#3 Chains and Whips

You were chained, you were whipped, but that didn’t excite me.

I looked on at your Cross, feeling cross. If you were the Saviour, why weren’t you saving yourself?

I’d wanted to trust you, wanted to hope in you. But, as I looked on and saw the bloodied fraction of a man that once was, all of my doubts were confirmed.

You were chained, you were whipped, but that didn’t excite me.

I was as guilty as sin. You were blameless, so far as I could tell.

But you hung there with us. I joined in with the others and mocked your so called sovereignty.

You were chained, you were whipped, but that didn’t excite me.

I was angry. Some miniscule part of me believed you’d do it. Believed you’d call for your Father and give me some proof.

But you didn’t. Your frame suspended from that rugged cross. Your countenance seemed just as sorry as mine.

You were chained you were whipped, but that didn’t excite me.

I wish I’d have known I’d see scars to remind me,

I wish that my heart had let me see past, me thinking “it’s over” when you breathed your last.

Today is Good Friday. Most of you reading this will know what that means to Christians worldwide. Some of you won’t. The poem above is me writing from the point of view of the criminal who hung on the cross alongside Jesus. The criminal who didn’t repent even though his death was imminent. (Luke 23:39).

While reading the poem, you may have noticed the repetition of the line “you were chained, you were whipped, but that didn’t excite me.” You also may have noticed that it sounds suspiciously familiar to a line in Rihanna’s recent song “S & M”. The similarity is intentional.

Rihanna’s song has troubled me ever since its release. Not because I’m a prude, the reasons are many. It’s partly because I remember who she was when she first came onto the music scene. Talented, beautiful and singing about the DJ turning the music up- she appeared pretty innocent. A far cry from the woman she seems to be today. The fact is, she’s now more popular than she ever has been which leads to my main issue with her song. Her surge in popularity means that even more children and young people are fans of her music. Christian or not, there aren’t many people who’d be able to honestly say that listening to an 8 year old recite the lyrics to Rihanna’s song would be an entirely comfortable experience for them. That situation however, is now a reality. I’ve heard it.

Rihanna is not naïve. She knows what it seems to mean to be successful in the world we live in today. We hear the phrase ‘sex sells’ time and time again. Anyone in the public eye knows this to be true and therefore, more and more ‘shocking’ material is released in order to keep people interested. But when will it stop? If society continues to move in the way that it is, artists will keep making scandalous music and videos and consumers will keep listening and watching. I think what’s most shocking is that no one appears to be shocked anymore.

Now I turn my attention to the criminal on the cross. He joined in with the crowd, taunting Jesus. Perhaps not even being fully aware of what he was saying or doing, but following the crowd nonetheless. It was the easy thing to do. He was going to die anyway, right? So why not soften the blow of his final moments? But if that was the case, what did the other criminal see in Jesus which made him rebuke his fellow felon? (Luke 23:40) By all appearances the kingdom was finished and there was nothing left to live for. However, this man knew that to the follow the crowd at this moment would not be a wise move. The result? Jesus told the repentant offender that he would “be with him in paradise”. (Luke 23:43) We don’t hear anything more about the other miscreant though.

It’s easy to follow the crowd and mindlessly do what everyone expects you to. But where will it lead you eventually? I don’t profess to know what the end is for that criminal who hung next to Jesus. Nor do I know what the end is for Rihanna. One thing I do know however is this, Good Friday means Jesus died and darkness has its hour. But Sunday’s coming. I believe that Easter Sunday means Jesus has risen and death is beaten.

Which of the two criminals are you? Is your destiny in people pleasing? Or in paradise?