During Holy Week, we are reminded to think of Jesus and to reflect on his salvific work on the cross. We will not spare ourselves the bloody details in an effort to fully appreciate his sacrifice for our sins. We will go down into the darkness, follow him down into the Garden of Gethsemane and look up at him from the crowd, crying, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” We will consider whose side we would have been on and give thanks that God still chose us. All over the world, we will read his story, repeat his words and reenact his final days.
Still, it is easy to look away, to step away and invite technology or work to distract us. We have gotten so accustomed to the attention being on us. Consequently, it can be hard to focus on the life of Jesus for long periods of time without asking, “What about me?”
Yes, Jesus died for you and me but John reminds us that he did not stop there. Jesus died for the whole world. Easy to remember but hard to believe, John 3.16 is still true. His cross was no selfie stick.
The increased divisiveness of our nation, evident in our politics as well as our pews, is cause for lament. Many would agree that our ‘melting pot’ is experiencing a severe meltdown. The message and work of reconciliation, which requires authenticity, accountability, transparency and truth- telling, is all the more necessary with Mississippi governor Phil Bryant, declaring April ‘Confederate Heritage Month,’ complaints of ‘yellow face’ getting increased attention and with fifth grade students in Ohio being divided into two groups: masters and slaves. There is so much to talk about, clarify, explain, wrestle with and with which to find understanding.
However, there is one truth that cannot be argued or arm wrestled into defeat. Jesus came for a cross– not a culture. He came for sinners, a category that we all fall into (First Timothy 1.15). He faced death so that we could face life with the full assurance that God’s arms on a cross were extended to all. Look at the cross and see yourself. With the cross, we are all captured by the God of all faces.