Saturday, April 15, 2006

Good Friday Schizophrenia

I got struck by a little case of schizophrenia last night. I'll call it "Good Friday Schizophrenia." We were sitting in church, celebrating the Lord's Supper and singing, "Were You there when they crucified my Lord?"

I've never really liked that song. I'm not sure why -- maybe because it feels slow and repetitive. But Alfred told our membership class recently that he really likes the song, so I was trying to appreciate it this time. And it struck me that, yes, I was there -- on two counts. I guess I've always thought about that song from an "outsider's" perspective, like I'm standing with Mary and John at a distance from the cross. I'm watching, I'm "there," but I'm not participating.

But this time, I thought about the fact that I was there as someone who crucified my Lord. "They" is me. As a rebel, an enemy of God, I probably would have been right in that crowd, shouting "Crucify him." And, though my physical life began in 1979, it is a fact that my sins nailed him to the tree: I crucified my Lord.

But, at the same time (the schizo part), my sins were nailed to the tree. By virtue of my union with Christ, which God effected before the creation of the world, I died to sin and to self while Christ died to save the world. I was there being crucified with (in) my Lord.

So, in that strange and wonderful way that only God can work, we stand guilty of the most heinous sin ever committed, and we stand acquited by that same act.

See why I was feeling a bit schizophrenic? Guilty and joyful, sad and thankful: I was there when they crucified my Lord. "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me."

btw: here's a link to Pastor Alfred's article in today's newspaper, "Jesus didn't just die -- he was crucified in the place of sinners."

and, in that same section of the newspaper, a nice defense of Jesus' bodily resurrection by N.T. Wright.

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