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Nailed to the Cross


What if what happened then changes everything now?

3/28/10

I Have the Promise of Eternal Life – Palm Sunday

Luke 23:35-43

The lesson this week is just one of those that are bitter sweet. The reason is that it both reminds us of what we are and what we have. We often need to hold close the fact that we need a savior/sacrifice. In the same sense, we also need to grip to the promise that our imperfection is being perfected.

Probably the most simple illustration of how one person can choose to deny Jesus and another can embrace him is in our story today. Luke records in his Gospel that while on the cross, Jesus hung between two thieves…on their respective crosses. One thief makes Jesus out to be a bum. The other asks Jesus to remember him. Jesus ignores the first, but to the one that humbled himself, Christ says, “Soon, you’ll be with me in Heaven.”

Wow, can you image what that thief then felt. Sure he was on a cross. His arms were probably tied to the cross beam. He had probably been beaten. He probably couldn’t breathe. He probably felt guilt for what he had done. However, Jesus just said, “See you on the other side…you’ll be with me.” I can imagine that a small grin came over that thief’s face. His next breath might have been one of peace…like inhaling deep when you walk outside on a crisp spring morning. A peace was there that wasn’t there before. Dying was now not an end…it was a beginning.

Rembrandt painted a crucifixion scene with himself at the base of the cross. Wow, to have that immortalized in art history forever. It seemed he wanted to visualize himself at the point in eternity where Jesus died for specifically him and his sins. Mel Gibson tells the story that when it came to point of recording the scene where the guard nails Jesus’ hands to the cross, he wanted his hands doing the nailing in the scene. It is considered the highest honor to be chosen as the male who is picked to represent Jesus in many Latin American celebrations of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The person picked is beaten and actually nailed to a cross.

Why would someone want to get that close to the scene of death? Why would someone want to remember Jesus in these ways? Well, I would pose that they are not remembering Jesus’ death. They are remembering that they were partly the reason Jesus had to die. It’s personal! It’s all about them…and believe me, that’s not a pride thing. Jesus wants us to know that it’s all about us. We are why he died. He wanted to give us a gift. He wants us to grin a little…to take in a deep breath of peace like the fresh spring air…and to know that we will be with Him forever.

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