Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday - The Point

So they took Jesus and led him away. Carrying the cross by himself, Jesus went to the place called Skull Hill (in Hebrew Golgotha). There they crucified him. - John 19: 16b-17

Good Friday.

It was cold and overcast this morning. A good day to stay in bed, nice and warm. But no, it is Good Friday. So I arose to do what I have done for many years on this holy day - I participated in the Cross Walk.

For those who have not heard of this or have never been a part of, a Cross Walk is an intimate sharing in the walk that Jesus made from the time he was sentenced to death to the place of his crucifixion. Of the Cross Walks that I have organized and/or participated in, several people share in carrying a large and uncomfortably heavy cross down the streets of the local town, with a mass of other faithful followers falling in behind.

As we started down the street, I became intentional about concentrating on the the meaning of the day. I was already feeling a slight twinge of guilt because I complained to my wife earlier that it was cold and looked like it could rain at any moment. The days before today have been beautiful and warm as will the weekend. I didn't like doing this in this type of weather though. She stung me with, "I'm sure Jesus didn't like it either."

So, now here I am, convicted as to my own pettiness and becoming evermore penitent. But, I wasn't able to fully embrace the moment. There were too many other distractions.

I couldn't help but to notice the irritation on the faces of some of the motorists who were having to stop for the procession. Since we had a police escort, they really had no choice in the matter. There agitation was evident. We were interrupting their routine. "Sorry!" I thought. "Don't worry, in a few moments, we will have passed you and you can get back to your normal lives." Of course, my thoughts were sarcastic. It would not have taken much for me to be happy for this interruption in their lives. They need to be reminded - reminded of the point of this day.

Then, another disturbance caught my gaze. This time it was a lady on one of the standing along a side street. She did not indicate any displeasure at what we were doing; no, quite the opposite. She couldn't control her passion for Jesus as she cheered us on, "Yes! Praise Jesus!" she could be heard to exclaim as she pumped her fist in the air. "No, no, no!" I thought. "This isn't suppose to be a joyful event; she's missing the point!"

The distractions quieted down for a bit and I found myself becoming captivated by the steady cadence of our march. Finally, people are getting the point.

I was shaken out of my tranquil meditative state almost abruptly when I noticed that our slow and steady pace had quickened. Now it seemed that we were powerwalking, which for those who walk for their daily exercise, this could be seen as an added bonus: commemorate and stay fit, all at the same time.

Why was this happening? Then I felt it on my face. One lone drop of cold rain, which was quickly joined by many others. The other participants were quickening their steps so that they could end this event soon. "No, no, no!" I almost could not contain myself. "We of all people should know not to rush this, even for the inconvenience of rain. Do we really want to be so quick to get Jesus on the cross? They're missing the point!"

As we ended the walk on the side of the street in Mocksville, the rain was coming down too hard to hear what the pastor who organized the walk this year. It might have been for the best though. As I stood there, thinking how so many others were missing the point, I caught a glimpse of the cross we had just carried. At that moment, I became cognizant of what I had been doing. I was so intent of condemning others for not getting the point, I failed to get the point. It wasn't them that were the distractions; it was me.

Good Friday is not a day to blame others for what happened. That's not the point. It's the day to remember, Jesus walked this walk, and died on the Cross, willingly, out of extravagant love; grace upon grace.

Amazing love, how can it be, that you my King should die for me?

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