Summary: Providing an opportunity for us to reflect on the cross of Jesus and of the Lord's table.
At the Cross
August 7, 2011 John 19:17-42
I spent a good couple of hours last Monday floating down the Pembina river. It was a beautiful sunny day, the river was warm, and so we set out. If you’re not familiar with the Pembina, it is about an hour west, just past Wabamun lake, in a deep gorge that is incredibly beautiful. It’s a wide river, but mostly calm and mostly shallow, with only a few spots of white water the highest being maybe a foot, a perfect floating river. I rode in this – a little $1.99 donut, which I glanced at more than once wondering if I was crazy to trust my life to this thin plastic, and wondering what I would do if I happened to knick a little stick…
But it worked out well – I wiggled in nice and deep, to keep my center of balance low, and was thankful about 8 or 10 times for two things: first that the large rocks in the river had been made nice and smooth by hundreds of years of water flowing over the top, and second that God designed our rear ends to be mostly padding. My plan worked well, up until the end.
Near our take out point, the water got really shallow and was running over rocks that hadn’t been under water for hundreds of years, because the river was higher than normal. So I decided to abandon the float and walk the rest of the way. I didn’t have great footwear for walking on wet, slippery, rocks, and my legs felt a little funny after a couple hours squished up in my little donut. Now, I didn’t fall, but I got pretty close. A couple or three times. An old pair of Crocs sandals, sharp, wet rocks, in flowing water, shaky legs, all add up to a bit of a tenuous journey.
I read Pastor Sue’s sermon from last week, about building on a strong spiritual foundation of believing in Jesus, and was reminded about how it felt walking on those slippery rocks. How it was tentative, how I had to test each footstep before putting my weight on it – and even then not really sure it was going to hold until I actually did put my weight on it. The bit of panic when my foot did slip, and I had to stabilize myself. And I later reflected, I really wouldn’t want to live life like that.
I want a firm foundation to stand my life upon. Something that will hold fast, that won’t slip, that won’t threaten to sweep my legs out from under me and hurl me head first into a pile of rocks.
I find that in the cross.
I think God is up to something among us. I’ve been on holidays, but in touch enough to have a positive excitement about the moving of God’s Spirit among us, drawing us together, taking us deeper, and sending us out as His Servants. I sense a new beginning, and am excited to see God answering our prayers that we might know Him and love Him more. And at that beginning is a re-looking at some of the foundations, the basics, the essentials.
And that is why I want to focus our attention on the cross of Jesus today, and on the Lord’s table where, in the words of Paul, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again. (1 Cor 11:26).
John 19 (NLT):
We’ve been studying Jesus in the Gospel of John lately, so I’m going to read John’s record of the cross, from John 19. And I want you to listen to the words, but also to the Holy Spirit as He speaks through the words of Scripture, and then I’m going to ask you to share anything that sticks out to you through God’s word.
So they took Jesus away. 17 Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). 18 There they nailed him to the cross. Two others were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19 And Pilate posted a sign over him that read, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. 20 The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people could read it.
21 Then the leading priests objected and said to Pilate, Change it from The King of the Jews’ to He said, I am King of the Jews.
22 Pilate replied, No, what I have written, I have written.
23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided his clothes among the four of them. They also took his robe, but it was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24 So they said, Rather than tearing it apart, let’s throw dice for it. This fulfilled the Scripture that says, They divided my garments among themselves and threw dice for my clothing. So that is what they did.