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Discussion in 'Non-denominational' started by patriarch, Mar 26, 2002.

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  1. patriarch

    patriarch Senior Member

    Sixth Sunday in Lent, Palm Sunday, March 24, 2002
    Philippians 2: 5 - 11 Matthew 27: 1 - 54

    Ken R. Anderson OblOSB Nov.

    I come from a background that could be called iconoclastic. It might have been acceptable to have a cross, but to have a crucifix with a figure of Christ was considered downright idolatrous. The statement was made over and over again that "We are serving a living Saviour, not one who is still dead." Coming into the Anglo-Catholic side of our Anglican Faith, it took me some time to accept a crucifix as a valid and valuable symbol. Today I even use prayer beads (albeit praying the Orthodox Jesus Prayer, not the Hail Mary), at the end of which I have affixed a Benedictine crucifix. I agree that our Saviour is very much alive, in heaven and in our hearts by faith, but my crucifix does not tell me that He remains on the cross; it merely reminds me of His suffering and death there. I, for one, need to be reminded.

    Crucifix Not Graphic Enough

    If I have any complaint about a crucifix it would be that it is not graphic enough. The death that Jesus suffered was agony in the extreme. Even in hearing the gospel read this morning it is easy to listen to words, phrases, and whole sentences, and fail to grasp their full impact. Let me share a few of those sentences with you.

    Jesus Was Scourged

    "And when he had scourged Jesus he delivered him to be crucified." By the time they had finished whipping Jesus with the cat of nine tails, grabbing handfuls of his beard and ripping it from his face, and striking him with their fists and rods, the flesh on his back and body hung in bloody ribbons, and his face was an unrecognizable mess. Isaiah prophecied and said, "Many were amazed when they saw him beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know he was a person."(Isaiah 52:14) This pre-crucifixion torture alone caused the death of many. Then they put on Him a crown of thorns that painfully pierced his scalp, digging into the bone. In this weakened agonized state they made him carry His cross as far as his strength would take him.

    The Horror of Crucifixion

    In the Gospel Father Thorne read " they crucified him, and parted His garments, casting lots." We have hear the words so many times that the horror of the crucifixion fails to penetrate our consciousness. This was a terrible way to die. He was thrust down upon the rough wood and his hands and feet were spiked to the cross. He was hoisted up and the cross was dropped into its hole with a jarring thud. For the crucified one the entire time was unspeakable agony as he hung suspended between heaven and earth by the nails in his hands. Those nails caused excruciating pain to shoot down his arms into his body, causing his muscles to spasm. As his weight hung by the nails his diaphragm would rise up in his chest and constrict his lungs. In order to catch a breath he would have to lunge upward putting his full weight on the nails in his feet. This would cause searing pain to explode up his legs, until he could stand it no more and collapsed, his weight once again tearing at his hands. This tortuous cycle of pain and suffocation continued on in most crucified men until death came mercifully, or until someone came and broke their legs, making it impossible to breath.

    "Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?"

    I know these are horrible details. This is what Mary his Mother witnessed. This is what John his beloved disciple saw. This is what we are remembering this week. And there is so much I have not described. The intense thirst, the vicious mocking of the crowd for whom he was giving his life, and the ultimate agony of all, the sense of being abandoned by God as he cried out, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me." In extreme physical and emotional torment he was thrust into the devastating darkness of separation from God.

    Jesus knew he was facing all of this as he rode the donkey into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday. He knew the fickle crowd that hailed him as King would in a few days be shouting out the words, "Let him be crucified. Let him be crucified." Yet, our epistle declares that even knowing the agony he would face, "He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." It is no wonder in the Garden of Gethsemane he cried, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."

    It Is Finished

    For me, the glory of it all is that in drinking the full cup of suffering, he not only provided for our salvation, He prepared a way for you and I to come into a place of intimate fellowship with God. "And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom." Such a simple statement, but so filled with amazing significance. Beyond the veil of the temple was where the presence of God rested on the mercy seat above the ark of the covenant. The veil served as a barrier, a boundary between God and man, beyond which humanity could not go without fear of death. One man, the High Priest, had the privilege of once a year going beyond that veil into God's presence. When Jesus died this massive curtain was rent from top to bottom. The old covenant of rules and ritualistic regulations was over. There would be no more animal sacrifices. The Lamb of God had paid the full price for our redemption. This is why he cried, "It is finished."

    Every Knee Shall Bow

    It is no wonder the scriptures say, "Wherefore, God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name that is above every name; that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
    • We bow in reverence and awe.
    • We bow in contrite repentance.
    • We bow in adoration and worship.
    • We bow our knee to receive the sacraments that celebrate his sacrifice.
    • And we bow in prayer as we not only receive remission of our sins, but on our knees enter beyond the veil, into that most holy place of intimate communion with God.
    On that Palm Sunday ride into Jerusalem, Jesus looked forward, past the agony of his crucifixion, down the long corridors of time, saw us here this morning coming into and enjoying His Sacramental Presence, and he said in his heart, "Yes, it will be worth it all."

    Today, when I look at a crucifix, I look back to all He has done to provide a way into God's wonderful presence and my heart cries out, "Yes Lord, I come."

    Praise be to God! Amen.
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  2. Debbie

    Debbie Active Member

    Thank you.
  3. StogusMaximus

    StogusMaximus Well-Known Member

  4. AngelAmidala

    AngelAmidala Legend

    Great post!!
  5. ChristianPilot

    ChristianPilot If God is your co-pilot, switch seats!

    :clap: Praise God!
  6. BigEd

    BigEd an adopted child of God

    A wonderful post !

    One little side note I read in Thomas Cahill's "the quest for the everlasting hills" (i'm paraphrasing here) that the cross was not used by the church as a symbol by the early church ( the fish , or shepard with a lamb was used). Only 100 years after crucifixion ceased to be used as a form of capital punishement was it seen as a symbol of the church.
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