The Watcher on the Wall

Cockerel

It was early, and the rooster had yet to announce the start of the new day. He was busy watching the commotion from his sentry spot on the wall. He ruffled his feathers against the cold.

The animals were restless, there was some evil afoot and they seemed to sense it. Donkey was tethered to a nearby post and moved about uneasily shifting her feet. She gave a toss of her head toward the mob of people who were moving through the street. It was quite a large crowd and there were soldiers and religious leaders, and lots of shouting and jostling. Being pushed ahead of them was a poor man. His hands were tied and he was bruised and battered.

Donkey shivered but not from the cold. She knew that man. He was the one to whom she had lent her colt just the week before. And down below stood one of the two gentleman who came to ask her master. He was standing nearby warming his hands by the fire. He seemed nervous, looking this way and that.

She brayed loudly and said, “Something is not right here rooster, that man they have there is innocent. He is a good man, a kind man. For when they asked for my colt they didn’t separate us, they led us both together. And He was ever so gentle with my baby. He is a King, I tell you!”

Rooster fluffed himself up, proudly. “Yea…..how well I know. My grandfather was one who was in the manger the night he was born. There were angels and signs in the Heavens. Oh what a glorious night that was. He watched from the rafters as the wee one was born and he saw the shepherds when they came into the stable, faces still alight with what they had just seen and heard. He crowed the dawn in on that day alright, and what a day it was.”

But this activity down below was quite a new development. He prided himself on knowing things first, but this was unexpected and it wounded his pride greatly.

Donkey said, “Don’t fret rooster. I have heard that you have yet to play a part in this drama.”

Rooster puffed himself up even bigger than he already was. “Yes, of course, as it should be. After all, this bloodline is royalty.” Speaking of his own. “It’s only fitting since my grandfather was the one to usher in the King the first time and I should be the one to usher in His Kingship the second time.”

“But this…..this doesn’t seem to be going well. I really should bring in the dawn of this new day, but it isn’t right, I tell you. I am used to crowing good news, and this is not good news at all, that He should be bound and dragged from place to place like a common criminal. Don’t they know who He is?”

Immediately down below, they heard someone question the gentlemen who was one of His friends:

“You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”

Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”

At this Rooster could hold it in no longer, he crowed loud and long. “Nooooo……he crowed. It’s not sooooo…..” He thought his poor rooster heart would break with the sorrow of it all. He thought of how proud he was that his family had always had a part, however small, in ushering in the Good News. Now this. He would be remembered all throughout history as the rooster that crowed in disaster. He hung his head in sadness and shame. He didn’t feel like crowing anymore.

The animals watched sadly as the man called Peter fled behind a wall and wept bitterly.

Donkey hung her head, and she felt the deep sorrow that is unique to the animal kingdom alone. For they remember who made them……it’s only the human species that seems to forget.

But Rooster would soon be redeemed though he didn’t know it at the time.

For Easter was coming and he would be ready.

 

 

Forty lashes (plus or minus one)

 

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I headed out to my car on break after barely being able to keep my eyes open at my station. I intended to pray a bit, and read a bit, and then hopefully catch 40 winks plus or minus one. The weather for once was cooperating. It had clouded up and I was happy with that. I never like it when it’s bright and sunny on Good Friday. It just doesn’t seem right.

I cranked the seat back and opened the sunroof and to my delight, a few drops of rain, teeny cold and precious drops hit me. I listened as it lightly pelted the car. As I lay there I thought of what I had read earlier……what Jesus went through on the day He died for me. Before He was even crucified.

He got 40 lashes minus one. This was the traditional number, and yet professional killers don’t always use much discretion.There would have been not one, but two Roman legionaries, one on either side, according to my historical sources, who were specially trained to inflict extreme physical suffering without actually causing death. These weren’t just any lashes.

After Jesus was made to kneel, His wrists were bound to the “scourging post.” The wood handled “whip” had three leather straps around 3 feet long, The whipping was so painful that many times people had seizures, threw up or lost consciousness due to blood loss. The bits of bone and metal attached tore through flesh and exposed muscle and inner organs.

There was no pause between blows, and after this Jesus would have been in physical shock.

And yet even that wasn’t enough for them. A crude purple robe was laid over His open wounds which probably reached down to His calves, and a crown of thorns dug into His already bruised and battered face. Normally He would have had to carry the 50-70 pound cross beam to His own crucifixion but He was too badly beaten for that.

As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. Luke 23:26

Those who saw “The Passion of the Christ” might have thought that Mel Gibson was laying on the gore a bit thick, but those who have researched the subject know that it was bad, so bad that people could barely look on Jesus as He was led down to Golgotha.

Just as there were many who were appalled at him — his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness–Isaiah 52:14

As I lay there in the car with my eyes wide open, thinking about all Jesus went through for us, I wondered if maybe it isn’t necessary or healthy to dwell on this part. After all, it happened, it’s done. Jesus is glorified, resurrected and in His rightful place back home with His Father in glory.

And yet, I can’t not think about it. And each year, I am aghast and apalled all over again at how terrible and how wonderful it is. I marvel at a God who would go to such lengths to save me.

I marvel at a God who loves me so much it kills Him.

 

Even the sun hid her face

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 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock.

That day, even the sun refused to show her face.

 Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”

Right then, He tasted hell so we wouldn’t have to.  

Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last.  

And it was finished once and for all.

And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

That day, even the ground gave up her dead.

When the Roman officer who stood facing himsaw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

And when they saw even the elements quake, they fell silent……

That day, even the sun hid her face.

But not for long……She knew Sunday was right around the corner.

Passages not italicized taken from the Book of Mark