Crosses didn’t tower against the skyline, Pastor Hamilton notes. They were only eight or nine feet high. Rome wanted people to see, clearly and close-up, what happened if they defied the Empire. So Mark didn’t need to offer any gory details about Jesus’ crucifixion. His readers knew exactly what crucifixions were like—and shuddered.
- John 12:23-24 quotes Jesus: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified…. unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” What do you think Jesus meant in saying the horror of a crucifixion would “glorify” him? What glory do you see in his death on a cross?
- In 1 Corinthians 1, the apostle Paul said the message of Christ crucified was “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” In what ways are those words true of the way many people today react to the Christian message? What would you tell a friend who asked, “Why do you believe that stuff about Jesus’ death saving the world?”
Until recently I had always thought of the crosses being set up high and off a distance. The thought that the crosses were right along side the road, and only setup 6 – 9 feet high, changes the perspective on many things for me. If you wonder what that would look like, 8 feet is the standard hight for most ceilings, the top, very top of the cross would only be rest against the top of your ceiling. When I stand up and put my arm up and palm flat, that is exactly 8 foot, (yeah I know I am one large human measuring stick!) That hight is not high, it isn’t distant or far away… it is personal.
Jesus was right there, in the midst life, right at eye level more or less, he couldn’t avert his eyes so much or look way off in the distance as he endured the cross. In someways this is very incarnational. God became flesh in Christ and lived among us, deeply, even in death.
But that brings me to the last question of the GPS, what about that stuff about Jesus’ death saving the world? My first thought this morning is not so much about death, because I know the rest of the story. I would say his resurrection saved the world. Death is death, and the fact that God know’s what that is like, brings me some comfort because I know that God knows death not as an end, but as a way, a way to life, abundant and eternal.