A few days ago on one of our sets at IHOP-KC, our worship team sang through the drama of the cross of Christ. Beginning at Jesus’ anointing at Bethany, proceeding to the garden of Gethsemane, the beating by the Romans, the march to the cross, and finally ending with an empty tomb, we developed each scene musically and vocally for the two hours of our set.
As we were singing and playing through the story of our Lord’s passion, it struck me how ignorant I was regarding many of the details, sequence, and order of the events of those few days. If Christ is truly my life, my hope, my treasure, and my reward, I had to ask a hard question - why do I not cherish and intimately know the details of some of the most precious moments of my Lord during His life on the earth?
Within our lives, the events that bring us into deep mourning or great joy are often the most significant. They shape our personalities, form our decisions and attitudes, and stand as signposts in our story. These are the moments we replay in our minds, hearts, and conversations with those closest to us.
Jesus of Nazareth is a human just like us. He has real memories of His childhood. He vividly remembers the day that He came to the Jordan River and was baptized by John. He can recall the moment He heard about His friend Lazarus’ death, and can still feel the emotion and pain of that moment deeply. He remembers the inexpressible joy of stepping out of His tomb, more alive than He had ever been as a man. And now that same Man sits at the Father’s side with an ever-growing ache to return to the earth and wed His bride. These are more than just good events to recount to our congregations, home groups, or Sunday school classes. As ones who are “in Christ”, His experiences, emotions, and memories must become important to us because they are important to Him.
The four gospels offer more information about the events surrounding the death of Jesus than any other event in the account of His first coming. And if the way that we grow in intimacy with Jesus is through relational knowledge, then the most logical thing to do is to give ourselves to study, meditation, and conversation with Him around the events that so vividly play in His mind as He sits exalted in the highest of heavens.
Many Christians today could recount the details of their favorite movie with more precision than they could the narrative of our Lord’s death. I don’t want to stand before Him when He returns only to have Him teach me about the details of His life because I never concerned myself with gaining both clarity and depth on them through study and meditation. Oh that we would not live in forgetfulness of our Lord’s most precious memories!
…That is why the saints have always taken up meditation on the sorrows of Jesus Christ: it was by this means that Saint Francis of Assisi became a seraph. One day a gentleman found him weeping and crying out with a loud voice. On being asked why he did so, he answered, “I weep for the sorrows and ignominies of my Lord: and what makes me weep the most is that we, for whom he suffered so much, live in forgetfulness of Him.” And on saying this he redoubled his tears, so that this man too began to weep. Whenever the saint heard the bleating of a lamb, or saw anything else that reawakened the memory of Jesus’ Passion, he immediately fell aweeping. Another time, when he was sick, someone told him that he should have a book of devotion read to him. “My book,” he replied, “is Jesus crucified.” Hence he did nothing but exhort his brethren to think of the Passion of Jesus Christ at all times.
- St. Alphonsus Ligouri, from “The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ”