Friday, March 25, 2016

Behold the Man

I always feel a deep sense of shame when I read the Passion stories, like I’ve seen something I shouldn’t have—something obscene. The image of the bloody, beaten Jesus standing in a purple robe with a crown of thorns before the hissing crowd, sarcastically presented by Pilate, “Here is the man!”

“Drink this in,” Pilate seems to say. “Does this make you happy?” It’s what John seems to say with the whole narrative, right up to Jesus on the cross, bloody head bowed in death. “Here is the man. Look at him. Is this what you want? Because this is what we do—to each other…to God. This is where this road of sin leads. And he walked it for you and for me. Behold the man.” And then Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus take his lifeless body off the cross and wrap it and lay it in the tomb. Show’s over. Think about it for a while.

And so I think about it and I’m ashamed. Shame is rarely a good idea, almost never a good way of teaching a lesson or leading someone to truth. But in this case it seems appropriate. Anyway, it seems unavoidable. I’m sorry we did this to God’s Son. I’m sorry we do this to countless sons and daughters every day. I’m sorry that this had to be done for me. And I’m especially sorry that I continue to walk this dead-end path all too often. I’m sorry.

And I’m thankful. The shame gives way to gratitude if I let it—gratitude that I don’t have to live in shame. The cross isn’t merely our shame—it is also our salvation from shame. We didn’t only do this to God. He went through this for us. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2Cor. 5:21). Behold the man.

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