Today I die
I sit in my cell with the bare cold hungrily eating into my flesh, my wounds almost numb from the night before. Suddenly I look up into the face of my executioner. He clamps irons on my wrists and I am pushed, pulled, and dragged up the winding stair case onto the street above. A cross is driven onto my back by the ruthless pull of gravity and I am told to walk, so I walk. A soldier follows in place of my shadow and strikes me with his whip whenever I slow down, so I don’t slow down, I move as quickly as my beaten body will allow until I reach the top of the hill where I am finally permitted to lie down upon my burden. I close my eyes and tense my throat as vomit threatens to choke me from the agony of the spikes being driven into my hands and feet. Tears burn my eyes and soak my neck as I am lifted up. Everything turns blurry from the pain, people were laughing, I think, I couldn’t really hear past the high pitched ringing raging through my ears.
Breath comes in gasps as the hours pass by. Hours? Or was it days? It felt like days. My shadow comes along and begins breaking legs. Mine are next and suddenly the troubled breathing turns into no breathing at all. Tell me someone can hear me. I know I am screaming so where are the ones to save me? Then it ends. I awaken to see a judge. Sad eyes touch mine and He shakes his head. Two dark figures grasp my arms and drag me away, forever. ‘Wait!’ I cry. ‘Have mercy! Please!’
But there is silence as the judge turns His face away and I am led off to my eternal sentence.
This is what it would be like if Jesus had not taken that cross for us. If instead we had gone through our own crucifixion. Pain, death, hopelessness, and no promise of rescue.
If we had been sacrificed instead it would never have been enough to pay back all the wrongs we have done. In the end death would lead to death and nothing could change that.
Thank God that He sent Jesus to save us. Thank Jesus that He was willing to come.
Thank the Holy Spirit for residing in us.
Without love, God’s love, we would truly have nothing.
As the true story reads.
God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son. Continue with me. That whosoever believes in Him… should not?…. Might not? Will not perish, but have eternal life. -John 3:16
Thank Jesus today for dying for you.
When a dramatic, violent death occurs in Anime there is often a painful scene where blood splashes across the protagonists face; it is almost if not absolutely symbolic of the horror, the suffering that is happening. The blood could go anywhere but it hits the face. Why? Because your face is your identity, and now the identity is marred with death.
We seem to avoid the blood of the cross. Oh we sing about it and we read the passage about it, but we like to skip ahead and get to the resurrection. The bright, clean, pure resurrection. We act as if that is the most important part of the story. I can’t help but wonder if it is the crown of thorns, the lashing, the pain, sorrow, blood and tears that are the most important parts.
We drink the blood at communion but that sweet juice does not reflect the warm, thick, salty tang of real blood. If you feel sick I don’t blame you, that is how you would feel if you drank blood.
The cross was not pretty, not clean, not all put together. It was messy, dirty, smelly and horror to the first degree.
Many were crucified but only one was whipped until nearly dead, forced to carry a cross, nailed to that cross and filled with the disgust of the worlds sins.
Even though three days later He rose, we must never forget the crown of thorns which He chose to wear and the wooden throne which read ‘king of the Jews’.
Credit to owner for image
I’m going to go nerdy for a minute.
Does anyone remember the old Yugiohs? I mean the original? Well I found a bunch of my old dvds the other day and had decided to watch a couple. The ones I watched were the Capsule monsters movies. Yugi enters a board game and gets armor which when activated allows him to merge with his favorite monsters; then he gains their different powers and is able to use them to fight evil. Cool right? In the same way when we become children of God we put on the armor of God and when we ‘activate it’ by praying and reading our bible and devotionals and such we gain God’s power and can use it to fight against the devil. In the movie when Yugi uses the armor it drains his strength, but when We as Christians use the armor of God it gives us more strength and energy. We are filled with new vitality as We face our day and We always have God with us. We never need to remove our armor and rest from it, yes sometimes the armor of God is heavy and feels a little like a burden but the more We work at wearing it everyday the lighter it becomes. The power of God vanquishes all other things even weariness. We are never defenseless or powerless when we have God because He is always taking care of us and He is the one true ultimate power.
The most defiant words in the Christian vocabulary are “it is well with my soul!”
This statement stands us apart from the rest of the world. The devil tries to take us down using things that tear at our souls. Troubles that drag at our minds, sting at our hearts and eventually cause us to fall to our knees and beg for relief; these things the devil uses to try to hurt our souls. Our souls connect us to God; our bodies stay earthbound but our souls receive a new body in Heaven, that’s why the devil tries to get a hold of them. The moment we win against the devil is the moment when we are on our knees, head hung low to the ground, tears pouring down our faces and we hear ourselves say, “it is well, with my soul!” That’s the moment the chains shatter. That statement is an ultimate statement of Faith. It may not be well with any other part of us, it may not be well with any person who sees us but if it is well with our souls we win. God wins. God never leaves us in those moments, He is always there; but there are times when WE need to make the breakthrough happen. There are times when evil spirits hold our rescuer back and those are times when we need to pray until we feel the breakthrough. When we stare down the beast, though we are battered and torn and we look him in eye and we yell, “IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!” That moment he will either turn and run or stare you down and snort out a hot breath of indignation and that’s when you keep repeating it, and repeating it and repeating it until it truly is well with your soul and then your beast will have no strength and he will flee. Weary after your prayer battle, when you fall with relief from your victory and you feel Jesus catch you, you will know that all is well, with your soul and that your comforter has made it to you to hold you safe and heal your hurt and take away your exhaustion. So make those 6 words your battle cry today. In the midst of it all stand defiant before the demons who bear down upon you and let them know that it is still well with your soul!
My absolute favorite quote from Tolkien is: Not all who wander are lost.
This statement makes me dream of far off places and uncharted road trips. I can imagine and visualize deep woods thick with ancient trees, their boughs reaching to me as if to guide me along my path. I picture chill mornings by a soothing campfire with a hot cup of coffee in my hand, my dog nestled on my knee and morning doves starting to sing a greeting to the day. Beautiful thoughts these may be, but what if we take a closer look at that phrase? Not all who wander are lost. Tolkien became devout Roman Catholic so there are Christ like connections to His novels and His quotes (whether he intended them or not). Many have written devotionals linking the “Hobbit” and “the Lord of the Ring” with the Bible; no one could possibly know if Tolkien would have approved of these derivative works or not but I doubt he would have minded. Looking at Tolkien’s Faith I wonder what He meant when he said “not all who wander are lost”? Scripture talks about a heart that is prone to wander from the will of God and from God Himself, but that is a different wandering than Tolkien meant here; Tolkien speaks of a physical wandering, a “letting go of the feet” if you will. Here is the point I get from “not all who wander are lost,” not all who wander physically are lost spiritually. Some of us have what may be referred to as a gypsy soul, a restless spirit that makes it so we must constantly be on the move. This may be the result of seeking a longing that only Christ can fill, a longing to know Him because we have wandered from Him, or never knew Him to begin with, but it may also be a need to wander set in us by God.
The difference between Christians and many, not all, but many other people is that we love the person despite our differences. We may not always like what the people do, what they believe in, or even the people themselves, but we always love them because our God tells us to. It’s not always easy, to be honest it’s usually not easy, but we choose to love anyways. God says to love your neighbor as yourself. He doesn’t say love the nice person across the street but hate the guy down the road who purposely walks his dog to your yard to let them do their business. God says to love everyone. In this modern age where it feels like we as Christians are being persecuted from every side it’s very easy to start to hate the persecutors; but loving them (the hard thing to do) is what sets us apart from them. There’s an old song that says “persecuted not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.” In the midst of everything the Christians all over this world are going through we are still not abandoned, we are still not destroyed, because our God loves us enough to stand by us and lift us up and give us strength; He keeps us going when we can’t go on. Are we perfect and deserving of such love? Absolutely! Not! But God still loves us. Those around us we find hard to handle don’t deserve our love; neither do those who attack us and persecute us and imprison us and beat us and kill us, but because God loves them still we will also love them, even if it’s a forced love it’s love. God hates what those people do to us and we have every right to hate what they do to us too, but He loves the person and that’s the hard part, seeing the hurting soul past the hurtful deeds. Nothing can separate us from God’s love, a love we receive and show. We must give of the love we are given because those people need to be loved too and they need to be shown Jesus very badly. So have a love without chains and love beyond the deeds, love the person because Jesus loves them and never forget He loves you too
The flowers in the photo above are called crown of thorns. Which I felt applied well to this weekend.
Crosses were used for executions often during the days of Jesus. Few deaths held as much fear as those planks of wood; it was slow and painful and humiliating, absolute suffering. I imagine being there, among the observers. Standing before the cross, staring up at the dirt and blood coated feet of the man hanging there, my stomach turned with sickness. The scent of sweat and death lingering in the air always and the spot never clear of it. Birds hungry from days in the desert circle above, chattering to one another, or to the people below, no one can tell. Agonizing moans and cries emanate from the accused and their loved ones, mixed with taunts and mockery from those who had nothing better to do than to watch. One man stands out among the other two, His pain seems deeper and His situation more controlled. He wears a crown marking Him a king, His sign reads, “hail, king of the Jews” but what king would hang on a cross? Blood pools beneath Him and His sorrow I can begin to feel. Then He looks at me and I am amazed by what I see. Eyes so filled with pain and sorrow are smiling with love. His being there feels like it holds a great purpose and suddenly the sky grows dark. The birds have scattered in fear and a great crack is heard from somewhere within the village. Looking back to the man I see with a broken heart that He is gone. Until a warm hand slips into mine and I look to see Him standing next to me smiling down with that same love I saw before. He leans over and whispers in my ear,
“You are worth this sacrifice.”
We are worth the sacrifice of suffering and death to the one who gave it all for us. Jesus gave up His kingdom, gave up His dignity, gave up what we would refer to as His pride; He gave up His blood, gave up His flesh and gave up His life, because He deemed us worthy. We are not worthy on our own, but because Jesus decided we are worthy that makes us worthy. He sacrificed because He loves us. He took the keys from the devil, unlocked the gates of hell and set the captives free because suddenly their sins were paid for and forgiven. He rose from the grave as an unmatched sign that He is king and He has conquered death. It may sound crazy, a battle between good and evil where one supreme power controls it all, but the crazy thing is it’s real, it’s happening and we are a part of it. When Jesus comes back I want to be found sitting at the foot of the cross. Where do you want to be found?