Friday, April 18, 2014

This still haunts me

It's Good Friday and I'm sick. My church had a special event set up today with several stations set up throughout the building taking you from the garden up to the crucifixion of Christ, and I had to miss it. I was told it was amazingly powerful and I'm sure it was.

A few years back I listened to a sermon that had to do with the last moments of Christ, and it's a sermon that stays fresh on my mind because of how impacting it was. I'd like to share it all with you now as you go into your Easter weekend.

What you're looking at is an ancient public toilet area in Ephesus. There were no doors, no stalls, not even toilet paper. That little culvert or trough on the ground in front of the toilets was filled with running water. Men using these toilets (apparently women weren't allowed to use them) would have to scoop up water and clean themselves that way before they were done. Well, after a time, some guys came up with a great idea. They decided to put a sea sponge on the end of a long stick, dip it into the water, and clean people that way.

Some people started getting infections from these cleanings, so the men began to use vinegar or wine to disinfect the sponges between cleanings. This is where a revelation comes in. I have to tell you, it's disturbing, and it hurt my heart. I hope it will always hurt my heart.

Luke 23: 36-37 says this: "The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

Think about that for a second. This man was hanging on a cross high above the reach of an arm offering a flask. Jesus was offered wine from a sponge. There's nothing in the bible about this sponge or where it came from, but what do you think the likelihood is that this was some random clean sponge on a stick? This man, who was beaten, mocked, hated by so many...I have a hard time believing they would, in a moment of kindness, want him to have anything clean. So he had this dirty, filth-ridden sponge shoved to his lips to relieve his thirst. He had that taste in his mouth when he died, that smell in his nose. And yet, even as this last cruelty was being done to him, he was loving the ones holding the sponge to his mouth, forgiving them and praying for them.

I don't know why, but out of all the images of the crucifixion, this one is the most haunting to me. It angers me more than the beatings and the ridicule. And it makes me love Jesus with such a fresh wave of emotions that it almost brings me to tears. He did that for me. He endured that for me. How many "modern day saviors" would drink from a sponge that was used to clean people after they went to the bathroom? I could see some taking the beatings and dealing with the harsh words. But this? I can't see anyone willing to do that for anyone else.

I think we take the gift of Jesus' sacrifice too casually on most days. At least I know I do. I hope this image reminds you of how much you are loved, and how much Jesus would take to assure you were forgiven and had an eternal place with him in Heaven.


Post a Comment


Diana Does Stuff Copyright © 2012 Design by Ipietoon Blogger Template