I arrived in Taxco, Mexico on Good Friday morning and began my ascent up the mountain in search of the town plaza. When I finally got there, I saw hundreds of people who looked like they were waiting for something. Some were perched in trees, others were standing on park benches, and still others were looking out the windows of area buildings that lined the town square. I picked my spot and headed for the second floor balcony of a restaurant where I could take everything in while enjoying a good Mexican meal.
As I sat at my table overlooking the crowd below, a group of younger guys grabbed the table next to mine. I smiled at my fellow gringos and dug into my quesadilla, hoping they wouldn’t block my view of the plaza. They ordered pizza and beer and began telling jokes.
And then, as if on cue, the crowd below parted and I saw a man carrying a huge wood beam on his back. He walked slowly, and with great effort, as he struggled to keep his balance. Another man followed. He put his cross down, took out a whip and started beating his back. Bright red blood appeared on top of the lacerations he had from a previous whipping. I kept hoping he would stop because it looked so painful. But he didn’t. He kept thrashing himself until the whip had turned red and raw muscle was exposed on his lower back. When he fell to the cobblestone street, tears ran down my face and splashed into my Diet Coke.
By now the guys at the table next to me had started to make fun of the procession below. In between their joking, they would look down, make a funny remark and go back to their pizza, oblivious to the pain and agony right in front of them. I wanted to say something to them but I was too choked up. Here I was, looking at a few men who were doing all they could to relate to the suffering Jesus went through, and sitting right next to guys who could care less.
As I thought about this, it struck me that this is a good picture of the human race. Some of us are trying to do everything we can think of to get to heaven. We focus on trying to be good, or when that fails, we punish ourselves in the vain hope that God will accept our sacrifices. Others are just cruising through life, focused more on having a good time than on eternal realities. To people like this, life is just a party.
When I looked at the irreligious guys next to me and then gazed at the religious men down below, I swallowed hard because neither approach will get you to heaven. The only way to gain God’s favor and enjoy the benefits of forgiveness and eternal life is by entering into a relationship with Jesus. During this Easter season, lean on the one who walked to the Cross and died in your place. Put your faith and trust in Him. Receive Him as your Savior and Lord (see John 1:12; John 5:24 and John 14:6).