When they were finally tired of mocking him,
they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again.
Then they led him away to be crucified.
Matthew 27:31 NLT
I’m a fan of reading. In my humble opinion, the reason reading is awesome is because the reader gets to be the director of his/her own brain movie. You can give the main characters the look you want them to have. You can make their voices boom or shake or lilt at will. You can dull down or intensify any element or scene in your own mind’s eye. It’s your script – you have unlimited mental funding and artistic license to produce it into life.
AND, if you start having an adverse reaction to something you’re reading, you can skim, which is “Fast Forward” on steroids.
This week, I caught myself skimming through chapter 27 of Matthew. When I realized I was skimming, I paused to consider what my reason was. What was I having an adverse reaction to? Matthew 27 is Matthew’s account of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion so I could’ve simply chalked it up to feeling woozy at the thought of his pain. But that wasn’t it. I’ve felt that before and this experience was so much deeper.
It took me awhile but I finally realized that I was skimming because I couldn’t bear to “look” directly at the account. If I slowed down and read it like I read other things, I would have BEEN THERE. I would’ve smelled the heavy, metallic scent of his bloodied body. I would have participated in the illegal, biased procedures of his trial.
And I would’ve had to insert “I” every time Matthew referred to the “they” who were torturing and crucifying him.
“(I) took Jesus into (my) headquarters and called out the entire battalion. (I) stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. (I) made a crown of long, sharp thorns and put it on his head, and placed a stick in his right hand as a scepter. (I) knelt before him in mockery, yelling, ‘Hail! King of the Jews!’ And I spit on him and grabbed the stick and beat him on the head with it. When (I was) finally tired of mocking him, (I) took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. (I) led him away to be crucified.” (Matthew 27:27-31 NLT modified)
Because that’s the reality, right? He was pierced for MY transgressions. He was crushed for MY sins. The punishment that brought US peace was upon him, and by his wounds WE are healed.
How do you own that?! How do you feel anything but shame and guilt for being the reason for THAT?!
By looking him – his life, suffering, death and resurrection – straight in the eyes and sincerely saying thank you.
Thank you for finding me.
Thank you for healing me.
Thank you for saving me.
Thank you for loving me.
Life wouldn’t be life without your death.
Death wouldn’t be death without your life.
Freedom wouldn’t be freedom without your slavery.
I see what you have done for me.
I remove all my walls,
all my defenses,
all my pride,
– with all that is in me –
for the life I could never have
Dear Lord, today I pause. Today I stop all the business swirling inside me and around me. I silence the to-do’s and the to-don’ts. I usher out of my head and heart anything but you. I look fully upon your death and, with all of me, I tearfully acknowledge I need you and I thank you for your sacrifice. Amen.