Friday, March 29, 2013

Holy Week: That Should Be Me

It's Holy Week, and as I stated last Friday, my posts this week have been about the Passion of Jesus through the eyes of the witnesses.

Haven't been following?

Click here for Monday's post
Click here for Tuesday's post
Click here for Wednesday's post
Click here for Thursday's post

Dirty Duty Against the Divine

You've served in these crucifixion details before. So many, in fact, that you've lost count long ago. It's dirty duty....and you've loved every minute of it. After all, the scum you've been assigned to help execute are never real people. Roman citizens are above such a thing. No, this type of death is reserved for the lowest of the low, and they deserve everything you can dish out. And since you've been given command, become centurion , well, by your word, your men have dished out quite a bit.

Today's detail began like any other, although it was disappointing that there were only three to "take care of" this time. Well, you would just make sure that they received "extra attention" along the way.

However, one of these wretches was a little different. At first sight, you really didn't think he'd make it the quarter mile or so to Calvary. Those fools who scourged him had gone too far, and you hoped they didn't ruin it for you and your men. That would be too bad since this one thinks he's a king. The governor's official charge to be hung over his head reads "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews."

Your men have learned well from you. In fact, after all of these years, you think they may have surpassed you in the level of punishment they deal out. You're not getting soft though. It's just that some of your men don't think clearly as they beat on the convicted and anyone who even thinks about interfering.

Like with this Jesus, you have to keep reminding them not to kill him too early. "Do you want to spoil the best part?" you ask, "He's practically crawling already!" 

He's no sooner moving before he's down again. You know he'll never make it, so you grab someone from the crowd and force him to help carry the cross.

Why Me?

You can't believe it! Why does this always happen to you? You are always in the wrong place at the wrong time. You don't deserve this. You have been on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem with your boy. Now, the Roman centurion has forced you to carry a cross. Unbelievable!

The blood! You will be defiled by coming into contact with even a drop of blood. And that crossbeam is covered with blood. You wonder how this Jesus is even still alive....but only for a moment before you start wondering again how you always get into these messes.

The soldiers have no trouble pushing you around along the way. Thankfully, there is not much farther to go. You think you see Golgotha  but you're not certain. The blood from the crossbeam, from Jesus, has somehow covered your own face and, coupled with your own sweat, is now blurring your vision.

Finally you arrive, and you want to run away and clean yourself as quickly as possible, but you can't turn away now. You have heard Jesus praying as he neared the place that will be the end of him. Praying, not for himself, but for others....for those who showed him compassion....and those that spit on him. He prayed for those vile soldiers....and he prayed for name. No, you have to see this to completion now. 

As you watch, you begin to pray for him......

That Should Be Me

"That could be me.....that should be me." is all that keeps racing through your mind as you've followed Jesus to Golgotha. While you wanted to just get away....get away before they changed their minds.

You still can't believe they chose you, Barabbas, over Jesus. And curiosity  in part, has driven you to follow. But only at first. Now, the drive to watch was something beyond curiosity, but you're still not sure what.

"That could be me.....that should be me."

The Roman soldiers don't waste any time when they get him there. They scurry away some poor fool who was forced to carry Jesus's cross. They give him a couple of "licks" for good measure. Simon, you think you heard them call him.

They rip off the clothes that Jesus has been wearing. Those wounds from the scourging had become adhered to his clothes, and now the wounds were all freshly opened again. It's not good enough for those Romans to crucify us Jews. They strip us naked, knowing how humiliating that is to Jewish men.

"That could be me.....that should be me."

They handle Jesus so roughly as they pull his arms out of their sockets to avoid the reflex action that would happen when they nail him to the cross.

"That could be me.....that should be me."

What is he saying? Abba? Yes, Abba. Why is he calling on his father like a child? Daddy

"Daddy, forgive them. They know not what they do." He says this over and over as they drive the nails deeper.

They're raising him up now, nailing his feet. He continues to forgive. The soldiers don't stop.

Jesus begins the agony of pulling himself up to be able to draw a breath, then letting himself down to be able to exhale. When he can't do this any longer, he will die from asphyxiation. What a terrible thing to experience.

"That could be me.....that should be me."

The soldiers are gambling for his robe.

His mother is there, and a few others who are weeping.

But the Jewish elders are still mocking him, and so are the Romans.

The elders are mad at the inscription on the placard above Jesus's head, but the Romans just laugh at them.

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Some of the bystanders who heard it said, “This one is calling for Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge; he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed, gave it to him to drink. But the rest said, “Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.” But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit. And behold, the veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many. The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake and all that was happening, and they said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” - Matthew 27: 45-54

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