I waited tables for about ten years. One of the more uncomfortable moments involved dropping the check at the end of the meal. This was especially an issue when the diners were celebrating a birthday or graduation. A battle would ensue over who would pay. The slick ones—who reasonably wanted to avoid a conflict—found a discreet way to pass the server a credit card: run it on this when the time comes.
I understand wanting to do something nice for the people you care about, but it’s another thing to lean on your ego when the completed credit card slip reached the table and you feel the need to take the server to task because someone else had beat them to the punch of paying for the evening: hey, why’d you let him pay for the check?
At the end of the day, however, the check is paid and the party needs to move on. There’s no sense in trying to return and pay the check again—which wouldn’t happen, but the way some people have left a table disgruntled because someone else picked up the tab, you’d think they’d want the option. As if the dinner was only successful if you were the one to make it happen. Just say thanks and enjoy the rest of your night.
With his life, Jesus believed he was picking up our check. He knew he would have to die; he did not hide from or fight it; he accepted his fate—with the exception of one late-hour doubt—he bore this fate better than anyone I have ever met or heard of. He did this because he believed that this needed to happen, and that his one sacrifice would be enough to cover man’s sins.
But this, apparently, is not enough for some people.
In the Philippines, a tradition celebrates Easter by re-enacting the crucifixion, with willing participants getting nailed to crosses: http://rt.com/news/self-crucifixion-filipino-036/. Nothing about this looks like fun (and that’s not the point), but they have it a little better: they don’t have to hang from the nails in the cross like Jesus (and others) did; they’re secured with some additional ropes and cloth. Some of these participants believe that by participating, they are atoning for their sins.
Would Jesus be flattered or mortified by these actions? Perhaps a different reaction?
The Gospel of Matthew gives a vivid enough description of what Jesus experienced in his
final hours. This description is not gratuitous by any means; however, it still manages to make it clear that having other people emulate his suffering is unnecessary. Attempting to do so also feels a bit disrespectful.
After being arrested, taken before Governor Pilate and sentenced to death, Jesus is flogged (27:26). To add insult to injury, he’s then taunted by Roman soldiers, who give him his crown of thorns (27:29). There is little description of the journey carrying the cross, but we do feel his pain over the hours and wince especially when, in his ninth hour, he asks God why he has forsaken him (27:46).
Given all that Jesus has handled and conducted in this book, it’s clear that he would have had to have been in mortal agony to question God. So when his body finally succumbs to death and the temple curtain tears in two—followed by an earthquake—you’d think the message would be clear.
The man did his work, paid his price. If you are a devout follower, shouldn’t that be enough?