If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you’ll notice I get ‘choked up’ somewhat often. If you read my review of the film Logan, that movie really moved me because of its raw and redemptive portrayal of the gospel. I fought hard not to let the tears flow, and I won.
Last night, after our church’s Good Friday service, we screened Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ for the youth group. Shockingly, some of the middle schoolers fell asleep because they said it was too boring (I think the subtitles got them).
It was only my second time seeing the film, and the first time I was unmoved. I had gone into it fully expecting to weep, but didn’t. This time, I went in with no expectations.
I think it’s the desensitization of seeing violence and gore on screens all the time that has caused me to barely react to the whipping of Christ, even when the Roman soldiers bring out the Cat of Nine Tails and pull chunks of skin from his ribs. Several of the girls in the group cried throughout the brutal film, but it was not the violence that caused tears to streak down my face.
I was lying on the ground watching the screen as Jesus pulled His heavy cross through the streets of Jerusalem. Blood covers every inch of His body. His mother is trying to push through the crowd to catch up to Him, and when she finally does, Jesus turns to her and says,
“See, mother, I make all things new.”
I lost it.
The tears poured down my cheeks to my ears and my chest heaved.
The power in those words reverberated through my body and my mind suddenly filled with a thousand thoughts about what it means for Christ, battered, bloody, and barely able to walk, to make all things new.
When I lived in Chicago, I attended a church whose motto was “Joining God as He makes all things new.” I never gave it much thought until last night, but the more I meditate on those words, the more power they garner.
We follow in His crimson footsteps as Jesus stumbles to His death. We put to death our porn addictions and abuse we’ve received in the past. We look at Jesus, dragging His execution tool up the hill to Golgotha; dragging with Him our substance dependency and shame, our self hatred and pride.
With Him, all old things are put to death.
And with Him, fresh life erupts from the grave as we also follow Him out of the grave into all things new.
I cried on the ground because I’m learning to applying the words of Christ to myself. And to the lives of my friends. And to the kids in my youth group. And to your life.
When Jesus says, He makes all things new, I believe He means all.
And how beautiful is this redemption! Do we believe the bloody Christ when He says this? Or do we doubt the extent of His reach?
Have you been an alcoholic for 40 years, or do you think you’re too ugly to be worthy of love because of scars from the past?
Jesus makes all things new.
He does not do it in a cute, clean, pretty way. He opened up His own veins and sacrificed His own body so that we, the Beloved of the Lord, can be made new.
Do you believe it?
Or is it just a nice sentiment?
I’m in a coffee shop, wondering why I come to public places to write posts like these. I keep shoving the lump back down into my chest because at any moment I’m gonna just collapse into a blubbering heap of sobs.
Robert Smalls was born in 1839 as a slave in South Carolina. At the age of 12, he was sent into the fields as a laborer. In his twenties, he was assigned to a ship in the Civil War where he led a mutiny on the ship and commandeered the boat up North to gain his freedom.
Word spread about the slaves who bravely escaped their bondage and earned their freedom in the north, and Smalls grew in prominence and notoriety. A few years later, after the war ended, he returned to the plantation where he was born into slavery and bought it since his former owner had died.
But here’s the crazy part.
Sometime after he had moved back into the plantation where he had been born a slave, a knock sounded on the door. There, standing on his porch, was his master’s wife, now a helpless widow. She had nowhere else to turn.
Robert Smalls let her live with him and his family until her death.
This was the woman whom he had known his whole life as a master. A white woman who was ‘higher than him’ and likely even abused him. Smalls had every right to kick her off his porch and tell her to get lost.
But he didn’t.
This is what grace looks like. This is what it looks like when Jesus takes your hurt, anger, bitterness, and hatred up the hill with Him. And kills them.
This is what it looks like when all things are made new.
A former slave taking care of his master’s widow.
I think God has a sort of distaste for old, stale things. Psalm 103 commands us to ‘sing a new song to the Lord.’ Get out of that tired place of hopelessness and depression and put it to death.
Be made new.
“Jesus rises from the waters; the world rises with Him.”
-Gregory of Nazianzus, on the baptism of Christ
That’s what baptism is: All of you submerges beneath the surface, and all of you rises again. New. Clean.
Do you believe it?
Put those old things to death and join the God-man Jesus as He makes all things new.
In case you’ve ever wondered, this is what makes Good Friday so freaking good.