September 5

Matthew 25-26, Psalm 93

I'm in Italy now, and reminded of the sanitized version of how many want to perceive Jesus' final day before and during His crucifixion. He looks peaceful, often with rosy cheeks, etc. With this vision it's easy to see why for many rather than being a Savior he has become more the mascot of the Christian faith, with His instrument of death, the cross, relegated to a piece of jewelry devoid of what He and it truly was. Many refer to what He did like it was His job description, rather than the ultimate act of love.

We read in Matthew 26:16, that the process began by being betrayed by one of his closest friends, Judas. In the garden of Gethsemane before His arrest, we read that He was sorrowful and deeply distressed(v.37). In 26:38, Jesus says, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death...". In Luke 22:44, we read that, "...His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground." This is a rare medical condition called Hemathidrosis which results from severe anguish. After His false arrest and false conviction we read in Matthew 26:67, "Then they spat in His face and beat Him; others struck Him with the palms of there hands,". We read of Him being scourged in 27:26, which means not just whipped, but they fixed small lead balls, pieces of glass, etc so the process would tear open His flesh. We next see it is the Roman soldiers time to spit on Him and strike Him after the scourging in 26:30. All this before the most gruesome form of death, so bad it was forbidden for Roman citizens, in the form of crucifixion. No, Jesus did not look beautiful and rosy on the cross, but as prophetically depicted in Isiah 52:14, "Just as many were astonished at you, So his visage (or appearance) was marred more than any man...". He was beaten beyond the point of recognition. But this was not the worst of it. Our sinless, beautiful Savior took upon Himself the sins of humanity, past, present and future while on the cross. Though we being sinners, I couldn't imagine the weight of sin of Adolph Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, pedophiles, etc, being put on my shoulders. This is the image of our Savior.

When sharing with many of my patients, usually in a room by ourselves, I often ask if you heard a shooter outside the room and the door flung open and the gun was directed at your head. How would you react if I jumped in front and took the bullet to my head instead and died in your place. I then ask if they would continue their day as if nothing happened. With that heroic act the best I could do is add years to their earthly existence. Jesus died for our sins and therefore our eternal destination. When Jesus said, "It is finished", He said "paid in full". He went through what He went through out of sheer love for each and every one of us. To sanitize what He did, to diminish what He did denies the realization of the gravity of our sin and our hopelessness if He did not pay the price that we were unable to. Thank you Jesus for all You did, and continue to do for all of us.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster