By Cindy Koch –
The darkness is coming. I feel it lurking at the end of this long, sad week. Those of us who have been here before have been waiting for these tragic footsteps into the shadows. Even though we know what is coming, there is no escape from where we must travel. Retracing our murderous tracks, we hesitantly remember our own lies that killed an innocent man. Help us, dear Lord.
Lie #1 “I am a good person.”
Dear Heavenly Redeemer, I think I say the right words. I try to do the right things. I do my best to love my neighbor so that everyone can see. I pray out loud so they all know how good I think I am. My lying is so practiced that I blindly believe it myself. Yet, I deny you, Lord, when the others compliment me. It is my praise, not yours, that I love to hear. I hide you away, God, when conversations get uncomfortable. No one wants a pushy Christian for a friend. I run after the god of money and fame. I abandon you for the god of ease and happiness. Your Word and your ways are not enough for me. And for all of this I deserve death. But this lie believes I’m not that bad. And my lie dragged your good and perfect body out to the cross.
Lie #2 “I can get better.”
Patient and Loving Lord, if it wasn’t bad enough that I can’t see how dead I am before your holy presence, it is worse to think that I can fix myself. Yes, I may admit that I begin with nothing, but I believe I have the capacity for greatness. I work to do your Law, keep it righteously and perfectly. I am addicted to self-help series and new ways to change my life. I offer advice to those who struggle because every day I think I’m getting a little better. If pain and suffering come my way, I look for another route to success and fortune. Forgive me, Lord, for my obsession with myself. I am always looking inward for my answers, ignoring your Word that calls me from the outside. I am my own god, depending on my own strength, heart, and mind. This lie looks to myself as a savior. And my lie spits on you, mocks you, beats you bloody all the way to the cross.
Lie #3 “This Jesus stuff is nice, but not really important.”
Almighty Son of God, I continually fall asleep in faith throughout my lifetime. You say, “Just watch,” and my eyes are too heavy to stay open. You take so long in coming back to fulfill your promises. It’s too easy to let other things move up the list of importance. I forget your Word. I forget where you are. I forget what my hope is in. I push you aside for a loved one. I abandon you for a sports team. I exchange your glory for the perishing cares of this world. Flirting with the kingdom of Satan, I choose his sparkling lies over your truth. This lie drinks in the wrath of God while I enjoy my heart’s desire. And my lie pierced your open hands into the cursed wood of the cross.
Lie #4 “Jesus came to make us happy.”
Dear Lord of Glory, I look for the miracles in my everyday life. I wait for the healing and answered prayers. I want you to make me happy and provide a blissful life with abundant gifts. The crowds that walked the earth with you demanded signs and miracles, and so do I. But when I hear the stories of suffering and death, I don’t understand how this is part of your plan. Why would an awesome God come to earth and die alongside unclean robbers? Why would a powerful Holy One allow unhappiness in my life to continue? Redirect my heart, O Lord. I desire your magic tricks to improve my life. Rather, teach me your glory in the death of your Son. This selfish lie believes your mission on earth was my happiness. And my lie taunts you, insults you, as you hang helplessly on the cross.
LIE #5 “Jesus is not God.”
King of all Creation, when it comes down to it, this story sometimes feels like a fairy tale. We go through the motions every year with the passion and resurrection, but I wonder if it is even true. Even scribes and Pharisees that actually saw the one they call Christ did not believe He was the great “I am” who worked wonders for the people of God. And for us, science and religion seem to be at odds today. So maybe I have been fooled that the Word of God became Flesh and dwelt among us. But no! Your Word is true, and the facts of history support this story. Disciples and followers gave their lives for the truth of your story. This doubting lie pulls me far from the true living God who has acted for the salvation of his people from the beginning until now. And my lie abandons you, alone, gasping for air on the cross.
My lies are now judged, hanging mangled on a cursed tree. I should be the one nailed there, receiving the wrath of an angry and just God. But you took my lies into your mouth. You swallowed my lies silently as you suffer and die.
“And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last” (Mark 15:37).
This holy and blessed week, my lies die.