|Volume 22 Number 1 January 2020||
Martha Lynn Rushmore
I have been thinking a lot lately on the crucifixion of Christ. He was beaten, had to carry His own cross, mocked as being King of the Jews, had a crown of thorns placed on His head, spit on and given gall mixed with vinegar to drink while on the cross (John 19:1-3). Our Lord was mistreated and humiliated for all the world. His death on the cross was so all could have the forgiveness of sins and the reward of a heavenly home. Christ was perfect, but He took our sins with Him to the cross (1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:5).
The scourging was not just a normal beating. When an individual was to be scourged, he was stripped of all his clothing; he was completely naked. This way, his entire flesh was exposed and entirely uncovered for the beating. The victim was bound to a two-foot-high scourging post. The person’s hands were tied over his head to a metal ring, and his wrists were shackled to the metal ring to keep the body from moving during the scourging. Our Lord would have been a bloody mess after the beating. Do you think the enemies of our Savior took time to clean the blood from His body before making Him carry His cross to the Place of the Skull, also known as Golgotha? I doubt this very seriously.
It was predicted in Isaiah that no bones of Jesus would be broken (Psalm 34:20; John 19:46). Jesus was already dead when the soldiers came to break the bones in His legs (John 19:33). Instead of breaking His bones, a soldier pierced His side, and out came blood and water (John 19:34). Breaking the leg bones would cause a faster death because one could not push up to draw a breath; thus, victims would suffocate. It was a law that there could not be any hangings on the Sabbath day, so the Romans hastened the death of those crucified preceding the Sabbath.
Remember, the blood of Christ went both directions from the cross. It goes all the way back to the beginning in the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve. The blood also goes forward to the end of time when the Lord returns to take His people to their home in Heaven. In the Old Testament, sins were rolled ahead for one year at a time by the blood of bulls and goats (Hebrews 10:1-4). Their sins were not fully forgiven until the death of Christ on the cross (Hebrews 9:12).
Now, let us consider that Jesus is our brother, if we have put Him on in baptism (Galatians 3:27). Therefore, we are family. How do you treat your family; are you kind or mean? Daily, we crucify our Lord, our brother, by sinning (Hebrews 6:6). Sometimes, we do not know we have sinned. Those in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats were divided (Matthew 25:31-46). The goats did not know they had sinned by not helping Jesus, because they did not see Him. Jesus told them that by not helping those in need, they had not done what they should have done. What about us? Do we look at others and do not pay attention to those in need; do we just go on our way?
Other times, we sin willfully. We make excuses for not attending church services. We might rationalize, “I am too tired,” but on Monday morning, tired or not, we go to work. Hebrews 10:26 says, “for if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.”
Each time we sin knowingly or unknowingly, we crucify our Lord and Savior. He gave His life for us. Why can we not do our best for Him?
Things the Gentiles Seek
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:31-34)
Today, we see so many in the church working long hours or even more than one job, sending the wife out to work and often the older teenagers. We have to wonder if they truly are trusting God. They drive the newest cars or SUVs, have a new multistory home and even a boat or camper in the backyard. They have parties and go to all the sporting events and clubs. Then, they worry about losing all they have mortgaged or charged to the credit cards.
Judging from Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:31-34, the Gentiles (in the figurative sense) were deemed to be destitute of the true doctrines of religion and unacquainted with proper dependence on God—heathens in every sense of the word. According to the passage, they made it their chief anxiety to seek food and clothing, whereas Christians, who have knowledge of the Father in Heaven, who know that He will provide for their needs, should not be anxious for those things. Christians should seek first Christ’s kingdom, seek first to be righteous and seek His favor while understanding that all necessary things will be added. God has control over all things, and He can give Christians what they need. He will give Christians what He deems best.
Should we be concerned with earthly pleasures? Should we strive to fit into the world’s pattern where our physical possessions and appearances are more important than our souls and our service to the Creator? Do we want to imitate the worst kind of pagans in our daily living and by our goals? God, our Heavenly Father, is infinite in wisdom, and He knows all our needs. It is the attribute of a wise and tender father to provide necessities, and not superfluities, for his children.
Numerous passages admonish Christians to be different, better and more focused on spiritual things (Luke 12:29-31; Ephesians 4:17-19). Christians are not to think like the Gentiles, who consider only their fleshly desires—their physical needs for fun and fulfillment. The Gentiles were greedy for the things of the world and worried themselves sick to obtain them.
One thing that surprised me several years ago was to realize that even the way we choose a mate is important with God. We should neither lust after a mate nor should we “take a wife” the same way the Gentiles did (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5). Our choice in a partner should be based on spiritual qualities and spiritual goals. However, even the Gentiles knew that committing incest was wrong (1 Corinthians 5:1).
How much easier our lives would be, how easy to overcome worry, if we truly depended upon God for our every need and if we trusted Him in our relationships with each other.
[Editor’s Note: While it is not inherently sinful to be rich (e.g., Job, Abraham), often wealth is burdensome to one’s spiritual commitment (1 Timothy 6:10). Truly, especially in prosperous settings worldwide, frequently, it is difficult to distinguish a difference between Christians and non-Christians regarding their respective priorities in this physical world. Such ought not be the case and directly contradicts the divine guidance of the Son of God in Matthew 6:33. ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]