Devotion and Prayer for Week of March 17, 2013

Meditation for the week of March 17, 2013


“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed.”        Isaiah 53:5


Several years ago, when Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ came out, it caused a great deal of controversy.  In particular, people were upset and the graphic nature of the movie especially when it came to the scourging scene.  If you saw the movie you know that this scene in particular was not for the “faint of heart.”  It was most definitely graphic.  However, when asked in an interview why he depicted the scourging of Jesus in such a bloody and violent way, Gibson replied, “Because it was bloody and violent.”

Indeed, the passion and suffering of our Lord was bloody and violent.  Crucifixion and everything surrounding it was one of the cruelest forms of punishment ever devised by man.  IN fact, the legacy of crucifixion’s cruelty is found in our modern word “excruciating,” which literally means “out of the cross.”

However, the real controversy regarding the movie had to do with the uneasiness over whether or not it would cause a rise in anti-Semitism.  Many Jewish, and some Christian, leaders expressed concern that the graphic depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion would cause hostility to the Jews.  They feared that Christians would blame the Jews for Jesus’ death.  That, of course, did not happen.  Even Gibson himself said he did not blame the Jews for Jesus’ death.  In fact, in that same interview Gibson stated his view plainly, “We are all guilty of Jesus’ death.”

I don’t often look to Hollywood or to actors for theological inspiration but in this case, Gibson was absolutely correct.  We are all guilty of Jesus’ death.  To be sure, the Jewish leaders at the time of Christ sought his execution.  That’s a fact.  But, to place the responsibility on their shoulders looks too narrowly at the situation and denies what Scripture tells us so clearly, “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities,” Isaiah tells us.

Our sins placed Jesus on that cross.  Jesus’ death came about because of the sins of all people including yours and mine.  Each flesh tearing lash from the soldiers whip, each blow of the hammer as it drove the nails into his hands and feet, and each moment that Jesus hung on that cross in painful agony, came about because we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Our transgressions pierced him.  Our sins crushed him.  Our guilt led him to the cross.  We cannot look at our crucified Lord and blame anyone but ourselves.  That is the truth.

However, we must look at him and we must look at his cross.  That is what the season of Lent is all about.  It is about pondering the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.  It is about staring at the price he paid and, being moved to repentance, fall at the foot of the cross to find his forgiveness.  And, at the foot of the cross you will find forgiveness because that is what the cross is ultimately all about.  The punishment, our punishment, which was placed on Jesus, now brings us peace.  It brings us forgiveness and the hope of life eternal.

This Lenten season, we must be sure to take the time to meditate on the passion of our Lord.  Wonder at how far our God will go to save us.  Marvel at how he went all the way to the cross to offer forgiveness to all . . . including the very people who brought about his death, meaning, you and me.


Our Weekly Prayer 

Gracious Lord, none of us is worthy of your grace and yet you give it freely to us on behalf of Jesus death on the cross.  Help us as we ponder his passion and death to realize the true extent of his love for us and let us live in the peace that he has brought us.  In Jesus name.  Amen.