Easter is approaching and so the Gospels have been the focal point of the sermons at church. Our pastor just read Luke 23 to us week before last. He didn’t comment all that much on the scriptures, he mostly just read them aloud. I am very familiar with the Passion of the Christ, so I didn’t expect to be hit very hard by the verbal picture that unfolded.
The description of Jesus falsely accused before Pilate, his innocence ignored in favor of a murderer, his flesh torn open until his whole being was red and raw. And then thrown atop his open wounds, a kingly robe to disparage his identity as King of the Universe. They roughly pressed into his brow an ugly crown and tempted him to prove himself.
My, how he could have proved that he is King. My, how he could have spread the wings of his glory and destroyed the whole empire with the force of a single movement, or by the mightiness of his Name alone. But instead he remained silent, swaying in exhaustion, a pitiful sight of perversity— a fraudulent display of kingship, a joke.
This mental picture of a broken, bloody, powerless, exhausted and defeated king, finally hammered in for me what it means that Jesus “became sin for us.” That is my sin! That picture of Jesus on crucifixion day is the picture of my sin! If my sin were to take shape and be personified in actual flesh, it would be Jesus knelt in his own blood, nearly in trance due to pain, wearing a dunce cap and a jester’s clothes.
My sin is the delusion of my own kingship! I am a perverse little king, wanting to be praised and admired. I am a little dictator, wanting to have my way at even just small expenses to others. I am a little bit of a Lucifer, wanting recognition for my beauty, talents, merits, efforts, and accomplishments. I am the itsy bitsy spider dutifully spinning the web of my temporary successes. Jesus became that sin! He became a grotesque, dying, mockery because I am a grotesque, dying, mockery.
God is jealous of His glory we are told. He does not share it. Lucifer fell from heaven because he desired recognition, affirmation, a pat on the back, a flattering word, a small praise, acknowledgement, thanks…just a little glory of his own. But God does not, will not, share the glory of His crown! Not with his angels, not with nature, not with you or me. His magnitude blasts through the meagerness of any attempt at beauty that is not originated from the wealth of His own treasury. The trap set for Eve was receiving a little knowledge of her own, getting a hand on a little more than God gave. God was holding out on them, she was told, because He is jealous and won’t share the gifting that defines His power. “Get a little glory, Eve.” Original sin; the original sin that Jesus became for us.
Jesus, who really is King, became the false king that I am. He who is Truth, became falsehood for me. He who is Glory, became degenerate for me. He became ridiculous because we are ridiculous. He became despicable because we are despicable. He became an impostor because we are impostors. He became the fading glory of all my efforts revealed as illegitimate and futile. He became my incapacity. He became my failure. He became my frustration. He became my cry— “Abba, Father, why have you forsaken me!!!”