“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, knowing it was out of envy the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him.” Mark 15:9
A woman recently told me I looked like “Jo-Jo.” Jo – Jo. The stunning, half Asian, incredibly talented Joanna Gaines from the wildly popular show, Fixer Upper. Although I had not seen the show, I knew enough about it to take the remark as a huge compliment. Until last weekend when I finally watched Mrs. Gaines myself.
I saw Joanna and her husband, Chip (a lumberjack version of a Ken doll) turn a horrific house into a charming, beautiful home. I saw Joanna directing Lumberjack Ken and other workers like an experienced construction foreman (with cute boots and amazing hair). Joanna was on the phone with her sitter, then opened the back door of their truck and out piled 1, 2, 3, 4 adorable children who looked like blonde Jo – Jo’s. Joanna was working not only on five other houses like the one they were glamming up for the show she was also building their own new home, raising those adorable children, keeping Lumberjack Ken happy, shopping for the perfect light fixtures and looking like a runway model. Did I mention she loves Jesus, too?
Without realizing it I began to hate Joanna. I began to resent her talent, her outfits, her adoring husband and well-behaved children. I questioned what kind of mother allows her kids at construction sites. I wondered if Joanna was a little too career oriented. I wondered how she could look that good wearing a construction hat. Without thinking about it, I began to seethe with envy and disdain.
When I read this week about Jesus being tried, flogged, degraded and eventually killed, I wondered what his followers were doing. When I thought about the crowds letting Barabbas go so they could crucify Jesus, I wondered how awful and twisted their hearts must have been. As I read Mark this week and tried to journey with Christ to the cross I wondered how it was the religious who were jealous of Joanna…I mean Jesus.
Why did Jesus need to die? Because of me. No matter how long I live, I am a sinner saved by grace. I am woman who is jealous of other people’s success, beauty and abilities. No matter how hard I try, how much I should know better and how middle school-ish it seems, there is a part of me that likes to hate, judge and criticize – just like the crowds, Pharisees and religious who crucified Jesus. I don’t want to believe I would’ve sat by and watched my Jesus be hung to a cross, but I can’t even watch TV without hating a sweet, talented sister in Christ.
But it is because I struggle with envy that Jesus came. It is because I secretly want Joanna to have a bad hair day and her kids to sass at her that Good Friday had to happen. And just as Jesus prayed for and loved those jealous, haters who nailed him to the cross, He loves me too… just as I am.