Whose responsibility?

“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.”

            “What is that to us? they replied.  “That is your responsibility.” Matt. 27:3-4

            “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. 27:24

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’s blood would Pilate find the truth he is seeking.  But Pilate misses Jesus’ offer of new life.  Responsibility disguises it.

 

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 than that 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.”

 

What a wonderful Savior.

 

butterfly photo credit: © Jilllang | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

The Road to Orlando

Summer mornings in the south begin with cool mist hugging the ground.  Recently the road to Orlando gave us two such mornings.

Day 1 – leaving grandparents in Texas, we welcomed the morning drive with song – Steven Curtis Chapman’s The Great Adventure.  Five voices sang,

Saddle up your horses,

we’ve got a trail to blaze

Through the wild blue yonder

of God’s amazing grace…

It’s a song that captures the reason we are moving to Orlando – to seek God’s grace in the adventure of following his call.

The road led through new places for our family:  New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile, Tallahassee.  Adventure holds promise in the names of the towns and cities it takes us.

 

Day 2 – leaving behind a business class hotel filled with summer vacationers, again the morning broke with song.  This time, we chose Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring.  With mist heavy in draping trees, the woody, bouncing melody spoke to my spirit.  I can’t help but hear the bidding,  “Awake.  Arise.  The day holds promise and life.  Join in the dance.”

Melodies and harmonies soar and entwine; I realize how God is calling us to respond to his work in our lives with similar abandon.

On the road in front of me, the sun tries in vain to pierce the haze and merely casts a warm glow.

The day advances.

The road stretches before us.

 

Adventure awaits.

__________________

photo: freedigitalphotos.net

Creation Meditation

I’m inspired by Ps. 104 to write my own “meditation on creation.”

Verse 1 starts with “O Lord, my God, you are very great.” Then the psalmist continues for 31 verses looking at the sky, sun, moon, animals, trees, oceans, mountains, life, death… He concludes with this statement of faith:

“I will sing to the Lord all my life.
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my mediation be pleasing to Him as I rejoice in the Lord.
But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more.” Ps. 104:33-35

The last sentence surprises me. I almost don’t want to include in in the quote, but it’s there, not willing to be ignored, daring me to wrestle with it. Scripture is surprising sometimes. I wonder, does God want to teach me in the paradox?

Maybe there is a connection between my praise and the salvation of men. Maybe when I acknowledge the greatness of my God, His kingdom is advanced.

Maybe the psalmist isn’t speaking of the extermination of those who stand against God’s way, but the conversion of those who miss His glory? Maybe believers are most compelling when they are praising, not pointing fingers.

So, here’s my attempt at a “Creation Meditation.” May it be pleasing to my God.

•••

Oh, my soul, wake up and recognize the beauty of your God.
The morning beckons you: sing!
The endless expanse of sky drapes the earth dome and speaks of His eternal ways.
Beyond the blue and in the air you breathe, He is here.

The birds, in their joy, greet the morning He has made.
Let your heart join in their sweet melody,
a refrain celebrating the simple things
… food, shelter, light.

The trees shimmer in the breeze, mindful of its whispers.
When the wind blows fierce, they grow stronger from its force.Their roots stretch deep through the layers of Indiana clay.
Tall Beech, petite Red Buds,
strong Catalpa, and White Oaks ringed with age stand proud, branches outstretched, straining upward.

They model for me arms lifted high in praise.

The breeze also stirs wild grasses, heads bobbing,
ruby-colored clover, and smiling daisies growing at will.
They receive the rain and sunlight freely offered by my God, and in turn
offer up their innocent beauty.

Stryder, my faithful walking companion, jogs the path ahead,
follows scents undetected by me.
Futilely, he chases a cottontail startled by our steps.
He gleefully rolls in the dewy, freshly mowed grass.
He drinks in the day, ever confident that his master will meet his needs
with good things to eat and balls to retrieve.

Oh my soul, trust your Master like that.

As joggers, bicyclers, even drivers of cars rush by me,
I wonder do they see, do they hear
nature beckoning them to turn to their Creator?
The trees and birds and wild flowers respond willingly to his ready favor.

Why don’t we?