Okay, this isn’t about the defacement of Easter by market forces. I was just feeling cheeky, and this is the 2.0 version of me running up to my mum and going “Look what I dreeeeeeew!”
You’re standing in front of the Mona Lisa, sharpie in hand. Stick with me here- I want to see if this Easter we, or I, can move away from the generic ‘Jesus died to save my sins’ tagline. It’s not that it’s not true, it’s not that its words don’t have power. It’s just that I know them, they don’t surprise me. They are well within my comfort-zone. But when I think of Jesus hanging on a cross, the Alpha and Omega, the one who knew me before the world began, the last thing I should be able to do is fathom it, verbalise and contain it. So Sharpie in hand, you can do what you will. Moustache, scar, eyepatch, monobrow. What you can’t do is make it better (cultural relativists, shush). Mona Lisa hasn’t done anything wrong, but she’s been vandalised and now she looks like a chip-toothed bandit.
When Jesus was being crucified, he didn’t just do, He became. He became my ugliness. So- in an astonishingly abbreviated and self-censored form, here are a fraction of the things that Jesus became on my behalf.
Jesus, the liar- white lies, lying for self-aggrandisement, self-protection, self-delusion.
Jesus, the arrogant bully.
Jesus, the intellectual snob and elitist.
Jesus, the selfish hoarder.
Jesus, the materialist.
Jesus, tempted by diet pills, weeping because he can’t make himself sick.
Jesus, judging strangers and those who intimidate him.
Jesus, ignoring those in need.
Jesus, confident of salvation by Cambridge.
Jesus, letting people down.
Jesus, coveting other people’s bodies, brains, and boyfriends.
Jesus, the blasphemer.
Jesus, the hypocrite.
Jesus, the gossip.
Jesus, the attention-seeker
Jesus, centre of his own universe, sticking a proverbial finger up at anyone who dares say otherwise.
Give me 20 years and I will make the Son of God in my image: utterly foul and disfigured. By saying ‘Jesus died to save my sins’, I deftly avoid confronting their true hideousness; they become neatly generic and nothing really to do with me. For others he became a mass-murderer, a slave-trader, a paedophile. It’s just so unjust.
Well that’s got to be it, right? Curtains? No one does that to the King of the Universe and lives to tell the tale? (I know you know where this is going, but just humour me.)
Psalm 103:12 “as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Jesus didn’t draw the curtain; He tore it down so that I could know God.
Mark 15:37-9 “And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God”
That is why this Friday is Good. Just as God saw that everything in the world was ‘good’ before the Fall, so now, by Jesus’ sacrifice, God is not repelled by me, disgusted with how I abuse his blessings: He is pleased with me. It’s unfair and it’s unmerited. It’s beauty produced out of ugliness. Life out of death. So as ineffable, and incomprehensible as I find it, I don’t just live to tell the tale: I live to tell the tale.
 For the record, I am not a Mona Lisa fan. Never has the world been so in love with a woman with such unvoluminous hair. Just saying.