Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Afar Off–Part 7

Again, that’s John Vincent’s “Sunrise in My Backyard”.  The light from beyond got me thinking about how we perceive our “distance” from God.  And we’ve been looking at that from the perspective of the events of “holy week”.  We last looked at Jesus’ sentencing.  So, let’s continue from there.

Jesus was dressed the the "royal robe"and crown of thorns.  And mocked again.  Then the soldiers removed the robe and put Jesus' own garments on Him for the trek to Golgotha.  And that journey was interesting in itself.  It must have been noticeable that Jesus wasn't going to make it to the crucifixion, because the soldiers made Simon of Cyrene carry His cross.  Which sounds humanitarian, but it's not.  The soldiers would miss out on some "fun" if Jesus died on the way to Golgotha.  And it wouldn't surprise me if the Romans also wanted Jesus to die very publicly to solidify the relationship with the Pharisees and priests.  But we see, once again, that God was orchestrating that journey.

Consider that Jesus needed to go through His trials as a man. Jesus had been scourged to a point where most men would have been close to death. Yet, He was strong enough to go through multiple trials, additional beating, and more bleeding from His head from the crown of thorns.  If He used His supernatural powers to make the journey to the cross, it would lessen part of the plan.  So, God allowed Simon to carry the cross in order for all the prophecy to be fulfilled.  Satan would have been very happy if Jesus died without getting to the crucifixion and not substituting for our sins or if it wasn't man making the sacrifice.  God wasn't letting that happen.

As we know, Jesus did make it to the crucifixion.  And it's another place where we see the potential relationship with God being much closer than we think.  Looking at the image we've been using to illustrate this series, the source of light seems distant and out of sight.  But, in fact, the light is washing every corner of where we are, banishing the darkness.  Take a look at the crucifixion contrasts.

The Roman soldiers are guarding the dying prisoners to make sure they aren't removed by friends.  They're bored.  The most exciting event, by the Biblical account, is raffling off Jesus' robe among themselves.  They're totally oblivious to the real drama going on next to them.  The longer we're mired in misconceptions, perhaps embellishing them ourselves, the harder it is to recognize any other viewpoint.  So, I'm not surprised that the soldiers were entrenched in their thinking and totally missed the import of what was going on.

Contrast that with Jesus on the cross.  Several things happened.

  1. Jesus asked His Father to forgive those crucifying Him.  Because of their lack of awareness. (Luke 23:34)
  2. He forgave the one thief on the cross next to Him. (Luke 23:39-43)
  3. Jesus delegated care of His mother to John.. (John 19:26-27)
  4. He suddenly experienced the agony of His godhood separated from the Father for the first (and only) time in eternity and time. Because He had all our sins and sin placed on Him. (Matthew 27:46)
  5. Jesus chose the time He would die. (John 19:30)
  6. He was buried on that same day. (John 19:38-42)
I don't know about anyone else, but I'm certain that I wouldn't be able to handle even one of the first five after being scourged, marched to my own execution, then crucified.  Yet Jesus never waivered in going forward with the Father's plan or dealing with what needed to be dealt with.

And consider points 5 and 6.  If Jesus had died any later, He might have had to be buried the following day, according to Jewish law. Had Joseph of Arimathaea not gone to Pilate for the body and not offered his burial plot, Jesus might not have had a place to be buried.  Had Nicodemus not brought the burial anointing spices, Jesus' burial would not have been done properly.  Without all of that coming together, Jesus body would have been left on the ground, open to scavengers.  And their ravaging His body would have made some of the prophecy unfulfilled.  I believe that there was nothing late in all of this.  That it was always a full part of the plan, designed to be revealed late to avoid satanic roadblocks to fulfillment of all the prophecy.

This is a good spot to stop.  There's plenty of spiritual meat to chew on.  We know there's still more, which we'll continue next time.  But how has thinking about all this brought you closer to God?

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