I woke up today and thought, “It’s D-Day,” then slapped myself in the head. I’m finalizing a book I’ve been working on for two years, but clearly, Jesus going to the cross should have been my first thought on this Good Friday.
I’ve been praying all week for the Lord’s help. The pressure of finishing my book over holy week is tough because I love and am grateful for the opportunity annually to focus more intentionally on the basis and reason for my faith, identity, career, parenting, and life. But I woke up instead thinking about what was actually most prominent in my heart and mind. My to-do list.
Before I started on my book edits today, however, I read the good Friday narrative. For some reason, when I got to Luke 23:24, “He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will,” I crossed off “their” and wrote “my.” Immediately I wanted to justify, disagree with, and defend myself, but instead I felt like I wasn’t supposed to stop there. Reluctantly, I went back to Luke 23:1 and I crossed off every “they,” “our,” and “the whole crowd,” and I replaced it with “I,“ “my,” and “me.”
- “Then I rose and led him off to Pilate.”
- “…I began to accuse him, saying, I have found this man subverting my nation.”
- “But I insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching…”
- “But I shouted, ‘Away with this man! Release Barabbas to me.”
- “But I kept shouting, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’
- “But with loud shouts I demanded that he be crucified, and my shouts prevailed.”
- “He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one I asked for, and surrendered Jesus to my will.”
Every scratch of my pencil reminded me, I go along with the crowd, I say nothing, I want my will, every day. I tried holding back my tears. My heart hurt with pain I did not want to feel and truth I did not want to admit.
But nothing could have prepared my heart what happened next.
If I tell you what happened next, when I replaced “them” and “they” with “she” and “her” in Luke 23:34, however, I’ll ruin everything. I’ll keep you from experiencing the most heart-breaking, deep, inexplicable, beautiful part. It will prevent you from missing the horror and the heaven of what happens when we make biblical concepts, more concrete. You will miss a shift in your soul by simply replacing abstract pronouns in Luke 23:1 – Luke 24, with personal ones.
If you get the chance to do this short reading exercise today, I pray you will be able to embrace more deeply the unimaginable, underserving love, kindness, and amazing grace of the man you and I hung on the cross. And in that, that it will help you receive and accept both what we did and what we did not deserve in a new, fresh, and powerful way as we remember why this Friday is in fact, so truly and deeply,