Daily Devotional for 04.07.2020

Daily Devotional for 04.07.2020 RESURGAM 2020 - Journeying through the 14 Stations of the Cross Station # 10: Jesus is Crucified

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." Luke 23: 33-34 As the procession finally arrived at the place called Golgotha just outside of the city wall, Jesus let out a deep groan and fell to the ground. His tortured walk was over, His journey was at an end, this bare shelf of white limestone would soon be stained with the last remnants of His blood and the sacrifice would be complete. Simon dropped the 100lb crossbeam that he had been forced to carry on the stony ground with a great thud and soldiers quickly maneuvered it into place marrying it to the main beam already there awaiting its companion. Orders were barked, the soldiers grabbed the limp body of Jesus, searing pains wracked His broken body as the soldiers dragged Him into place, stretching His arms along the rough wooden beam that would be His intimate companion through the last remaining hours of His life. Jesus felt the wounds on His back being ripped open again as the soldiers forced Him flat. Then a shot of the most terrible pain gripped His body, it convulsed Him like the most severe electrical shock. Jesus was not fully aware of what had happened, the pain throughout His body was too great. A soldier had driven a great metal spike through His wrist, splintering bones, tearing flesh and nerves. Jesus and the cross were united. Jesus let out a deep guttural cry and instinctively responded to the attack of the soldiers’ hammer with the words, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing” . The soldier wielding the hammer immediately dropped it upon hearing Jesus’ words. He had heard many things as he had prepared victims to die, fearful pleadings, screams of vile abuse, curses jettisoned at God Himself, never, never had he heard someone cry for forgiveness for the ones inflicting deathly pain. Who was this man? Forgiveness is one of the most powerful forces on earth. It raises people from the dead, it opens locked and bolted prison doors, it releases people from the depths of pain and torment, it lifts the veil of oppression and drives away the clouds of depression. It soothes and heals and restores hope. It enables people to live again.  I remember 10 years ago Lorna and I praying for a young man who was a gang member. His body was wracked with pain, he showed us on his body gunshot wounds and stab wounds, the reward for a life spent in the underground of society. He was not a Christian but because of the suffering he was enduring he agreed to allow us to pray for him. As we gently began to minister to him we asked him if there was anyone in his life that he was particularly angry with, someone he held real unforgiveness towards. He spat out without thinking, “My Mother, I hate her for what she did to me”.  Over the next few minutes, we talked to Him about the destructive power of unforgiveness and explained to him that when we hold unforgiveness towards someone, it is us that suffers, we are the ones who end up in jail. The toxic processes that surround unforgiveness poison our whole being and destroy our lives. It does not harm the object of our ill feeling; it is we who are the ones that suffer. Gently we led him through the process of releasing forgiveness to his Mother, it was not easy the wounds were deep. Eventually, he succeeded in forcing the words that he had embraced inside through his mouth, “Mom, I forgive you” he groaned. Slowly, he looked up and grabbed at his arms and his chest, looking at us in disbelief he cried, “It’s gone, it’s all gone, the pain is all gone” . Over the next minutes, he changed from a broken child into a man who had hope for life again. Jesus had healed him, and the means of his transformation had been forgiveness for the one who had hurt him the most. The source of his pain had not been his many physical wounds but the hatred he felt towards his mother. She had continued to hurt him every day because he allowed her to. When he let his unforgiveness go, her power over him was broken forever. Here, on Golgotha’s bare and stony ground, God was releasing forgiveness, not just to the soldiers who tortured Him, but to all men. The prison of sin created by the fall was about to be unlocked and its inhabitants set free. When Jesus spoke those words of forgiveness, it was because there was nothing inside Him but love. That is what love does, amid the most terrible suffering it reaches out to heal and restore, it calms troubled waters, it soothes another’s wounds. Here was the spotless Lamb of God, an innocent man, pure and without sin, spilling out all that He was, forgiving His torturers when others would spit and curse.  Jesus is telling us, in every situation, forgiveness is King, in the most hateful, unjust and cruel of places, forgiveness rules. It sets captives free, it releases the hand of God to produce miracles. Here was God, made flesh, changing the culture of hate released through the fall, forgiving men, setting them free. Jesus’ final sermon was the same as His first …. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19  Forgiveness was about to roll out of Heaven like a great Tsunami, a great wave to change the earth and its inhabitants forever, a wave of healing and hope, setting free all who would look to the cross for Salvation. The dreadful construction continued, and spikes were driven through His other hand and then through both feet. It is meaningless to try and describe what Jesus suffered, we can only try to imagine the trauma, but then our mind fails us, who can truly understand the depth of suffering except the one enduring it? We can only look, and weep and wonder. Those hands …. that reached out and so lovingly restored so many diseased and broken bodies, are now broken beyond repair, hideously transformed into fixed pivots supporting almost the entire weight of Jesus’ Body. Those feet, those “beautiful feet” Isa 52:7 which brought the revolutionary “Good News” of God’s Mercy and kindness to so many, now completely broken, immoveable, wrapped around a single nail. With the cross complete, they raised it up and let it fall freely into the hollowed-out socket dug into the limestone floor. His body convulsed as the cross fell, the soldiers retreated, their job was done.