In these uncertain days of layoffs and business discontinuations, I’m reminded of a study done by The Ohio State University on why people are fired from their jobs. In fact, they compiled a list of the top fifty reasons. Would you believe it, the first fifteen had nothing to do with skills or knowledge; they had to do strictly with attitude.
It’s like the three women who died and went to heaven. When they arrive they meet Saint Peter at the gate who tells them to wait outside until he gets back from a meeting.
A few hours later Peter returns, calls the first woman and apologizes to her saying, “I’m so deeply sorry for making you wait.” Instantly, the woman replies, “Oh, I don’t mind at all. I’m just thrilled to be here.” Peter smiles and says, “Well, I have just one question to ask you so that I can finish the paperwork. How do you spell God?” The woman smiles and says, “G…O…D”. Peter takes her by the hand, walks her into heaven, and says, “It’s all yours!”
When he returns to the gate he calls the second woman and apologizes for the wait. She says, “Oh don’t think anything of it! I’m willing to wait a thousand years just to see Jesus face-to-face.” Peter smiles and says, “Well, you won’t have to. Just answer one question for me. How do you spell God?” The woman nods and says, “G…O…D”. Peter takes her by the hand, walks her through the gate and into heaven saying, “It’s all yours.”
When he returns and calls the third woman, before he can say a single word of apology the woman launches. “All my life I’ve had to wait! I’ve had to wait in the grocery store! I’ve had to wait at the bus stop! I’ve had to wait for my kids! I’ve had to wait at the doctor’s office! Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve had to wait. And now I have to wait to get into heaven.” With that Peter says, “I’m truly sorry, madam. But for the record, if you can just answer one question, how do you spell, supralapsarianism?”
Years ago a woman called me in hysterics. Her grandson had just received a bad diagnosis and she was calling me to ask why. “Why would God do something like this to him? How could a good God do such a thing? He’s done nothing to deserve this! He’s a victim of a mean God!” And by the time she finished her diatribe, I knew she wasn’t calling for answers. God was her target and my eardrums were the victim.
The Psalmist would understand that. Throughout the Psalms there are scores of questions that are asked of God, but none more profound and relevant to your life and mine than the three we find in Psalm 22. Remember them?
· “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
· “Why are you so far from saving me?”
· “Why are you so far from the words of my groaning?”
Each of these questions are ones we have asked, or can imagine asking at one time or another. And yet, they are never answered in that Psalm or any other Psalm. In fact, David never gets them answered. For 1500 years these questions hang in the air until Jesus answers them. That’s what John 18 is all about. In John 18:22-19:3, each one of these questions is answered in such a way that they never have to be asked again.
In preparation for this week’s virtual worship experience and message entitled, “Slaps, Whips, and a Crown of Thorns”, you may wish to consider the following:
- What circumstances would drive David to utter the words of Psalm 22?
- We know that Jesus cites Psalm 22:1 on the cross, but how do we see the other two questions reflected at the cross and in this week’s text?
- Who is Jesus facing when He’s slapped in verse 22?
- Why does the officer of the high priest slap Him?
- What did a slap mean in Jesus’ day?
- What is the reason for the indictment before Pilate, in verse 30, that Jesus was doing evil?
- Why flog Him in 19:1?
- What comes to your mind when you think of men fashioning a crown of thorns for Jesus’ head?
- Why does God allow the only innocent man in all of history to be forsaken by Him?
- What does Jesus’ suffering say to you about how God answers David’s questions?
It’s a Passion Sunday this week, commonly known as Palm Sunday. It’s a day of questions and John 18:22-19:3 gives us some concrete answers. Hope you tune in and worship our Lord together with us, even though we’re scattered.