Today is Good Friday. On this day, Christians around the world will gather to commemorate the most impractical act a man ever committed. On this day, one man chose to die so countless others, many of whom would not even know His name, could have life.
In each of the events leading up to 3:00 PM, the people making the controlling decisions told themselves that they were being practical.
Judas went to the high priests because he believed that Christ was not being practical with money.
The high priests believed that it was more practical for one man to die than to possibly incur the wrath of the Roman Empire.
Pontius Pilate gave into the demands of the crowd for crucifixion because he believed that it was more practical to sacrifice Christ than to have civil unrest.
The disciples ran away because they believed that there was no practical way to stay faithful and avoid death themselves, and there was no practical reason for them to die.
There were a few impractical folks that day. Folks who cared more about the man being tortured and killed than they did about any practical considerations.
We know their names as well. Veronica, who impractically stepped into the path of the soldiers and the screaming mob to wipe His bleeding face. Mary Magdalen, who impractically braved the jeers of the soldiers to remain faithful to her Lord. Mary, his mother, who impractically followed her Son all the way to the foot of the cross so He could see and take comfort from her loving presence. John, who impractically stood in the middle of the Golgotha nightmare, living up to the term "beloved disciple".
And now it is two thousand years later, and we are about to commemorate the events of that day. In our discussions, we don’t often use the word "practical" to describe the actions of those who contributed to the death. We use other, uglier, adjectives. We also don’t use the word "impractical" to describe the actions of the few who remained by His side. We use other words there as well.
It’s funny how often practicality is called a virtue in the present tense, and a vice in the past tense.
That’s because most of us would not openly embrace a choice that we know is unprincipled. We all like to see ourselves as individuals who "do the right thing". But doing the right thing is often hard. It may cost us financially. It may mean less prestige. It may end a relationship. It may make our path more difficult. It may result in a perceived failure.
So we convince ourselves that we can sacrifice principle for practicality. We tell ourselves that we would prefer to do the principled thing, but it just wouldn’t be practical to do so this time.
On this day, when we remember the impractical Man who embraced a cross for us, let’s take just a moment to consider all the times that we chose practicality over principle. And then let’s remember which of the people who were in Jerusalem on this day two thousand years ago made that same choice, and which ones did not.
If we truly mean to follow the Man whose sacrifice we honor, we need to join the second group. Without exception and without compromise.