In this blog, it is assumed the reader possesses a rudimentary understanding of “the Easter Story.” This is NOT a treatise regarding the atoning, the propitiation of Christ for the sins of mankind; nor is it a detailed physiological account of the horrors of the crucifixion. The reader who seeks candies, colorful eggs born by a rabbit, people in warm pastel colors or hams and lamb baking, will be sorely disappointed. Hopefully this will usher you, the reader, to examine that most troubling of spaces: one’s own spiritual heart.
Let us make a short imaginary visit to a shunned, forsaken hill beyond the walls of ancient Jerusalem. We are mere observers; having no ability to influence, change or affect in any way, the events unfolding before us. We see three, rough-hewn crosses; crudely arrayed. They are neither designed or fabricated for style and comfort. They are merely tools, instruments meant to bring about the end of life in the most horrific and impactful (to the observer as well) way imaginable.
For the past three hours, the mid and late morning sun has shone mercilessly upon the three men dying on these barbaric devices. Shadows invariably are cast upon the hillside as Roman soldiers simply carry out their gruesome duty. There is a crowd gathered about; some jeering and mocking, some weeping and grieving, others merely passing by on the roadway; busily going about their errands in Jerusalem. The man on the center cross is singled out for more scorn and verbal abuse than the others.
AND THE SHADOW CONTINUED TO MOVE.
The unwilling occupant on the cross to the one side began to mock and revile the man on the center cross. Such mockery brought upon the mocker a rebuke from the repentant sufferer on the cross on the other side of the center cross. This unknown man, in his final hours on earth, realizing just Who was between the two of them, asked the Lord to simply remember him when He entered His Kingdom.
AND STILL THE SHADOW MOVED.
At midday, the sky grew unusually dark. While not visible, the shadow still traced the course of the sun across the sky. Jesus stated He was thirsty. A man retrieved a hyssop stick, jammed a sponge on one end, soaked it in vinegar and proffered that to the suffering Jesus. Soon thereafter, “He cried with a loud voice …” (check out the Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke), saying
“It is finished” (see the Gospel of John, he was there, as was Matthew). It was about 3:00 PM in today’s timekeeping. The earth shook with a great earthquake, rocks were split and the righteous who had died came forth from their graves. Incidentally, Israel is situated on the Syrian-African Rift, but does not have a large number of large earthquakes; typically every 80 to 100 years, usually in Northern Israel. Jerusalem is in Southern Israel. Something to ponder.
A Roman centurion was heard to exclaim: “Truly this was the Son of God.”
THE SHADOW MOVED, THE CROWD DISPERSED AND PEOPLE WENT ABOUT THEIR BUSINESS. WE HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY PEOPLE FELL UNDER THE SHADOW OF THE CROSS.
We do know one received salvation, one affirmed the Divinity of Christ (we have no clue as to his eternal abode), while many scorned and mocked Him. Yet, how many were touched by the shadow of the Cross? How many were touched by the events of that day? How many just merely went upon their way?
Then there’s us. Where do we belong? How many times has the “shadow of the cross” come upon us? How many times have we heard the Gospel only to scorn and mock? Have we said, “I believe in God,” but not truly accepted Him? Are we like the man, rushing to perform a dubious service? Vinegar for a thirsty man? Are you kidding? (Yes, I am aware the individual was being utilized to fulfill prophecy; Psalm 69:21. It is doubtful he thought, “Oh! Here is my chance to fulfill a Messianic prophecy!”) Interestingly, the Word of God does not state he received salvation by performing a “good work.” Only two know the answer to these questions; you and God. It is my fervent prayer that one day, we also shall meet in Paradise.
James E. Hopkins
(i) (c) 2021
(ii) Used with Permission
Photo from The Passion of the Christ, Google Images.