Friday, March 3, 2017

The Face of Rebellion

Friday, March 3, 2017
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.  Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.  Psalm 51:1-3 (NLT)

If there is one thing the Season of Lent requires it is to look within and recognize our human rebellion against God.  Certainly all of Christian theology and doctrine rest on the reality that sin separates all created beings from their Creator.  Sin is first degree, premeditated, and the whole of Adam’s race is infected.  And without question, there are no survivors to this epidemic; the mortality rate is 100%.      

In King David’s great prayer of contrition in Psalm 51, the former shepherd boy has looked deep in the mirror and recognized his own rebellion; he proclaims it haunts him day and night.  What an accurate and compelling picture of the effects of sin – to see beyond the obvious torture of being caught with your hand in the cookie jar, facing punishment for your deeds…and seeing clearly how justified God is in his judgment.  When we sin we are without excuse.

As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one.  Romans 3:10(NLT)

There is a story about Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper which may well reflect how our Lenten look is supposed to help us reflect on our sin so we can be startled enough by what we see to adequately repent and be forgiven.

The story has it that Leonardo had argued with another artist during the time he was painting his great work.  As a knee-jerk reaction he painted the other artist’s face on Judas (third to the left of Jesus), and his own face on Jesus.  It was then the work came to a screeching halt.  Da Vinci could not continue; every time he looked at the face of Judas he saw his anger, and every time he looked at the face of Christ he saw how inconceivable it is to take God’s place as judge above another. 

And so the great da Vinci painted over the faces; the face of Leonardo, human, rebellious, betraying…became the face of Judas.  He announced his sin, with his paint brush to the whole world and took his place with King David who prayed:  Have mercy on me…wash me…purify me…I recognize my rebellion.

This is repentance – seeing oneself as premeditated sinner, rebellious enemy of God.  This is the purpose of Lent – preparation for looking at the cross and seeing the perfect God who has the right to judge us, who instead chooses to die in our place.

For You Today

If you would go beyond giving up chocolate or okra for Lent, try locating where your face belongs at the Last Supper’s table.
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road…have a blessed day!

Title image: Leonardo da Vinci [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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