Ruminate on the word you were drawn to in yesterday’s scripture passage (Luke 23:33-46). What does the word or phrase you have chosen mean to you today?
The word that stuck out to me yesterday was “hanged”. Aside from the obvious connotation of hanging as a form of execution, the word stands out to me partly because of its casualness. Jesus and the two criminals are “hanging”, like a picture frame or a sheet out to dry. This is my savior, discarded, abandoned, hanging.
Yesterday I was drawn to the idea of the two criminals’ choices. The one rejects Jesus, and I find it hard to blame his lack of believf. Not having our perspective, perhaps never meeting Jesus before, a man being killed is told that the person next to him claimed to be the messiah. The Messiah? Hanging next to him? The man seems powerless, not powerful.
I find myself questioning how often I subconsciously view Jesus as powerless. Of course I admit God’s omnipotence, and on an intellectual level I do believe that Jesus can do whatever He desires. But in the midst of my own problems, my own suffering, even while I cry out to God, there is a doubting voice inside. “He’s not going to help you with this. Maybe he wants to help, he can’t. You’re on your own, figure it out.”
When I listen to this voice, I am viewing Jesus like the criminal did. I am failing, like he did, to see beyond Jesus’ powerless appearance…to see beyond the Jesus who is hanging. It takes the faith of the other criminal to know that in spite of however things may seem, Jesus is still in control, and it is to Him that I must cling.
I don’t understand why we must suffer, and I don’t understand why it seems like God doesn’t answer. But I trust that Jesus hears our pleas, and that in the end, all will be well. I am reminded of a quote by C.S. Lewis, from his book, A Grief Observed:
When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of ‘No answer’. It is not a locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head, not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, ‘Peace, child; you don’t understand.’
© Crucifixion, Donald Jackson, 2002. The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.