The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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      Unlike a lot of folks, I enjoy cutting grass. Inasmuch as I do not apply weed-control fertilizer regularly and consistently, however, my lawn consists primarily of weeds and wildflowers (think weeds here also) in early Spring.  More specifically, thistles of all shapes and sizes are scattered abundantly throughout the yard. And, while inviting and somewhat attractive due to the flowering portion at the top of the plant, the leaves contain sharp, needle-like thorns that are no respecter of persons and quite painful to the touch.     
      As my mower chewed up a blanket of thistles in one section of my yard recently, I was reminded of the sin of disobedience committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Finding the forbidden fruit to be inviting and attractive, they partook in direct violation of God’s expressed instructions. This sin of disobedience resulted in God’s pronouncement of judgment that included “Cursed is the ground because of you…it will produce thorns and thistles for you…” (Genesis 3:7-18). Not only were the thorns a consequence of sin but they also represented sin.
      As recorded in Matthew 27:26-31, Pontius Pilate acquiesced to the clamor of the crowd and released Barabbas. He then had Jesus flogged before handing him over to Roman soldiers who took him into the governor’s judgment hall where they were joined by a whole company of soldiers. There, in the Praetorium, these soldiers mocked Jesus and paid false homage to him by draping a scarlet cloak around his shoulders in mock imitation of the royal robe worn by a king. They placed a reed in Jesus’ hand as a mocking symbol of his authority and pledged false allegiance to him by kneeling and proclaiming “Hail, king of the Jews.” They then struck Jesus’ head repeatedly with his “scepter.”     
      In the midst of their mockery, the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns and pressed this wreath-like array of thorny vines onto Jesus’ head. Unbeknownst to them, what these soldiers actually were doing was pressing back into the brow of the One who knew no sin the very curse that followed sin (Genesis 3:18). In keeping with the portrait of the Suffering Servant presented in Isaiah 53, Jesus remained silent and did not resist. Rather, he was determined to shed his own blood in order to provide forgiveness and cleansing for the sin of the very ones who crushed the thorns upon his head.
      Concerning Jesus’ vicarious and voluntary suffering, Isaiah prophesied “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with suffering…surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray…and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (53:3-6).     
      With the celebration of Easter approaching, recall and reflect on the depth and breadth of God’s love for the world as he gave his only son to suffer and die for sinners like you and me. The words to Chris Tomlin’s song “Jesus Messiah” remind us that…


He became sin, who knew no sin,
That we might become His righteousness.
He humbled himself and carried the cross.


Love so amazing, love so amazing;


Jesus Messiah, name above all names;
Blessed redeemer, Emmanuel.
The rescue for sinners, the ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah, Lord of all.


Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for carrying the burden of my sin to the cross. Where I should have been, there you were. Thank you for the mercy and all-sufficient grace extended to me through your suffering on my behalf. Forgive me for taking your sacrifice for granted. May I serve you by sharing your love with others as I introduce them to you. Amen.