Be warned. This may contain what some consider to be negativity and too much information, but I want to be transparently honest. I struggle with pain. I hate it. It wears me down. Some nights are worse than others, but the other night was a doozy and left me crying in exasperation. To top it off, when I did manage to sleep, I had a nightmare.
In the dream, someone close to me went to the authorities and accused me of a horrendous crime I would never commit. The police came and arrested me, and I was dragged into court. I was innocent! In fact, I am a fierce defender of the safety of the ones I was accused of hurting! I have sacrificed years of my life for them! I passionately defended myself. But no one would listen in this crazy kangaroo court.
In the dream, I felt anger and rage that anything so ridiculous could happen. Strangely, the awareness of real-life pain wove in and out of my sleep and it felt like the dream cops were the cause of the electric shock-type pains that travel through my body and the severe muscle spasms I get in my legs. I couldn’t stand. I was so angry I tried to bite the officers restraining me.
When I woke, I was still angry. I knew I was innocent! I wanted to give those people in my dream the same treatment they had given me. I’d shoot them all with tazers! I’d twist their joints with ropes! I’d jab their guts with a bowie knife! It took a while to calm down and convince myself it was just a dream.
My body still hurt though. I was grumpy all day. I’m a little slow sometimes, and not just due to coping with pain and lack of sleep. Sometimes I just don’t get it.
Two of the words I’ve been thinking about for Creative Meditations for Lent this week are passion and innocent. In the dream I knew I was innocent. In the dream I fought passionately against the injustice of the whole thing. It didn’t dawn on me until I was looking at photos I took of a place called “Ecce Homo” in Jerusalem, that there could be a message in the dream. I have prayed Philippians 3:10 many times. “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection [and the part I’m not as fond of but include because it’s a part of the whole picture] and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…”.
Jesus was innocent. Jesus was not emotionless. He was tempted in every way we are. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) God created us to naturally want to protect our bodies and souls from harm. If he was also human, how could Jesus control a passionate drive to defend himself from the false accusation from a disciple he loved? Did Jesus feel the powerful urge to strike back at those striking him? How could he love these people? How could he say, “Father, forgive them…?”
Jesus was fully God and fully man, but he emptied himself to live as a human, subject to the limitations of humans. [Christ Jesus] “who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8) It was his connection with the Father and Holy Spirit that demonstrated what it is to be fully human living in right relationship with God the Father and empowered by the Holy Spirit. He came to reconnect us to the Father. He left the earth so the Holy Spirit could come and fill us, comfort us, and renew us.
The worn stone pavement thought to be the location of the old Roman garrison under an ancient building in Jerusalem is called Ecce Homo – “Behold the Man.” These were Pilate’s words as he handed Jesus over to the soldiers who were no doubt demonically inspired to do their worst to him there.
The song, “Behold the Man” comes to mind today.
Like a lamb to the slaughter
They led Him away
He was battered, bruised, and beaten
For the sheep who’d gone astray…
Through the scourging and the beatings
He never said a thing…
Behold the Man
Really look at Him
And then you’ll understand
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus tis now.
2 thoughts on “Innocence, Passion, and Sacrifice”
The name of one of the books I am reading is “Ecce Homo”. May we so walk with Him that such a thing may be said of us… behold the Man in our fragile earthen vessels.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
Will hold you up before Him; as pain is a relentless reality for many.
Thank you, BT.