I have a difficult time with the days before Easter.
For most of my life I think I minimized the suffering and death of Jesus. I figured it wasn’t quite as horrible for Him since He was God. I somehow thought that provided some sort of protection, as though He suffered but not really.
Now I believe it’s just the reverse. I believe He experienced every bit of the physical pain and humiliation as a human being, and that it was exponentially WORSE because He was God. I can’t begin to explain how that works, but I believe the horrors Jesus experienced were beyond anything we can imagine. He existed from the beginning in community with Father and Spirit, and He had that ripped away on the cross.
Then I remember He volunteered on my behalf. That understanding gives a whole new depth to the question SHOULD I LAUGH OR CRY?
I used to think about Jesus in theological terms. He was a collection of ideas, and the right ideas were terribly important. I still believe correct theology matters, but I think about Jesus as a person, a friend, instead of a collection of ideas. I think He wants me to know Him and talk to Him more than He wants me to learn about Him.
So what should I feel when a friend makes an indescribable sacrifice for me? Should I be sad about His death or grateful for the gift?
I get that it’s not an either/or. I can celebrate the resurrection while I grieve the horrible suffering of a friend. At least, that’s the theory.
In the days before Easter, if I take it seriously, it’s not as easy as it sounds.