Nothing pains me more than days where I come home after an unproductive day, or a day filled with disappointments, and find myself irritable and short with my family. I squawk, roll my eyes, raise my voice or stomp away. In doing so, I end up doing more damage to my day and my spirit than I had before. I build walls, isolate myself from love and intimacy, and wound rather than receive healing.
Too often we experience ourselves as being unproductive and disappointing. We can’t love the way we want to love. We can’t live the way we are called to live. So we build walls and isolate ourselves from the healing that can take place in the love that is around us. We lash out at those who dare draw near rather than receive their presence with grace. We do the same to God; we run from grace rather than receive grace.
I often wonder about those men, “bandits” Matthew calls them, who were crucified on either side of Jesus. Those men shared a fate with Jesus yet couldn’t resist the urge to join the crowd in taunting Him. These men whose lives were ending in an unproductive and disappointing manner decided to take out their frustrations on the man in between them, the innocent man dying on the hill with them – for them. They mocked His power, His promises, His self-understanding. They sought to wound even while He was offering healing.
We join with the bandits by mocking Jesus’ presence with us not in using words or taunts, but with life choices that build walls, isolating ourselves from love and intimacy, and wound ourselves and others rather than receiving healing. Good Friday reminds us it is in what appeared to be an unproductive and disappointing death that Jesus saves us. It is in the utter disappointment, among the mocking and jeering crowds and bandits, that God accomplishes the restoration and rescue of creation from that disappointment and unproductivity. Yet, more often than not we stay put rather than allowing Christ to move us from there into salvation. It is in this place of disappointment that we enter the story of Good Friday. It is here that we can learn to love and be loved in our far too often unproductive and disappointing days. It is here that we experience salvation.