This is a reflection prepared for a Palm Sunday service (which happened to include the Liturgy of the Passion as well) at St Bartholomew’s Church, Cranmore. It followed the reading of the Passion, as told by Mark.
You’re standing outside the tomb. The evening has come. The stone lies against the entrance, sealing him off from the world. It is finished.
Grief fills your mind, as you recall in pain what you have seen and heard. Jesus, your teacher, ridiculed and mocked. Jesus, your leader, led like a lamb to the slaughter. Jesus, your friend, heaped with insults, beaten, crucified. Your heart breaks.
No surprise then that the floodgates open, and memories of other pain creeps unwanted into your mind. Friends and family lost. Relationships torn apart. Belongings taken away. Times when you too have been beaten, insulted, humiliated, exposed, abused, forgotten. Your heart breaks.
But then, God’s heart breaks too. The Father watched as his Son came helpless into the world, cold and naked and in need. The Father watched as his Son was opposed by those who should have known better. The Father watched as authorities wielded their power to twist an outcome. The Father watched as his Son was arrested in the garden. The Father watched as Jesus was accused of blasphemy. The Father watched as his Son was beaten and mocked. The Father watched as his Son was dragged through the streets with crowds jeering and pointing. The Father watched as the nails drove through his skin. The Father watched as Jesus died. And did nothing to stop it. His heart broke as he watched, knowing that it had to be done.
I wonder… what hurt most? Jesus allowed himself to be arrested, because something else hurt more. Jesus allowed himself to be mocked and beaten, because something else hurt more. Jesus allowed himself to be nailed to a cross and had his very life taken from him, because something else hurt more. As he hung on that cross, he looked out at the world, and saw… you. He saw who you are. He saw the mountain of sin that exists between you and the Father. He saw that you would never attain eternal life by yourself. He saw that unless something was done you would be permanently separated from him. That was the pain that God could not live with. That was the pain that made Jesus’ death worth suffering. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. God loves you that much. Jesus would rather go through all that than lose you.
So as you stand in front of that tomb, with the cold breeze beginning to chill your skin, with the feelings of pain and loss still like an open wound, with the bittersweet Palm Sunday still a poignant memory, with the promised resurrection still some way off, when all seems lost, remember this – God loves you. That’s what it was all for. So let’s bow before him, in submission, and adoration, and let’s love him too.