Friday, March 29, 2013

Reflections on Good Friday: Is this the Face of Humiliation? I used to think so.

This morning, I read through John's account of Jesus' betrayal and crucifixion (John 18, 19). It was painful to read. John slowed the story down; he included many details that helped me visualize what Jesus endured. One particular part of the story was especially hard.

After Pilot had Jesus flogged with a metal-tipped whip and the soldiers placed a purple robe and crown of thorns on him, Pilot brought him out to the people. Instead of reacting with compassion when they saw him bloody and beaten, they screamed, "Crucify him!" What a bizarre reaction!

It makes me shudder to witness their lack of pity; their gloating thirst for innocent blood. What is this in our  human heart that sees a pathetic, wounded man and wants to kill him? The same instinct that's in a pack of wild dogs who attack one of their own because he's maimed?

As I read the description of Jesus' mistreatment, I found myself identifying in a way I never used to. I've had my own experience of being attacked, bullied and betrayed by religious leaders. And so what stung most to me in Jesus' experience of suffering was the humiliation that he must have felt....or did he?

I've started to ponder the way that I felt solidarity with Jesus as I identified with what I assumed to be his emotional response of humiliation to all that he endured. But when I began to explore it, it occurred to me that humiliation is a feeling one experiences as a result of pride--wounded pride. It's not really a cousin to humility--the willingness to lower oneself. Humiliation is forced subjection.

This revelation has provided a new lens for me as I stand before the cross today on this Good Friday. I now see Jesus, my Savior, who willingly "humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8). No-I don't think this is the "face of humiliation." It's definitely a humble face.  

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