I’m not sure that this is an original idea, but I believe there is a lesson (although certainly not the only one) that we can learn from Jesus on the cross that isn’t talked about too much. The basic premise is that life is not going to be fair and that’s OK, because that’s not what it’s all about.
Jesus on the cross becomes something of a missed opportunity in my opinion. The Savior the Jews were waiting for was going to be a destroyer, leading the troops into battle and crushing their foes into the dust. Certainly not the Jesus of the new testament. The interesting part is that from a purely literary point of view that would have made a more exciting and hopeful story. Imagine how it might have gone: as Jesus is being scourged a bright light breaks the sky and envelops him. He slowly raises his head, his eyes now full of confidence he stares through the Roman soldiers that surround him. As one of the soldiers brings down his whip Jesus raises his arm in a flash to catch the end of the whip and a grin comes across his face…he pulls the soldier to him and whispers “vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord!”
But that would not be a good example for us because we are not God and that bright light and instant power (in the super hero sense anyways) is not how it works for us mortals. Instead Jesus comes to us and leaves as an example of how WE can and should be. Jesus shows us to the very end how we should act and react in just about any situation:
And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples, Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. (Matthew 26:1-2)
Do the right thing even when no one is watching. Jesus knows what will happen to him but he does not stray from his task. While we cannot know as He did, there are times when it will be hard to do the right thing, but we must stay true, we must persevere, keep the faith,…do the right thing.
Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. (Matthew 26:31)
Sometimes even our closest friends, our family, will turn from us. This is our humanity, our failing. If we accept this as a fact of life we can overcome that no one is perfect. It is not for us to accept that someone has failed us, so much as it is to forgive them when they do. To quote Kid President: “We all mess up. Our biggest mess up? Not forgiving each other’s mess ups.”
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?(Matthew 27:46)
We will have dark times, lonely times, desperate times. This is part of life like it or not. It is not a punishment or a test. Often times it is our own weakness that finds us in these places. The famous atheist Richard Dawkins was asked what would he say if when he died he found himself before God. Dawkins replied that he would ask God “Why did you go to such great lengths to hide yourself?” I believe in fact that God does not abandon us so much as we lose sight of Him. If we expect things to be perfect all the time we just need to remember this moment of Jesus on the cross and see that we can enjoin ourselves to Jesus at this moment. When we are at our lowest, Jesus has been there before and knows how we feel…and he is there at that moment with us.
And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. (Luke 23:46)
Through it all there is forgiveness and faith. In the end it’s how we can become most like Jesus and in turn closer to God. For the non-believer it does not mean as much, and I understand that. As one who does believe I find that I must continually remind myself that life is much bigger than myself. As a parent I know sacrifice, as a believer I try to keep in mind that when I am said and done into his hands I will commend my spirit. We are in this, one with Christ.
There is so much more to write and I fear I have not explained myself very well in this post…but there it is.