Friday, April 3, 2015

Meditation on Wednesday of Holy Week (Passion of Luke)

They led away the author of life to die – to die for our sake. In a way beyond our understanding, the power of God brought from Christ’s passion an end far different from that which was intended by his enemies and the devil himself. Jesus sufferings served as a snare for death and rendered it powerless. The Lord’s death proved to be our restoration to immortality and newness of life.

Condemned to death though innocent, he went forward bearing on his shoulders the cross in which he was to suffer. He did this for our sake, taking on himself the punishment that the law justly imposed on sinners. He was cursed for our sake according to the saying of Scripture: “A curse is on everyone who is hanged on a tree.”…

We who have all committed many sins were under that ancient curse for our refusal to obey the law of God. To set us free he who was without sin took that curse on himself. Since he is God who is above all, his sufferings sufficed for all, his death in the flesh was the redemption for all. For you.[1]

One of my favorite paintings is by an Italian painter of Christ carrying his cross. It’s in the Prado, Museum in Madrid Spain. I had the pleasure of seeing it during a high school trip years ago and it left a deep impression on me.

In the painting the heavy wooden cross is held up by Our Lord’s tired shoulders, nearly crushing him. The Roman soldiers are whipping his scourged back. The crown of thorns has pierced his head – his precious blood is running down his face but most stirring about the painting is, above all, his eyes because he is looking at you and in you. His are tired eyes, yet fierce and determined. And you are struck. Exposed. But in those eyes we see clearly he is not angry or threatening. Even with a bloodied face and torn body, he looks at you in love, even though just hours earlier, perhaps you too had cried out “crucify him, crucify him.”

Now those tired eyes pierce your own. He sees you. He recognizes you. You are singled out, no longer just part of the crowd.  And perhaps for the first time, you fully understand, that he is suffering not just for the sins of the world, but most importantly for your own sins.

You see, even the demons and the unbelieving world know and believe that Jesus died for the sins of the world. That knowledge does not make us Christians but only a true Christian can say that I know and believe he has done this all for me.

When the Lord looks upon you tonight in love don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to look upon Him. To see what it cost him. His beaten body and bloody face. Behold his eyes and see his compassion that he has for you. That He loves you infinitely more than he loves himself.

He is lifted up, pierced, and nailed to the tree to be mocked and suffer the pains of hell in your place. We have done this to him and yet he prays for us all “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” and “truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” 

Behold he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. In the name of Jesus. 

[1] This first part mostly taken from John Chrysostom AD 407

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