Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? Have you prayed so hard that your “sweat became like drops of blood”? Have you experienced abuse at the hands of someone you loved? Have you been humiliated or bullied?
What do you see when you look at the people who’ve hurt you? Do you see memories of what they’ve done to you? Do you see your own feelings of anger, hurt and fear? What would you see if you asked God to let you see them with His eyes?
On Easter Sunday, I always take the time to reflect on the final hours of Jesus’ life, and the Bible paints a tragic picture of the hours leading up to the crucifixion. Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane so filled with anxiety that He sweat drops of blood, and His own disciples, His friends, couldn’t even stay awake with Him to keep watch. Even though He was heartbroken by the betrayal by one of His own, He still healed the assistant to the high priest when Peter struck him with a sword.
Jesus knew what He was headed for…
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
He had a rigged trial in which His own people requested freedom for a murderer and crucifixion for Him, an innocent man. He was whipped and beaten. Soldiers stole and placed bets for His clothing, leaving Him essentially naked, then they shoved a twisted crown of large, sharp thorns on His head, dropped a heavy, splintery cross on His shoulder and paraded Him through the streets to the place where He would die. As He carried His cross to Golgotha (“the skull” in Greek), the people lining the streets cursed, mocked and bullied Him.
Do these sound like Jesus’ friends? Yet He was about to lay down His life for them…for us.
Jesus hung on the cross, slowly suffocating for at least three hours. The only way for Him to take any more than the shallowest of breaths was for Him to push up from His feet, which were nailed to the cross along with His wrists, and every time He did so, the wounds on His back would scrape against the splintery wood of the cross.
It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. (Luke 23:44)
Do you know what Jesus saw when He looked into the faces of the people lining the road to Calvary? Do you know what He saw as He looked at the crowd as they watched Him slowly die?
He saw that man’s worry over provision for his family.
He saw that woman’s pain over the death of her child.
He saw the abuse that child was suffering.
He saw the fear of that priest.
He saw that boy’s struggle to be a man.
He saw that elderly man’s loneliness.
He saw what five years of not talking to my dad would do to my heart.
He saw my struggle with pornography.
He saw your anger, pain, struggles and fear.
Then He said,
Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34)
Jesus could’ve looked at them, at us, with blind rage, but He didn’t. He looked past the hatred on our faces and saw instead our broken hearts. It doesn’t matter that you and I weren’t physically present at the crucifixion, Jesus still saw your face and mine as He struggled for breath and asked God to forgive us.
It was my sin and His great love for me that kept Him on that cross when He could’ve so easily set Himself free. Jesus could’ve hated me in the midst of His agony, but He didn’t, not even for a moment, because He didn’t look at me with human eyes.
He looked at me with God’s eyes.
Whose eyes do you use to look at others? How will you celebrate Easter today?
Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (John 19:30)