Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Week 6 - The Crucifixion

We have come to the foot of the cross. Read Mark 15:25 - 39
"It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified him...Those who passed by derided him...those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon...Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom."

We must spend some time thinking about the nails that pierced our Lord. The visions we have from Renaissance paintings are soft and romantic. Crucifixion was a horribly painful and lengthy way to die. The nails actually went through the wrists, an understandably stronger position than the fragile bones of the hand. Archeologists have found evidence that the feet were placed on the sides of the vertical beam, and nails went through the heels. As the body starts to sag, the natural impulse is to press down on those nails to keep the windpipe open and enable the victim to breather just a little longer. And Jesus did not have just a few drops of blood from those nails - He had been whipped and beaten the night before.
What feelings or thoughts come to mind as you think about the cruelty of crucifixion?

What does the cross mean to you? Author Adam Hamilton says that the cross is a reminder of many things: 1) we need saving, 2) God experiences suffering because of our brokenness, 3) God has chosen to be merciful and forgiving toward us, and 4) God loves us. How do you respond to those reminders?

Psalm 22: 1 - 5
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

Psalm 22 can be described as a "lament psalm," one that complains because God seems far away. But nearly all of the lament psalms end with an affirmation of faith. Hamilton says "The very act of praying a complaint psalm is an affirmation of faith. When darkness seems to prevail in your life, it takes faith to even talk to God and complain to Him!"
When was the last time you complained to God out of an experience of despair or darkness and yet ended up affirming your trust in God? Describe how you moved from lament to trust.

1 comment:

lyleblesskaren said...

I treasure this little book. It has given me new insights. I have always known Jesus suffered but the extent of his love overwhelms me. I felt the truth of his despair and how he took it to the Father and then trusted that He would work all things for good even though at that moment Jesus wasn't seeing the big picture he was in the center of suffering. What a wonderful Savior.
The church was beautiful for Easter.