Friday, April 10, 2009

Not Knowing

It is one of the oldest stories we have.

The man rides in to the city, triumphant, greeted by adoring throngs. A few days later those same crowds turn on him, prompted by an elite who do not wish the current order disturbed. Things go badly. The man is captured. His followers disburse. He is mocked and tortured. He dies in agony and shame.

This is the part where I am supposed to skip to the Easter Narrative and talk about the promise of resurrection--how life follows death, joy follows sorrow.

Except that we're not there yet. I would rather spend a little more time where we are right now, today, on Good Friday.

Who exactly did Jesus think he was? How did he conceive his mission? It's an interesting question, whether you are talking about the historical person, the literary character, or the religious symbol. Whether he saw himself primarily as military messiah, social reformer, or divine savior, he must have had doubts along the way. In those final hours, did he wonder whether he had deluded himself? Whether his death had any meaning or purpose, after all?

"Eloi, Eloi, lema sabacthani?" "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34)

These are the dying words of Jesus on the cross. These are words of hurt and confusion. These are the words of someone abandoned by the very same God to whom he has given everything. This would feel like betrayal--an even worse betrayal than the famous kiss of Judas.

God must have a place for those of us who doubt, who feel used and betrayed, who cry out to the heavens in anger, bewilderment, and pain. After all, at the very end, Jesus himself was one of us.

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