Tuesday, March 22, 2016
With Holy Week full upon us now, many church communities are joining together with other like minded congregations and offering daily worship experiences that are centered around the events of the final week of Jesus on this earth. I remember one such week while pastoring in Vidalia. Each day of the week a different preacher would preach on a pre-determined text which focused on what happened in Jesus' life during Holy Week. Monday was the day of cleansing the Temple. Tuesday was the day of confrontation. Wednesday was the day of silence in Bethany. Thursday was the day of the last supper. Friday was the crucifixion. All went well until we came to Friday and the preacher announced that even though it was the day of crucifixion, he was going to preach an Easter message which he did. Sometimes not even preachers want to look at the cross.
But, looking at the cross is what this week is all about. Not to see it and not to spend time before it diminishes the joy of Easter's celebration. One of my favorite Lenten hymns written by Isaac Watts in 1707 has us singing, "When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride." To truly look at the cross of Jesus will cause inner change. It will do a sweeping transformation of the heart. It will cause us to see the false values we place on the things we deem to be important as well as the freely given offering of Christ which demands, "my soul, my life, my all." Anything less is not enough.
The days before Friday are dwindling in number. Only a few are left before we remember an event so awful we hate to cast our eyes upon it and yet so wondrous that we kneel before it as the one event in all of human history which has the power to give victory over our guilt and sin. It is not the therapist's couch that will deliver us, but the cross. Look at it. And then, look again, but not just for a moment. Look for a long time. And, then even more.