But, Calvary

Yesterday was the first time I saw The Passion of the Christ. Brief synopsis: a two hour long movie graphically visualizing Jesus' crucifixion. It's intense and upsetting, naturally. But what really set me off, what keeps floating to the surface of my mind, what haunts me like a second shadow is the moment when, while hanging on the cross, Jesus speaks.

Up to this point, after being whipped 39 times, after half-carrying his own death device, surviving off of no sleep, a crown of thorns, and nails through his flesh, Jesus slowly suffocates until He no longer can lift himself to breathe. And, despite his suffering - the criminal, the Pharisees, the soldiers, the common folk - they're still jeering at him. And Jesus' response:

"Father, forgive them; they know not what they do." - Luke 23:34

Though Jesus forgives His persecutors, it's easy to cover behind my screen and condemn them. But how many times have I spat in God's face as I rebelled against him? How many times have I known the law and willfully broken it? How many times have I chosen some temporal fix or an idol over God? How many times have I refused to trust him? How many?

Not once did Jesus complain. Not once did He regret his choice. Not once did He curse His accusers back. The perfect Lamb of God, punished for nothing of His own accord.

I sat in my bed with my roommate weeping over this scene. It kept playing in my head with no conclusion or understanding; all I could see was swollen wounds and pools of blood, and all I could hear was "forgive them". I couldn't get it. I don’t get it. It felt like I had woken up for the first time in over a year; whatever numbness hovering over my soul was stripped bare, left naked, left vulnerable. For the first time in over a year, my condemnation was violently torn away. No longer was my soul hiding under the veil of shame to avoid the painful reality of my evil and His perfect sacrifice. I was exposed to the truth: He loves me, and I can't earn that. And, I will never understand it. My brain can trick itself into twisting verses to believe I'm eternally damned, but I could not look at Calvary and still hold onto that lie. There is no denial of His love for me. There is no greater love than someone lay down his life for his friends, and we have the privilege of being his friend.

Overcomplicating the simple gospel did nothing but fill me with pride and fear. Looking anywhere but the cross challenged my belief in an Ultimate Love, but Calvary reminds me of the gift I never asked for and never deserved.

Author  |  Caroline Beasley

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