Perhaps the only thing that was different was that it was Good Friday and I was heading off to work. But my new job doesn't close on this holiday so off to work I went. I boarded my train, took my seat, and readied myself for my normal one hour and twenty minute (or so) commute.
Then … the unusual showed up. We'd just left the first station after mine and were moving nicely when, all of a sudden, the train stopped. That, by itself, was not odd. Sometimes it did to wait for a signal or something train related. But this time, it stayed stopped. After a minute or so, the conductor spoke over the train's speaker. I recognized her voice since it's the same train crew each morning. At first, she sounded the same as always and simply told us that we are experiencing a delay and would provide an update shortly."
No big deal. I looked out the window and waited for her update which came in another minute or so.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we are experiencing delays due to a pedestrian accident. The police and train workers have been summoned. We will report back when an update is available."
Uh oh! The word that caught my attention was "police." My experience traveling this railroad for many years has taught me that police activity doesn't just mean someone was hit, but that someone was killed. My instincts were validated a few minutes later when she provided another update. She basically repeated the information, apologized again for the delay, and mentioned that they were awaiting police to arrive on the scene due to a "fatal pedestrian accident."
We may never know what the person was doing on or near the tracks. All I knew was that someone had just been killed. I wondered how old were they? Were they male or female? I wonder what their family is like. They know nothing. I also wondered what they would feel later that day when they got the call. I did what seemed fitting to me ... I prayed for a family I may never meet. As further updates came, my fellow morning commuters began to reveal what they were thinking.
"This is going to ruin my whole day."
"Don't they realize I have things to do?"
"I hate this railroad. They're never on-time. This is the third problem with the trains I've had this week."
I sat there amazed by a concert of callousness, a symphony of the self-absorbed. I wanted to shout, "ahem, excuse me but SOMEONE JUST DIED!" I didn't. Not sure it would have mattered. Perhaps I shouldn't have been so stunned but I was. We all lead busy and complicated lives. So many of us cram our schedules with appointments that lean on each other like a house of cards. We feel that if one card falls, certain and utter disaster awaits.
But in reality, it won't. Truth is, while it's good to be productive, very few of us have schedules lined with events that would quicken Armageddon if they failed to occur even if they occurred a little later than originally scheduled. I sat watching this demonstration of the complete inability to gain perspective. Everyone was on their cell phones, texting, emailing, or making calls. I did so as well, letting my wife know what was going on and alerting my employer. Yet the anger many displayed, which edged near fury, just seemed so shallow. Again, I was overtaken by the truth that 'someone died' and no one seemed to care.
This brought me back to Good Friday. We know the scenes so well. The religious leaders of Jesus' day cared very much that He was about to die. The crowd that gathered cared too as did the Roman soldiers all for different reasons. But I wonder how many passing by that day were just annoyed. How many saw the events as an interruption in their plans, a hiccup in their scheduled day.
Today, we commemorate a unique event … Someone died. And yet we know that it wasn't just anyone. It was the Son of God. And in His case, it wasn't simply a 'fatal pedestrian accident.' It was His reason for being on Earth. But how many will notice? How many will care? As we go about our planned events, many aimed at remembering the greatest expression of love ever, are we truly focused on the price that was paid for our sin? Or, are we more concerned with whether our plans to commemorate it go off without a hitch?
Just as I prayed for this person's family this morning, Jesus prayed that day also. "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34a NKJV). I admit, I too was more focused on my schedule, my issues, my plans, and all I have to do than I was on what this day is about. Yet, I couldn't escape how sobering this morning scene was for me and how, especially on this day, it connected me to Calvary.
Someone died! Lord, help me to never casually view the immense price you paid. Help me also not to become so self-centered that I minimize the ability of your sacrifice to add perspective to all I pursue. Help me, every day and with all I seek, to always look to the cross!
Hiram Claudio is a minister and bible teacher who has traveled to 8 nations spreading the Good News of faith in Christ and victory through His name. He is married (for 29 years). He and his wife live in New York and have two sons.