Thursday, February 23, 2012

He Hit Me First!!!! (And how not to react)

I was flipping through the radio and stumbled on a rarity out here, a preacher speaking. (at least they aren't hardly ever on when I am listening to the radio)  This particular sermon was on the crucifixion, and in particular focusing on the fact the Jesus had more than ample power to stop the whole thing.  He could have called down angels to smite the Roman guards, He could have pulled His hands and feet out of the cross, He could have simply disappeared from the cross, teleporting Himself to the ground, or into the crowd, or behind them.  But He didn't.  He endured it all, for lots of reasons, but the one I'm thinking of today is His divine nature.
As all this was being described, I had a random juxtaposition.  That final scene from the movie Carrie came to mind, with the young woman standing in front of the crowd of high schoolers, covered in pig blood, being laughed at and mocked.  She took the very human route, and used the power she had to extract nasty, painful revenge on the crowd, not only for that humiliation, but for the years of abuse and mocking and put downs.  The contrast struck me, this is a very human reaction, a very worldly reaction.  We don't want to take it, whatever "it" may be, we want to strike back, we want to get away.  However, if it's our path, our calling to take that "it", be it physical pain, suffering, martyrdom, poverty, or social pain, suffering, martyrdom, poverty, we have to let that divine nature rule over the human.
We're entering Lent, the precursor to Easter, and regardless of one's specific denominational practices of Lent, it's a good time to stop and think about how, 2000 some odd years ago, Jesus was following His divine nature towards Golgotha and the Cross, to be followed by the empty tomb.  Without the first, the second doesn't carry the same meaning.  What if He had followed the human side of His nature, and rained fire down on the crowd (now I'm thinking Raiders of the Lost Ark, how about you)?  Then where would we be, without that perfect sacrifice to atone for all our sins? 
Heard a much less dramatic story from Billy Graham's brother in law, he was on a plane and had a 96 year old woman sitting beside him, and he asked her what the most important thing she knew in those 96 years was.  When she said Jesus, he decided to poke the bear a bit and asked her how she was so sure about that, and received a good old fashioned Southern sermon right there in the airplane.  Calming her down, he let the woman know he too was a believer, and his relation to Billy Graham.  The woman had never heard of Billy Graham.  When the story was related to Billy, after laughing at his brother in law getting his comeuppance, Billy's reaction was "Isn't it wonderful that there are millions out there who don't know who we are, but know who Jesus is?"  That is letting the divine attitude dictate our reactions.  The human reaction would have been "How could she not know who I am, I'm Billy Graham!!"  How many people out there know who Billy Graham is, but still don't know Jesus?
So as we continue to Easter, use the focus on Christ's painful, humiliating death on the cross as a reminder that those things that seem so horrible at the time, through our human eyes, can be part of something so far beyond our contemplation in God's plan.  How many inspiring stories of faith through sickness and pain and persecution do we know of?  How many people have come to Christ or held on to Him because of what those people went through?  How can we emulate that divine attitude of following the path, be it to a cross or to a mansion?

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