimson and the speakers echo with cries and moans. The face of the one portraying Christ writhes with pain and the emotional turmoil behind His eyes comes across the screen.
If I'm honest, I'm much more comfortable with the 'elegant' depictions. I think if all of us are honest, somewhere deep down we all like those simple depictions better. Why, because deep down on a Good Friday we, as Christians, realize that even more than the hands of a few Roman soldiers, we were the ones driving the nails, we were the ones delivering the scourging, we were the ones placing the crown upon his brow.
Jesus was, and is, the Son of God. Fully man and fully God. With a simple utterance He had at his disposable legions of angels to rescue Him and carry Him away. At any moment He could have said enough is too much and it would have all been over. But the cost of my sin, and the price of your sin demanded a brutal price. And so God took on skin, and on Friday that skin was torn, and beaten, pierced and abused. It was not elegant, it was not beautiful to behold, it was not classic, it was not rated PG.
Yet in that brutality, by the very degree to which it was administered, is a beautiful love letter to each one of us. We should see what Jesus endured on Friday for what it really was, because only by understanding the sacrifice fully can we understand the love that motivated it. The lashes were not taken more easily because Jesus was Christ, they were felt fully because he was fully man. The nails did not sting less because they pierced the hands that held the whole world at it's formation, because He chose to be born and come to a manger. The thirst was not less parching, the struggle for air was not less agonizing, the death rattle was not silent.
As though the physical torture were not enough, the rejection and abandonment by His earthly companions were not sufficient, for the first time in all of eternity Jesus was separated from the Father as He hung stretched upon the cross. As my sin was laid upon Him, at the moment Jesus most needed, desired, craved the closeness of the Father, the Father turned away. Why? Because Christ was clothed in my unworthiness. In that moment, surrounded by those who loved and those who hated Him, Jesus was truly alone for the very first time....
Sometimes in our minds I think we can simplify, sanitize, & minimize what happened this day so many years ago. We know what happened on Sunday, and so because death was conquered, we minimize the suffering. Don't. Embrace Good Friday, embrace the fact that Christ loved you enough to endure today. Embrace the fact that as he hung upon the cross, you and I were on His mind, and in His eyes we were worth the price!
Sunday is coming, but Friday matters!