“Look on the one whom they have pierced.” Look long. Look well. Look at Love. “Wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.”
It is hard to look. We would rather turn away, turn away from suffering and death, prejudice and inequality, poverty and violence, each swirling round our world, close to home, and in ourselves. Life can be so frightening, confusing, and revolting. We would rather turn away.
Isaiah 52:13-53:12 / Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 / John 18:1-19:42
The suffering of Jesus, which we remember on this holy night, would be appalling enough if this put an end to something so terrible: if Jesus’ death on the cross forever ended the tyrannical power of unjust rulers; or forever ended conspiracy and betrayal and discrimination; or forever ended martyrs’ giving up their lives; or forever ended suffering from disease and diminishment, or even death itself. None of this has ended. If anything, Jesus’ death on the cross was the start of something. We are not spared the experience of the cross, we are shared the experience. Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (1) Down through the centuries, many people in many places have understood Jesus’ words about “taking up your cross” quite literally. Even today Christians are being killed in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, and countless other places around our world. Tyrannical power, injustice, discrimination, disease, and death continue without end.