At a city dump, three men are nailed to crosses. A crowd around them is hurling insults. In a scene that must resemble a modern day t.v. talk show, the man in the middle asks His Father to forgive them. A roar of laughter comes from the crowd. The church leaders, all standing around, talk to themselves. "A few hours ago, he threatened to judge us; now who has the final say?" Still some others say, "He saved others, why can't he save himself? Such a pity." Little did they realize that at that moment, He was saving the whole world!
The sky grew dark, and started to rain. The time was near. Gazing toward home, the man cries, "It is finished!!!" He surrenders his Spirit. The curtain that separates God from us is torn top to bottom, the earth is shaken at its core. Graves open to new life. The rain turns to sobs.
"Your most awesome work was done, through the frailty of your son*"
To see this event, would we have realized that we were in the presence of greatness? Yet that crowd missed it. All the signs were there, but they were expecting something, or someone else. The message of Christ is still the same today as it was then ~ we've been reconciled to the Father through the redemptive process Christ ~ but for some in a world of lost souls, they ask, "What have you done for me lately?"
Let's go back to the city dump where humanity was so carelessly tossed, and let's look at who is beside the man; two thieves. Two thieves who deserve to be there, and then in the middle, was Love Incarnate. One of the thieves hurled insults with the rest of them, and the other realized the greatness hanging there with them, and asked to be remembered. The one who asked to be remembered, he saw the greatness, and asked for forgivness.
"Today, You'll be with me in paradise"
In the hours preceeding this horrific event, the man was taken over to Herod. Upon hearing the news that this man is coming to his house, Herod is overjoyed: Perhaps this man will perform a miracle for him. Herod missed it. Here, he was having the definition of Greatness in his living room, and he asked the man to pull a rabbit out of the hat!
In an article entitled, "The Influence of Atheism," (Spiritual Life page of Crosswalk.com, March 25, 2001), Ravi Zacharias says, "I remember, as well, talking to the famed English journalist, Malcomb Muggeridge, some months before he died. He repeated to me a conversation he had with Svetlana Stalin, the daughter of Joseph Stalin, who told of the last moments of her fatherís life. Many of you may remember that once upon a time, Stalin was a seminary student, preparing to go into the ministry. But somehow, he too, lost his faith in God, and was determined to obliterate faith in God from his people. As he lay dying, he sat up in bed, one more time, clenched his fist towards the heavens and fell back on his pillow, and was gone. " Imagine, on the edge of that great abyss that seperates us from God, he still deny Him.
All of these stories in way depict loathing toward our Lord. The crowd of onlookers at the cross was there for curiousty, and maybe, one last miracle. Herod wanted Jesus to perform for him as a court magician. Stalin, on his death bed, defies the Lord, and his life still ended.
We stand in the presence of Greatness everyday. Still some of us miss it. This presence might take the form of a twinkle in a beggar's eye, it may look like the waitress who calls you "hon" as she serves you your breakfast. It might be also the sounds of joy on a playground, when the world has abused you on a particular day. To stand in the presence of our Lord is to notice His greatness in an insignificant world.
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...in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them... 2 Cor 5:19
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Even so, we still find those who mock Christ daily, when His greatness is right in front of them. I pray for the day that ends!