I’m sure you’ve seen this scene before in the movies. Our hero is walking through a treacherous jungle, alley, deserted building, whatever, with his faithful sidekick. Suddenly, our hero turns and aims his pistol, submachine gun, laser weapon, whatever, toward the sidekick.
“What are you doing?” screams the sidekick. Our hero fires, just missing his excited companion. Then, with a thump, a bad guy, who was waiting to ambush them, falls out of a tree, building, whatever, dead.
“Oh,” says the obviously relieved sidekick. This is usually followed by some interaction between the two, where the sidekick is screaming and our hero just looks at him and says, “Shut up! We’ve got a job to do.”
The sidekick had no idea there was a bad guy nearby. All he saw was our hero aiming in a direction he didn’t understand. He only understood when he saw the bad guy dead at his feet. We are a lot like that sidekick. The great Christian theologian, Oswald Chambers, wrote, “God’s aim looks like missing the mark because we are too shortsighted to see what He is aiming at.”
You may not scream at God saying, “What are you doing?” But I can guarantee you have probably thought it. God, what are you doing? My child is sick. We’ve been to all the doctors and she’s not getting better. God, what are you doing? I was laid off work months ago and haven’t been able to find a job anywhere. God, what are you doing? The relationship is over. I tried to do what I could to keep it together, but it didn’t work. The individual narratives may be different, but we’ve all been there. We have been frustrated by situations and events in our lives. We’ve wondered, “God, why don’t you fix it?” It has been that way throughout history.
The scene is Jerusalem. The time is between B.C. and A.D. Our hero is entering the city on a donkey. The crowd is excited. “We’ve been tormented by these Romans long enough! Our hero will fix it. He will get the Roman government off our backs!” The crowd exclaims, “Hosanna!,” which translated means “Save now!” They think, “We’ve seen him do miracles and teach like no other prophet before him. He’s the one. He will deliver us from these Roman tyrants and Israel will once again be a great nation!”
But it didn’t turn out that way. Within a short time Jesus would be arrested. But rather than showing his mighty power, he is just standing there, saying nothing. He looks like a lamb being led to slaughter. By the way, he could have called down from heaven 10,000 angels to rescue him from the cross and set up an earthly kingdom, but that wasn’t the aim. So, he hung there, bearing the pain and shame of a world full of sin.
What are you doing, Jesus? We were wrong. You are not the saviour of Israel. You’re just another prophet. We wanted a political and military leader. And you sure are not him. The Romans and the Jewish leaders want to get rid of you. Go ahead, “Crucify him!,” the crowd exclaims.
That fateful week in Jerusalem, the crowd believed God had missed the mark. But that was far from the case. They were just “too shortsighted to see what He was aiming at.” The Jewish crowd wanted a saviour for the Jews. God provided a Saviour for the whole mankind. There’s a price to be paid for sin. The whole mankind owes it, and Jesus paid it on the cross.
There were a few there who didn’t chant “Crucify him!” They had been with Jesus. They didn’t understand what was happening. They were scared and confused. But they still believed. And a few days later they would be rewarded by being in the presence of the Risen King, Jesus, Saviour of the world. Then they began to understand what God was doing.
God, what are you doing? One day you may understand what God was doing during that difficult time. But the truth is that you may never know. The temptation during that difficult time is to give up and say in your own way, “Crucify him!” But the story of Easter is one of hope. It’s the hope of being in the presence of the Risen King. And the knowledge that God does not miss the mark in our lives, no matter what happens.
Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org