I knew this morning, before I crawled out of bed, that I would find my way to the story that has given this day it's name. Good Friday. I am not really sure why we call it good. The good comes later...but not today. It was hard and lonely and deadly.
What I did not know, was that through the reading of this story, God would bring me through some thoughts that I now have to put to writing. It is what some would call a catharsis. A purging of the emotions or the relieving of emotional tensions in the form of art, according to dictionary.com. It is time. I can always tell when it is time.
This will not be a post of fluff. It will not contain photos to please your eye and keep you interested. It may even get long and boring and you may think, "why am I reading this?" And it's ok. You can stop anytime. This is my catharsis. I share it because I need to.
Not much more than a year ago, my life came to a screeching halt of all I knew. Sparing all details, suffice it to say, that while reading the story of Jesus' last 24 hours of life on this earth, early this morning, my heart resonated like never before when I read this verse:
"Then all the disciples deserted him and fled." (Matthew 26:56)
I don't have to ask dictionary.com for the definition of the word betrayal. I know it all too well. And before the assumption is made that you think you know who I am talking about, let me just say, you may be right but this betrayal does not involve just one, but the many. A group of sorts. It wasn't just one betrayal for me...for my children... that has nearly killed us. No. The betrayal of the many has dug the knife even deeper.In fact, at times, my heart was bleeding so profusely I did not think I would survive. It is the inflicting of a pain that is beyond description. At least the one knew. The many didn't even bother to ask.
It is interesting to me to read through this day in Jesus' life and relate. You may think I am crazy, but truly, it has helped me. Jesus knew betrayal too. And like me, it wasn't just the one, but the many. We all remember Judas...even named the Betrayer. But what about the others? Like His close friends. Peter. James. John. In the last hours of His life, knowing the pain that was ahead, He shared his heart with the three who He deemed trustworthy...close....bosom-like. Scripture says that Jesus took these three away from the rest of the disciples and was sorrowful and troubled saying to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death!" Oh the depth of pain He must have felt. Can't explain it, but my heart so grieves when I read this because nothing could have prepared me for the kind of pain my heart has been through in this past year. Nothing. And in some small way, I get it with Jesus. Sometimes sorrow so deep feels like every part of you IS dying. And the three were there. They heard His words and had to know He was hurting, but in just a few short hours,they left and Jesus walked it alone.
"Then, when the going got tough, his friends deserted Him and fled." That would be the Robin Moslander version of verse 56. But in reality, that is what happened. The ones He shared His heart with, looked to for support, fled. Betrayal to the utmost.
I know this. Some, no many who were friends, some for several years have betrayed and fled too. Like my dad told me, "You will know who your true friends are." Sad. I don't think...no I know...that this is not the way it is suppose to be for those in the family of God. For the brothers and sisters in Christ. For those who we share fellowship with. It isn't right. True friends lay down their lives for each other. That is what Scripture says. We don't abandon. We don't turn our backs.
The finality of Jesus' life began that day with the celebration of Passover. Within just a few short hours, he was betrayed by his friends and turned over to the authorities. That is when then the real horror began. Stripped and mocked. Spit on. Shoved and hit. Laughed at. Oh those Pharisees. Aren't they such a fun bunch? So steeped in their own piousness that they can't even see the gift of Grace standing before their very eyes. After all, it's all about law keeping. Their words exactly? "He is worthy of death!"
It is easy to spot the likes of Pharisee-ism in the modern church. It is where grace and mercy is non-existent. When loving your neighbor as yourself is not really done. When laying down your life for your friend being the greater love doesn't exist. But law keeping does. The words "too far" are spoken in superiority. Along with, "I would never do that."
Sense a bit of emotional release with those words? Ya. It's true. Remember, this is my catharsis. And I realize these words may just really tick some of you off. But in my life, in this last year,I haven't just known the betrayal of the one, and the friends. I have known the betrayal of those who I now deem as the Pharisees. Law keepers. Where judgement is over mercy and love is not an action. Where position is more important than relationship. Where noses are turned up and "better than you" attitudes exist.May I just say it again. Where loving..showing love by actions does not exist.These are the fruits of Pharisees.
In Christ...in CHRIST...we have one choice. Mercy. Period. I know that is hard to swallow at times...oh believe me, I know. But Scripture is clear. We are to...
"Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgement!" James 2:12,13.
What's mercy? Showing compassion to those who do not deserve it. Plain and simple. None of us deserve one darn thing. The mercy shown to us by Jesus Christ walking the path to His death, even for the ones who betrayed Him, was done in love and not because we deserve it.
Wanna know something? I don't really love mercy. Oh I do when I like the person. Or I feel like it. But, most of the time, judgement can win out for me too. I get it. I know it's easy to make excuses as to why we act like Pharisees but it doesn't make it right. It doesn't. Showing mercy...being Christ like to all in all situations is the toughest thing we do as Christians. And it is why so many look at the way we, the body of Christ acts and call us a bunch of hypocrites. Because honestly, if we don't try to not be, we will be by default.
I've learned a lot about myself and others in this past year. Much of it, as you have read, has been extremely painful. The bottom line? I have been writhing in pain, inflicted by the one and the many for so long that I am tired of dressing and redressing the wound. It's time for healing.
And for the record..having a catharsis does not replace the work of Christ in my heart to forgive and love through this pain. I want you to know I know that and I have given place in my heart for that work to begin.