“Today’s fast was hard,” a friend confessed. “Thinking of all Jesus experienced—well, it’s too much to bear.”

Yes. It is.

Day Thirty-One of 40 Days of Decrease was difficult to write.

As I studied each gospel and recorded each instance of violent mockery that preceded the unspeakable cruelty of the crucifixion, I kept closing my eyes and turning my face away from the texts.crucifixion

Slapped and spit in the face

Mocked

Beaten

Ridiculed and insulted

Stripped

Flogged

Lord, have mercy.

Jesus was clearly not the only person to experience the brutality of the crucifixion process.

But without question, He was the only person who chose to experience every first and last moment of it voluntarily.

Esteemed saints throughout the ages have chosen arrest over renouncing their faith in times of persecution. And after that key choice, subsequent choices were forfeited and they moved toward martyrdom at the will of others.

But Jesus was not a martyr. Jesus was a Savior.

Jesus could have stopped the insanity at any moment with one cry of “Enough!” He had opt-out options all along the way yet chose to remain present for each painful point along the path to death.

And He did it for us.

Really, this is quite sobering.

Next time we are tempted to sin, perhaps this is what we need to remember: Jesus, bleeding and bruised upon the cross with His life draining from every wound.

Too gruesome?

Why?

Perhaps the image of Jesus in a flowy white robe and back-lit hair does not inspire obedience because the image is not accurate.

I remember as a new follower of Jesus wondering why some traditions always pictured Jesus on the cross. “He is risen!” I’d proclaim. “Why picture Him dying?” Now I understand. Picturing His death strengthens us to live this life…in His honor.

Yes, the resurrection is just around the corner in our liturgical calendar.open eyes

But let us not hasten there prematurely.

Do not close your eyes.

May this passion week sink deeply enough into our souls to sound its remembrance year-round.

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