Encountering Jesus

I pulled this post from the archives.  It seemed appropriate in remembrance of the crucifixion and resurrection.  Where do you take your botched responsibilities?

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When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.  “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

Morning Gate

“What is that to us? they replied.  “That is your responsibility.” 

When Pilate saw that he was getting no where, but instead that an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in the front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. ‘It is your responsibility!” Matt. 27:3-4, 24

What an interesting parallel between Judas and Pilate… responsibility.

Judas had followed Jesus closely for three years.  Judas had sat under his teaching, watched him heal blind, and broke bread with him.  Judas got it all wrong… the betrayer.

Pilate had only one brief interview with Jesus.  One cryptic conversation probably left him with more questions than answers.  Pilate ducked out and missed it… the dodger.

 

When the innocence of Christ’s blood rises up before him, Judas only sees his responsibility.  Actually, he sees his culpability, his blame.  It grips him around the throat and pulls him under.  He sees no option other than to take his own life.  He doesn’t see Jesus’ offer for a new one.  Responsibility blinds him to it.

When Christ’s innocence stares Pilate in the face, he lets his desire for peaceful public relations get the better of him.  He abdicates his responsibility and kowtows to the crowd. In washing his hands of the innocent man’s blood, he only implicates himself further.  The irony jumps out and grabs him – for only in washing himself in Jesus’ blood would Pilate find the truth he is seeking.  But Pilate misses Jesus’ offer of new life.  Responsibility disguises it.

twisted

Two men.  Two encounters with responsibility.  One overcome with the weight of it.  One skirting the glory of it.  Both blinded.  Both guilty.  Both forever tied to the story of Christ’s death that brings life.

Some might argue that it’s unfair to hold either Judas or Pilate responsible for Jesus’ death.  After all, it was God’s plan.  Jesus said so.  This is why he came – to die.  Judas and Pilate were simply pawns in God’s chess match with the evil one.  How can they be responsible?

True. God’s intention was to have Jesus Christ die on man’s behalf.  But even truer is the fact that my sin put Jesus on that cross just as much as Judas’ betrayal or Pilate’s poor judgment.  My sin… and your sin… drove Jesus to the cross.  We are all responsible for the innocent man’s blood.

But our confrontation with our guilt doesn’t have to end in despair or disillusion like it did for Judas and Pilate.  Not if we know who to bring it to.

See, Judas sought the religious leaders for absolution.  All he got was his blood money thrown back in his face.  Pilate sought the crowd for answers. All he got was “Crucify him!” slammed in his face.

But you and me?

With all our botched responsibilities, we can come to Jesus and get nail-pierced hands cupping our face, and love-laden eyes washing over our face, and grace-filled words warming our face saying, “My child, your sins are my responsibility.  You are forgiven. Now, come, follow me.”

Sun through tree

What a wonderful Savior.

 

A Clear View

Growing up in the Los Angeles basin, on clear days, I had an amazing view of the San Gabriel Mountains… Mt. Baldy, Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear.  They would truly take my breath away on crisp February mornings dusted with snow.  Those mountains rooted me and made me feel secure.

Snowy-San-Gabriel-Mountains

I could orient myself by the mountains.  Heading south on the 57 freeway to Orange County, they graced my rearview mirror.  Heading east on the 10 toward Ontario, they stood to my left. Heading north on the 605 to Pasadena, they stretched out in front of me.  The mountains gave me something to measure against, unmoving and true.

I missed them when I moved to the midwest.  I miss them still in Orlando.  I need to look to other landmarks to get my bearings.

“… in view of God’s mercy…”  Romans 12:1

Is viewing God’s mercy a centering, grounding reality in my life like my view of the San Gabriel’s? God’s mercy tells me a lot about my relationship to him.  It shows me where I stand with him: not deserving, but receiving forgiveness.  It reveals the true character of my heart: bent toward sin, but set free in the Spirit.  It broadcasts the greatness of my salvation: nothing I did, but everything God did for me.

Fog

So do I have a clear view?

In LA sometimes the haze would settle in and obscure my view.  The mountains would look fuzzy or disappear altogether.  Well, they didn’t disappear.  They remained in their fixed position — unchanging.  I just couldn’t see them as clearly.

So what clouds my view of God’s mercy — fear of what others think of me, feeling like I don’t fit in, not taking time to rest and meditate on God’s goodness.    His mercy remains solid and true, but I fumble around unable to get my bearings.

Oh God, clear out the haze.  Let my view be crystal clear of all that your mercy means… today.  Thank you for holding true and never changing, no matter how thick the fog. 

What clouds your view of God’s mercy?