Stakes soared at the Olympics. Topnotch skaters, skiers, snowboarders, bobsledders, and hockey players from around the world risked everything to win Olympic gold. Some exalted in stellar performances. Others were crushed by an unexpected fall, a missed landing, or being a nanosecond behind. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences imprint themselves deeply in our memories.
Lent invites us to look back to a time when the stakes loomed far higher than those at the Olympics. The crowds finally realized who Jesus was and shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Less than one week later, they reversed themselves and cried, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
We know the end of the story, so it’s easy to ask how they could be so fickle. But is that fair if we don’t make an effort to slip into their skins and experience the pressures and presuppositions as they did?
I’ve been humbled and enriched as I’ve spent time with Martha, Lazarus, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Peter, Pilate, Pilate’s wife, and Barabbas. Somehow, as I struggle with what they might have felt, I get a clearer picture of how incredible Jesus really was. And is. For them. For me. For you. For everyone.
Peter, so quick to speak up or act out, says, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:23-25 NIV).
I’m inviting you to bring some of the key Bible characters to life this year through monologues or drama sketches for your small group or your congregation so that people engage in getting to know Jesus Christ, the One who revolutionizes our lives. Then. Now. For eternity. Do you know of any higher stakes?