The greatest sin and the most unjust crime in all of history was the nailing of Jesus, an innocent man, to the cross.
I wasn’t there.
You weren’t there.
Christians readily admit it was OUR sins he bore on the cross...but WE didn’t actually nail Jesus to the cross, right?
When Peter preached his first sermon in Acts 2, people who had come to Jerusalem from all over the world were miraculously able to hear Peter's words in their own language...even in their own dialect. What did Peter say to this diverse group and the locals who were also in the crowd in verse 36?
He said, Jesus whom YOU crucified...literally, whom YOU "pinned" to the cross...
And what was their response to this accusation of murdering an innocent man?
“I wasn’t even there!” No.
"I was there but there was nothing I could have done about it." No
“I have lots of friends like this guy you describe, Jesus.” No.
"I can't be held responsible for what others have done." No.
"How dare you accuse ME of murder." No.
"You have to understand the way I was raised." No.
"What you have to understand is BLAH BLAH BLAH." No.
“Those rotten Pharisees need to not only be fired but arrested for murdering Jesus!” No.
“Jesus’ life doesn’t just matter...ALL lives matter! Unborn children's lives matter. Blue lives matter! And why aren't you focusing on other crimes?” No.
What was their response?
They were “cut to the heart”. That means they were repentant for THEIR action of nailing Jesus to the cross, and asked Peter, “What must WE do?”
Behold I hear MY mocking voice among the scoffers.
It was MY sin that nailed him there.
We love to sing those statements. Most Christians are OK with those kinds of statements about Jesus dying for us and that we nailed Jesus to the cross. But we aren't good with this statement...
It was MY knee on the neck of George Floyd.
It was MY lack of courage to stop the murder of George Floyd.
It was MY lying frantic voice on the phone with 911 in Central Park falsely claiming that an African American man was threatening me and my dog.
The most basic and most settled doctrine of the Christian faith, outside of the deity of Christ, is perhaps the doctrine of Original Sin. Original Sin teaches us that not only are WE responsible for the sins of our fathers, but WE are responsible for the first sins of Adam and Eve. So why is it that we accept Original Sin and we accept the fact that WE nailed Jesus to the cross but this next part is totally foreign and jarring to us...
Just as WE nailed Jesus to the cross, it was OUR knee on the neck of a detained handcuffed man who was crying out for mercy over and over again.
It is OUR knee on the neck of George Floyd when the knee of Colin Kaepernick on our football turf during the playing of our national anthem made us angrier than the knee of a white police officer on the neck of George Floyd slowly sucking the life out of him.
It is OUR knee on the neck of George Floyd every time we qualify these murders, or change the subject, or say incredibly stupid uneducated racist things in the process.
But those specific "OUR KNEE" statements are easy for me to make because it isn't personal enough. I can stand outside of that stuff and judge...so let me get more personal...
MY knee was on the neck of George Floyd every time I have backed off on "going too far" when preaching about racial issues.
MY knee was on the neck of George Floyd when an African American professor sat in my office last year and challenged me in a kind and somewhat light-hearted manner to consider that even the paintings on my wall, one of which is the story of the Prodigal Son that depicts all the characters as white men, could be a small way of alienating African Americans. Even though I saw his point, I took no appreciable action.
Perhaps MY knee is on the neck of George Floyd right now when I delete a few more examples I had written because they would be far too controversial and shameful to state in ANY setting.
These are the times that "Nothing But Jesus" applied, drastically changes our responses. Because anything less than "It was MY knee on the neck of George Floyd" and "What must I now do?" isn't a Gospel response. Nothing But Jesus isn't the wide path...it's the narrow path.
Kenny Daughtry, an African American professor, wrote this to me in a public setting yesterday...
"Reach is a staple church in the De community and is positioned to lead with great influence for the sake of the gospel and representing God's justice for all people from the womb to the tomb; including the tough racism that Black people face in this country. It's a cross that comes with consequences, burdens and lots of pain, but we know that every cross we pick up for the sake of the gospel and justice is worth picking up. In love my sister and brothers."
Please pray for pastors, like me, whose hearts continue to be broken over these issues, to discern God's calling for what specifically to do next to "represent God's justice for all people...including the tough racism that Black people face..."