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who is to blame?

“For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, CHRIST DIED FOR US. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whole we have now received reconciliation.”

Romans 5:6-11

When my mother called to tell me a jumbled story through tears that my brother was dead, I was driving our minivan with my family on a hot August afternoon.

It was the minivan I was reluctant to get in the first place, the same one that this same brother had told me was cool, that he liked it. That had made it easier for me to drive.

The back was full of my four kids eager to go see a movie. My husband in the passenger seat immediately knew that this normal Saturday was no longer that.

He pointed, as I talked loud and out of control, for me to pull over.

Nearly 11 years later I can’t drive past that spot without recalling the moment.

He got in the driver’s seat and I reeled as I processed what she’d told me.

I told him through irrational cries and screams that Jed had been killed in a wreck.

The rest of the way home left my children disappointed and confused in what was the closest I have come to an out-of-body experience.

Nothing made sense.

I screamed and cried and flailed my arms, scaring everyone in the van I’m sure.

I remember thinking what is wrong with me? Why am I out of control like this? This isn’t even how I cry.

It was unfair, illogical and I could barely understand how it was late in the afternoon and my mom heard from a brother three states away before we knew just down the road that my brother had died in the wee hours of that same morning.

My brother was dead.

All I could think now was that I had to get to my mom and dad. Someone could make this make sense but it was not me.

We would later all slowly assemble the pieces from people there.

A late night with buddies, outside of a bar, resulted in a joy ride in an empty parking lot in a God-forsaken Jeep.

A suspected high and intoxicated driver would walk away barely scratched asking the other passenger from the back seat to lie with him and blame the dying man for the wreck.

When the awful realization hit the driver that not only had he wrecked his car, but that one of his friends would not get up, fear and overwhelming guilt must have wracked his body and mind.

Let’s blame the guy that is dying. The frantic need for escape from consequences, from instant guilt. It was only fitting. He had to hide, to find a cover for this awful mess leading to death.

Suddenly like the Adam of old, in a garden far away, a finger pointed to someone else.

We have all been there.

That moment before sin is extraordinarily tasty and desirable—the excitement, the rush. Letting go of inhibitions for that wild moment of self-gratification.

We don’t want to admit it, but it’s so pleasurable we go back again and again.

Let’s feel the air as we go little faster and take this speed bump.

Taste this juicy, dripping, ripe fruit with me.

Just one more shot.

Send that message to someone that doesn’t belong to you.

Tell that story that was to remain untold.

Watch those images of uncovered people, filling the mind with sin again.

The moment is so delectable.

That instant after, however, is unnerving like nothing else.

Pain, despair, guilt and fear is like hitting the pavement hard.

When I let grieving subside for the moment and I want to point and blame I think of this modern day Adam and what he has done to my brother. He was seeking a story that would cover him and free of him of shame and certain death.

Adam of old pointed to Eve who pointed to a serpent cunningly wrapped around a tree.

That serpent began it all by pointing to, questioning God.

A serpent on a tree blamed the Creator.

The same Creator who would go on a tree and take the blame.

In sadness and desire to find peace, I want someone to blame. I point to Adam and guilt and sin and realize suddenly that I too am a guilty woman looking for covering and pointing to a dying man.

When I am looking for someone to blame, I am just trying to cover my own shame.

I want hurt to subside, the kind caused by others, the kind caused by me.

I think of pieces of gravel from the hard ground in a lonely parking lot where lies are told.

It calls to mind a body torn by shards of gravel, rock glass embedded in a whip. A body that was beaten bare. It was the body of the only, truly innocent One and I was there pointing and blaming Him.

When my heart strays so far away and I think thoughts I shouldn’t think, I watch things I shouldn’t watch, I say things I shouldn’t say and do things I shouldn’t do, deep down I am aching in the aftermath for covering.

So I point.

I make up stories.

I blame.

I blame Him.

The only one who doesn’t deserve the rotten end of a made up story still takes it.

He died on the tree for me while I was still a sinner.

He hung there struggling to breathe in a body He created using final breaths to say I forgive You.

As we approach Easter and I go back in my mind over JP’s sermons approaching the cross, I once again see this is all there is.

This is where forgiveness is given and received.

This is where we are exposed and at the same time covered.

This is where blame is given and taken.

This is where death is swallowed up in victory.

Three guys in a Jeep and Jed was the only one who knew Jesus and the only one who would not survive.

And yet, Jed did survive. He survived because his own guilt and shame were covered by the One who truly took the blame.

Jesus took it and when He died, it died with Him.

And because He rose again, we will also rise.

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