A Life and Faith Well Lived

And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him.18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him.20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him. – Mark 15:16-20

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This beautiful poppy blossom seems to say, “Look at me. Smile on me. I am available for your blessing or favor.” I wish I had seen that the petal in the front was in the way. But this is what it gave me at this particular angle. Photo taken at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA | March 2017

Walter Wangerin’s little book, Reliving the Passion, is insightful, edifying, and beautifully-written. Very few wordsmiths achieve his level of eloquence. He turns phrases with sometimes arresting cadence. In speaking of these verses he points out how Jesus’ behavior on this occasion is a perfect reflection of his teaching in the sermon on the mount:

When he was led away into the governor’s palace he does not call for “eye-for-eye” retribution, and does not resist the ones who were doing evil to him.

When he was hit by the soldiers, he turned the other cheek.

When he was scourged with the flagellum, cloaked with a purple robe, crowned with thorns, he loved his enemies. When he was crucified he prayed for those who persecuted him.

He took no credit for loving his disciples; rather he remained steadfast in his obedience to his Father in heaven (cf. Matthew 5:38-48).

Jesus didn’t just preach. He lived it out. Perfectly. Sacrificially. In the silence and darkness of the praetorium, in the scourging and mocking of the soldier’s quarters, and as he is led out to be crucified.

I so appreciate Wangerin’s work in this little book. But I appreciate Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice even more. He so deeply believed in God, and embodied godliness (cf. Colossians 2:9), that he withstood the most cruel and unkind mocking silently, entrusting himself to the One who justifies: his heavenly Father.

If we are to embrace this fully, we will one day need to stand in quiet faith as Peter reminds us:

For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. – 1 Peter 2:20-25

May we be found to be faithful when that time comes. Thank God that Jesus did that perfectly and won salvation for us!

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