“Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:7-8 NIV
Let’s not gloss over what that entailed. Each Easter we might read the Passion in the Gospels, or see Mel Gilson’s “The Passion of the Christ” but most times we really don’t encounter Christ death.
Raised Catholic, the cross in our home, to this day has Christ crucified on it. Yes that body was then removed, His body temporarily put in a tomb to soon be resurrected. But it reminds me daily what this freedom cost.
From the book “Conceived without sin” a manly-man who thinks he has it all figured out - encounters the crucifixion. On a retreat Mark walks down a hill saying “I hate this place”. Coming to the port of a chapel - Mark stood alone before the monstrance, seemingly the only thing in the chapel. Mark said “I have nothing to say” as much to himself as to the man in the monstrance. He walked up close to the altar and fell to his knees - “I have nothing to say”’ feeling unworthy even to kneel. He dropped to the floor spread-eagle feeling the coldness of the stone on his forehead. “I have nothing to pray” as he prayed, filled with anguish, drained of will. How many prayers have gone unanswered, all the advice from others seemed as straw. His eyelids became heavy filled with fatigue.
Grace, moved with pity for this modern centurion, came from the heart of the Eucharist and manifested Himself in Mark’s mind as a dream.
Mark beheld a lucid, clear picture of the True Cross, on this cross was Jesus, and Mark stood before Him. There were no surroundings, except for the cold hard rock - there was only the Cross, Jesus and Mark. No thundercloud, no women wailing.
No sounds but the breathing of two men. Jesus breath was strained, fluid filled drags.
Mark saw Him not as portrayed on modern crucifixes but as he really and truly had been; bloody and flesh hanging off His bones in shreds.
It was near the end - the lance had not been thrust into His side.
Mark stared “wide-eyed” at Jesus feet, the long metal spike just above the top curve of each foot, driven through them, a rough ropes holding them together around the ankles. They were closer to the ground, perhaps 11 inches then portrayed in the antiseptic movies. Rocks been jammed into a hole cut into the ground holding the cross in place. Mark realized that Jesus death has been rated R.
Flies were crawling over and into the wounds on His feet. He saw the muscles and tendons strain each time Jesus made the effort to lift himself up to breathe.
Lifting his eyes slowly, slowly Mark felt drawn to look upwards away from the mangled feet, and then even more slowly he raised his eyes to the God-man on the cross.
The crossbar was fastened by rope atop the thick, brown, sticky-blooded beam, forming a T.
Jesus looked at Mark, but did not focus on him. Then Jesus spoke “It is finished”
Daily Battle Order:
Fast forward - Mark awakes in a pool of tears, and murmurs “I saw Jesus die. I had no idea how tough he really was. I had no idea. If He can stand that, then I (we) can stand anything. He did it for us, for everyone.
Mark had looked at the toughest of tough guys. Tough enough to wait in thousands of churches for millions of nights - for you and I.
Keeping that in mind - can you and I act justly ? Yes. Can we love mercy? Yes. Can we walk humbly with our God ? Yes. That is the true sign of victory and fruitfulness in our lives.
Today - get on your knees, out of the comfy “prayer” chair and ask God for you to truly encounter Christ as He really is.
Conceived without Sin, by Bud MacFarlane Jr, 1997, St Jude Media