Sunday, April 5, 2015

This Man

Happy Easter, blog readers!
I presented the following scripture and personal message last Sunday at Shout and in honor of Easter Sunday today, I thought I would like to share it with you all...

The Scripture: Mark 15:1-39 The Message (MSG)
Standing Before Pilate
15 At dawn’s first light, the high priests, with the religious leaders and scholars, arranged a conference with the entire Jewish Council. After tying Jesus securely, they took him out and presented him to Pilate.
2-3 Pilate asked him, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”He answered, “If you say so.” The high priests let loose a barrage of accusations.
4-5 Pilate asked again, “Aren’t you going to answer anything? That’s quite a list of accusations.” Still, he said nothing. Pilate was impressed, really impressed.
6-10 It was a custom at the Feast to release a prisoner, anyone the people asked for. There was one prisoner called Barabbas, locked up with the insurrectionists who had committed murder during the uprising against Rome. As the crowd came up and began to present its petition for him to release a prisoner, Pilate anticipated them: “Do you want me to release the King of the Jews to you?” Pilate knew by this time that it was through sheer spite that the high priests had turned Jesus over to him.
11-12 But the high priests by then had worked up the crowd to ask for the release of Barabbas. Pilate came back, “So what do I do with this man you call King of the Jews?”
13 They yelled, “Nail him to a cross!”
14 Pilate objected, “But for what crime?”
But they yelled all the louder, “Nail him to a cross!”
15 Pilate gave the crowd what it wanted, set Barabbas free and turned Jesus over for whipping and crucifixion.
16-20 The soldiers took Jesus into the palace (called Praetorium) and called together the entire brigade. They dressed him up in purple and put a crown plaited from a thornbush on his head. Then they began their mockery: “Bravo, King of the Jews!” They banged on his head with a club, spit on him, and knelt down in mock worship. After they had had their fun, they took off the purple cape and put his own clothes back on him. Then they marched out to nail him to the cross.

The Crucifixion
21 There was a man walking by, coming from work, Simon from Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. They made him carry Jesus’ cross.
22-24 The soldiers brought Jesus to Golgotha, meaning “Skull Hill.” They offered him a mild painkiller (wine mixed with myrrh), but he wouldn’t take it. And they nailed him to the cross. They divided up his clothes and threw dice to see who would get them.
25-30 They nailed him up at nine o’clock in the morning. The charge against him—the king of the jews—was printed on a poster. Along with him, they crucified two criminals, one to his right, the other to his left. People passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament: “You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and then rebuild it in three days—so show us your stuff! Save yourself! If you’re really God’s Son, come down from that cross!”
31-32 The high priests, along with the religion scholars, were right there mixing it up with the rest of them, having a great time poking fun at him: “He saved others—but he can’t save himself! Messiah, is he? King of Israel? Then let him climb down from that cross. We’ll all become believers then!” Even the men crucified alongside him joined in the mockery.
33-34 At noon the sky became extremely dark. The darkness lasted three hours. At three o’clock, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
35-36 Some of the bystanders who heard him said, “Listen, he’s calling for Elijah.” Someone ran off, soaked a sponge in sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.”
37-39 But Jesus, with a loud cry, gave his last breath. At that moment the Temple curtain ripped right down the middle. When the Roman captain standing guard in front of him saw that he had quit breathing, he said, “This has to be the Son of God!”

My Message:
Murder. Spite. Mockery. Nails. Whipping. Spit on him. Quit breathing.

These words. These words from our very scripture that describe what is happening to Jesus.
I don’t want to read these words out loud. I don’t even want to THINK these words. But then I have to remember that Jesus LIVED these words.

Most of you know that my children worship here in Shout almost every week. In the last few months, my five year old has started asking questions and started tuning in to key parts of the service. And when someone says something startling, his poor Gramma is usually the one deflecting the questions.
So, when I read today’s scripture, I read it with Jake in mind. What is his little brain going to glean from this? What can my thirty-something brain glean from this? The story is the same. It hasn’t changed. I hear it every year. But as a parent, you want to protect your children. You become highly sensitive to the world around you- the world around your children- and sometimes when you can barely comprehend something, the idea of helping your child comprehend the same thing is daunting.

So, what did I do this week? I hit Google. I googled “how to tell the Passion story to children.”

I found a little bit of information from a blog, Worshiping with ChildrenThe chief question children seem to ask about the passion narrative is “Why did people hate Jesus that much?”  They simply cannot fit this story with all the others about Jesus being a friend, a healer, and a helper.  One Sunday School teacher explained that “Jesus said they had to share and they didn’t want to.”  Jesus called people to share, to forgive each other, to take care of each other, even to love people who do not love us back.  None of this is easy on the personal level.  Because people did not want to do those hard things, they wanted Jesus to stop saying them or go away.  Since he wouldn’t stop saying them, they got rid of him – or so they thought. 
Seems like a pretty good explanation to me. But there is still no good way to explain the jeering. The spitting. The nailing. The mockery.

And I it for Jake that I am trying to find a good understanding of this story?

Or is it for me? 

Am I trying to make the Passion story more kid friendly for ME?

When Google ran dry, I turned to music- specifically YouTube- and found “This Man” by Jeremy Camp.

“He held the weight of impurity 

The father would not see 
The reasons had finally come to be to 
Show the depth of his grace flowed with 
Every sin erased he knew that this was 
Why he came”

The Passion story- the story that demonstrates God’s ultimate grace. A grace that is freely given to us.
I recently saw a quote about Grace that said:
“Grace is when somebody hurts you and you try and understand their situation instead of trying to hurt them back.”

The Passion story- a story that tells of Jesus paying the ultimate price, but instead of retaliating and hurting them back, he showed them understanding, grace, love and mercy.
The song continues to say:
"And we just don't know the blood and 
Water flowed and in it all 
He shows just how much he cares 
And the veil was torn so we could have 
This open door and all these things have 
Finally been complete"

“The open door.”
And since I’ve been so focused on making the message child friendly, I may as well end with a reference to the movie “Frozen.”

We all know the song “Love is an Open Door,” right? :-)
The Passion story- and Jeremy Camp's song- show us that love- and grace- is that open door for us. The door has been flung wide open by Jesus, and Jesus is saying, “I’ve paid the price for you. Now you go, be with my people, love one another, and extend that same grace and mercy to all you meet.”

While none of us can fathom taking the place of Jesus on that cross, we can do just as well by taking the place of this man in his kingdom as a leader of faith, a deliverer of the good word, and as a disciple to His people.

May you all have a wonderful Easter Sunday! He is risen indeed!

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