Building from scratch requires dedication, vision, perseverance, creativity, humor and a passion beyond words. Next week is Easter and we get to celebrate a man who came to love and change lives, but not in the ways that those around Him understood would be the case. Where was the modern day army general or soldier of the time? Where was this man who the scriptures told and promised of bringing in His own kingdom, but had nothing to show for it? Who was this man that needed no shield, war machinery, mansion, large wardrobe or fast donkey? Who was this mere man that worked wood for years before publicly traveling in a land that one Sunday would praise Him as he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and five days later shout ‘crucify Him.’ Why would this man allow himself the scorn, betrayal, pain, abandonment, subjection to ridicule, hostility, rejection that He didn’t even have to endure? Why allow Himself to lead 12 men for 3 years for one of them to betray Him and allow the religious leaders of the day to turn him over to the political leaders? What was His anxiety level like leading to those final hours before wood splinters ended scraping off the remaining layers of skin after flesh hung off a body in tatters because of lashes beyond human dignity? And this is before the iron spikes crushed the bones of which held him to two rough pieces of wood, wobbling in a trench, on a hill between two common criminals?
Why did this happen? Why even write words this night I cannot sleep? Why even think about what He did and who He is to so many people, for those who believe Him and who live in scorn or denial to His life. Why? The answer to why Jesus remains in part mystery, part awe, part words not able to be expressed now. The impact of His decision to die for a people that would on one hand adore Him, have no understanding who He was and is, and yet be so captivated and drawn to him that they would follow Him at all times remains fundamental to millions of lives across waters, mountains, desserts, valleys, cities, incomes, lifestyles, cultures. The simple answer to all of this is that Jesus loved us, loves us beyond human understanding and measure. He allowed himself his own human existence to not just understand, but live the same lives we each do. How could One who looked into the eyes of those He taught, healed, made enemies of, challenged and rebuked not understand us, our human flesh unless He became just like us? The element that He not only lived in flesh, but three days after the cross returned and then left, leaving His own spirit is beyond words and understanding at times. And then there are times when I go outside, need to sense, need to truly feel His presence and from without cause or reason, comes this gentle wind that caresses my face and brings a smile, sometimes tears, but regardless the peace to my heart that I need.
Jesus allowed people to come to Him. He did recruit 12 men of ordinary and prominent backgrounds during those three years preceding the cross, and I wonder what that must have felt like, to look into the eyes of this man that not only knew what each of them was thinking, but by mere glance saw the soul of each. How could one refuse to follow, or want to refuse Him who must have pierced soul and drawn mind and heart before words were comprehended as to what just happened. To be fishing one day, without any catch, then the boat is overflowing and this man says, “Come, follow me, for I will make you fishers of men.” Or the tax collector, despised by the people of his community, being recruited and romanced by someone who understood and loved regardless. For the doctor who may have been the professional among the 12 and to give up the lifestyle of comfort and ease. This man, this Jesus, this God, this God man in three. What do we do with it all? What do we really do with it all?
Jesus knew who He was, and is…He knew…He did His work, and the beauty of it remains that we get to chose Him or not. We get to ask Him to lead our bodies, minds and souls if we want or not. He loves us regardless. He knows us before the words form in our hearts and heads. He waits for us, as the gentleman he is and will always be, for the moment where one says, “I can’t do it all anymore, there is nothing I will ever be or do or have to make up for the peace and love others who believe have.” Beyond all, He wants relationship with us, He craves our hearts, the same hearts He allowed his own to stop for to embrace His. He woos us…He woos us in moments we have no cognitive words for and in moments that our failures challenge us to forget His choice for us was and is a free gift that has no expiration. I have often said that I cannot change people, but I know the One who can. Oh, how often previous in my young life have I tried to change the people I love the most, who are the closest to me. And yet, how many walls of hurt and misunderstanding have I come across because of it. I simply cannot change hearts, it is not my place to change hearts. It is my job to love regardless, to forgive regardless, to accept regardless.
And now, an hour later what am I trying to say? What in the words previous does this author intend the reader to understand? It’s simple this: regardless where one is physically, mentally, emotionally, logistically, we are all loved. We are people that are sought after and loved regardless of failures, triumphs, professions, poverty, wealth. We get to chose Jesus first for our lives, we get to celebrate the horrendous death of One who returned as He said because of the unyielding, passionate, all consuming love He has for us, for all who have already chosen Him and for those who are still asking, “Jesus who?”