It was midmorning and time for the Bible lesson. My class of 6th graders opened their workbooks and I prepared to read the portion of Scripture for the day. It was the week before Easter vacation during my first year of teaching.
We had been reading the passages leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion-an account of the Bible I had heard read every Sunday for my entire life. I was keenly aware of Jesus’ sacrifice for my sins. That’s why my reaction this time, caught me off guard.
Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. Matthew 27:27-30
Almost from the start, I felt a solemn mood in my classroom. I stood there, reading these words, and I couldn’t help it. I cried through the entire reading. Each year I read this passage to my students, the same thing happened. I cried because I read these words not only for myself, but because I knew that these 12 year olds were on Jesus’ heart when He stood there stripped and mocked and beaten. Jesus suffered for me and for them, and I felt so totally overwhelmed with love for my students, that my tears were an outward pleading for their salvation.
Later, when I taught high school students, I read this description of the crucifixion through the eyes of a medical doctor. Read it and you will never view Jesus death in the same way again.
It never gets old-this realization that Christ suffered and that I don’t have to. You, don’t have to.
I read Matthew 27 to my oldest boy, Oliver, this morning. He gave his heart to Jesus several years ago, but until now, I have spared him the gruesome details of Jesus' sacrifice for us. His eyes widened, and then he silently walked away. A few moments later, he returned with this:
“I love God” he said to me sincerely. “This is Jesus in the clouds with light, and a trumpet in His hand for when He calls us home to Heaven!” he explained with a smile. We have been reading from Revelation, so he adds, "His hands are ready to fight the dragon!"
And that is the hope we have. One day soon, He is coming back for us and to restore all that has been contaminated by sin in the world. Let’s not become conditioned to hearing the Truth of Jesus' crucifixion. Look at the cross through the eyes of a child, or someone hearing about it for the first time. Ask God to return to you the joy of your salvation, and praise Him for the work He has done in your life as we approach Easter.
YOUR TURN! Have you shared the details of the cross with your kids? How old were they? What part of the crucifixion is most dear to your heart?
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