“Crucify him!” The crowd chanted in passionate frenzy. Here they were: united, one nation upholding their belief, crying out against a blasphemer of their faith. This is justice, they thought. We are doing this for righteousness.
“Burn the witches!” The crowd chanted in passionate frenzy. Here they were: united, one community purging an evil in their midst, freeing themselves from the clutches of fear. This is justice, they thought. We are doing this for righteousness.
“Kill the criminals!” “Impeach him!” “He does not deserve to be honoured and buried!” “Why should they be forgiven?!” “She deserved this!”
Everyday, we crucify people: politicians, celebrities, strangers, friends, family. Some of us heckle, some of us shake our fists in rage, some of us smirk condescendingly at their plight. They are wrong, we assure ourselves. We are in the right of things.
And in our unsaid thoughts, we judge: Crucify them.
I wonder if this is why God cautioned man from eating that forbidden fruit — which perhaps contained the seeds of judgment. For even a small bite creates in us an insatiable craving for its taste: for when we experience that gratifying power when we first made a judgment, we slowly become addicted to it.
It all starts seemingly innocent: when we realize something is good, we are driven to share it. After all, good is meant to be experienced and enjoyed together. But with that one fallen judgment, we start to judge our own selves— and see our own nakedness. Shame. Guilt. Then the desire to cover one’s own wrong: first, through vain attempts to conceal our faults; then, to cover our wrong by blaming it on someone else— to show ourselves better, less sinful… and thus, by flawed self-centered logic, more righteous.
And the corrupted seeds of judgment continued to grow when Cain resented Abel and God for the seemingly unfair favoritism, and tried to hide his brother’s murder. It continued to grow when the sons of Noah tried to cover their naked father in his drunken state. It continued to grow when Abraham tried to cover his own impotence by trying to fulfil God’s own promise through his own methods. It continued to grow when Moses tried to cover the death of the Egyptian he killed, and even when he tried to disguise his rage when he struck that fatal rock. It continued to grow when David tried to cover his own lust for another’s wife. And it kept on growing through generations, throughout kingdoms and nations and various societies. Even today, we see those seeds of judgment growing roots in the way people interact on social media: verbal warfare struggling for the moral high ground. We are in the right of things, we all firmly believe. They are wrong.
What is right? What is wrong? What is good? What is evil? What is false? What is true?
The seeds of judgment grows deep, our fixation to assert our own sense of righteousness causing the very conflicts we’re trying to resolve to create more walls and fissures between us. And we end up drawn to a compelling moral dichotomy, this unending battle between good and better, who’s right and more right.
Until we realize that in the end, we’ve never really changed: deep-down, we can never cover up the truth of our own nakedness, this shamefulness that no mask, nor no clothing, nor armor, can hide.
Jesus Christ, despite being innocent, accepted all our judgments. He, who didn’t deserve any of our blame, took it all for us and from us. Despite being the righteousness of God Himself, He willed Himself to be the unrighteousness we condemn, so that anyone who felt the same injustice can find refuge, comfort and hope in Him.
The seeds of judgment remain, fanatic chants echoing those voices of condemnation still resonate in almost every conversation and thought. Yet now, we have a choice: to let our own sense of right and wrong continue to prevail over our lives, or let go of our shame, and uncover this naked world through His own righteous yet loving eyes.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
[Galatians 2:20a ESV]