“Scenes from the passion” Lent devotion for Thursday, March 25, 2021.
And it was the third hour when they crucified him. And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” (Mark 15:25-26)
The sign above Jesus’ head reminds me of some of the dog-shaming photos I’ve seen on social media. Photos of a retriever with a handwritten sign saying, “I ate a whole stick of butter.” Or a dog wearing a note stating, “I ate mom’s lunch. Again.” Or, “I have chewed up five pairs of glasses this week.”
Jesus’ shaming sign read, “The King of the Jews.” Shamefully nailed to a cross, he would have been an embarrassment to every Jewish person as well as himself and the disciples. This is your king? This is the best you can do? Why would we want to take you or your people seriously?
Do you remember those days when your teacher would return graded tests? They were folded in half, so no one would see your grade, especially if it was bad. You kept it folded up, because you didn’t want anyone else to see your failure. How many Ds and Fs ended up crammed into the bottom of a backpack, never to see the light of day?
Jesus’ failure is on display for all to see. He failed to gain the support of the people. They all asked for Barabbas to be set free. He lost the support of the religious leaders. They plotted to get rid of him. Despised, rejected and crucified, Jesus is the poster boy for failure. His political aspirations end in shame, conviction and death.
What sign do people see above your head? Divorced? Hater? Unfaithful? Dummy? Victim? Addict? Loser? Privileged? Ingrate? Failure?
What sign do you see above your head? Dummy? Nothing? Useless? Nobody? Zero? Garbage? Fake? Pretender? Jerk? A piece of work?
There were other signs. “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12). When Jesus turned water into wine it was “the first of his signs” (John 2:11). When Jesus healed an official’s son in Capernaum, it was “the second sign” he did (John 4:54). When some demanded a sign from Jesus, he said, “The only sign you’ll get is Jonah,” a sign of resurrection to come (Matthew 12:38).
When the Father spoke at Jesus’ baptism and at the transfiguration, he said, “This is my son whom I love.” That’s what he says about you, too. You are his dearly loved son or daughter. You are his treasured possession. You are the apple of his eye. Signs don’t say it all. What really counts is his word.
Please let his opinion count more than all the others – or even your own.
Heavenly Father, remind me often of the label you put on me: your child. Amen.