Yesterday’s Catch really got me going. I’ve always wondered about the passion of Christ. Every time it is acted out in film or theater, everything seems so drummed-up and confused. Pilate thinks he’s crucifying Jesus. The Jews think they are crucifying Jesus. The Roman soldiers think they are crucifying Jesus, and the disciples think they are crucifying Jesus by running away. When in fact, God was pouring out His wrath against sin on His Son in order to have mercy on the whole world. And who knew that? Nobody, except Jesus.
Jesus knew why He was going to the cross. It was the Father’s will. It wasn’t about politics. It wasn’t about the social order or disorder. It wasn’t about religion. It was about something else entirely. Follow any one of those other threads and you miss the point. The only point that really makes sense here is Jesus dying for the sins of the world.
Like my favorite scene from Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, when Jesus is laboring through the streets of Jerusalem, bruised and bloodied with the heavy cross on His back, He passes His mother in the crowd and says, “Look! I am making all things new!” What? Sure doesn’t look like that.
Every time I see the passion played out I wonder about this. So many people in the dark as to what was really going on. I doubt there was anyone at the cross that day thinking, That man up there is dying for my sins right now. Everyone was thinking about everything except the one thing that was really being accomplished. That’s why Jesus said, “It is finished.” He didn’t just mean He was dying. He meant the work He came to do was done. Mission accomplished.
Pilate standing before Jesus saying, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” is truly laughable. Jesus had already told Pilate His kingdom was not of this world. Pilate was clearly not in control here.
Pilate, you think you are controlling this moment when in fact you are so far from the truth. My Father has had this day in His mind before the foundation of the world. You guys are all just doing His bidding. God is working something way beyond what you see here. My kingdom is not of this world. My kingdom is stepping into your kingdom and working the Deep Magic* into your souls.
You all think you are killing me. Well you are, but for different reasons from what you think. You don’t realize it, but you are all killing me for and with your sin. You don’t know this now, but you will some day.
This, in fact, is the closest thing to the truth of what really happened that day: we all killed Jesus. It was our sin that put Him there. God arranged it for this. In the end, all the politics, religion and culture fall away, and there is just you and me and Jesus there at the fulcrum of history. That is all that matters. You and me and Jesus. Do you get it?
I remember Mel Gibson insisting, in the making of The Passion of the Christ, that in the closeup of the nailing of the hands and feet of Jesus to the wood of the cross, it would be his own hands in that scene holding the hammer and pounding the nails. He got it.
* Thanks to C. S. Lewis for the “Deep Magic” phrase.