Friday, April 3, 2015

A real date

Good Friday, 2015

By sheer fact of the calendar, today falls on one of the two dates historians believe Jesus was actually put to death in AD 30 (the other is April 7th). It's a rather long-winded, complicated historical argument to get to these dates, involving how many Passovers are mentioned in the gospels, whether the last supper was actually the passover meal (the synoptics say yes, John seems to imply otherwise) and how things were dated in the Roman world. Let's leave the stuffy historians to argue those things, though, and imagine that this WAS the actual date Jesus of Nazareth went to his chilling, gruesome, (temporarially) ignoble death.

We're used to a roving Good Friday. We're used to Resurrection and the Friday before being connected to the size of the moon overhead and the surge of the tides beyond our shores. This is one crazy way of doing things, if you think about it. Incarnate God came to earth, lived a real (often dusty) life among us, allowed Himself to die FOR us, and we celebrate that absolute truth whenever the moon and mother nature tell us we should. REALLY? When all the while, all these centuries, there's been an actual date on which He died.

Let's not forget that.
That's what I say. Let's NEVER forget that He actually died. That April 3rd (or Nisan 14), AD 30, Jesus Christ died. Or maybe Nisan 15. April 7th. My point is, He was a real man with fingernails and toenails that grew and needed clipping, a beard that needed shaving, teeth that got cavities, a stomach that got hungry, feet that got tired and undoubtedly cracked from walking around in sandals all the time. He lived in tough times and He was a real man.

And when He was whipped, His back bled. And those were rough beams, not sanded smooth. There would have been no point to that, of course. No, they were just cut pieces of raw wood, and He lifted them with hands not calloused from physical labor (at least not in the last three years) onto a back torn to shreds. Did He get splinters? Maybe.

But the heaviest part of that April 3rd wasn't the march up that steep hill to Golgotha. It wasn't any of what had happened that long night. Not the disciples dispersing like a bunch of chickens in the yard, not the standing before the Sanhedrin or hearing the crowd call for a different man to be released. This was the Incarnate. He had long since turned His face toward this moment. It was for this He came. But that April 3rd, AD 30, sometime in the morning, while He was hanging on the cross, God withdrew.

And then...all the weight of all the sin of all the world settled onto, into the person of Jesus Christ.
Stop a moment and let that thought settle in you.
Does it make you squirm?
It does me.
I don't quite know what to do with it, to tell the truth.
I can't even comprehend it.
Sometimes scholars talk about how short the time Jesus was on the cross. The seven sayings, the way most people lasted many hours longer. But no one else ever had to lift the world as they lifted their bodies to try to breathe. No one else was bearing the hearts of the lost in their chests as they struggled for every heart beat. That He lasted any time at all is a miracle. That He could speak the words He did is our gift. That He forgave His accusers...that He forgave the world in that moment.
As I say, I can't comprehend it.

We were won that day. Yes, I know, I know it's about resurrection. And believe me, I don't lose sight of that for an instant. But today, this April 3, 2015, I want to stop at the cross and simply look at Him.

And maybe learn to live my life in light of that.

1 comment:

Pamela M. Steiner said...

So beautifully written. Thank you for those poignant thoughts about the actual fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross on an actual date in history. Not a figment of some delusional disciples' imaginations. It was real, and the impact of that continues to reverberate throughout history and eternity. How great a debt we owe. So thankful for Calvary. Makes Easter Sunday even more wonderful...Such hope and victory!
Thank you for these thoughts today. Blessed Easter to you and yours.