This is one of the best sermons on prayer that I’ve heard in a while. It’s a practical message on why we need to be intentional about prayer. Pastor Myron Edmonds of Glenville SDA Church in Cleveland, Ohio plows through the book of Acts to explore the idea that miracles happen when prayer is present. Excellent message!
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:6-8 NKJV
Christianity has a way of becoming routine sometimes. Wake up, pray, devotional, prayer meeting, Bible study, tweet about Jesus, go to church, read some of the Bible, repeat. Life happens, we have other things going on and we stop pondering what really happened on that old rugged cross.
But when we consider what Jesus went through, should the cross ever lose it’s meaning to us?
A friend recently shared “The Physical Death of Jesus,” which is a study by the Mayo Clinic about the physical strain on the body produced by Jesus’ death on the cross from a medical perspective. It included pictures, descriptions and explanations about what each aspect of crucifixion entailed for Jesus. When I read it, I felt sick to my stomach because I began to consider what my Savior went through.
“The Romans perfected it [crucifixion] as a method of execution which caused maximal pain and suffering over a period of time. Those crucified included slaves, provincials and the lowest types of criminals. – J. McDowell
A perfect human being was given the death of the lowest type of criminal. This makes me think, “what kind of death would I have earned if I lived in Bible times?” Before they put him on the cross, they beat him with the intention to weaken him and humiliate him.
The severity of the beating is not detailed in the gospels. However, in the book of Isaiah, it suggests that the Romans pulled out His beard.(Isaiah 50:8) . It is also mentions that Jesus was beaten so severely that His form did not look like that of ‘a son of a man’ i.e. that of a human being. The literal translation of the verse reads, ‘So marred from the form of man was His aspect, that His appearance was not as that of a son of a man.‘ – Mayo Clinic
This past school year, I taught my students about Emmett Till. They were shocked to learn that the 14-year old was beaten so severely that his face was disfigured by a racist mob in the Jim Crow South. I’ve talked about this before, but I never realized that Jesus underwent a beating like that before being placed on the cross. Experts say that Jesus was likely flogged with a weapon called a Roman flagrum that tore his skin like paper. One historical account says,
“Their bodies were frightfully lacerated. Christian martyrs in Smyrna were so torn by the scourges that their veins were laid bare, and the inner muscles, sinews, even entrails, were exposed.” -Eusabious of Caesare, Westminster Dictionary of the Bible
According to the experts, after the beating the Roman soldiers tried to make Jesus walk around 650 yards (1/3rd of a mile) with a cross that weighed between 80-110 pounds. But, the cross was too heavy for him to bear so Simon carried it for him. Next, they placed a crown of thorns on his head, nailed his hands and feet to the cross and mocked him. Look at these pictures…
When the cross was erected upright, there was tremendous strain put on the wrists, arms and shoulders, resulting in a dislocation of the shoulder and elbow joints. The arms, being held up and outward, held the rib cage in a fixed end inspiratory position which made it extremely difficult to exhale, and impossible to take a full breath. The victim would only be able to take very shallow breaths.(This may explain why Jesus made very short statements while on the cross). As time passed, the muscles, from the loss of blood, last of oxygen and the fixed position of the body, would undergo severe cramps and spasmodic contractions. – Dr. David Terasaka
After He said “it is finished,” He committed His spirit back to His father & died.
If this doesn’t blow you away, I don’t know what will. Death is one of the most real things in this life. It means that our living has ended. The fact that Jesus was willing to die a slow, painful death for you and me should always blow our minds and fill our hearts with gratitude.
I sin so easily. I do and say things, think wrong thoughts, willingly pass up opportunities to do what I know is right, but why? Have I forgotten what He went through to give me another opportunity? Like Romans 5 says, it’s rare that someone will die for a righteous man and someone might even die for someone who is good, but I am a sinner. I was born in sin, shaped in iniquity and sometimes, I even sin without thinking. Jesus was willing to take every ounce of this excruciating pain so that I wouldn’t have to. The strain on his lungs, on his bones and ligaments, the pain in his feet. The way that His body was torn, broken, beaten. To think that Jesus Christ, the son in the Godhead would leave Heaven to die the death of the worst of sinners to redeem me blows me away completely.
When I reflect on this, I want to thank Him continually.
Thank you for taking the beating that broke your flesh and caused your blood to be shed.
Thank you for every nail that pierced your veins and caused you to cry out in pain.
Thank you for staying on the cross and not giving up, even when it hurt the worst.
Thank you for taking the mocking and the humiliation from the religious people who should have celebrated your life.
Thank you for leaving Heaven, being perfect, setting an example and being selfless enough to die for me.
No one else in this life loves me enough to go through what He went through for me, and I refuse to take it lightly.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. – Isaiah 53:5 NKJV
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? – Psalm 42:1, 2 KJV
Hello friends. I haven’t blogged in a while and I wanted to sort of share some things that have been on my heart. This entire summer, I have been learning about what it means to truly seek God. For many years, I used phrases like “seeking Him,” “pursuing Him,” and “chasing after Him” all while not even lifting open the front cover of my Bible or praying regularly. I felt because I was reading my devotional every few days, whispering a quick prayer while half sleep and volunteering with ministries, that I must be pursuing Him. After all, that’s all there is to this Christian thing, right? Well, I’m learning now that I had no idea who He was because I wasn’t desperate for Him…
I think that many of us have a very poor understanding of what it means to pursue God. Earlier this summer, I read an amazing book called The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer, which I highly recommend. In the book, Tozer talks about how we don’t follow hard after Christ. He suggests that God is one who feels, loves, wants to communicate and that He will communicate with us. But the issue is that pursuing Him with fervor is not something that many of us are interested in. He says,
I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.
I completely agree with Tozer. The Psalmist says “as the hart (or deer) panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee.” My pastor preached on this a few weeks ago and painted an amazing picture of a panting deer. The definition of the word pant in this context is “to breathe quickly, spasmodically or in a labored manner” or “to long eagerly; yearn.” If I remember correctly, he told us to picture a deer that has been running hard and has been searching for water. You see, deer don’t have sweat glands so when they run and their bodies heat up, they breathe faster and become desperate for water. It’s the only way that they can get quick relief from the extreme heat in their bodies.
When was the last time your soul panted after Christ? Have you ever wanted to encounter Christ more than you wanted anything else in the world, even more than your next breath?
Sometimes I wonder about the body of Christ, including myself. At times, I know I’d rather talk to my best friend for hours than pray for one. I could encounter the lover of my soul, but I’d rather watch TV. What’s even more pathetic is the fact that I’ve probably panted for cute shoes and money more than I have over Christ. Can you relate?
What is with us? Why are we so willing to chase, pursue, seek and work so hard for things that are so insignificant? Now, don’t get me wrong, our friends, family, and other people are always important. We should love as Christ loved. Education, work, responsibilities, etc are also very important. But when we spazz out if we miss our favorite tv show on Thursday night but not when we miss out on time with Christ, we have a problem. Priorities.
Yesterday, I had a talk with my dear friend Gabrielle and while discussing this matter, we came to the conclusion that we, the body of Christ, have to become extremely desperate and thirsty for Christ if we really want to see Him move! Like Tozer said, complacency kills! We have at times been so caught up in the church culture, our own agendas, our own limits on what we’ll give God and so many other things that completely distract us from truly seeking and pursuing God. I HATE this! It drives me crazy because God wants to change us, do even greater works in us than He did through Jesus and use us to spread His love to the ends of the Earth but we don’t want Him. He is literally waiting to be wanted by many of us. Why don’t we want Him? Have we really gotten drunk on the pleasures of the world to the point where we aren’t interested in the Bridegroom? Or is it that we’re so complacent and lukewarm in our “I’ll squeeze Jesus in where I get time” lifestyle that we have no desire for Him? Or perhaps, we are apart of the “I just like church because there’s good music and fine men” group who comes to browse but never purchase? Don’t even let me get on the “I don’t like this kind of music so I’m not worshipping” group! *regains composure* How did this happen? How did lukewarm Christianity completely over take us? How did we become so content offering Almighty God the leftovers of our time, devotion, love and life instead of what was first?
Satan loves a lukewarm Christian. He loves when we live our lives without pursuing God. As long as we never come to a full understanding of who Christ is or dedicate our lives to Him fully, satan knows that we’ll be powerless and completely subject to everything he throws at us…even the smallest of snares.
My prayer for all of us (self-included) is that we become completely desperate for Christ. That He becomes the place where we find joy, peace, love, comfort and shelter. Also, that we become so madly in love with Him that we would rather pursue Him than anything of this world.
We’ve got to get serious about falling in love with Jesus and following hard after Him every single day. Jesus over everything. NOTHING is more important.
Until next time,