Instead of standing while giving my message, I sat in a chair and held the mic. I was dealing with some nerves throughout the day so I thought that sitting would calm me down. Doing so definitely settled my heart. But I think it also set the tone for the seriousness of the message that I was about to give.
“Creation. Sin. The cross. Tonight we’re going to talk about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Y’all might be familiar with the story leading up to Jesus’ death, but let’s start at the part when the high priests want to condemn him to death, so they take him to the Roman governor in Judea, Pilate. Pilate ends up having a one-on-one convo with Jesus and realizes he cannot be the one to determine whether or not Jesus lives. Instead, he lets the crowd of people make that decision. The crowd cheers for Barabbas to be set free and chants for the death of Jesus Christ.
The next part is where it starts getting intense. Back in the days when Jesus was alive, it was common for prisoners who were about to be put to death to be flogged, or flogged. The whip was typically made of leather and usually had a few strands at the end so that each blow was more like three blows. And, sometimes the ends had pieces of metal and/or bones in the ends that would make the blows that much more harsh. No one really knows just exactly how many strikes Jesus received, but I can’t imagine how even one would feel. By means of mocking him, the soldiers placed a crown of thorns in Jesus’ head. I’m sure they, as well as bystanders, said awful things to him too. Then he was lead to Golgotha. There, he would die.
Without consuming a drink mixture that was said to help alleviate the pain, Jesus was then nailed to the cross. The stake-like nails were hammered into his hands and feet, his death only hours away. I want y’all to try and imagine this. Imagine the physical pain Jesus was feeling…imagine the emotional pain he was feeling. In Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 he cried out, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ Soon after, Jesus breathed his last breath and ‘at that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split’ (Matthew 27:51).
I’m sorry if I grossed some of y’all out or if I made some of y’all sad. But I don’t think the crucifixion should be sugar-coated at this point in your lives. I know at one point I asked, ‘But why did Jesus have to die?’ And that’s a legitimate and valid question to ask. The death of Jesus Christ, God’s only and perfect son, that took place on that cross was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. The death of Jesus Christ, God’s only and perfect son, that took place on that cross was His Father’s plan to restore our relationship with God. The crucifixion of Jesus was God’s plan all along to save us because of His undying and unconditional love for us. That love is unmatched.
We’re going to close in song tonight. But before we do, I’d first like to read out loud the lyrics of the song we’ll be singing. I’m doing this so that y’all can hopefully take these words to heart and grasp onto them. Trust in the truth of these lyrics. Trust in the truth that Jesus died on the cross to save each and every one of us.
‘He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory. And I realize just how beautiful You are, and how great Your affections are for me. And oh, how He loves us. Oh, how He loves us, how He loves us all. We are his portion and He is our prize. Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes. If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking. So heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss. And my heart turns violently inside of my chest. I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way…He loves us.’ [Turn off all lights. Lyrics on screen should be up.]”
For me at least, last night was emotional. Singing the song in darkness, I couldn’t help but be emotional. But I’m so glad I went over the message a few times more than usual because had I not, tears would have been shed on the stage, particularly during the part when I read the lyrics. (They get me every time! Mom, I never thought I’d turn into a crier during worship!) Anyway, the kids went straight to their small groups after worship. The feedback I received from the adult leaders was that some kids were talking who had never opened their mouths before, and some kids were asking tough, theological questions, and some kids cried (whether that was from being moved or disturbed, I do not know [nervous laugh]). But more importantly, the kids understood the message that was given. Tonight I’ll talk about the resurrection and the hope that gives us. I’ll end with some ‘real-life application’ type talk, returning to my corny and casual self. 3 down, 1 to go.
(Thanks again for everyone’s support and kind words of encouragement. Your thoughts and prayers have helped me through this first-time experience. I’m blessed by some wonderful people!)