Day 43: Run over by a truck
How a situation impacts us is affected by our distance from it: our physical, chronological, and relational distance.
Take war for example. How we remember it is affected by whether or not it happened in our back yard. How we feel about it is changed by how long ago it took place. And if that event happened to someone we are close to, then no time or distance will lessen its impact upon us.
So how do you think Jesus’ best friend felt and reacted to and remembered Jesus’ crucifixion?
My most painful and poignant memories, the ones that I well-up over, come from a few sources. Most come from important relationships. A smaller number of them come from “highs” and “lows” of my life. A few are at the intersection of relationships, physical pleasure or pain, and emotional joy or sorrow. Those are the ones that never seem to leave.
John, in chapter 19, is inviting us into his world. He has been physically close to all these events, these events which happen to his best friend.
There is much we can analyze in the crucifixion of the Son of God. The death of Jesus on the Cross provides tremendous soil in which we can explore all sorts of theological and philosophical ideas. But I doubt that is where John’s mind and heart goes when he remembers and writes this part of this true story.
John’s heart must be breaking with each stroke of the quill.
I have re-read the chapter several times. First I was looking for themes, seeking a sense of the flow. Then I was observing what parts of the story the other Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) had that this Gospel did not have. Finally, I simply tried to imagine being John. That is the reading method that most powerfully struck me.
Imagine witnessing your best friend betrayed, dragged about from one authority to the next. Imagine the person you've spent every day with for three years being flogged before your own eyes. Imagine yourself on an emotional escalator that is going down-and-down, to a seemingly bottomless pit of agony, as you hear the hammer drive the nails, and then see the cross your friend is nailed to, lifted high and slammed into a hole. Imagine him looking at you and telling you to take care of his mom—and his mom to take care of you.
Close your eyes and imagine it.
No theology at this point. Just reality. In the odd moment, when my rational brain can break into the irrational experience I am being subjected to, there would simply be one thought running through my mind—and possibly one set of words from him whom I love.
The thought: He never resisted.
I am not sure, if as I was immersed in this event with Jesus, I would remember His words that I just quoted, but they come to my mind… His words, not Paul’s or Peter’s or John’s…His words.
The key is that it comes back to how close you are to Jesus. Is this a distant event—one that took place some 2,000 years ago halfway around the world? Or does our relationship to Jesus collapse time and space, so that we indeed are at the foot of the Cross?