The Cruelty of the Human Creature

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




Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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