Good Friday: To Show or To Tell

Crucifixion by Rembrandt (1631)

Why would he go through all that? Why would the good Lord God put himself through that?

I met an impressive young man a few weeks ago who shared his story with me. He told me that he once had everything. A good job working for a large financial services company, a nice home, and he was engaged to be married. He had great promise and, it seemed, much to be thankful for.

But he also had something he hid… for a long time… for as long as he possibly could. An addiction. An addiction that grew until it overcame him. It started with painkillers and then it became much more hard core. And devastating. Fortunately, he was able to get treatment and through a lot of hard work, time, persistence, and support, he found his way out. He made it.

After, he decided to devote himself to helping others with this same problem. Here’s the impressive part: he quit his job, went back to school, and became a full time counselor. Over time, he went up the leadership ranks and now runs a major treatment center that helps many people regain their lives… and their hope.

As part of his story, he mentioned that he feels he has been able to help so many people because, as he discovered during his own treatment, there are many who tell you that it’s possible to live free from addiction. But, as he said to me, “it’s more powerful because I have done it, I can show them that it’s possible.”

“… because I have done it, I can show them that it’s possible.”

So, back to the Passion…

Jesus prayed in grave and unrelenting anguish in the garden while his friends slept… when he could have easily just escaped that scene and that moment.

He spent an endless, sleepless night in a holding pit awaiting his fate… when he could have snapped his fingers and made the hours pass by in an instant.

He was called to stand before lesser men, was judged and sentenced by them, when he might have just silenced those men in the blink of an eye.

He suffered grievously at the hands of torturers and executioners when a flick of his wrist could have summoned an army of angels to come to his aid.

And he hung upon a cross, gasping for breath, abandoned by all but a few… when he could have risen above it and avoided even one second of pain and despair.

Why would he go through all that? Why would the good Lord God put himself through that?

When, during his ministry, Jesus told his followers that in order to follow him, they must pick up their crosses and follow… it’s easy to conclude, as many have, as I have, that following is hard. Hard like having to pick up a cross and walk up a lonely hill toward a grim ending. But perhaps Jesus is saying instead that in our lives… we are going to face crosses and when we do, we can follow him. He’ll be right there. With us. With his own cross too. Why? Because that is what he did. He knows something about crosses… he knows something about suffering.

Though Jesus lived and served, taught and sacrificed so many centuries ago, we can still relate to him today.

Had he fled the scene of his capture… then it might be harder for us to relate to him.

Had he snapped his fingers and made time pass in an instant… then it would be more difficult for us to be inspired by him.

We ourselves can’t avoid a difficult time in our lives with the blink of an eye, we can’t sidestep the crosses we encounter with the flick of a wrist, and we certainly can’t call on an army of angels to get us out of a tough spot.

The Jesus who did those sorts of things wouldn’t have given us much choice or freedom. And there would be very little faith involved. It would merely be the obeying of a deity out of… probably fear. It would be like what happens when subjects bow to a master. And we would be mere marionettes dangling from the end of a string.

But God loves us too much to turn us into servants and puppets.

The Passion of Jesus is a lesson in showing, not telling. And just like the young man in the addiction recovery center, because Jesus has done it, he can show us just what’s possible.

Jesus could have come to tell us… but instead, he came to show us.

Why would he go through all that? Why would the good Lord God put himself through that?

There can be only one answer: because of love.

He did all that because he loves us.


    • Hi Rey, This is a wonderful reflection and so inspiring. One of the visits I make is to a woman whose son is struggling with alcohol and drug abuse. I have been praying with her for a cure. I am just wondering if this person reaches out and or if you can tell me the name of his treatment center.
      Thanks so much, Beth


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