Get Off That Cross and Show Us Some Real Power
By Pastor Pat Badstibner
41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. – Matthew 27:41-42
“Get down from there.”, they screamed!
“Look at that, he cannot even save himself. How, in the world could anyone think that this was “The Messiah”?”, they taunted.
“Show us some real power!”, they jested.
Yet, they are not alone, without saying it, I know that I often wish that God was a more immediate deliverer.
“What about our oppression, what about our entrapment, this is not what a “Messiah” does…at least not ours. What good is this KING that we laid out palm branches for? We wanted one who would seek glory, come in triumphantly. Instead, he looks like a slaughtered lamb”.
They wanted a king who rode into their city majestically and delivered them through an awesome display of power but instead they got a king who willingly let others spit in his face, taunted him incessantly and nailed a crown of thorns to his head. They wanted a king who would help deliver them from the cruelties of life NOW and deliver them from the pressing reality of captivity NOW. Instead they got a king who stayed nailed on the cross.
Is that not what you and I often want? A God who will deliver me NOW? A God who will deliver me and those I care about from the oppression of living in this broken world? Just like them I want a God who helps me win over my enemies.
They were tired of suffering as I am tired of suffering. They were tired of watching their friends suffer as I am tired of watching my friends suffer. Why, I ask, must my friend remain wondering if his wife’s cancer is going to come back? Why must another friend, in the midst of admitting that, as a pastor, he sometimes wishes he was not a Christian, goes on to watch his wife lay in a hospital bed and receive a blood transfusions, wondering what good is this Christianity.
Surely, they would be better served by a God who looks a whole lot closer to the “Word Of Faith” God. Served by the God who, if we can muster enough faith, gives us health, wealth and happiness, instead of being served by a God who tells me that the way to come to understand how much he loves me, and his grace, is through deep suffering.
This was the WHY of those who would scream on that day, “Get down, save yourself.” It was not so much Himself they wanted Him to save, just as it is not for us. They were shortsighted, near sighted, only seeing directly what was in front of them.
They believed if He got down, everyone around would know where the power was. They wanted a HE-MAN King, “I Have The Power.” Instead, they got a king who called them to join Him in being willing to give up worldly power so that they might gain real power.
You and I are no different, we…like them, cannot see the greatest oppression of all, the enemy forces who would do battle and rage for our souls. Nor do we usually care to grasp that WE are indeed not OK, that God is indeed repulsed by our sin and as such, must demand payment and justice.
No! Like them we want power NOW, deliverance NOW; tangible, that we can see and touch, freedom now from pain, suffering, oppression, the effects of the brokenness of this world. When we do not get it we scream, “God where are you? Do you not see? Do you not care? WHY must it be this way? Get down here, show us real power!”
They could not see the big picture, the total picture. If they had, they would not have screamed “GET DOWN” but “FINISH IT”. When Christ saw SIN in the garden, the effects of it and the wrath of God that it deserved, He sweat blood. If they could capture just a glimpse of their desperate need for the ugliness of the cross, they would desperately cry out “SAVE US!”.
Not save us from the NOW, but save us from the COMING! Save us from such a fate that would leave us suffering, crying out for a drop of water, deliverance from our own schemes and thinking. “SAVE US!”. We would cry out as well, if only we could see what would make the perfect God/Man face and confront fear.
Yet, where we are nearsighted, shortsighted, Christ was not. Because Christ could see in the garden not only what we could never be able to see but what we could never handle seeing. He truly did FINISH IT!
While they may not have screamed, “Save US!”, “Finish IT!”, HIS love drove Him on the mission to Finish IT! While they and us may want immediate delivery, HE knew the plan that had been set in place long before we would have a need for the perfect lamb.
It was only through such pain, ugliness, sorrow and ultimate death that victory over death, mercy and grace could be given. YET, because One died such a death and rose again, now all have been given such grace. YES, indeed, the cross no longer holds the lamb. Death was conquered and the tomb is now empty. Grace is now freely given, so that all might freely live.
Yes, while we might want immediate deliverance, it is only through those dark nights like the garden and those times of feeling left alone, when everything is breaking loose, when we can catch just a glimpse of what Christ felt on a hill called Golgotha. At Calvary we discover and understand what was accomplished, what was given, what was paid for, what was secured. We learn that mercy is indeed great and grace is truly free for us because the perfect lamb not only paid the price but left the tomb.
Tomorrow, as we celebrate that empty tomb, may we not forget that the emptiness of the tomb came only because ONE was willing to be totally emptied so that all would have the chance to know that only through suffering does one learn to appreciate, understand and live in the freedom that came as a result of the empty tomb.
Photo credit: abcdz / Fotor / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike / Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)