“See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him — his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness — so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.” (Isaiah 52:13-14, NIV).
On that Friday, we looked at Jesus on the cross and were appalled. From what did we avert our eyes? Perhaps it was His lifeless, disfigured body against the splintery cross. It might have been the nails driven through the flesh and bones of His hands and feet, holding Him there. Maybe it was the bitter irony of the crown of thorns atop His head, lacerations and mockery crowning the son of God.
Perhaps His state repulsed us: dead, and reflecting back at us the state of our own souls. When we looked at Jesus on the cross, we saw the sins we thought could be hidden forever not only uncovered but dreadfully embodied, wreaking havoc on the embodiment of peace, justice, and love. The lashes on His skin, the piercing through His side, the nails in His hands — they were all meant for us.
With guilty relief and a strange sense of injustice, we try to grasp how in God’s just world this perfect Man would die our deaths. How could we look? How could we look away? We face the incomprehensible and the glorious, something for which we long and yet which we push away. In the fibers of the cross was all the brokenness of the world, and Jesus was ruthlessly tacked on top of it. And we stood appalled. What terrified us so?
Perhaps the terror was this: at that moment, the consquences of sin, brokenness, and death seemed permanent. The One who could be saved by God gave up his own spirit and submitted to death itself. That was what we feared — and what we sometimes fear now.
We remember that day by calling it “good” to remind ourselves that we no longer need to fear the permanence of the world’s — and our own — pervasive brokenness, for Jesus conquered it. That dreadful day is called good because what looked like the victory of sin and death and injustice was in fact its defeat.
Today, we might look on the world with the same feelings of terror. But do we stand appalled the same way we did, before we knew Jesus conquered — without hope? Have we forgotten that when He rose again, we learned that what we see the first time is not always as things are? Good Lord, help us remember that the darkest days are yours, too, for the day all hope seems lost it was won — forever — by you.
“. . . let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:22-23, NIV).
Jadan is a senior in Morse College studying Economics.