Red Vine Spirituality

Taylor K. Arthur balances Bipolar 1 Disorder, marriage, and motherhood with a nitty-gritty faith inspiring a twisted, blissful life.

Good Friday Truth: He Fixed on You

When did Good Friday happen for you? When did the crucifixion become real, not just a Bible story you heard while sitting next to your mama in a pew, dressed up in your Easter best? When did you realize your part in the play of this bloody day? Good Friday was the last piece of the Easter story I braved to embrace, but the one I now hold most dear.

Good Friday is Difficult to Embrace Because It's Messy
Good Friday was the last part of Easter I really wanted to embrace, honestly. I shied away from it, like I do most things that are hard. Like the pain in another’s eyes I don’t have the energy to engage, like the woman on the edge of the circle who needs to be welcomed, I resisted the call to the cross. I resisted the call to a crucified Jesus because, well, it’s awkward and hard.

I have resisted the call to come face-to-face with a broken Savior.

But, like in all things I resist of His, I have felt His loving pull toward the waters of understanding.

I have come to know the crucified Jesus gradually, like you come to know the ocean: first a toe is dipped.

But the waters startle with a pang of cold, and I have pulled back many times from these bloody shores. I have wondered, do I even want to know this Jesus? Isn’t it enough to know Him risen? Why must I journey to Good Friday’s slaughter to know Him more?

Good Friday is Difficult to Embrace Because It Forces Me to Accept My Part in Jesus' Death
Ah, friend, because I needed to find myself in Good Friday. I needed to witness my own part in His death. I needed to see the sin in my own face to understand what Easter meant.

I tried first to understand my sin theologically, in a book. That was still awkward, so I tried to comprehend His love instead.

I fastened my understanding of His love around my waist securely, and ventured further into the depths of what I had been saved from.

Then, a rogue wave of understanding o’re swept. He carried me past where feet can anchor into sand.

The waves of self-knowledge threatened to drown me, and there in the sweep I saw my place clearly, plainly, as if I had walked the streets of Jerusalem that bloody day.

I felt the weight of every line I’ve stood upon. And crossed.

I saw myself promise with all of my heart, like Peter,

Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will. Matthew 26:33

I watched at the times I have sold him for a little bit of gold. It wasn’t anything violent, mind you; just a friendly betrayal with a kiss.

I watched as he placed me in positions of authority to share him with others, only to wash my hands of Him when putting my reputation, my career, my social life on the line seemed just too high a price to pay.

I watched in terror while they scourged Him within an inch of his life. I watched myself lose my nerve as my humanity screamed out in every cell of my body not to follow in His footsteps as the bits of metal and bone pummeled and ripped his body to a bloody pulp.

I watched as they grabbed my arm and detained me in the crowds, pointed their fingers at me as the guards walked past, shouting at the top of their lungs, “Do you know him? Aren’t you one of His friends?” I shook my head violently in fear and disgust and insisted, I have never seen that man before in my life.

I denied my best friend three times in hours, even after promising Him

Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will. Matthew 26:33

I yelled with the crowds, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

I spat on Him as he struggled under the weight of my cross.

I indignantly, bitterly protested when the roman guards forced me to help carry that cross, haunted by my profession to Him just days earlier,

Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you, Lord. Matthew 26:35

Because I didn’t think He really meant all of those things about dying and suffering and picking up my own cross. Secretly? I was in this for a good cabinet spot in His new order. Sure, we were going to help some people, but weren’t we going to do that by toppling over this tyrannical government? Weren’t we going to have some justice here and now? Weren’t we going to finally get some tax breaks and a say in our own, God-ordained government?

And now? Now that he hung on that cross helpless? Now that He promised me nothing but scourge?

I watched myself shake my head. He disgusted me. This was not the reigning Messiah I had signed up for. This was not power.

With every fiber in my being, I have nailed Him to that tree. I have viciously taunted Him, fought over his clothes as he hung bleeding, because that’s all I’m gonna get from this dying “Lord.”

I did all of this. To my best friend.

Have you?

Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'”

And the thing that hurts the most, when I am sitting at the foot of my deepest ugliness, shame, and disgust? The thing that reverberates as he slowly suffocates up there for me? From the very beginning: God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.

Good Friday is Difficult to Embrace Because I Come Face-to-Face with His Grace Fixed on Me
He knew me in my weakness. In my running. In my sickening pride.

He knew me surging with love for Him, desperately wanting to rise to meet His tidal love.

He believed my wanting, and chose that picture of me to fix on.

Even when He knew I would fall away. Even when He knew I would turn.

He fixed on me.

Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
Matthew 24:1-2

All those stones? Thrown down for me.

An ocean of love, of blood, of utter devotion.

That is what I see today: all of who I was, and what He did for me.

He did it all for you, too, friends.

He fixed on you.

Amen.

2 Comments

  1. He fixed on me, and never rejected me as a disciple, even after all my mistakes, all the times I rejected him. I think I’ll give him my life.

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