Friday, April 6, 2012

The Crown and the Cross

Down and down and down, from the heaven above to this sinful world below; made like a man, made out of dust, made in the form of a servant.  The poorest among the poor, like a slave, obedient unto death, even the death of the cross devised by the Roman government for felons and murderers and slaves.

And He was crucified between thieves.  He was raised between the earth and the sky, as though rejected by both.  Despised by man, refused by God, reviled and cursed; as though abuse was not vile enough, He was covered with spittle.  As though to spit upon Him was not contemptuous enough, they plucked out His beard.  As though to tear off His beard was not brutal enough, they pressed on His brow the crown of thorns.  But the thorns were not sharp enough, they drove in the nails.  But the nails did not pierce enough, they thrust Him through with a Roman spear.  At three o’clock that afternoon it was over.  He bowed His head and gave up the spirit and the light of the world flickered out.

Tread softly, tread softly around the cross, for Jesus, the Son of God, is dead.
The head that was anointed in the love of Mary of Bethany is bowed, with a crown of thorns. 
The lips that called Lazarus from the grave are silent as the tomb.
The eyes that went over Jerusalem, are glazed in death. 
The hands that blessed little children are nailed to a tree. 
The feet that walked on the waters of Galilee are fastened to the wood. 
And the heart that beat in love for a lost world is broken in two. 
Jesus is dead. 

And that sad refrain seemed to be repeated by the whole earth.  The mob that clamored for His life looked and said, “Now He’s dead!” and they drifted apart.  The sojourner, passing by, paused to look, “He’s dead,” and continued on into the city.  The Pharisee with a smile of self-satisfaction and rubbing his hands in self-congratulation, said, “He’s dead,” and returned to the city.  And the Sadducee, with sigh of relief said, “He’s dead,” and returned to his coffers in the temple.  And the Roman centurion made his official report to Pontius Pilate, “He is dead.”  And the soldiers who were dispatched to break their legs, seeing Jesus on the center cross so certainly dead, no use to break His legs, and with a spear they thrust into His heart when blood and water flowed out. 

And Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, fellow Sanhedrinists, went to Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator, and asked for His body, “He is dead.”  The mother of our Lord and the women who ministered unto Him in Galilee, in sobs and in tears said, “He is dead.”  The two on the road to Emmaus, as they walked and were sad, said to one another, “He’s dead.”  And the eleven apostles, like frightened sheep, crowd into eleven shadows, hiding from the pointing finger of Jerusalem, cry in their solitude and despair, “He is dead.”  Wherever they met in upper rooms, on lonely roads, behind closed doors, in hiding places, that same sobbing refrain, “He is dead, buried, sealed in a tomb; even a guard at the grave.  He is dead.”  Peter the Rock, is a rock no longer.  James and John, sons of Boanerges, are sons of thunder no more.  Simon the Zealot, a zealot no longer. 

In the depths of despair the hope and the light of life went out...

W. A. Criswell
From the sermon, The Crown and the Cross

(HT: Trevin Wax)

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