Have you ever been so excited about an upcoming event, but when it arrived, something happened that felt like it robbed you of the joy you were anticipating? This has happened to me more times than I’d like to admit through the years, but I can never remember anything quite like the experience I had some weeks ago.
For over a month, I had looked forward to the weekend we would spend with family, watching our grandkids play in their respective sports’ tournaments. The weekend started out great. Seeing our granddaughter using her God-given skills, playing volleyball with such love and enjoyment for the sport, brought so much joy to my heart! I definitely wore my proud MeMa hat!
A few days later, it was time to see our grandson in action, playing basketball. He had worked so hard, preparing for this season, and I couldn’t wait to cheer him on. I was so excited to finally take in one of his games! The night arrived, we found our seats in the appropriate cheering section, and I couldn’t wait for the game to start! Prior to the game, a group of teens from the opposing team decided to find their seats two rows behind us and proceeded to fling brutal comments to our team’s players. This went on throughout the game, even to the point of disrespecting the referees. Needless to say, my MeMa hat was ready to blow, especially when they made my grandson one of their targets! I had spent the past hour turning around, hoping they could sense my displeasure at their mockings, but nothing helped. I had had enough and finally turned around and asked them to please “shut up.” I’m not proud of what I did. In fact, it bothered me for days afterward. I left the game feeling robbed of my witness and joy as a believer and angry at those who had felt it necessary to brutalize my grandson and his teammates.
The next morning, after a night of wrestling with my emotions over this, the Lord gently reminded me of the night Jesus had been taken to face those who sought His death. The chief priests and all the council were having trouble finding witnesses whose testimonies would prove they were justified in trying to get rid of this One who had made such blasphemous claims. Even though their false witnesses’ stories didn’t agree, they wouldn’t give up. Because of Roman rule, this council didn’t have the authority to put anyone to death, but if they could bring their claims to Pilate, the Roman governor, hopefully he could be persuaded to see their reason for wanting this Jesus to be put to death. The next morning, they bound Jesus and delivered Him to Pilate. When the chief priests threw accusations at Jesus, in front of Pilate, Jesus never tried to defend Himself.
Isaiah chapter 53 tells us what Jesus was subjected to. He was despised, rejected by men, acquainted with grief, wounded, bruised, oppressed and afflicted. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, He opened not His mouth. The Father laid on Him every sin that has ever been or will be committed throughout time. Jesus took all of that in silence. When the religious rulers, because of their envy, stirred up the crowd to cry out “Crucify Him,” Pilate relented, and even though he could find no fault in Jesus, he had Jesus scourged and later crucified.
As I read these accounts, I thought again of the way I reacted to those who thought it necessary to slander my grandson and his teammates. How I wish I had acted differently. My heart aches as I think of the times I brought shame to Jesus because of my words or actions. I realized that even though I wasn’t one of the chief priests or soldiers mocking Jesus, or striking Him with the whip loaded with pieces of metal, the one placing the crown of thorns on Jesus’ head, or the soldier pounding the nails in His hands and feet, my sin put Him there. My sin nailed Him to the cross. He went through all of that for me; taking MY punishment for MY sin. His death and resurrection brought about that precious moment when I heard Him knocking at the door of my heart. I opened the door and invited Him in, bringing about a relationship with Him that brings an indescribable joy that the world could never understand.
Jesus has often reminded me to pray for those teens and their need for Jesus in their lives. Any time I find myself face to face with a joy breaker these days, I want to remember how Christ forgave me and choose the joy that only He can give.