Friday, April 22, 2011

I Remember

I Remember

Isaiah 52:13-53:12, the passion story

“As we face the cross, we can say to ourselves both ‘I did it, my sins sent him there’ and ‘he did it, his love took him there’” John Stott

I was reading this week about the golden era of the Greek Empire. It was an era in history where the written word was slowly replacing the spoken word as the way of preserving the past. Poets were the stars of the day. They had written down clever and helpful ways of telling the stories of the past, and these written ways were then dramatically proclaimed to the gathered crowd in the amphitheatre. Some ancient amphitheaters held up to 17,000 people at one time. And they were there to hear a story told and unfold. They were there to hear how their story mingled with the universal themes of being human. Their stories were of gods and men, fate and destiny, tragedy and triumph. Their stories spoke to the heart and captivated the mind. Their stories were told in community and were a reason to gather, they were an event.

In the story of the cross, humans encounter the most dramatic and shocking story ever told. It is a story of me, and how my sin caused God to leave the heavens. It is a story of God, and how his love caused him to come and rescue the sons and daughters of Adam.

Who was watching this divine drama as it actually happened?

Who were the people watching, and their reasons for doing so:
· The religious council of priests and teachers watched: watching every word of Jesus, hoping he would slip up, ready to pounce upon him
· Pilate watched, interrupted, being political
· Herod watched, looking for a magic show, and not getting one
· Simon the Cyrene watched, a visitor to town pausing to look at a procession passing before him, he is brought onto the stage
· The weeping women watched: shocked and saddened at the injustice of the whole situation
· Two criminals watched, they woke up that day to find it was the last day of their life. Did they know they would meet God before going to meet God?
· Soldiers watched, doing their job, making a difficult finish to those punished by the state. Were they able to see innocence as they looked upon the suffering Jesus?
· Creation: becoming dark, it was the only appropriate response
· Centurion: surely this was a righteous man. How did he say this? Was he angry at what he just saw? Did he realize the error of the situation part way through the crucifixion
· The gathered crowd SAW, beat their breasts and walked away. What else could one do?
· Those who knew him (and who had followed him), stood at a distance, WATCHING these things. Did eyes of faith know that the story was not finished? Or hope? Or pray?
· Joseph: he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Was his wait nearly finished? Or did it seem farther than ever after this event?
· The women preparing for burial: bringing dignity, tradition and honor to a difficult situation.
· Ultimately, God and heaven. A Father watched his only Son die. Heaven sees the eternal worshipped one meet an earthly end.

Surely the story wasn’t supposed to be like this. But it was. Once sin entered, this was the only solution. God’s love sent Jesus.

What did the people watch? And you and I, what do we watch through the reading and listening of this story? What do we do with this story? In a word, we “remember”.

We remember the human plea, the divine pleasure and the new promise.

We remember THE HUMAN PLEA

Jesus remember me: The thief says
Here is a wise man.
He understood his time had come.
He understood his just sentence.
He encounters someone who is innocent and defends him.
He sees by faith who this person was.

Jesus remember me: you and I say
We sing the words of the Scripture, and they act as a plea to the Holy
God of the universe.
We are more like the thief than we are like Jesus.
And so we ask for mercy from the one that we have come to know as
good and true, Jesus, remember me.


Jesus remembers the thief: Today you will be with me in paradise.
This is an astonishing statement. Two men dying next to one another. This story was not going to end well. Jesus looks to this man, in the midst of a horrible situation, and says Today. Today, we are going to paradise.

Jesus remembers you and I:
Isaiah wrote, “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light
of life and be satisfied.”
Jesus remembers you and I.
In his god-ness, he remembered you and I while suffering on a cross.

It pleases the Lord to save. That is why Jesus died, to save. To bring back the sons and daughters of Adam into the presence of God. When we come, it pleases God. It is another fulfillment toward the divine desire, the divine pleasure, that we might have eternal life, forgiven and freed.

God kicked humans out of the garden. If we would have eaten from the tree of life in our fallen states, we would live forever marred by sin.

God was pleased to send Jesus. Finding him, we find eternal life, one that triumphs over the enemies of sin, death and devil. An eternal life lived in the presence of God; pure beauty, abundant life, divine holiness, friendship with the living God. That is God’s pleasure.


The new promise we make: I remember Jesus:
Lent calls us to repentance. The Holy Week events bring us face to face with Jesus and his sacrificial work. We remember as we look to Jesus. We take part in the amphitheater of life, looking at the true and real divine tragedy, and we see Jesus. It is Jesus that we remember. I remember Jesus.

‘I remember’ Jesus says.
The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Proclaimed the prophet Isaiah.
Jesus won the victory. The resurrection was the proof that death could not bind the perfect Son of God. Resurrection validates the cross, but we get ahead of ourselves.

The cross is where Jesus remembered you and me.
Only God and his Son can say “I remember”, and do so perfectly.

1 comment:

  1. Amen!! --And great Stott quote. Nicely done.