April 11, 2021
You Did This for Me?
There is a book by Max Lucado that I love, “He Chose the Nails.” I thought, from the title, he would be talking about how carefully God orchestrated three particular nails to be used in Jesus’ Crucifixion . I wondered how that might work. Would He visit the village blacksmith in some way? Would He go to the hardware and peruse the nail aisle? But, when I got around to reading the book I realized an entirely different meaning for the title. He Chose the Nails instead of taking an easier route to save the world, to save you and me. He Chose the hard road, the high road, the narrow road.
There’s a chapter in the book entitled, “You Did This for Me?” That title puts it all into perspective, for me. He did do it all for me, and for you. And All means All. Jesus could have left the world flat, gray, and boring, but He didn’t. He could have left off ducks and geese and robins and cardinals, but He didn’t. He was intent on giving us gifts, as He always has done. But these gifts are not wrapped in paper, they are wrapped in Passion.
The two Sundays, Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, bookend what is called Passion Week. A week filled with Passion, from Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, to the Lord’s Supper, to six fallacious trials, to the Nails Christ had Chosen. At the end of Passion Week, we can see He Chose to give us more gifts than just the nails.
Have you ever thought of all the Gifts He gave us?
Let’s see, there were the Roman Soldiers who spit in his face: (Matthew 26:67 NIV) Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?”;
the stripes on His back: (Isaiah 53:5 KJV)But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.;
a Crown of Thorns: (John 19:2 NIV)The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe;
two Beams of Wood: Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).;
One Sign, in three languages: (John 19:19-20 NIV) Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek.;
a vinegar-soaked sponge: (John 19:29 NIV) A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.;
a Spear in His Side: (John 19:34 (NIV) Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.
Then there were the Seven Sayings from the Cross:
1) Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43 NIV).
2) Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34 (NIV).
3) When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” (John 19:26-27 NIV).
4) About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”-which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 NIV).
5) Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28 NIV).
6) Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46 NIV).
7) When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30 NIV).
And finally, the acknowledgment of just Who Jesus was… from, of all people, a Roman soldier: And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39 NIV).
He Chose everything that happened that week. He Chose to have His Last Supper with His closest friends, even though one of them would, before the night was over, betray Him (Matthew 26).
He Chose to take time to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane for Himself, His Disciples and for Us (John 17).
He Chose to let the Roman soldiers arrest Him, though He could have avoided it by calling millions of mighty angels (Matthew 26).
He Chose to not defend Himself during six fallacious trials.
He Chose to receive the beatings, the humiliation, the shame, the pain, hunger, and thirst.
And He Chose the Nails, instead of an easier route to save us from our sin, He Chose the Nails.
He Chose You!
Have you Chosen Him?
You Did This for Me?
He splashed orange in the sunrise
and cast the sky in blue
and if you love to see geese as they gather,
chances are you’ll see that too.
Did He have to make the squirrel’s tail furry?
Was he obliged to make the birds sing?
And the funny way that chickens scurry
or the majesty of thunder when it rings?
Why give a flower fragrance?
Why give food its taste?
Could it be… He loves to see…
that look upon your face?
That Diadem of pain
which sliced your gentle face,
three spikes piercing flesh and wood
to hold you in your place.
The need for blood I understand,
Your sacrifice I embrace,
but the bitter sponge, the cutting spear,
the spit upon your face?
Did it have to be a cross?
Did not a kinder death exist
than six hours hanging between life and death,
all spurred by a betrayer’s kiss?
“Oh, Father,” I pose,
heart stilled at what could be,
“I’m sorry to ask, but I long to know,
Did you do this for me?”