The beautiful Cross, standing on a sandy hillside overlooking the Atlantic sunrise is both soothing and frightening, beautiful and tragic. It's soothing and beautiful since it is one of the most common symbols of the Christian faith. In the picture it is shown welcoming the Light coming out of the Darkness which appropriately shows how the Cross was necessary for Good to defeat Evil. It is also frightening and tragic because it shows the lengths that our Lord had to go to, that being His death on that Cross, to give each of us the opportunity to accept Him as our Lord and live for eternity. God realized that is what it would take for mankind to understand and accept the fate of being mortal sinners and even then many just scoff at the idea.
The Cross wasn't just used for the killing of Jesus and it is even still used today in backward societies seemingly ruled by hate. In Jesus' time on earth, however, covering about a thousand year period almost equally divided before and after His death, it was a principal method of executing those who violated the rules of their particular countries. It is extremely barbaric, with the condemned dying a slow and agonizing death while being fully alive and feeling the body slowly break down to the pressure, weather elements, possible attacks by animals such as birds and even rocks from men, while dehydrating as the skeletal system is stretched apart. And in Jesus' case, it was accompanied first by repeated beatings and thrashings and having to carry his own Cross up the steep hill to Golgotha. None us can really understand what Jesus was going through, this Man and God who was sent to earth for this very purpose in the end. He felt the entire process the same as a mortal even though he was also God.
Perhaps the portrayal of the event in Mel Gibson's The Passion is about as realistic as we can find. I know when I saw it with my grown daughter, I unashamedly sobbed and we couldn't even talk for about the first twenty minutes after it ended.
So, what about the scripture cited at the beginning of this commentary from the Gospel of John? Well, it features John the Baptist, Jesus' earthly cousin, the son of Elizabeth, Mary's much older cousin who delivered her son, John, about six months prior to Jesus' birth. It was a miracle in its own rite since Elizabeth was barren, yet she was able to be with child, but conceived by her husband not immaculately like Mary. John in the passage is recognizing Jesus for who He is, the Lamb of God, to be baptized by the Baptist in the River Jordan. The Lamb of God is used to explain the requirement for Jesus to shed His blood for our salvation, paralleling the use of a lamb being slaughtered as a sacrifice. In his statement, John knows that Jesus will shed his blood to save us from our sins, for He was and is The Living Sacrifice offered by His Father to save our souls. Pretty amazing story, isn't?
Dear Lord, We thank you for your precious lamb, Jesus, who you sent to die on the Cross for our sins and to afford us the opportunity for salvation. We pray that you will infect the hearts of all people with the Holy Spirit so that they will come to the conclusion of what must be done to accept His gift of life. We also ask you to help each of us commit ourselves to spreading that Truth. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.