I recently finished writing a book about Jesus as a shepherd. In it I walk through some of the most well-known healings and miracles of Jesus, looking at it through the eyes of the crowds, the healed, the disciples, even Jesus himself. During this book, Jesus became more real to me than he’s ever been before.
In my private Bible time this morning, I was reading the crucifixion as told by John. Jesus was slapped in the face. He was pierced. Beaten. Naked and exposed. Thirsty. Broken.
Jesus, this man I spent the past year following through Judea, the man of authority, the man who got tired, who got exasperated, who let a gut-deep compassion lead him to touch and heal and love the least of Israel, was broken.
Deeply, fully broken until all the life in his body was snuffed out. Humanity was never more of a liability than it was on that day.
I’d never felt it so fully, because Jesus had never been so real to me before. I struggled to breathe through the words. I struggled not to picture it, to imagine the pain, the blood, the sounds of the crowds around, mocking… The injustice of it burned into my soul.
The main event
But it had to happen. It was the main event. It was the very reason Jesus came. Everything he did before was preparation. He had to show us God, show us love, show us how to live and be, demonstrate humanity, and then that humanity had to fail him as he bled and hurt and died.
It had to happen that way because of sin. Because long ago God decided not to scrap the humanity project when it went wrong, but to fix it. Sin led to those moments, yes, but more precisely, love led there. The inability to give up on what must have seemed like a hopeless mess of hopeless people led that compassionate Son and Shepherd to that horribly human cross.
How did God possibly look down at the world and think we were worth what he paid to redeem us? That is the true mystery. I’m not sure I’m that loyal to anyone. Even my family, whom I love more than anyone—some days I want to throw up my hands at them. But God didn’t throw up his hands. He plotted a way to bring his people home.
It should hurt…
I’ve always struggled to read the crucifixion passages. Now I struggle more, and I’m glad for that. I’m glad Jesus is real. I’m glad my heart beats with his heart, that his agony can become my agony, because my agony has been his all along.
Jesus, I’m sorry you endured that. I’m sorry to be part of a humanity that could be so awful. But I am so, so thankful you opened my heart. I’m so happy you found me on the dusty road of my life and breathed enough life into me that your sacrifice could break my heart and color my life.
I pray that what I learned while writing about Jesus will never leave me. I pray my life will remain colored and broken by Jesus’s great love until the end.