The Hebrew scriptures of The Bible include The Book of Lamentations, an expression of sorrow and lament over the fall of ancient Jerusalem and the destruction of its temple by the Babylonians in 587 BCE.  In more recent centuries, the church has associated one particular verse of Lamentation with the crucifixion of Jesus.  Lamentations chapter 1, verse 12 asks a question: “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?  Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow…”

All ye that pass by, behold and see.

Once, at an ecumenical church conference, I sat at a table with a group of people from several different Christian traditions.  In our small group discussion I heard a comment I hadn’t heard in many years.  Someone said, “The cross as a symbol is fine with me, but I don’t like to see Jesus hanging on the cross.  Jesus isn’t on the cross anymore, right?  Jesus was resurrected, and we’re resurrection people, right?”  Others in our small group nodded in agreement.

In response, someone else said something like this: “I don’t feel that way.  Yes, I believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and we Christians are certainly resurrection people.  But it’s important for me to remember that Jesus had a body; that he really lived; that he truly suffered; and that he died an awful, horrible death.  He did this willingly, out of love for all of us.  For me, the cross is more than a concept.  What happened on the cross happened to a person.  It’s important for me to remember that…”

I’ve never forgotten that comment.

Think about it.  Jesus’ nerve endings were the same as yours and mine.  The nails that pierced his body hurt him in the same way they would hurt you and me.  The physical shock and trauma he experienced would be the same for us.  As he bled, so we would bleed.

Maybe it’s easier to worship a God who never suffered.  Good Friday gets in the way of that.

Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat wrote: “there’s an old saying: You can’t have Easter without Good Friday.  Many people today express the desire to have an open heart, a loving heart, a compassionate heart.  Well, how do you open your heart?  Usually it’s broken open.  Jesus on the cross breaks your heart.  He breaks it open.  You can’t look at the crucifixion without having an experience of compassion.  Only a heart broken open – one that can have compassion for those who suffer – can truly appreciate the new life represented by Easter.”

All you who pass by on this Good Friday, 2018: behold and see if there is any sorrow like his sorrow.  And if you dare behold, if you dare see, expect to be changed.  Expect your heart to be broken.  Expect to feel compassion for others as never before. 

This would please the God man dying on the cross.

Behold and see.


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