Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Shepastor: "The View From Golgotha..."

They came to a place called Golgotha (which means "the place of the skull").

Matthew 27:33

This past week my husband and I were privileged to travel as delegates of the Progressive National Baptist Convention in collaboration with the Fellowship of Christians and Jews to the Holy Land, Israel. It was, to say the least a trip of a lifetime!

To literally walk where Jesus walked was amazing, empowering and haunting. We stood on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea, sailed the Sea of Galilee, dipped our feet into the rich minerals of the Dead (Salt) Sea, overlooked the "Old City" Jerusalem, stood on the Mount of Olives, walked around the Garden of Gethsemane and touched the rock where it is believed Jesus prayed for the "cup" to be removed!

Many more places were also visited...too many to discuss here. But what was most striking for me was our time in the place where Jesus was thought to have been arrested, crucified, buried and ultimately rose again.

As Christians, we love to paint (literally and figuratively) pictures of three crosses up on a hill. Movies show the hill with Mary and the other women weeping, wind blowing, lightning striking, Roman soldiers looking upon the one they just pierced. But when we visited Golgotha, the "The Place if the Skull," the tour guide shared some eye opening factors with us...

We saw the boulders that indeed look somewhat like a skull. We saw the hill on top of the boulders that many like to imagine was the place of the crucifixion. However, that was not the common practice of the Romans. Brutal and sadistic, the Romans wanted to make an example of the "criminals" being crucified. Therefore, they would not have crucified Jesus on top of a distant hill, but rather, by the side of the road...the boulders facing Jesus as He was slowly, cruelly and unmercifully murdered.

Today, a bus station stands where it is believed Jesus was crucified. Not very scenic or sacred... I know!!! What a message...a common, "worldly," mundane structure such as a bus station stands where our Lord was most probably crucified! But isn't that the real message of the Cross? Jesus died for the "worldly," scummy, common, mundane in us all!!!

It was not pretty. It was not picturesque. It was not beautiful. It was not on a "On a Hill Far Away..." as we sing in church on Sunday mornings. No! It was near the side of the road, ugly, bloody, gruesome and haunting. Yet Jesus endured all of this for ALL of us!!!

As we prepare to enter the Lenten Season next week, may we truly meditate upon Jesus' love and sacrifice for us. May it move us beyond pretty pictures and common hymns to a place of reflection, service, love and praise.

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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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