How Great is Our God in HEBREW,

Thursday, September 25, 2014

For the Joy

I was just reading the passage inn Hebrews 11 about Jesus, "Who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame….."
I was thinking about what “Enduring the cross” entailed.  I thought about one “simple” part of the tortures Jesus endured.   It says they pulled the beard out of his face.   Just mediate on that for a moment.    I’ve never  had   a beard, but I’m plucked my eyebrows…..and while that in no way compares to having the beard yanked from your face….I mean you can probably multiply that tiny pain several thousand times  and you might approach an understanding.    

Next came the crown of thorns; not little thorns but huge spikes of horrible pain which they pounded into his bleeding wounded head.
And we’ve (most of us) heard the description of a Roman flogging: leather whips with jagged metal and glass at the ends of the whip.  A beating that had killed lesser men...but our Lord endured.
Then: the nails pounded into his wrists…probably opening arteries  and again , unfathomable pain.  And what comes next is what sends horror racing through my veins: after he was nailed to the cross bar, they hoisted him with roped and yanked him up into the air as the main pole slammed in to the ground, yanking his wounded body so fiercely that every bone and joint became dislocated.  We know this by reading Psalm 22
14  My life is poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart is like wax,
    melting within me.
15 My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay.
    My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
    You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.
16 My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs;
    an evil gang closes in on me.
    They have pierced my hands and feet.
17 I can count all my bones.
    My enemies stare at me and gloat.

I have six times endured the agony of a dislocated hip.  I am pretty tough when it comes to pain, but that pain leaves me sniveling, groaning, and when they moved me--screaming.  As I laid for hours in a cubicle in the Emergency Room waiting for the anesthesiologist and the ortho doctor to come, I waited in shuddering pain…sweating and calling aloud for Jesus to help me…and there came the clear thought of Ps. 22:14….And I realized that Jesus suffered even worse pain.  Every single bone was torn from its socket and I believe this happened when they swung that crossbeam up into  the air and slammed the main pole of the cross into a hole in the ground….Then came the agony of the nails in his feet.

As I read this too I understood one more agony.  Jesus was completely dehydrated.  He had lost sweat and blood and was thirsty in a manner that none of us can imagine.  Although, suffering Sjogrens as I do, there are times when my tongue is dry as paper and completely adhered to the roof of my mouth.  It is not a good feeling.  And breathing through that dryness is painful.

We will never fully understand the agonies of the cross.  And thank you Jesus that you took those blows that were intended for my back.  Thank you that I will never fathom that pain; the jeers; the thirst---and most chilling of all: the sense that God the Father turned his back on his suffering Son and left him there with literally the “weight of the world” on his shoulders…The weight?  Our sins.  And all the hours of anguish we spend after committing an abominable sin…the regret; the pain of having failed God.  He took my guilt times billions: the weight of the sins of the whole world: of Hitler, Idi Amin, of Sadam Hussen--and of his own children.  He paid for every sin…although it is true that some people commit the abomination of rejecting what Jesus did on their behalf.  And he prayed for them too.  “Father, Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

Heb. 12: 2 Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Because of the joy to come, he took on the cross…disregarding the agony ...because it was for those hours that he came.  His whole life was culminated in those hours of sheer horror.  He learned obedience by suffering..  Maybe I too can learn obedience from my suffering.  Maybe he is perfecting me by these hours and days of suffering.  My suffering doesn’t come close to his, but the joy before me is the same…So I fix my eyes on the prize ahead, casting off all that would hinder me, I run the race for the prize before me…
Thank you Jesus that every horrible sin for which I have wept is buried there on that cross, erased by the flooding of his blood . My sin is no longer visible to the eyes of God.  Thank you Jesus.

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