“The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.”
How Jesus will die is ugly. So ugly that it defies comprehension unless one has its eyes wide open to the world we live in. So ugly that it is uncomfortable to even talk about. So ugly that some congregations of Christians do not like speaking about it at all.
While I was studying for my B.A. in ministry, we had a seminar taught by this new church who found success in marketing itself on billboards and having "seeker-sensitive" services. Seekers are classified by the church as people who are curious about Christ, but not ready to commit yet. It's kind of like they are dating different ways of life to see which they will marry.
Their seeker-sensitive service is different to their "believer's" service in a number of ways including not speaking about how Jesus died and not taking communion since it talked about the ugly subject of Jesus' body and blood. Now, I was just a young, naive student so I didn't think much about it at the time. But, that seminar has been echoing in my ears whenever I hear about churches who go out of their way not to offend people. After all Paul was right when he said, "but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,".
I would much rather speak about how Jesus lived, how Jesus loved, and what Jesus taught. But while Jesus lived, loved and taught, he knew what was coming. How could I function knowing that I would be betrayed by one of the people I am serving with right now? How could I love knowing the hate to be endured? How could I teach those who would mock, accuse and execute me?
The longer I go in this study of Jesus' ministry, the more amazed I become. But when I think about how all the incredible ways he served people was all in the shadow of what was to come, I am awe-struck.
Thank you, Lord, for being the strongest man who ever lived.