(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

Just recently, I have finished turning the pages of one of the greatest books I have ever had the honor of reading. It is one I am certain I shall pick up again and again over the course of my life, and one whose memories I will cherish for a great deal of time. Those of you who listen to our podcast probably already know which title I am referring to and are wondering how much I will continue to babble about it. I am afraid to say my babbling will go on for a long time yet. 

The book is titled, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of your Child, by Anthony Esolen. I recommend it to every one of you, whether you have children or not, because I have come to love it nearly as much as I love The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I know, I know, that was the quite the statement. I shall allow you a moment to collect yourself. 

In this book, I came to learn of a great festival which took place in Europe in the Middle Ages, which I had never before heard anything about. The festival was apparently quite the affair, and focused mainly on extravagant plays depicting the entire story of Scripture, from Creation to the Last Judgement. The props were fantastic and the costumes exotic and vibrant. People from all across Europe would gather for this festival which lasted for quite some time, and every year was just as good, sometimes better, than the last. 

In particular, the author mentions the depiction of Jesus’ trial before His crucifixion, and it is a passage I have been deeply touched by. In the play, as is recorded in Scripture, Jesus is being mocked, beaten, belittled, spit upon, and screamed at to be coerced into a confession of blasphemy by the religious leaders. As we know, Jesus says nothing, or rather almost nothing, during the entire time immediately before He is killed. 

Mr. Esolen describes the leaders words like this: “They talk on and on about the laws Jesus has broken, the sacred laws they must uphold, the laws they abide by in their trial, and all that talk of law and law and law begins to weigh upon the minds of the audience like a weary burden, because the people know that by the law they are all doomed” (Esolen, 2010 ). 

How true it is that we would all be doomed if we were still expected to abide by this law! This law which demands so much perfection out of such imperfect creatures, with no hope of rescuing themselves from their iniquities. 

As I read this account of the festival, I imagined myself sitting among the audience, looking on toward this violent, heavy depiction of Jesus’ trial. I felt lucky in this moment to have never seen the Passion of the Christ movie (not because I have anything against it at all). I believe all Christians should watch it if they are able. However, I am extremely squeamish and can hardly stand to talk of things like blood and mutilation, much less watch a very real depiction of so violent a death. Don’t worry though, I have not given up trying to stoke up my courage to see it.), because I was able to imagine this scene in my own way.

I imagined Jesus bent over, blood splattered across His cheeks, or dripping from His mouth where they have split His lip. The religious leaders with fiery red faces, their pride and anger flooding the room uproariously. Peter in the courtyard, staring up through the dimly lit windows, searching for his Messiah. 

In the play, when Jesus is finally asked bluntly whether He is the Son of God, He utters his only lines in the entire production:

“So thou sayest even now, 

And right so I am. 

For after this shalt thou see when that I come down

From heaven shining brightly in the clouds

That form my gown.” 

I imagine Jesus uttering these words quietly, with His throat dry and scratchy, His head bent downward but His eyes pointed up at His aggressors. Yet, it takes knowing Jesus in all His majesty to still have the goosebumps rise across your body as His low voice echoes through the chambers of your mind. 

Esolen says, “He is the central figure; all eyes are on Him; but if we do not know who he is, then it matters not what He may say in His defense. His identification of Himself is His great “crime,” and is at the same time the lifeline thrown out to all who watch the play, who will say, ‘I believe in you.’ What might have been an ordinary meditation on man’s cruelty to man, the “lawful” assassination of an innocent man, becomes a statement written upon the vaults of the heavens. This is what man’s justice does to what is good and holy. This is man’s gratitude to God – and God’s love for ungrateful man.” 

What a powerful way to describe the cruelty man inflicted on the Son of God, and the strength, gentleness, and love He still has for us! What would we do without it, being those creatures which treat the only thing which is truly good and holy with so much evil and filth? What a wonderful description also of the response evoked in the hearts of those watching! 

Having the advantage of looking back and knowing no one had such a reaction to Jesus’ claims, I wish desperately I could have been there to defend Him. I realize this all had to happen for us to experience the glory of salvation, but I still cannot imagine being as undefended as Jesus was in the face of such mockery. 

As I was transported back in time, to that fateful day when the Jews said, “we do not want our King. Send us the murderer instead,” I sat among the crowd with the power to defend my King, though he needed not my protection. As I sat myself within the crowd, I wished simply to whisper first, so only He could hear me. 

“I believe in you.” 

As the accusations continue to fly, I move to the edge of my seat, my hands balled into fists, my brow knit tightly. I say more loudly, 

“I believe in you.” 

And finally, as they spit, beat, and mock, I am overcome with passion. I bolt up from my seat, staring my Savior in the eyes, and I am overwhelmed with an urge to scream and whisper all in the same instant, 

“I believe in you!” 

I wring my hands, my knuckles turned white with desperation, and the tears streaming down my cheeks. 

“I believe in you!”

I imagine standing alone at first, the crowd silent with their eyes turned toward me. Then Lazarus, the once dead man, stands among the crowd too, saying, “I believe in you.” Mary, his sister, next to him, still smelling of strong perfume, calling out, “I believe in you.” The woman who no longer struggles with the issue of blood, once again reaching toward Him, crying, “I believe in you.” John, running as fast as he can toward his Lord, panting, “I believe in you.” Peter, the shame of his denial clouding his rugged face, says boldly again, “I believe in you.” 

Not only do I imagine the hero saints of old. I hear my father’s voice, then my mother’s, then my sister’s and brother’s, uttering those same words, “I believe in you.” I hear the sweet sound of my former pastor’s deep voice saying evenly, “I believe in you.” I hear my friends call, “I believe in you.” I hear the voice of an old woman in my church say lightly, “I believe in you.” 

Jesus did not need our defense then. He knew what He had to do far better than we ever will. But it is our job to defend Him now. 

If you believe His trial before men ended that day, you are sorely mistaken my friend. Our Savior is in the dock of people’s lives every day, and it is our job to be His advocates. Our society is beating Him down, spitting in His face, and denying His claims yet again today, and it is our job to proclaim from the top of our lungs, “I believe in you!” 

If Jesus has taught me anything, He has taught me that what is right is always worth believing in, and there is now no one else who will recognize that our belief in Him is infinitely more important than our belief in ourselves, whose perverted justice condemns what is holy and good. 

I do not know what you will proclaim this Easter. Perhaps it will be, “3, 2, 1, go get your easter eggs,” or perhaps, “A toast, to another wonderful Easter ham.” I pray this will not be your proclamation on the most influential day of the year. 

I know not what course others may take, but I choose to proclaim this Easter, “I believe in you!” 

2 thoughts on “I BELIEVE IN YOU

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  1. “I believe in you” what truth that, as so many little kids and even adults have no idea what that means. How disappointing. This Easter I will say, “I believe in you Lord”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So very true! I believe in you! I don’t want to think back, however, because many of ones proclaiming Hosanna in the Highest just a few days before, became the part of the jury sending Him to His death. But without that death, there would be no ressurection. Thank You, Jesus, that I have You!!! I choose to live for You because You died for me! I can’t even fathom why or imagine the pain and suffering You endured…. for me!? Yes, I believe in You!!! Thank you Maddie,this was lovely and perfectly timely!

    Liked by 1 person

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