His family had made the journey with him this time. Today they would celebrate together the resurrection of the hope of all humanity. It had been twenty years since he stood on this hillside as a young boy, but the images from that day were just as vivid in his mind as the day it happened. He remembered the blood, the agony, the cross – the love. It was on that day that he experienced what true love really was.
Without his father’s permission he had witnessed the flogging of the supposed criminal called Jesus. Tears ran down his cheeks as the floggers repeatedly brutalized this innocent man. How anyone could withstand such brutality and live was a miracle in itself. Blood pooled at the feet of Jesus as he stumbled along the narrow streets. Carrying his own cross caused Jesus to fall repeatedly until a Roman soldier forced another man to carry the heavy burden for him.
How could anyone going through such tremendous agony feel or even express compassion? Yet, that is what the young boy saw as he looked into the bloodied face of Jesus. The Savior looked down from the cross at the crowd gathered and pushed down on his nail pierced feet to get a breath.
“Father …” he gasped. “…forgive them. They don’t know … what they’re doing.”
A short time later he breathed his last breath. The sky darkened. The ground shook violently as if the earth itself was sobbing at the death of the only son of God. The young boy went sprawling at the feet of a Roman Centurion.
“Truly this was the son of God.” The soldier said as lightening filled the blackened sky and thunder roared.
Later, he stared through tear-reddened eyes as the bloodied body of Jesus was placed in a borrowed tomb. It took several soldiers to roll the round, giant slab of stone in place to seal the opening. Finally, a squad of soldiers stood in place to guard the tomb.
“Just in case his followers attempt to steal the body.” He had overheard the religious leaders say.
They thought they had done away with him. They thought he was gone forever – they were wrong! Three days later the tomb was empty! Many had seen him! He was alive! He had risen from the dead just as he said he would! He had paid in full the penalty for the sins of everyone for all time. The awesome love of God demonstrated to all of humanity for all eternity.
It all seemed like it had just happened, but it was many years ago. A gentle breeze caressed his face as a tear ran down his cheek. His young daughter gently grabbed his hand bringing his thoughts back to the present.
“Papa? Why are you crying?” she asked.
“My daughter,” he said as he closed her hand in his. “Let me tell you why we must never forget what God has done for us on the cross.”
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