It is 7:47 pm now. Around this time of the day one random evening in 2014, I sat alone in my room in the University. I was sitting on the side of my bed, watching The Passion of Christ on my laptop which was placed on a chair beside my bed. In case you didn’t know, The Passion of Christ is the version of the Jesus movie where Jim Caviezel plays the role of Jesus.
I remember nothing of the events leading up to this moment in the day. But I have a clear picture of what happened midway through watching that movie. My door was locked and bolted as was the evening routine. The room was about as private as my thoughts — tranquil, with an orange glow thanks to the lightbulb I was using at the time.
I remember watching Pontious Pilate struggling, again and again, to clear Jesus of all the charges but without success. I can hear the Pharisees shouting protestations of Jesus’s blasphemy and condemning him to be crucified. I can picture Pilate finally washing his hands and handing Jesus off to be flogged and crucified.
I watched as he was being made fun of by the soldiers. I watched as they flogged him. Their strokes charred the flesh on his back. There was blood everywhere. Blood and groans of agony. I saw his mother in the crowd. What pains she must have felt as she witnessed these horrors being inflicted on her child! Peter, who once swore unwavering faithfulness, had earlier rejected him thrice. He was forsaken by friends, family, and even God.
I don’t think I was watching the movie for the first time. I had probably just been browsing through my collection of old movies and thought I’d check that one once again. But this was the first time I got a clear message. It hit me hard: He wasn’t doing it for 7 billion people. He was doing it for me. If the human race was made up of only me, I am confident he would still have done it. He didn’t have to but he was taking my place.
I had a lucid moment. The air in the room suddenly felt heavy as if with a presence; a presence that was as palpable as if someone were physically in that room with me.
Ordinarily, I would have pushed back the tears. As a rule, I didn’t allow myself to get emotional over a movie. I’d rather pause the movie, look to the ceiling until every drop of tear had sunk back to where it came from before I could allow myself to continue the movie. But this time, I yielded to everything I felt. I dropped to my knees and called unto Jesus because I believe he was in that room with me. I expressed appreciation for all he had gone through for my sake and asked him to come into my life and be my Lord and personal savior.
It’s been many years now and I have been through peaks and troughs. It has been a savage battle and I’m glad it is not mine to fight. Not really. The battle has been fought and won long before I was ever enlisted for it.
Good Friday is one of the days that serve to remind me of this fact. It is very easy nowadays to get carried away by the vicissitudes of life that we forget the very core of our most esteemed values.
We have been given a precious gift and we should not squander it because there won’t be another.
If you haven’t received this gift yet, I pray you do. You might be super familiar with the whole story of the salvation of mankind. But like me, you might not fully appreciate it until you make it personal: it’s not mankind that Jesus died for, it is you and I.
And if you haven’t heard of this before, I suggest you read/listen to this article by John Piper: How do I “give my life to God”?