I have always felt a little strange about calling this particular day "good." It was not a good day for the followers of Jesus Christ a little over 2000 years ago. It was a sad, horrible, terrible day. It was a day when they witnessed their friend, son, brother, rabbi, their Lord, brutally murdered for crimes He did not commit. He was killed in the most horrific way possible by people who hated him, their hate stemming from their own egos, their jealousy and their pride. If you've studied the Bible then you know these are the worst of sins; they are the same sins that got Lucifer, who was once the most beautiful angel in heaven, banished to hell for eternity.
It's been a rough week at my house. My daughter, who will be 20 years old next month - where did the time go? - has had the flu. It doesn't matter how old your children get, when they get really sick they want their mama. So I played nurse maid a bit this week. I took her to the doctor and the flu tests came back as positive for both Flu A and Flu B. (They tested her twice just to be sure the results were correct.) Now I don't know much about medicine, but I know that's a bad thing. My daughter and I are both supposed to sing at our Easter service Sunday, so we are trying to nurse her back to health while also trying to keep me from catching the bug. That's a pretty tough task when your child is not one who enjoys being quarantined. She is too social to sit in her room for a week, and therefore continues to roam all over the house, which sorta freaks out her germaphobic mother. I've been following her around with a can of Lysol for the past three days. Emily doesn't really understand that for a 20 year old to have the flu is a much different thing than for a person close to 50 to catch it. Any illness that keeps her down for a week would knock me and/or the hubby off our feet for twice that. It's the flu, and I respect it enough to avoid it.
Along with my home being a sick bay, I dealt with a situation this week that brought to mind the Book of James, one of my favorite books of the Bible, which in chapter 3 reminds us that the tongue is a very dangerous thing and controlling it is imperative for living right in the sight of God. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 15 that the words we say show what's in our hearts.
As a Christ follower, I am instructed to try my best to live as Jesus did and to emulate Him. As a sinner born to this earth I will never come close, but I am instructed, through God's help, to try. And this week, the vision that continues to run through my mind is Jesus being questioned prior to his crucifixion by Pilate, the Roman governor:
Mark 15: 3-5 NLT
Then the leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise.
Jesus was omniscient and thus knew he was about to be executed. He could have spoken in His defense. He could have proven Himself to be the Son of God right then and there with a miracle of some sort and Pilate, who was reluctant to sentence Him, might have let him go. Instead, Jesus remained silent.
Next to my desk at work I have the whole chapter of Romans 12 printed and taped to my wall. In it are two passages which have helped me this week:
Romans 12:14 NLT
Bless those who persecute you. Don't curse them; pray that God will bless them.
Romans 12:17 NLT
Never pay back evil for evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.
And of course my most favorite verse has helped me, too:
Romans 8:28 NLT
For we know that in all things God works for the good for those who love the Lord and live according to His purpose.
It's been a less than stellar week, but I've learned some things.
1. I cannot control other people. I can only control my own thoughts, attitudes and actions. I already knew this, but this week was a good reminder.
2. Sometimes it's just best to take the high road and keep my mouth shut.
3. I also cannot control the flu, but I can do my best to avoid it while still helping my daughter get well.
Good Friday was not a good day 2000 years ago. But in all the horrible brutality, God was giving us His greatest gift. In all the ugly darkness, He was creating the light of eternal life for all His children, for those who believe in Him and live according to His purpose. During His pain and suffering, Jesus spoke out, and asked the Father to please "forgive them, for they know not what they do."
I mourn every year on this day. I cry for the pain Jesus suffered, especially knowing that He died for my sins. And I am convicted when I remember that he was asking God to forgive all of us, even though we are the ones who put Him on the cross. I cannot imagine the pain or the agony He endured. I know that nothing I go through on this earth will ever come close to the pain Jesus suffered on that day. And still, He forgave them. He forgave me. Therefore, so must I forgive.