I found this story very interesting. One day St. Peter was standing at a balcony and from a distance, he saw Judas Iscariot coming with a wooden box. When Judas came closer Peter asked him where he was going with a wooden box and what plan he was trying to hatch and reminded him how he betrayed their Master. Judas Iscariot answered and said that he was coming to see Peter. Peter became confused and asked him what was inside the wooden box and he asked him to come and see. Peter came down and opening the box he saw a cock. Infuriated he asked Judas what that meant and before Judas could reply the cock crew and Peter remembered what happened the night our Lord was betrayed and Judas smiling said to him: “I am not the only bad man here; you are also a bad man you denied the master!”
One important fact we all should reckon with is that we all are worse than we think but we constantly see others as the worst branded sinners. Like our Lord Jesus Christ would say, we fail to see the log in our eyes but see the speck of dust in our neighbour’s eyes (Matt. 7:3). Today is what it is because of OUR SINS. Not the betrayal of Judas Iscariot alone but also the denial of St. Peter, the evil plot of the chief Priests and the Scribes, the judgment of Pilate and Herod, the jeering of the crowd, the brutality of the soldiers and indeed the sins of all of us. To this viewpoint St. Paul would add: “We all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom.3:23).
Faced with some situations in life some people often reassure themselves of a better time by saying: “it is well!” There is no day that is as sublime as today to say boldly that IT IS WELL. The whole creation had been waiting for this day to come. This is the day that marks the triumph over the devil through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Hence this Friday is good because our debt had finally being paid and fully. We do no longer owe; Jesus Christ our Lord by his death on the Cross had cancelled the debt we incurred through sin. St. Paul brought this out very vividly in his letter to the Colossians (2:14) where he established clearly that our unfavourable records were cancelled by Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary.
The central object today is the Cross. It will thus be worthwhile to dwell more profoundly on the Cross of Calvary. There are two prominent platforms in the whole of the Bible: the tree at the middle of the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:16-17) and the tree of the Cross of Jesus Christ (I Pet.2:24; Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29). The Cross functions in undoing the powers and effects of the tree in the middle of the garden. The tree was attractive to the eyes but its fruits led humanity to disconnection from God. The cross, on the other hand, had no attraction (the only fruit is the one crucified on it, Jesus Christ). It is despised by all but through it, humanity is redeemed and reconnected with God. Hence our Lord Jesus Christ would say: “when I am lifted up I will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32). This simply means that the tree at the middle of the Garden of Eden dispersed all people from God, but the Cross of Jesus Christ in the middle of sinners (represented by the two thieves crucified by his left and right) brought humanity back to God.
- Humanity failed God by the tree at the middle of the garden and humanity got redemption by the tree of the Cross at the middle of sinners.
- Satan seduced humanity by the old tree but on the platform of the cross (the new tree), Satan was defeated.
- By the old tree, God pronounced curses and human nature was wounded but by the new tree, humanity received blessings and healing.
- By the old tree of Eden, Adam and Eve were chased out but through the new tree, we received divine convocation (Jn 12:32).
The Cross from all indications is the symbol of our victory. No wonder then we have today the ceremony of the veneration of the Cross. After the African Cup of Nations which went in favour of Nigeria, we saw the players struggling to hold the Cup high and to kiss it. The Cup in question symbolizes a particular victory won. The Cross is more than Nation’s Cup or World Cup. In the cross, we have THE VICTORY, not A VICTORY.
Having explored all that was done for our sake, the pertinent question would be; “What can I offer to the Lord to make him happy?” This story will be fitting here. A mother came to visit her daughter in her school. The girl was not expecting the mother to come; in fact, she never visited her only her elder sisters did. This day her mum came for a women convention and the venue was close to her daughter’s school and she decided to stop by and give her a few things she bought on her way.
This girl was told that her mother was waiting to see her at the reception but she told the people who gave her the message that her mum was in London and the woman in question could not be her mum. She refused to attend to her visitor and walked away to a place nobody could see her. After a long time, she felt that her mother had gone and while taking a walk with some of her friends her mother came behind her and touched her and asked her why she had refused to come and see her. Obviously, her mother had scars on her face that made her look very awkward and the girl could not stand introducing such an “ugly woman” to her friends as her mum.
By the time this woman was able to get the attention of the girl and her friends she narrated to her how when she was a little baby their house caught fire and she (the baby) was alone in the house and how she (her mum) jumped into the house in spite of the fire and rescued her (the daughter) without any hurt at all while she (her mum) was seriously burnt while protecting the little baby from the fire. She concluded by saying to the girl “my girl I look ugly and awkward like this because of you; I got burnt so that you can be saved and live”. After saying this she turned and left.
What the mother of the school girl did for her child is so effectual and touching. However, this cannot be compared to what Jesus Christ did for us on Calvary yet we still deny him and betray him at needful times. The schoolgirl in our story could hug her mum and dance around her at the comfort of their home but outside her home in the presence of her friends, she denied her mother who staked her life so that she could live.
How can we sufficiently appreciate what Jesus Christ did for us? His suffering for us was real. During the shooting of the life-changing movie “The Passion of the Christ” by Mel Gibson (2004), the man who acted Jesus Jim Caviezel confessed that Jesus Christ must have suffered more than we actually imagined. Mel Gibson wanted to make the movie as real as possible so he tried to use the actual things used by the Roman Soldiers at the time to punish criminals. For flogging, they used a whip (flagrum) which had several strands on which are attached pieces of bones and irons. The Jewish flogging then was thirty-nine times (2nd Cor. 11:24) but the Roman soldiers had no limit. When they flog the bones and irons would be dug into the body and they would draw the whip letting out blood. During the movie, they used the same whip but covered the body of Jim. However, it happened once that the elastic covering shifted and the whip landed on the bare body of the actor. The impact was so much that the shooting of the movie was suspended to allow Jim Caviezel to recover.
We are expected to be more desirous in keeping God’s commandment; to love, to forgive and to be reconnected with God. The best way to appreciate our Lord Jesus Christ for the wonderful work of our redemption is to change our ways of life and live as those who have actually been redeemed!
May this Friday be absolutely GOOD for you.