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Preacher’s Corner

“But all of his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things . . .

It is odd, isn’t it, that Luke ends his recollection of the death of Jesus with these haunting words. I am not sure what he meant to convey by them, but I know in part what they affect in me. I am like those acquaintances, those friends, those women from Galilee, who have followed, however half-heartedly, however faithlessly, however clueless of who this Jesus is and what he has been about….an acquaintance.

Acquaintances, for whom Jesus is important not for who he is, but how he effects me.

Acquaintances, who really like this guy, love his stories, but stand at a distance observing…not

really knowing him, wondering what it all means. We dissect it; we judge it, when in truth, it is the story, it is Jesus, it is the cross, that judges us. The story, the cross, the dying One is the point, not our opinion, nor our feelings about it, about Him. For if the cross means anything at all, it is the culmination of God’s reaching out to us, not our reaching out to God. As if God is fairly screaming to us through the noise of life, Look! This is it! This is life! This is the world and its brutality and my love’s infinite call to you….”

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Well, no, I wasn’t. But, in a sense we were all there, when we look, we acquaintances of Jesus, watching, from a distance.

You may argue with me, but there is something about this death, this scene that sets it apart from all the millions of martyr’s to injustice across all of history The New Testament tells us an amazing thing; that this death is like no other; that it is the fulcrum of all history upon which the destiny of all human history turns. For this dusty, bloody, spot outside of Jerusalem, this spot from which we stand at a distance, is the very spot where the infinite love of the infinite God of all things, reaches down and invades the earth and all of its puny, selfish, powers that so bind us, so enslave us, so weigh us down.

Here is the news, that is hardly imaginable, much less expressible: It is that God so loves us that he stoops to us, that he chooses to allow our selfish foolishness to have power over himself, even to the point of letting us murder him on a Friday afternoon, so that the infinite love of God might grab us; that in that moment love might explode upon a world that doesn’t really know it; that all the petty, stupid, weight of our selfish sin might be placed upon him. Dare we believe it, that God comes and dies in that man on that hill called the Skull?

“Forgive them, Father, for they don’t know what they are doing.” No kidding.

They had no idea that the man they killed just as they had killed so many others, was the Christ of God, bearing the weight of the world right there before them. Of course they didn’t. Nor can we, as we stand looking from a distance, his acquaintances, wrap our minds and hearts around it.

All we can do is trust it. All we can do is receive it. All we can do is hear God shouting to us from that ghastly hill and say that we will try, with God’s help, to be people transformed by such love.

But, there really is a decision to be made. We may stand at a distance, or we may give ourselves over to the crucified one, who bears our sin and pride, and live as the free children of God, in humble abandonment of what we think is our own due in the face of the love of Christ.

Easter means that what Jesus did by bearing the weight of the world is nothing less than God’s doing for you and me, and that God’s love defeats even death. Love is poured out on a hill outside of Jerusalem, the weight you carry has been lifted, you can fly as the children of God….it is OK. Now, go out and trust it by sharing the love of God in simply everything.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

Tupper Garden in the Senior Minister at
Raleigh Court Presbyterian Church located at 1837 Grandin Rd.
Visit them on the web at

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