Thursday, October 04, 2007

Who handed the master over?

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Matthew 26, 27, 28

Matthew 26:2 (NIV)

2 [Jesus said,] “As you know, the Passover is two days away – and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”

Isaiah 53:4-6 (NIV)

4 Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”

John 3:16 (KJV)

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Good morning!

I have a confession to make. I’ve never been able to sit through the Passion of the Christ movie. I understand what Jesus did for me on the cross. I’ve read the Gospel accounts over and over. I’ve heard the Gospel many times and seen it lived out in the lives of those I love. As I read His Word, I can accept this truth by faith. Still, one would think I could, at the very least, sit and watch what my sins did to the Lord I love. I find myself asking the same question: Why don’t I have enough courage to watch Christ suffer and die? Is it some lack of faith on my part? Is it pure fear that I will never be able to go to sleep again after watching the film? I know He died for me and that it is my sin that held Him there. How I wish there had been another way.

We like to play the blame game, especially when the stakes and consequences are high. Someone suffers as a result of some wrongdoing, and humans tend to point the finger or pass the buck. It is easier to deny our involvement than to see how we may have contributed to another person’s pain. For instance, how many times have you turned your back and refused to help a co-worker who is struggling with their work? We shake our heads, gossip about their ineffectiveness with our peers over lunch, offering little to no assistance when this person might appreciate some help. When they are terminated, do we even stop to wonder whether we could have made a positive difference in this person’s life? Someone just lost their income, health insurance, and the ability to care for the needs of their family, and we simply blow it off, look away, and move on. What is it in our humanness that causes us not to want to see the bigger picture?

Many have speculated through the years who handed Christ over to be crucified. Should we blame the crowd, who shouted for the life of Barabbas, a known felon, in exchange for one, Jesus of Nazareth? Was it some sort of religious and governmental conspiracy? Was Pilate responsible? Were the Pharisees and Scribes, who plotted to kill Jesus long before the Passover, to be blamed? Were the ruthless and blood-thirsty Romans the problem? Maybe we should blame Judas Ischariot, one of the twelve disciples. After all, he did betray the Lord in the worst possible way.

I know deep down inside that none of these people were any worse than me. I was the reason Jesus suffered. Every time I refuse to love my neighbor, I become the crucifier. I take out the hammer in my pocket and swing at the nails piercing God’s flesh. It was me, and I know full well what I’ve done.

Jesus Christ did not wait for anyone to hand Him over. He willingly came into the world for one purpose and one purpose only: to save us from our sin. It was God’s love for the world that prompted Christ to become the perfect sacrifice, covering all people, throughout every generation. He died for me. He continues to cover my sin with a greater love than I can begin to understand. He waits for my response.

I pray one day, as I stand before the Lord at the final judgment, He will forgive me for not being able to sit and watch His crucifixion on the big screen. It is all I can do to kneel at His nail-pierced feet and thank Him for His gift of mercy and grace. He has asked us to get out there and tell His story to everyone we know. He commands that we love and care for each other, the way He loves and cares for us. He is the reason I write to you today. He is the reason I live.

“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO

Pray for: courage to recognize what Jesus Christ has done for you. Ask Him into your heart today. It is as simple as praying this prayer: “Lord Jesus, I believe that you willingly gave your life to save me from my sins. Please forgive me. I offer my heart to you today and I promise I will follow you all the days of my life. There is nothing I can do to repay you for this amazing gift. Thank you. Amen.”


© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding

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