By Ron Halvorsen,Sr, Director, Southern Union Conference Church Growth Department, North American Division
Summary: Christ was wounded in the head, the hands, the feet, and the heart. His wounds represent the whole truth of love.
Scripture: Luke 23:33
The greatest mount
Great is Mount Sinai--where God’s voice rumbled; where across the blazing dark skies God wrote the 10 commandments with his finger. Great is Mount Horeb--where the bush burned but did not consume; where Moses stood in the presence of his God without his sandals. Great is Mount Pisgah--where Moses viewed the Promised Land; where Israel received promises from God. Great is Mount Carmel--where Elijah challenged the Prophets of Baal; where the name of God was vindicated.
But above all mountains is Calvary. Mount Calvary--the pinnacle of Divine love; an altar of God’s sacrifice. It was on Calvary that the center of the great controversy began to rage. It was on Calvary that Good triumphed over Evil, Mercy over Maliciousness, and Love over Hate. It was on Calvary that the Savior suffered for a sinner. How can mortal tongue and faltering, feeble lips speak the magnitude of Calvary? How can human mind, corrupted by sin, ever fathom the glory that shone from the wounds of our Lord?
The greatest story
Over the pain and pretense, wounds and wants, Jesus cries, It is finished, and His tender lips are silent. The lips of Jesus speak only truth. His lips are not the babbling lips of the carnally minded. The eyes of our Lord Jesus on Calvary on that day are closed. The eyes of Jesus see good in all people. His eyes, compassionate and tender, sparkle with divine love.
On Mount Calvary, Jesus allows death to come to Him. He invites death to come to Him. He says Come to me, Death. So that the dying might understand my love, come to me Death. So that the sick might understand my compassion, come to me Death! Jesus allows death to come to Him--slow, torturing, cruel, unmerciful death.
In reading the story of Calvary, in unraveling the theology of the act, in coming to grips with redemption and reconciliation, we miss the point. We unwrap Him theologically-- we see the nakedness of the theology of it, but we don’t really see the body, we don’t understand the wounds.
Christ was wounded in the head, the hands, the feet, and the heart. His wounds represent the whole truth of love.
They wounded His head
A crown of thorns was crushed upon His brow until blood dripped down His forehead, down His face, and into His eyes. With thorns, the people crowned Him King of the Jews. The first attack on Jesus was on His mind. Theologians were embarrassed by a twelve-year-old in their own temple. Rulers were overruled by a servant. Lawyers were tricked by their own laws. No one could understand how that mind could be so profound, and so they always attacked the mind. The wisdom of man cannot cope or compete with the mind of God.
When they attacked Him with thorns, blood flowed from His head. The head--the mind where sin begins. At the mind, God can save the hand from murder. At the mind, God can save the heart from lust. At the mind, God can save the heart from crime. At the mind, God can save the soul from sin. To destroy sin, God must cleanse the mind. So Jesus bled first at the mind. The only way God can vanish darkness, the only way God can vanish from our hearts the degradation of sinning, the only way He can heal the hurt of sins is to cleanse the mind of sin.
When Paul saw a vision where blood dripped down the face of Jesus, he was moved to tell us to cleanse our minds. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5, KJV). Pure mind leads to pure life. Our minds must be cleansed by the sacred blood of Jesus. The bleeding head of God is crowned by man’s foolishness, the bleeding head of God on Calvary is crowned by man’s lawlessness, the bleeding head of God is crowned by man’s carnal mind. Man’s mind must be cleansed, and so God’s head was wounded.
They wounded His hands
The hands of man are tools for good or evil. The hands of man can build or destroy God’s world. The hands of man can add or take away from God’s church. They can be beautiful hands, touching needs. Or they can be wicked hands, polluting everything they touch.
At His birth, Jesus with baby hands, reached out in love. His little hands reached up to a mother chosen by God. Mary, teach his hands touch and not to hurt, to love and not to soil, to give and not to take. In His death, Jesus reached out to cleanse and save. The crib and the cross came together by a babe’s reaching hands.
In His youth, Jesus had working hands. He was a carpenter. The Greek word for carpenter connotes more than someone who can hammer a shelf together--it means craftsman. Jesus was a craftsman, someone who could build a bridge or a delicate piece of furniture with the same sense of detail. He could take a block of wood and carve out an angel’s face.
When a man, Jesus touched with healing hands. His hands touched lame legs and they walked in praise of God. His hands touched the eyes of the blind and they saw what they believed. His hands held out hope for the hopeless. Jesus’ working, healing hands, were bleeding hands on Calvary. On Calvary His hands were saving hands, hands crucified.
They wounded His feet
The feet of Christ went about His father’s business. His feet lead Him to Jordan, to Galilee, to Samaria. He was a missionary of mercy and He went about showing love--He taught the people to love a prostitute. He taught them that living for God was more than going to the temple. He said Walk two miles for your enemy. (There was a law in Jesus’ times that permitted a Roman solider to force a Jew traveling in the opposite direction to turn around and carry his burden for a mile. So the Jews put mile markers along the road to keep from carrying a Roman’s burdens for more than a mile. Another law stated that a Roman solider could take the outer robe of a Jew for himself. So the Jews often wore their moth-eaten old robes over their good robe.)
They hated His missions of mercy. They hated the feet of Jesus--feet that went places they would rather forget. Their feet would go to the temple, but not to the tenement. So they nailed His feet to the cross. Jesus’ feet bled from the hard stones of man sinning. They bled from the hard stones of selfishness. They bled from walking the road of sin to redeem the ungodly. He walked from the height of deity to the depths of humanity.
They broke His heart
The last wound in our Lord was inflicted on His heart. It was the wound that brought death. On Calvary, Jesus died of a broken heart. When the Roman spear pierced His side, a mixture of blood and water poured out. Blood and water--that is how man is redeemed. Through the blood of Jesus comes cleansing from sins and the water of baptism. Wounded in the side, the baptism of blood and water, Jesus died of a broken heart. He could bear nails pounded into His hands; He could bear the crown of thorns crushed on His brow; He could bear the nails piercing His feet; but He could not bear to see what sin would do to us.
His heart was broken because His love was refused, spurned, and rejected. My God why hast thou forsaken me. He was saying I stretch out my hands to them, Father, and they reject me. I pray for them, and they persecute me. I weep for them and they laugh at me. They all have forsaken me, but not you Father. Love brought Him into a crib, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manager. Love brought Him to a cross, wrapped in blood and love. And love will bring Him back in the clouds of glory, wrapped in power.
A popular monk in the Middle Ages, revered by all the townspeople, was known for his godliness and his love. One morning He said, This evening at vespers I’m going to preach on the love of God. The townspeople were excited. As the sun began to set, the people gathered at the great cathedral. They came to hear the monk preach the love of God. The last rays of sunlight glistened through the stained glass windows. Darkness began to creep into every corner. Total darkness engulfed the cathedral and the people were still waiting for the monk. Then they saw candlelight, a tiny little light came from the side room. It was the monk--He walked over to the great crucifix. The old monk held the candle and put it to the forehead where the artist had painted in red the symbol of the blood. The monk didn’t say a word and the people waited. Then he brought the candle down to the torn hands that symbolized love. He still didn’t say a word. They waited. The candle moved to the soiled feet. Finally, he brought the candle to Christ’s side. The artist had captured torn flesh of the Savior’s side. There wasn’t a sound, except for crying. The old monk then said, This is my sermon on the love of God. In His head, in His hands, in His feet and in His side. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that who so ever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This is my sermon on the love of God.