Originally scheduled for February 11
It is a common experience among children of
military personnel: another year, another cross-country (or around
the world) move.
You get to go to a new school. (Your author went to seven different
schools in five years for his elementary grades.) In that new
school, within the first week, you will get beaten up by a number of
the boys. The administration condones this as being the best way of
putting the new kid in his place. But if you could watch such a
beating, you would see that the other children crowd around and yell
insults at the kid being beaten up. It’s a vicious form of
entertainment — just like wrestling on television.
This custom mimics, in a small way, the
sufferings of our Lord on the cross. Crucifixion was considered an
ordinary way to deal with a dangerous political opponent — and
assure the rest of the population just who is in charge here. It is
a deliberate public spectacle were insults and mockery are expected
from anyone and everyone. The religious leaders showed no mercy, nor
did the general public. It is an interesting thought that most of
the mockery was done by common, ordinary people. That is a mirror in
which we can see our own reflections. If you look inside your heart
of hearts, can you honestly say you wouldn’t have gone along with
But of more importance is Christ’s reaction
to this. First, he gives us an example of suffering without
complaining. He does not scream back that this is unfair, which it
is. He suffered in silence, a virtue which is often unappreciated
except in its absence. We do not often preach this, but his example
is a very powerful one for those who are suffering unfairly, in
pain, or for reasons unknown to them.
Beyond that, it is the great example of
forgiveness. How much he loves us! Some of those people who were
mocking him on that day would become members of the first Christian
Church on Pentecost. The shame of that mockery was wiped away by the
power of the Holy Spirit in the formation of the church. When we
remember that the church is the bride of Christ, and the example for
our marriages, we can see quite easily that when your spouse yells
at you, the right response is forgiveness.
Communion reminds us of how suffering is to
be borne. We see in Christ’s suffering the way in which he would
like to have us suffer also, whether we are suffering for his sake
or because of disease, injury or other misfortune. He showed us that
we should stand up to suffering confident in the love of God. It is
also an example of forgiveness, especially useful in marriage.
Perhaps most important, it is a mirror in which we can see our own
sins. Therefore, we are required to examine ourselves before taking
communion — so that we might see our sinful nature, and repent.