More thoughts on the road to the Cross. The encounters Jesus had (actually during the crucifixion!) at Calvary were very brief and very powerful. The following is a quote from Fulton Sheen on the exchange between Jesus and the thief on the cross beside him.
"A dying man asked a dying man for eternal life; a man without possessions asked a poor man for a kingdom.…In the divine plan it was a thief who was the escort of the King of kings into paradise. If our Lord had come merely as a teacher, the thief would never have asked for forgiveness. But since the thief’s request touched the reason of his coming to earth, namely, to save souls, the thief heard the immediate answer. “I promise thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). It was the thief’s last prayer, perhaps even his first. He knocked once, sought once, asked once, dared everything, and found everything. When even the disciples were doubting and only one was present at the cross, the thief owned and acknowledged him as Savior."
Take a moment to think about the day you were baptized as a follower of Jesus. Do you remember the words of commitment? Were you aware of their significance for your life's path? In this excerpt, William Willimon connects the baptism of Jesus to his road to the Cross.
"To be baptized “into Christ” and “in the name of Christ” means to be incorporated into the way of life which characterized his life, the life of the empty one, the servant, the humble one, the obedient one, obedient even unto death (Phil. 2:6–11). That day at the Jordan, knee deep in cold water, with old John drenching him, the Anointed One began his journey down the via crucis. His baptism intimated where he would finally end. His whole life was caught up in this single sign. Our baptism does the same."
Today let us rejoice in our redeeming God.
We live in a world that believes in self-actualization: that your life's goal is to discover the 'real you' on the inside and let that pure 'human spirit' shine for all to see.
The reality is that in sin we are broken and need saving and redeeming.
English journalist, Malcolm Muggeridge, stated that “the depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality, but at the same time most intellectually resisted fact.”
Only Jesus can take brokenness and make it whole, make it free, and make it beautiful.
We often hear how hard it can be to respond with forgiveness when wronged. Yet we are called to it nonetheless. What we don't hear about as often is the power that lies within this act of forgiveness. The triumph of Jesus over evil is shared with us as we forgive others as we have been forgiven by God.
The following was found written on a wrapping paper at Ravensbruck concentration camp in WW2:
"Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted upon us. Remember rather the fruits we brought, thanks to this suffering: our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown out of this. And when they come to judgment, let all the fruits we have borne be their forgiveness."
Today's Lenten thoughts come from Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book "The Cost of Discipleship," talking about Jesus' call to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him:
"It is laid upon every Christian. The first suffering of Christ we must experience is the call sundering (splitting apart) our ties to this world. This is the death of the old human being in the encounter with Jesus Christ."
Pastor Ward Parkinson