I wonder how he did it. I wonder how he stood there while the chief priests taunted him and mocked him. I wonder what he must have been thinking when Pilate said, "I find no basis for a charge againt this man." I wonder what was going through his mind at that moment.
I wonder if he thought back to all the times he stood against the crowd in the last few years. I wonder if he regretted any of that, or if he had thought, "You know, maybe I shouldn't have said that." I wonder if he thought back to the time he turned the tables over in the temple and thought, "You know, that seems to be where it all really went south. Maybe I shouldn't have done that."
I wonder if, after he touched the leper, he thought, "I might not should have done that. Now I have to go through all that ritual cleansing stuff, and...I might get leprosy too." I wonder if while he was riding into Jerusalem on the donkey, he thought, "I hope no one takes this the wrong way. That could lead to trouble." Or, if, as he was walking into Zaccheaus' house for supper he thought, "What will people think about this." These are some of the things I wonder about, but this is just me.
As I have looked around the past few weeks in silent, and sometimes not so silent, observation, I have noticed a trend...those folks who are serious about being Jesus followers really don't pay much attention to society's opinions. I'm not saying they don't care about what society thinks, I'm just saying that others' opinions of them is not as important as their calling to follow HIM. In the last few weeks, the news has been full of hot button stories: immigration, the mosque in Mayfield, the mosque in NY, and now the Quran burning in Florida, and here is what I wonder: Which is more important, what other folks think we should do, be, and become...Or our calling to follow HIM? I have learned that you can't always have both.
If Jesus had listened to the critics...or second guessed that which he stood for...or backed down when the heat was put on...where would we be? He would have still been killed, because we destroy that which we don't understand or that which makes us uncomfortable. Then, his death would have had no meaning...save that one more mouthy rebel leader had been silenced. But...
...but he didn't listen to the critics. He didn't back down from what he believed in. He didn't flinch in the face of adversity. And they killed him for it. It wasn't the Jews that killed Jesus, it was fear that killed Jesus. They were afraid that he would upset their system. They were afraid that he would convince people that living under oppressive foreign rule was not what God had intended for them. They were afraid that maybe...he was right.
So, if you're serious about being a follower, I'm ready. I've been ready for a long time. I want to get my hands dirty. I want to be on the front line. I want to make a real difference in someone's life, and not just talk about it. I want to be a disciple. I'm ready. But be warned...some folks are going to get mad at you. If you say what you are led to say, some folks aren't going to like it. If you do the things Jesus did, it's going to tick some folks off. I've mentioned this before, and maybe I'm saying it again to remind myself more than anything else, but...if you really follow this carpenter's son from Galilee, there are going to be splinters. Every cross has them. But, I'm ready.
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart...May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace...May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy...May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you do what others claim cannot be done...And the blessing of God, who creates, redeems, and sanctifies, be upon you and all you love and pray for this day, and forever more. Amen. (Franciscan blessing)