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Never The Same Again

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Matthew 27:17-30

When Peter stood up and boldly announced that he would never betray Jesus, he may have been making a bid for the “lieutenant’s” job, but in reality he didn’t vocalize anything that every other man there was not thinking. Peter was voicing a group contention. Not one of them in a million years would ever intentionally betray Him, but in an hour or so, not a man would stand by His side. Every man would find himself hiding, alone in the darkness, alone in an unbearable guilt, sharing with Peter his shame.

Every word Jesus had spoken to them over the course of the last few hours of His life, just prior to His crucifixion, they would remember. They would never be able to forget.

They would stand at the foot of the cross and see His body, beaten and bloody and broken beyond recognition. Isaiah wrote, “…there were many who were appalled at Him – His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness…”

The cross was final. There was no reprieve, no last minute governor’s pardon, no stay of execution and no one ever survived. Rome had developed its punishments to an art form. Men sentenced to the cross received thirty-nine lashes with a cat-o-nine-tails, because much trial and error had proven that forty lashes often resulted in the death of the prisoner before he could be hung on the cross. The man whose job it was to scourge the prisoner knew that if he went too far and the prisoner died at his hand, he would face severe consequences himself, so he wielded the scourge carefully and deliberately so that, even though his subject was left badly torn and bloodied, he would still die of suffocation or dehydration or from exposure to the elements on the cross. The prisoner would be strapped to the scourging post in such a way that only the tips of his toes would touch the ground, then with the flesh of his back, sides and stomach tightly stretched, the scourge would be applied. At a point determined by the scourger to be just the right time (some have suggested when there was no longer any flesh on that side of the prisoner’s body that the barbs of the scourge could hold onto), he would have the prisoner untied, turned around, retied to the post…and the remainder of the thirty-nine lashes would be administered.

The man whose job it was to scourge Jesus went farther than any had gone before. By the time he was finished, someone would have had to take Mary by the hand and lead her to the foot of her son’s cross. She would never have recognized Him otherwise.

If Jesus’ words only hours before His crucifixion had been difficult for His disciples to understand, now, from the darkest recesses, the light would begin to shine. They would see the body broken and the blood shed and if the pieces did not yet begin to fit into place, in just a little while, they would. They would never again observe Passover and feel or see it the same. They would never partake of the unleavened bread or drink from the cup without reliving those hours. They would see His body, broken, mangled and bloody a thousand times. They would never enter a dwelling and see a basin and towel without remembering.

Their relationships with each other would never be the same again. They might disagree over some things, but they would never again argue among themselves as to who would be the greatest in the kingdom. That would no longer matter. That night, the seeds of servant-hood were sown and the roots went deep.

Now let’s get personal. Where are you? The night of Jesus’ betrayal, trial and crucifixion, His disciples were forced into a corner with no other options than to take seriously what He had called them to or else to abandon the playing field. One chose to abandon the course. The other eleven chose to come out from the shadows and lay their hearts and lives on the line.

I hope that your choice is to take seriously your relationship with Jesus Christ. I pray that you elect to plant your feet and your heart in the trenches. The lives of your children demand it. Your neighborhood and your community demand it. A world on the brink of eternity demands it. You may not set the world on fire, but you will deeply affect your corner of it.

If you have not done so lately, take the journey again to stand at the foot of His cross. Partake of the bread, share the cup and gird yourself with the towel. You will never be the same again.

- excerpt from overcomerstudy.com
 

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