Scott was cool. Well, to this one-time band geek he was. The big offensive back was six feet tall and all muscle. He was no slouch on the football field either. I was sure he was going to be a star running back.
But, that was before.
I was there when it happened. Not that I had any part in the event.
Okay. To be honest, I didn’t even know what was going on. I just knew something bad had happened.
Scott dated a girl in the band, so occasionally he and a few of his football buddies would come to our marching practices at the stadium. They would sit in the stands and yell encouragement once in awhile. We could tell they were having a good time, but most of us had no idea how good.
That all came to an end one Tuesday evening. We heard the next day about how it had shaken out.
What we hadn’t been able to tell from our disadvantaged perspective down on the playing field was that the fellows kept up their high spirits in the stands with just that–spirits. Each Tuesday evening, one of the guys would find someone to get him a carton of beer since he was underage. He would distribute the bottles to the guys before they ascended to their seats in the bleachers. Then they would spend the next couple of hours joking and cheering—and sipping.
It seems that finally somebody on the staff figured out what was happening and alerted the school administration. On that fateful Tuesday evening, the boys were unaware a trap was about to be sprung. However, just moments before the head football coach started up the steps to where they were, one of the jocks figured out something was up.
What would they do?
Scott made a quick decision. He would be the martyr—the hero.
“Quick guys! Shove your bottles under my seat. Then move away from me before they can get up here.”
They protested, but only weakly. Within seconds, the preparations were completed, and Steve was by himself in the stands, evidence galore to be found under his seat.
He was finished as a football player. Shamed and kicked off the team, he would never play offensive back again.
The other boys?
They played football that Friday night. They played football every other Friday night of football season as long as they were in school.
All because one guy had taken the brunt of their punishment. One guy had accepted responsibility for their contraband.
The school was abuzz the next day and for several after that. It wasn’t fair! They all should have been punished! Scott was the good guy here, but he was paying the price! Where was the justice?
Students protested to teachers and administration alike, but it was for naught. The rules were clear and he had broken them. Under-age drinking on school grounds—there would be no reversal of the decision.
Scott was a hero.
Or, was he?
It is Good Friday once again. Today is a day to consider heroes.
It is a day to consider The Hero.
Today, we commemorate the Cool Guy who took the beer bottles for every person in the world and claimed them as His own.
Right about now, I’m guessing there are some readers who are offended.
More than a few of you are unhappy I described the Savior as a cool guy–as if many who followed Him didn’t do so because they saw Him as what we would today call cool.
Some of you who wouldn’t touch a drop of alcohol if you were dying of thirst are offended I’ve equated your sins with that filthy stuff.
Others, who regularly quaff the liquid are offended because you think I’ve equated your sins with the refreshing drink.
Even though both assumptions are wrong, I will admit I’m almost hopeful that you are offended.
I am offended.
I am offended that The Hero had to take the penalty for my wrong doing. We’re not talking about being kicked off the team here. My wrong doing had a slightly more weighty penalty attached.
The penalty for my sins was death.
I am offended that I so lightly regard the Heroic act—accomplished on this day nearly two thousand years ago–that I return to my beer bottles again and again.
As Peter, one of our Hero’s followers (who himself faded into the crowd to avoid punishment) later reminded us, like a pig who has been cleaned up, we return to the filth of the wallow.
Is that offensive enough for you?
Try this on then–Like a dog, I come back to eat my own vomit. Yes, also Peter’s words. (2 Peter 2:22)
Are you offended by the crudeness?
Will you, just for a moment, think of where the real offense was–and is?
It was no surprise to Him, but again and again, the human race laughed in His face.
And then, in the fullness of time, at just exactly the right moment, He sent His own Son, the Hero of Heaven, to be born.
The Hero walked with us. He taught us. He loved and healed us.
And we repaid Him by shoving our beer bottles under His chair and slinking out into the night.
We were so crude as to spit on Him, and taunt Him, and beat Him.
We left Him to face the bitter end—the penalty for our evil ways.
Alone. Naked. Beaten. Bleeding.
And, in spite of the offense, and the crudeness, and the rejection, He never wavered in resolve.
He would take the offense to the grave.
Scott was a nice guy. A loyal friend, even. But, never a hero.
You see, if you count the beer bottles under his chair and then count the buddies who skulked away from him, you will come up with one extra. Count them again.
You’ll see that I’m right. One extra.
One that belonged to Scott.
Scott simply got what was coming to him. He didn’t pay the price for anyone else’s wrongdoing, only his own.
Not a single one of the sins piled under that horrible, offensive cross on that Friday so many years ago belonged to the Hero who hung on it, bleeding and beaten.
They are too numerous to be counted. I know. I’ve contributed too many of my own. Perhaps you have, too.
But, the fact still remains. Not one was His own.
It is a day to consider The Hero.
God pardons like a mother, who kisses the offense into everlasting forgiveness.
(Henry Ward Beecher ~ Congregationalist clergyman ~ 1813-1887)
For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:7.8 ~ NASB)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.