“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorders of the world.” – Karl Barth
Easter and ANZAC Day are both reminders of sin, death and war. It can be depressing and dark to look at the ‘disorders’ of the world. Sin is unpleasant, disgusting, sick, evil, all-pervasive, ugly. It is something we try to avoid or ignore. It is not something to gaze upon unless you like to rubberneck and gawk. Yet, as Christians, we should look sin squarely in the face, shouldn’t we? Not turn away. ‘God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Corinthians 5:21). We must look at and receive the sacrifice for our sin on the cross, and pray like the thief in Luke 23.
We prefer the empty cross, we Protestants. Of course we cannot deny the empty cross and the wondrous resurrection of Jesus. But how can we ignore the cost of our salvation? Surely we must look directly, eyes not averted, into the marred, disfigured face of our Saviour? We should gaze upon the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He was led to the slaughter, silent, cut off, punished, though He had done no violence. He was crushed and made an offering for sin by the will of God (Isaiah 53). He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering. He was pierced for our sins. Jesus poured out His life unto death and was numbered with the sinners…for our sake.
We must pray if we are to look at Jesus, at our sin, at the ‘disorders’ in our world. The thief looked and gasped his deathbed prayer, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus promised this humble, repentant sinner, for whom eternity was an imminent reality, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’ Jesus fulfilled this promise while hanging on the cross as the sacrificial Lamb.