After they had finished nailing him to the cross and were waiting for him to die, they whiled away the time by throwing dice for his clothes. Above his head they had posted the criminal charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Along with him, they also crucified two criminals, one to his right, the other to his left. People passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament: “You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and then rebuild it in three days—so show us your stuff! Save yourself! If you’re really God’s Son, come down from that cross!”
The high priests, along with the religion scholars and leaders, were right there mixing it up with the rest of them, having a great time poking fun at him: “He saved others—he can’t save himself! King of Israel, is he? Then let him get down from that cross. We’ll all become believers then! He was so sure of God—well, let him rescue his ‘Son’ now—if he wants him! He did claim to be God’s Son, didn’t he?” Even the two criminals crucified next to him joined in the mockery.
From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around midafternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Some bystanders who heard him said, “He’s calling for Elijah.” One of them ran and got a sponge soaked in sour wine and lifted it on a stick so he could drink. The others joked, “Don’t be in such a hurry. Let’s see if Elijah comes and saves him.”
But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last.
At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. What’s more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. (After Jesus’ resurrection, they left the tombs, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.) (Matthew 27: 35-53 MSG)
Grace is huge. It’s the huge hard-to-define. It’s an awesome and beautiful gift. It’s an action and a way of being. Being in a state of grace is a way of being in relationship, because relationship is where we give and receive.
Maybe giving someone grace is the opposite of giving them shame.
We live in a culture where we shame each other a lot. We do it to each other a lot. But in the crucifixion, Jesus allowed Himself to be shamed by everybody. Matthew describes it in heartbreaking detail. All and sundry joined in shaming Him — even the two criminals who were crucified with Him!
In this way, Jesus shared in shame with us. I think He did it to free us from it. He died a shameful death, naked on a cross, while people literally mocked Him. He could have taken Himself off that cross, but His grace for us said, “Nope. I’m going to go through with this, and I’m going to say, ‘Father, forgive them.’ The whole purpose of me coming down here for 33 years was to die today, and I’m not going to take myself off this cross just to prove a point. I’m going to die, naked, abandoned, and suffering.
“Then I’m going to resurrect! That way, people can actually live in freedom!”
Shame is a big deal, man. It is a big deal. That’s why Jesus shared in it with us. He crucified shame. He did it for us! Now there is no condemnation. We don’t have to live in shame.
And we can give grace in place of shame. That is freedom!
But because of our flesh, we seem to need a set of rules to live by. This stems from our immaturity. I’ll tell you more about this next time.
See you Friday.