Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Rend Your Hearts

“As for our days before we were regenerated, may they be forgiven and forgotten; but since then, though we have not sinned as before, yet we have sinned against light and against love—light which has really penetrated our minds, and love in which we rejoice.  Oh, the atrocity of the sin of a pardoned soul!”
– C. H. Spurgeon

I am the prodigal, the traitor, the slave,
I am the voice screaming against the night,
For I have tasted of the higher way,
But still, in all the crushing moments,
When choice turns into treason
And the frail illusion of all I’ve clung to
Mocks me to my face,
I have nothing left but to fall, empty,
And acknowledge who I am.
Called to follow, but yet I hold back,
Called to serve, but yet I flee,
Called to love, but yet I will not obey.

Judas am I, the tragic villain of this age;
A friend I was, a follower indeed,
But with a single kiss I sealed his fate
And joined hands with the enemy I despise.
I watched in silent, wrenching horror
As he walked quietly away to die,
And I, in my foolish pride,
I see that I’ve become the pawn
Of a twisted and malevolent evil,
And it was these hands, these lips,
That gave that evil its power.
The Son of God dies because of me;
The Son of God dies because of me!
Back to the Temple; back to the golden courts
Where the hypocrites spin their lies
In the presence of the Living God!
The coins scatter across the floor
Like the shattered pieces of my heart,
But even this is not enough.
Silver I was given for my very soul,
And the wrong I have done is all I can see.

Peter am I, the coward and the fake;
My friend, my brother, my master, my God…
And I denied him; I denied him!
One blow I struck in his defense, one blow alone,
And even that he declined,
His eyes full of the fire of impassioned love.
Frightened and dismayed, I fled in the night,
And my heart was lost to me.
Yes, I love him!—And so I follow,
Carefully, cautiously,
Into the ravenous den of lions.
Do I know this man?  This man, so despised?
Beaten and weary, he is burdened with taunts.
Him?  No, I know him not.
Three times!  Three times, and then…
That fatal cock-crow, the sound of dawn…
O God of my fathers, have mercy on me!
My Lord and my God, have mercy on me!—
For I have forsaken the one I love.

Thomas am I, the zealot with no courage,
The disciple with no faith.
To Jerusalem, to glory and despair!
Together we would embrace our demise,
Martyrs all, of one heart and spirit.
If he would die, then we would die;
We were his disciples.
But in that final, horrific night,
As the mob’s torches echoed mockingly
The white light of heaven’s stars,
I had no brothers left to stand beside.
Jesus stood alone before the traitor
As my brothers and my friends
Fled into the dark safety of the garden.
And, God forgive me, I followed them—
Not him, the one who had called me to follow,
But it was the cowardly refuge of the weak
That I joined, and proved to all the world
That my love for him was empty,
That I could not share the terrible power
Of the cup of his suffering.
It was over; it was over!
I’d failed the test.
And not even the wild, hopeful cries I heard
On the morning after the Sabbath
Could rouse me from that despair.
I had fallen in the night, and my hope was dead.

Judas, and Peter, and Thomas am I,
But more still than these—
I am the man on the crest of Golgotha,
I am the man of fire and sword,
The hammer of a pagan empire.
I look at the tortured, dying king,
As he writhes, bloody, on the ground.
I curse him loudly and kick his lacerated back.
With a groan he collapses onto the cross,
His life already nearly spent.
Viciously, I stretch his arms out
And pull the long, sharp nails from my belt.
A hammer-blow, and he screams.
The harsh resonance of the metal pleases me,
And I strike hard again,
Watching as the Messiah clenches his jaw
Against the pain that I can cause him.
Tears spill from his bloodshot eyes
And mix with the scarlet flood
That courses down his cheeks.
His other hand, his feet, fall beneath my hammer.
And the strength of my arm, my will,
Has pinned him forever to that cruel frame
And stolen his every hope of life.
Mine was the blow that felled the Christ,
Mine was the power that made him weep.

I am the prodigal, the traitor, the slave;
I am the voice screaming against the night.
But you tell me I am not, O God;
You tell me I am more;
But who is it then who does the things I do?
If not me, then who?
Who is it who betrays the Christ,
Denies him, crucifies him over and over again?
Why do I find myself again in the muddy pit;
Why am I chained in the enemy’s camp?
Here I stand again in the wilderness,
Turning stubborn stones into bread
That I may feast with Satan one more time.

Lord Jesus!  Have I ever truly loved you?—
To love you is to keep your commands.
Good Rabbi, what must I do to inherit eternal life?
You know what you must do—
Keep the commandments.
But I have never kept them faithfully,
From the time I was young until now…
What hope is left for a man like me?

Come, and follow.
Come and follow, and I’ll open for you
A new world, a new life,
A resurrection that will make you sing
With all the power of the breaking dawn.
You are more than a prodigal;
You are my son.
You are more than a traitor;
You are my friend.
You are more than a slave;
You are the servant of the Living God.
Stop doing wrong; learn to do right!
Obey, and follow.
Come towards me, and I’ll be there,
Sustaining and upholding you
Though Satan’s gale rages all around.
Oh, my child—I’ve not come
To call the righteous to repentance.
It was your blow that pierced me,
Your kiss that betrayed me,
And so it was for you that I died.
Freedom is yours, and life is yours—
All you must do is follow, and believe.
The Kingdom awaits your choice, my son—
Step out into the tempest of living,

And I will make you truly alive.