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This is the fifth devotion in a series on the Passion of Christ according to the Gospel of Matthew.
Please read Matthew Chapter 27:27--44 in your Bibles.
This is a place where I do not wish to go. The actions are not pleasant. They are not uplifting. They are condemning. The soldiers took Jesus. They stripped him. They twisted some thorns and placed them on his head. They knelt before him and mocked him. They spat on him, struck him on the head, and they crucified him. They crowds teased Jesus and mocked him. Even the bandits who were dying with Jesus, Matthew tells us, taunted him. I do not wish to go here and think on these things. There is too much cruelty. There is too much deprivation. There is too much of our thorny, twisted selves being inflicted upon Jesus, God with us.
There are times when we must go places where we would rather not go. During a very trying time in our lives, my wife and I had to go to court several times in order to advocate for a sibling group that was in foster care. The county wished to reunite the sibling group under our roof, but the court and the other sets of fosters parents opposed this move. The system was corrupt because of the politics, bureaucracy, and inertia. The judge was neither compassionate nor understanding. From our viewpoint the other foster parents were self-serving. There was too much cruelty, pain, and exposure of our thorny, twisted selves. But we went. We went for the good of the sibling group. We entered into that painful place for a brief time so that the sibling group might live with less pain in the future. We reluctantly went and faced it.
Now, however, it is again time to face the death of Godís Son through our own thorny, twisted devices. We donít want to go there. We do not wish to gaze upon the crucified Christ because we are exposed. All of the mocking, hurtful things we have said are thrown back at us. All of the beating and stripping of anotherís esteem are shown to us. All of our thorny, twisted selves are seen pressed down upon the head of our Lord and of our God who only loves us. We are exposed.
No! No, my Lord. It should not be so. Do not show us this. Do not expose us to this truth. Yet there it is before us. We have stripped. We have struck. We have twisted. We have spat. We have taunted and mocked. Christ does not respond. The one in whom and through whom all things were created--the one who is, was, and ever shall beódoes not respond.
The cruelty and deprivation will run their course. It will not stop. Do not take us here, my Lord! Do not open our eyes to the depths of our own turned in lives. Do not go so far as to die. Surely, someone will clothe your nakedness, offer you a cup of cool water, or treat your wounds. None, not one, come. Have mercy on us, Lord! Forgive us. Hear our prayer. Save us from twisted, thorny selves that we might be loved and love. Be assured God in Christ hears, has mercy, and saves us.
So go with me to the cross of Christ to gaze upon the depth and magnitude of our sin. We do not wish to go there, but go there we must. We must enter into that pain so that we can be set free from our past to live in Godís present and future.
Crying out for freedom from your twisted, thorny self, pray that God will give you the strength to go fully to the cross of Christ.