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Lent is a time for Christians to fully examine their relationship with the Lord. Through prayer, sacrifice and service, we develop an understanding of what it means to "take up your cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34) As Christians, we are called to live Christ's life- not to study the life of Jesus and try to be like Him, but actually let Him live through us.

In my own journey this Lent, Our Lord is asking me to fully understand His love. Through several prayer experiences, I hear him calling me to this deeper understanding of His love- not just with my head, but with my heart. And the key to understanding that amazing love is to understand His suffering. My intellect understands that the Lord suffered, but I have never explored His suffering with my heart. His love is greater than His suffering, but how great was that suffering?

I am participating in an independent Threshold Bible Study called People of the Passion by Stephen J. Binz. In this study, I will explore the meaning of discipleship through the people who encounter Jesus during His passion. These people witness and are impacted by the suffering of Jesus. They saw the suffering of our Lord first hand. It is my hope that by going on this journey through their eyes, I will have a better understanding of His suffering and then of His love.

Please know that I am not a scholar. I have no formal education in theology, philosophy or church history. I'm just a regular person trying to make sense of what Jesus is asking me to do- to love like He loves.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 21- The Soldiers Mock and Torture Jesus

Matthew 27:27-31

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him.  They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head.  They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!"  They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.  After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

This scene takes place immediately after Jesus was scourged.  I didn't really understand what scourged meant until recently.  The soldiers used whips with sharp objects (sharpened bone or lead) attached to the ends.  With each lash, the sharp ends ripped skin and muscle tissue from the body.  The victim looses so much blood that it was very difficult if not impossible for him to carry the cross for his crucifixion.  So at this point in Matthew's gospel, Jesus' whole body feels as if he were on fire.  He is covered in blood.  He is weak due to his massive blood loss.  They dress him in a robe. And while they make fun of him, the robe sticks to his fresh wounds as the blood attempts to form a scab.  They press a crown of thorns into his head, so now the only part of his body that probably wasn't bleeding, is now bleeding and exploding in fresh pain.  As they make fun of him, they spit on him and hit him in the face.  Each blow jostles the crown of thorns causing new waves of pain.  When they are bored with their antics, the soldiers strip the robe from Jesus' bloody body, opening up all the fresh wounds once again.  His whole being explodes in fiery agony all over.

They make fun of Him by calling him king and staging a mock coronation.  This is rather ironic because he is the King of Kings.  Jesus, as the Son of God possesses the power to make all this stop.  But he doesn't.  He doesn't get angry. He doesn't fight back.  He doesn't call a legion of angels to help him.  He doesn't because He is fulfilling the will of the Father.  He is doing what Adam failed to do in the garden: hand over His life for another.  The bloody mess that is now his body is wearing all our sin.

In John's gospel, Pilate parades Jesus back out in front of the crowd.  He gives the crowd another chance to change their minds.  They have a chance to see Jesus beaten, bloodied, humiliated and weak.  They see exactly what their demands have done to him.  But they have no compassion.  They demand his crucifixion. What role would you play in the crowd?  Where would you be?  How would you feel?  You hear the chanting all around you.  You see the bloody mess that is your Lord.  What would you do?

Jesus taught that we should love one another as He loves us.  Even though we can't physically be in that moment 2000 years ago, we can help Jesus here and now.  Mother Theresa is a great example for us to follow.  She saw Jesus in the face of all the suffering people she encountered and she comforted them.  She had the compassion for others that the crowd failed to have for Jesus.  While the crowd held to their law, she held to the meaning of the law- love.

So what will you do the next time you encounter someone who is suffering?  Will you turn away with the crowd?  Or will you reach out and offer comfort?  Jesus said: "Amen, I say to you, what ever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." (Mat 25:40)  So, look that the bloody mess that is your Lord.  Look at all your sin on his flesh. Look at what he has endured out of love for you.  Even though you can't reach back 2000 years and help him then, you can help him now by reaching out and offering comfort to those who are suffering all around you. 

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

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