I always think I already know, already understand, have heard before what He went through. Growing up in a Christian home, celebrating Easter every year, and annually watching the clay-mation Jesus story, I sometimes (oftentimes) get caught in the trap of feeling like I've "heard it all before." Yes, I've heard it. Yes, I've seen it. But never like this.
I've always avoided the pain, the suffering, the blood and guts. I don't like blood and violence. Movies like Fight Club and Boondock Saints are great. I love them. But when the violence is really realistic, or not funny, or depicts true suffering...I turn away. I don't want to think about it, acknowledge it, or let it into my head. I know the world isn't perfect. I know utter brutality, cruelty, violence, pain, and suffering go on...but I don't want to see them.
Whenever people talk about the movie Passion of the Christ, I say I'm never going to watch it. I say I know what Jesus went through, I don't want to see it. I say the movie is too violent, I can't handle that much blood. I say I don't need to see it. I already know, I already understand.
I still don't plan on watching the Passion. I don't think I could deal with it. Or maybe I just don't want to. I don't know. Maybe I'll watch it someday, just not yet.
But tonight, tonight was incredible.
I went to a production of The Thorn (http://thethorn.net/). It's a live play/show depicting a brief synopsis of the Bible/creation story, Jesus' life, and most importantly, His death and resurrection. The acting, choreography, dancing, music, singing, lighting, etc, was incredible. In and of itself, the production was fabulous. But the story far exceeded the play in greatness.
Everyone who has seen The Thorn before says they cry.
I cried. I sobbed. Tears filled my eyes, flowed down my cheeks as I blinked. Little rivers of salty water splashing into my lacy skirt and spotting my blue shirt.
Thirty-nine. Thirty-nine times they whipped Jesus. Thirty-nine times with the cat-o-nine whip. Nine strands of leather woven with broken chunks of pottery, bones, and hooks to tear and rip. Thirty-nine, an odd number. Thirty-nine because forty was considered execution, the torture of the cat-o-nine was so awful and detrimental. They wanted Jesus still alive, but just barely, so they could execute Him on the cross.
The narrator, "Doubting" Thomas, said that when Jesus was through with the whipping, He could not be recognized. His skin was so destroyed, it hung from His bones, He was covered in blood. I almost can't even type this, because just thinking about it, imagining the pain He went through...I want to cry all over again. I want to pretend He didn't have to suffer that much.
In the play, as Jesus is being whipped, He falls to the ground. Satan approaches Jesus and tempts Him yet again to give up. Tells Jesus He has suffered enough. Reminds Him that He can do anything. Tells Him to just summon up His league of angels and stop going through with His sacrifice. Jesus drags Himself to His feet, grabs back on to the post, and continues to be flogged. Tears cried rivers down my cheeks.
Then the play showed Jesus carrying His cross. Stumbling, faltering, dragging it along. Kicked, mocked, scorned all the while. And while He made that slow, painful journey to His place of execution, all you could hear was, "Just to be with you, I'd do anything/There's no price I would not pay/Just to be with you, I'd give anything/I would give my life away," being sung. That song, those lyrics, over and over again. The song was so wonderful I want to just post all the lyrics right here:
Just to be with the one he loves
How many times has he broken that promise
It has never been done.
I've never climbed the highest mountain
But I walked the hill of calvary
Just to be with you, I'd do anything
There's no price I would not pay
Just to be with you, I'd give anything
I would give my life away.
I've heard it said that a man would swim the ocean
Just to be with the one he loves
How may times has he broken that promise
It can never be done
I've never swam the deepest ocean
But I walked upon the raging sea
I know that you don't understand
the fullness of My love
How I died upon the cross for your sins
And I know that you don't realize
how much that I gave you
But I promise, I would do it all again.
Just to be with you, I've done everything
There's no price I did not pay
Just to be with you, I gave everything
Yes, I gave my life away. (Love Song by Third Day)
So all you see is Jesus bleeding, suffering, dying. And all you hear is, "Just to be with you, I would do anything. There's no price I would not pay. Just to be with you, I would give anything. I would give my life away. Just to be with you, I've done everything. There's no price I did not pay. Just to be with you, I gave everything. Yes, I gave my life away."
I'm crying right now.
There's nothing, nothing more beautiful than this. Nothing more sad, nothing more joyful. Nothing more precious. Just to be with me, Jesus went through all of that. Just to be with me. Just to be with you.
He. Gave. Everything. He gave His life away. For me, for you. He would, did, and does everything. And He'd do it all again.