I was catching up on the final bit of Mark last night; our church has been reading that particular piece of the Bible together (which, in itself, is a very cool aspect of community that prompts a bit of awe in me - processing together the same words, letting them sink in to several hundred people, reading at different places and times, all receiving something similar and yet uniquely theirs...)
But I digress.
Anyway, I was catching up - because I'm running a bit ragged, and I fell behind - and I got to that part where Jesus is standing in front of Pilate and they've got the option to let Jesus go or release a truly bad guy (murder, anyone?) and Pilate opts to let the crowd decide.
I know how the story ends. I've read it, I've heard it preached, I remember the bit from Jesus Christ, Superstar. I know the crowd goes ballistic and screams "Crucify Him!"
But there's this: I got to that part in the text, and although I know what happens, I found myself caught up in the tension of the moment, in the power of the story.
"As the crowd came up and began to present its petition for him to release a prisoner, Pilate anticipated them: 'Do you want me to release the King of the Jews to you?' "
I read those words, and my heart and my head beat with three syllables:
Let him go.
Let him go.
LET HIM GO!
The power of the story captivated me. Maybe that's part of it: reading the gospel as story, reading in somehow connected in community. Appreciating the drama and the plot and the tension and release; feeling the impact of the arc of truth. This time of Bible reading has brought something new and unique to my life - to my relationship with the one who Created me.
And as the climax approached, as the end drew near, I found myself longing for the crowd to do the right thing. Let Jesus go!
I knew it wouldn't happen. I know, in the end, the torture and crucifixion and death are inevitable. I know the hero dies.
But I can't help but wish for something different. Even knowing full well that without the pain, there is no healing. Without the death, there is no life. Without the darkness, there is no light.
I just want to avoid the tragedy. To skip the part that hurts.
It occurred to me today that there is truth in my emotional reaction to this familiar story that applies to more than just what happened to Jesus. I do my own share of screaming-crying-praying that same phrase, but one more focused on my own discomfort:
Let me go!
Let me go!
LET ME GO!
It is a daily thing for me, the tossing and turning at night, anxious, worried, frustrated, trying to wish away the pain. Sometimes it's a tiny grain of concern, sometime it's a larger, more pervasive issue. But it seems it's always something that I wish would go away, would dissipate, would dissolve.
Thank God it doesn't work like that. Although the simpler, more selfish part of me would like nothing more than easy days and restful nights, the truth has been told in the daily and monthly and yearly little deaths and little lives that cycle through my existence. It takes the pain, the mistakes, the failures and the wrong choices to bring to life the part of humanity that is most deeply rooted in truth.
That's what I want. A true life.
My heart hopes that Jesus walks free, but my head knows it cannot be so. It's through the awkward and painful playing out of that story that the emotion of the heart unites with the logic of the head. The horror comes, the hero dies.
And in the end, all is well.