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Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Price

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[August 06, 2009]   -- As often as we eat the bread and drink the cup we proclaim the Lord's death, death on a cross. Today, we have made the cross a thing of beauty. The harsh reality of this most cruel of execution devices is no longer grasped by the people of the world. In Jesus' day, crucifixion was regarded as the worst, the most degrading form of execution, reserved especially for traitors. The land was dotted with the upright stakes which, even when empty, served as reminders and warnings to those who might entertain ideas of insurrection.

 RestaurantThe condemned man was usually scourged and forced to carry the patibulum, or heavy crossbeam, of the device of his own execution to the place of his death. He was mocked and ridiculed, buffeted, and spat upon all the way there. Then, he was thrown down against the crossbeam on the ground and fastened to it, either with thongs or with long spikes driven between the bones of his arms. The soldiers dragged him to the place where the upright was already planted in the earth and fixed the crossbeam to it. Throughout the time that he hung there, stripped naked, he was subjected to all the verbal abuse his wicked tormentors could imagine. In this form of execution the sadism of the executioners was fully vented.

The victim knew that when the sun went down and the crowds went home the beasts would come and attack him as he hung there. To all the physical abuse was added the emotional agony of knowing, when death had claimed his soul, his body would hang there, food for the carrion eaters. He almost certainly would never be buried -- the final and utmost humiliation. Death by crucifixion -- the mind recoils from the thought of the horror and obscenity of such an end.

For Jesus, death on the cross went even beyond this, for in addition to all the other agony, He drank to the full the cup of God's wrath for all the sin of all the ages. Jesus willingly suffered this for us. Never forget it. Remember the price He paid for our sin and, remembering, commit yourself to proclaim His death and resurrection that others, too, will remember.

[text from file received by Edna Anne Baughman Smith]


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