02 April 2010

"Jesus Was a Common Criminal" or "Bound in Chains" (Good Friday Musings)

I work at a church, which I love, but sometimes the details (date, time, location, ads, etc) make me forget about how important ministries are. Since Easter is coming this weekend, I was thinking of announcements and how since Easter is more highly attended, those announcements get greater visibility. (Side note: I think announcements are the bane of most pastors' existence...that's another post though.)

For some reason, our prison ministry came to mind and it got me thinking that prisoners have a special kinship with Christ. I think it's especially clear because today is Good Friday--the day where we (Christians) remember the crucifixion of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Although he was without sin, scripture tells us that he was tempted like us and suffered like us. Not only that, he expressed anger and frustration and boldly stood up against the laws and customs of his culture.

I think that so often we like to believe Jesus was this gentle, peaceful man who was wrongfully accused, convicted and punished to a much greater degree than the crime he was charged with. We're only part right. We say "Bad Pharisees! Bad Pilate! Couldn't you see he was the Messiah here to save you...and the whole world?!!!" When the fact of the matter is they were just tools in God's great plan to save the world. This was what was supposed to happen. Jesus died on that cross because I sinned and you sinned and the criminals sinned and the little old church ladies sinned. This punishment was not against Christ, but against the world.
Back to my point--prisoners share a special kinship with Christ because they know what it is like to be arrested, tried, convicted, living in fear, isolated and some in expectation of death. But do enough of them know that the Creator if this universe knows what they feel? Do they know that the punishment He endured can save them from eternal punishment?

I've realized in a few minutes of musing how important the Prison Ministry is and how grateful I am to the people who serve in this ministry.