Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings
Leviticus 17-18; Matthew 27:27-50
27 The governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s house, and they gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a red military coat on him. 29 They twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They put a stick in his right hand. Then they bowed down in front of him and mocked him, saying, “Hey! King of the Jews!” 30 After they spit on him, they took the stick and struck his head again and again. 31 When they finished mocking him, they stripped him of the military coat and put his own clothes back on him. They led him away to crucify him (Matthew 27:27-31, Common English Bible).
As I was looking for a picture for this post I found myself appalled at what I saw. I typed into Google “Human Cruelty.” The pictures were awful. There was a picture of a man covered in dry mud with a chain around his neck and the excess could be used to escort him. There was another picture of a baby elephant being beaten by a couple of men. There were pictures that showed mutilated humans and the cruelty to many animals including a group of monkeys chained together. And then, there were the dogs, lots and lots of dogs. Being a dog lover, it broke my heart.
I selected the picture above for the way it demonstrates the act of human cruelty without actually being cruel itself. For many of the pictures I saw, the photographer was witnessing and chronicling stories showing human cruelty and suffering at it’s worst. Many people suffered but these photographers did nothing to put an end to the cruelty they witnessed.
Then there was one more picture. It was a pen and ink drawing of an innocent but cruelly treated man, a man who hung on a cross. His name was/is Jesus. Our lesson for today talks about the cruelty Jesus faced It was more than just the cruelty of crucifixion and that would have been difficult enough. When a person was crucified it wasn’t waiting for the person on the cross to die from dehydration or starvation or even from the pain of having the hands and feet cruelly nailed to the cross.
Death in crucifixion came by suffocation. As the crucified hung on the cross the body weight would pull down, forcing pressure on the lungs. To get relief the crucified would lift the body weight up at the pierced feet and hands. When the pain would become too much, the crucified would drop back down, putting pressure on the lungs once again. When they broke the legs of the thieves crucified with Jesus, it was to hasten deal because they could no longer lift themselves to take pressure off the lungs.
It was a horrible way to die. But for Jesus, and perhaps even for others who faced crucifixion, it didn’t start with nailing hands and feet to the cross or even carrying the cross. Jesus was stripped of his clothing. He was beaten. He was spat upon. He had a crown of thorns sticking him in the head. Thorns in the head? That isn’t my idea of a good time.
It is amazing to think or to see the cruelty the human creature is capable of pouring out from someplace inside. At least to me, even more amazing, that one is not only capable but sees nothing wrong with such behavior.
There, at least according to Luke, was one more amazing thing, the most amazing of all. Despite the cruelty he saw, experienced and received, he was able to say, “Father, forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing.” That is grace. Grace that is unmerited. But, it is grace freely given, despite what he experienced, despite what was done to him, Jesus could forgive.
For all of us, despite what we may have done in life, we can still find grace and forgiveness from the One who died for us. That is great news for all of us
Have a blessed day in the Lord
With Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved