Monday, November 16, 2009

You where there....

The rabbi, the teacher, the great prophet all of these names are what they called him. Messiah, friend, and the one who forgives sins is what many of us knew him personally to be. The night was dark, our spirits were low, tears flowed from our eyes like streams of salt water; we his followers were broken. We the people who knew him couldn’t believe that this had happened. We knew not what they said of him or accused him of. The crucified personal messiah is now looked upon as he hung so high but felt so low. Jesus of Nazareth had come, had healed, had lead and brought light now this Jesus, Mary’s son, Josephs boy was dead. How could one who spoke life of living waters into the souls of multitudes, how could this man who knew the scriptures better than the religious leaders themselves, how could this friend of so many now be the unrecognizable, beaten, dead body hanging on this cross? Justice been served to pilots plot? Maybe for some, but for us, his disciples, followers and friends we had lost more than they had gained. They gained attention and the satisfaction of a lynch mob, but we, in this moment, had lost our leader. A innocent man had been murdered.
In the first photo what we see is a group of people who all were there for different reasons. A short woman who he had called mother, friend, mentor and follower now was a human bubble of unanswered questions who stood low and felt deep. The worry on her face had shown through the wrinkles and sadness in her eyes. Her bones had become weary and her heart heavy, and to stop herself from loosing her mind, she had to be there to bid him his final goodbye. Mary his mother had an intimacy with Jesus that only a mother could explain. The angel Gabriel appears to her on a mission from God and says “you will birth the Savior of the World”; what does this mean? A virgin gives birth to the savior of the world? A young girl about to be married to a respected man in the community and now an angel from God appears to her when she can be no older than fifteen years of age and says, “Ready or not, from your womb comes the savior of humanity”. She is there at the cross not just because it is her son, but also because he is her savior. She is there because while she knows the will of God, that her sons blood had to be shed and he had to be sacrificed to save human kind, she also struggles in her on flesh, why him, why now, and more importantly why this way. His face that she had kissed so many times, his smile that could light up a room, his spirit that was contagious, all of these things that a mother had seen. She gave birth to him, she was there to love him, she was there to discipline him, she was there when he had his first scrape, when he got in his first fight, she read him books to go to sleep and was there on his first day of school. Now her son, who holds to offices, her first born and the savior of the world, is not just dead, but has been beaten, spit on, humiliated, and sacrificed like livestock; and all she can do in this moment is submit to the will of God. Past her tears she prays, past her anguish- she prays, past her hurt- she prays, past her anger and all consuming confusion she not only prays but her son looks up to heaven and teaches her to forgive with these words to the ones who have just nailed him to a cross, “father God forgive them (my enemies) for they know not what they do”. In the sight of God and the angels and in the mystery of God and His power, this is why Mary, the mother of Jesus, has to be there and has to witness this from the beginning to the end, she who has taught him everything she knows- now must learn how to forgive the ones, who have killed her first born son.
He has a family, a wife and children, he has to provided for his own. So you really cant be mad at this Roman guard, he like you and I is just simply trying to do his job. Please the boss, work hard and he gets to keep his job and maybe even a promotion. He’s not involved in all the court and legal stuff; he is a man who just wants his children to eat and his home to be taken care of. But can you imagine what’s going through his mind, he is a Roman Guard, so history tells us his physical frame and statue is as big as a wall and thick as cement. He has just taken this healer from Nazareth and whipped him with a leather cord laced with nails, bones, glass and anything that would easily pierce the flesh and rip out any human organ that got in its way. He mocked him, “you save people, now save yourself” words that were meant to not just hurt the Christ, but words that he wanted all who called themselves his followers to hear. He wanted to break there spirits, he wanted to make a fool out of a cause. If Jesus was a cause that went against this soldier’s boss and that could eventually affect his job, then he wanted to demolish that cause and all who believed in it as well. Jesus no longer was a man, he was an enemy, and it was this soldiers job to destroy the enemy that threatened Pilots Empire.
Isn’t it ironic how two men completely different both end up dying on a tree? And both in some way take their own lives. Judas, the money handler, one of Jesus’ closest confidants ends up betraying the mission out of envy and greed. This was not just one of the disciples, this was Judas. The there are many lessons to the life of Judas but I find it interesting that the artist would put Judas in this picture, but yet it is needed. Greed, shame, lying, deceit and betray all cause Judas to take his own life. Love, Mercy, Kindness and Forgiveness of Sins all are the reasons why Jesus had to sacrifice his life. The things that are evil to the world will eventually kill themselves and that is what is betrayed in the hanging of Judas. The characters that all of humankind need more of are all betrayed in the hanging of Jesus.
The disciple John is the one whom Jesus calls his “beloved”; the one whom Jesus loves. He was there at Jesus baptism, he was there at the transfiguration, he was there when Christ raised their friend Lazarus from the dead, he was there at the last supper and now he is here at the execution of his messiah. This is not just a friendship created by years of traveling with one another on a journey; this is an unbroken and unspoken divine bond. Intimate to the point were they shared a dream, personal to the point where they shared their emotions and now they share a mother. As Jesus is dying, as Jesus is forgiving, as Jesus is physically trying to hold on from the suffocation that is taken place to his body as he hangs by nails jammed into his flesh on a rusted cross, he gives John his mother. He reminds John of the mission that true and pure religion is to take care of the widows and orphans. He reminds John, that even in this brutality of death, there is still life that has to be taken care of by those who will trust and obey the commands of God. While Jesus hurts for his friend, his beloved, John- he still teaches. John is not here for John, John is here for the mission, he is here to remind us all that even in death Jesus has promised us that he is the resurrection and the life and those who believe in him shall not die.
The artist in this picture portrays an excellent skill of ivory carving that captures every detail, moment and touch for the viewer. The expression on the hanging Judas is solemn, as one who couldn’t stay alive in his own skin. The tree which he hangs on willows with sadness as it appears to be caught in the conversation of the winds. The artist carves Mary as a widowed woman, her face says, “confused” only because her heart is broken. John’s arm is extended as though he wants to touch him one more time or maybe the thought is crossing his mind to pull his dying friend off that cross. Johns face says, “I am here buddy”, when many of the disciples couldn’t stand to see Jesus like that John, his beloved friend is there. The Roman Guard who is just doing his job, appears to have a knife in his hand possibly going to stab Jesus in the side to try and cause him to die faster, but he appears to be stuck, stuck in the sudden glimpse of looking at the face of Jesus and wondering, “what if I just killed an innocent man?”. And the artist portrays Jesus in the best way with the beautiful brown color of the carved ivory, “I surrender”; he is not surrendering out of defeat, but rather surrenders out of victory. He has just sacrificed himself for the team. He dies, but you and I live.

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