This is the last Sunday in Lent. Today we reflect upon the 40 days to repent, and believe in the Gospel. Lent will end in Holy Week. It is strange that we call it that, Holy Week, because it was seven days of political corruption, moral cowardice, religious hypocrisy and physical violence. And we have named this week Holy…. we Christians have a strange vocabulary.
This holy week begins with a man riding a little donkey into the city of Jerusalem. The people who lined His route were cheering, wanted to make Him king. Toward the end of the week, the tide of public opinion had turned against Him, one of His followers betrayed Him, He was arrested, all of His followers ran for cover. He was subjected to a mock trial, the Roman Governor sentenced Him to death, and He was nailed to a cross.
That day is forever known as Good Friday…. Strange vocabulary.
Two great philosophies were arrayed on that Good Friday, one against the other. On one side was hatred, and on the other was love. Those who crucified Jesus seemed determined to make Him hate them just as much as they hated Him. We find it strange that anyone could actually hate Jesus, but how else can we explain the cruelty of that event? They beat Him with a whip until His back was an open wound. They drove nails into Him, and suspended Him upon a cross. And then they made fun of Him while He died.
All day long the battle raged. Hate kept pounding Him with all the heavy artillery at its disposal, but love kept holding firm. And when at last the day was ended, and the battle was over, hate lay beaten in dust, and love hung triumphant on the cross.
After several hours of indescribable suffering, His head slumped upon His chest, and He died. It appeared that Jesus had been ultimately and finally and forever defeated. But the church has refused to see it that way. We call His death a victory, and have adopted the cross as our symbol… strange vocabulary.
Some of us become overwhelmed by life’s contradictions. The pain and injustice that they see on every side causes them to lose all faith in God and in life. That could have happened to Jesus. No one ever felt the world’s great agony more keenly than He did. When people were cold or hungry or sick or in pain, He experienced their pain as if it was His very own. And no one was ever treated more unfairly than He was.
You want to talk about injustice, look at Calvary.
You want to talk about human suffering, look at Calvary.
You want to see religious hypocrisy and political corruption at their very worst, look at Calvary.
You want to wonder where God is, and why He does not do something, look at Calvary.
If ever there was a person who had the right to doubt God, and to despair of the human race, and to become cynical about life, that person was Jesus. But listen to Him as He says to God, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Through all of His injustice and all of the pain, His faith did not fail. He kept on believing in God, unlike many of us, He kept on believing in people, He kept believing in life. At Calvary, faith won.