Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
April 22, 2018
Before moving on, you might walk around that old cross
Easter is past. We are moving on toward summer. But just now, while memories of the Easter celebration are still fresh, you might find it helpful to picture again what happened on that dark Friday and then walk around that old cross. The rugged one on which Jesus died. I don’t mean that you fly to Jerusalem. Just do it in your mind. This won’t cost you money, just some time.
Come on. Picture those painful scenes of Jesus’ last days. Watch the soldiers roughly push Jesus around, ridiculing him, humiliating him, slapping him, spitting in his face, treating him worse than you would treat a dog.
Look yonder at Pilate washing his hands of the whole affair and telling the crowd the blood of Jesus would be on their hands, not his.
Don’t turn away as you hear the sound of the whips ripping the flesh of the best man who ever lived. The gruesome scourging continues. You shudder as the leather thongs of the whips, filled with lead and pieces of bone, tear bloody grooves in Jesus’ back.
You wince as cruel soldiers strip the clothes off Jesus, mocking him as they put a scarlet robe on him and taunting him by calling him a king. You tremble, imaging the awful pain, as the soldiers shove that crown of vicious thorns down upon his head.
You are in the courtyard now. You are looking directly at Jesus who is hardly able to stand, but there he is, weak, bleeding and shaking from the merciless beating. You want to run but you follow along as the soldiers make Jesus carry his cross toward the hill on which he will die. You wish you had the nerve to help him when he stumbles and falls under the weight of the cross, but you watch as the soldiers force a bystander named Simon help Jesus carry his cross.
He is on that hill now. You turn your face away as the soldiers hammer those spikes into his hands and his feet. They thrust the cross into the ground, raising Jesus above your head.
You wish God would let him die so his suffering could end. But his ordeal is not over. His humiliating suffering will continue for hours. You look up and gasp as blood runs red down his body, onto the cross, until it spills upon the ground.
The soldiers do not share your revulsion of the sight before you. To them, Jesus was just another criminal. Crucifying him was just another day’s work for them. They have no clue as to his identity. They would have laughed had you told them they were crucifying the Son of God!
You can hardly believe it when suddenly you hear Jesus speaking. “Forgive them, Father, because they don’t know what they are doing.” You gasp in disbelief that anyone enduring such agony would possibly pray such a prayer.
You continue listening in amazement to all the words Jesus utters while groaning and gasping for breath. Why, you wonder, does God not allow his anguish to end? Surely he has suffered enough!
Then, not in whispered tones but with a shout, you hear him declare, “It is finished!” And finally, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” He gasps his last breath. It is over.
You realize you have been standing here for six hours. You are exhausted, trembling because of the horror you have witnessed. Your heart aches for Mary, his mother, and for his disciple John near whom you have been standing. You realize that, like several others, your cheeks are wet with tears. You have no idea how long you have been crying.
As you begin to turn away, something shocking happens. One of the soldiers, a Roman centurion, falls to his knees just a few feet from you and cries out, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
Now you fall on your knees for it dawns on you that you have heard and seen the Savior of the world die not just for everyone but for you too. He loved you enough to suffer like that so that your sins could be forgiven and you could receive the free gift of eternal life. You know the rest of the story, how on Sunday he walked out of that tomb and met with his disciples, instructing them to be his witnesses.
It is time, now, to walk down from Calvary’s hill and begin living like he wants you to live, telling others that he died on that cross so all of us could come alive to God – in this world and in the next.
Once you walk around that cross, and see what happened there, you will never be the same. You find yourself saying, “Since he was willing to die like that for me, the least I can do is to try to live my life like he wants it lived!” And with his help, you can do it! + + +