Me and my mummy and daddy and my brothers and sisters always go to Jerusalem for the Passover. It’s a long way to travel from our home but we go along with our friends and neighbours so we always have fun playing games with each other.
But this year it was different.
When we arrived in Jerusalem it was busy as usual but everybody was very angry. I didn’t understand what was going on. It was all very scary and confusing.I asked my mummy and she said that Jesus was a bad man and deserved to be punished.
On the Friday we were in the middle of the crowd and we saw Jesus trying to walk down the street carrying a heavy beam of wood. He was covered in cuts and blood.
It made me cry. He came to where we were standing and he looked at me.
He didn’t look bad.
He looked sad.
He looked at me the way my daddy looks at me when he tells me he loves me.
He didn’t ask for this burden. He din’t ask to carry the cross. Why was he picked to play such a significant part in the redemption story.
“Yanked from the crowd I hadnt time to catch my breath. My two sons were left screaming my name, “Daddy, Daddy!”
The man carrying the cross was a naked, bloody mess – the most disgusting sight I had ever seen. Skin ripped so raw I could see the bone below.
I awkwardly lifted the wooden beam onto my shaking shoulder. So heavy I could only really drag it to it’s destination.
The jeering crowd was terrifying. The saliva of people’s spit smacked me in the eyes. Their mocking taunts rang in my ears.
I know they weren’t directing any of this at me. I just happened to be a certain person stood at a certain place at a certain time.
I know I physically helped Jesus to the cross but now that I know the full story, I know that my sin would have led him there regardless.”
This still echoes in my head “What shall I do then, with the man you call the King of the Jews?” I wish I could turn back time to have another chance to answer this. I know I was wrong.
Right now, a man is dying on a cross and there is nothing I can do about it! It is too little too late! I could have saved him with my overruling vote but I didn’t! I could have done what was right but just for the sake of selfish ambition, I gave in to the crowd rather than stand up hold my ground. An innocent man condemned to death by my pride. No amount of water can ever wash away the blood and guilt stained on my hands and my heart…..
What can ever wash away my feelings of guilt and shame?
But I see now that even though I didn’t save him, Jesus still chose to save me
My time had come. I was ready to pay the ultimate price for my horrendous crime. I had steeled myself. I knew it was going to be a crucifixion – the most awful of deaths. But it was nothing more than I deserved, a life for a life – that’s what they say.
My guilt was obvious. But this man, Jesus, his innocence was obvious. They accused him of starting some sort of rebellion, but really, that was a poor excuse – compared to what I had done. It is customary on the Passover to release a prisoner, so when the judge asked the crowd who they wanted to be released, all I heard was, “We want Barabbas!!” That’s what they said over and over again.
They wanted me instead of Jesus. Who was I to argue? This guy didn’t stand a chance.
So here I am – released, a free man, no longer a criminal bound in chains. Hanging on a cross right now between my two old accomplices is a man they call, “Jesus, The King of the Jews. ”
He’s there in my place.
The blame that should have been mine is his.
The nails that should have been pounded into my hands and feet now hold him to the wood.
The spear that should have been in my side pierces his.
Looking back I see so clearly how he died in my place and what that actually meant – His life for my life.
We followed Judas’ tip off which led us to Gethsemane. The signal was given – a KISS. Ironic really.
Things were going well until one of his followers took a sword and cut someone’s ear off!!! So much for a peaceful capture. But then Jesus reached out and RESTORED…
Speechless and in a daze I continued to do my job. I’m used to doing this, arresting criminals and generally making the world a safer place. But all that I have observed over these few days have SHAKEN me to the core. We were just as VIOLENT with this man as we are with all the other filth we deal with but he was different. He took each violent lash with pride. He wore those thorns like a CROWN.
Standing at the cross I heard him cry out, “Father, FORGIVE them.”
I have seen the face of GRACE today. I stand here, a Roman soldier, completely DISARMED by LOVE.
Jesus could have come to earth on Thursday, died on the Friday and rose on the Sunday and the job would have been done.
The blood would’ve been shed and he’d have rose from the dead and our redemption would’ve been won.
But he came as a foetus and was born in a stable. Grew up in a family with brothers and sisters. He went to school. Learnt a trade.
He started his ministry at 30 and then 3 years later walked a lonely road to the cross.
32 passovers passed before the Passover where Jesus made the redemption sacrifice.
Why did he wait so long?
I believe it’s so that we could not only find redemption but so that we could find comfort in someone who understands the wait – The Tension.
The Tension between the present and the future.
The Tension between believing for great things and finding contentment in our circumstances just as they are.
The Tension between being eternal beings but being confined to this very finite planet earth.
There’s always Tension.
When we struggle and fight with these things we can look to the One who was “tempted in all things, yet without sin.”
When we look at his life we see it’s possible to walk the tightrope and not fall off.