Shocked?

When I was a student at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, I was assigned a Taiwanese roommate during the winter break.  My dorm was closed and he welcomed me into his flat. Not only was the cooking marvelous, but this graduate student was hungry to learn about Jesus.  When I told him I was in the divinity school, he explained what his buddhist priest said to him before he left Taiwan, “You must learn all you can about Jesus, the western Buddha.”  I remember walking with him across the town center on Christmas eve.  Hardened snow crunched with each step we took in the frigid night.  As we walked to church for the service I began at the birth of Jesus and told him the story of Jesus’ life.  He was greedy to know every detail.

One moment during this walk will forever stay with me.  As I told him about Jesus’ arrest and trial and crucifixion, the cold night silence was broken by the sounds of his sobs.  He had never heard about Jesus’ cross before that night.  The sheer brutality laid across the backdrop of Jesus’ love and innocence proved too much for him.  Of course, I knew all too well that from his culture men did not often cry in front of other men.  His response resulted from his shock at Jesus’ sacrifice and the human evil that intersected at the cross.

Years ago novelist Dorothy Sayers was asked by the BBC to write a series of plays for radio about the life of Jesus.  They asked her with no small amount of concern about how she would describe the crucifixion because she had a reputation for the scandalous.   In her letter to the BBC she said:

It is an ugly, tear-stained, sweat-stained, blood-stained story, and the thing was done by callous, conceited, and cruel people.  Shocked? We damn well ought to be shocked.  If nobody is going to be shocked, we might as well not tell them about it.

My new friend from Taiwan reminded me, who should have known so well, just how shocking Jesus’ death is.  It is his willing sacrifice, his loving sacrifice, his determined sacrifice, that shocks us to our senses.  It trumpets God’s determination to love his people despite what it costs and the fact that we do not deserve it, not even one little bit.  As theologian Beldon Lane has said:

Divine love is incessantly restless until it turns all woundedness into health, all deformity into beauty, and all embarrassment into laughter.

Let us remember this as we approach the celebration of Easter. O how great is the love the Father has for us!

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Sandy on August 12, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    A profound willing, loving, and determined sacrifice.

    Reply

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