First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

Not Roman, not Jew, but you and I.

April 14, 2017

    Today I am thinking of all the times I smashed my finger or thumb while swinging a hammer.  In a land far away and a long time ago, it was not uncommon for my hammer to go flying through the air (Yes, I have thrown 20 pound sledges through the air after striking an ankle). Anger and a throbbing digit would compel me to blame the stupid hammer, the stupid nail, or some other stupid factor. Rarely did I ever accept the fact my aim of the hammerhead was abysmal. Why would I? That would infer I had something to do with the situation.

    Today is Good Friday (Black Friday). We observe this day as that which ended the life of Jesus Christ. The Last Supper was last evening. Jesus was arrested by the Jewish religious leaders and has been on trial all night. He has been beaten, mocked, and abused by Roman soldiers. A little under 2000 years ago this morning, Jesus was most likely beginning the walk toward Golgotha.

    Hoards of people lined the street. Some hurled insults and saliva at Jesus, while others cried and pleaded for mercy. Soldiers drove the procession and Jesus struggled to continue. One Gospel account describes a common man being marshalled to carry the cross of Christ.

    It is a simple thing for those of us who profess Christ to blame his death on the soldiers or the religious leaders. Jesus understood the will of God the Father was that Jesus would lay down his life for all of humanity.  He had foretold this day to his disciples; in fact, the Old Testament had offered prophecy concerning this horrific day (Isaiah 53). The blame for Jesus' death rests squarely on our shoulders and not to sound accusative but we are the reason Christ died. While the sin of humanity was the enemy of Jesus, we are the reason such love would drive Jesus to be nailed to a cross.

    "So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle." (John 19:16b-18, NIV)

    Striking the nails with an oversized hammer must have offered a sickening sound. Everything about Roman crucifixion was designed to deter people from wanting to end up like the accused and condemned. The short video clip is a reminder of our sinfulness, the excruciating pain of crucifixion, and the boundless love of Jesus to endure it all just for you and me.

                                                                             (Click the video)

Carry this sound forward to Sunday where there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.) [Romans 8:1]

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