Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?

Sunday April 5, 2020 Palm Sunday (Cycle A)

The tie in between today’s readings: Faith’s Spiritual Dimension

Psalm 22:8-24, Isaiah 50:4-7, Philippians 2:6-11, Matthew 26:14-27:66

Our readings on this Palm Sunday focus on Good Friday.  Matthew 26:14-27:66 is the Apostle’s account from Judas’s betrayal to Jesus’ burial. Even though you may be familiar with the story, it will be worthwhile to read it again. Like rewatching a good movie, you pick up on things that you missed the first time around. In that light, you can approach our Lord’s sacrifice from quite a few different angles. Many sermons focus on Jesus’ physical sufferings from a medical point of view. Some pastors ask you to place yourself at the cross during His agony. You may have even sat through character analysis that explain the actions of the Good Friday participants. All of these are done to get you to make a connection with Christ’s crucifixion and, through faith, realize that His sacrifice is the means of your salvation. The problem for most of us is that our understanding remains on a superficial level. Faith can’t work there. Just believing the truth that Jesus suffered a horrific death, paid for sins, and rose again on Easter Sunday won’t get your faith to where it needs to be. You’ve got to look at another dimension behind the scenes. That’s where you can see this story again, for the first time. Let me show you what I mean by another dimension.

The Bible operates in a spiritual world co-existing with our own. This physics of that world is much different from this material one. Today’s readings in Psalm 22:8-24 and Isaiah 50:4-7 are examples. Both give insight into the crucifixion that could only be obtained by transcending space and time. God either entered the prophet’s world with revelations or He moved them to that time to record the events, even recording the personal thoughts of Christ, Himself. Either way, something beyond this world occurred. So, why bother with this? We need this other dimensional mindset to better understand what His sacrifice is about.

Rather than being a forced obligation like paying taxes, a sacrifice involves a person willing to give up something important to them for the sake of another. Whether it’s saving for your kid’s college, giving up time to care for a sick person, or falling on a grenade, it is love in action. God established sacrificial rules in the Bible in order to have a relationship with us. Throughout the Old Testament, God was pleased with the believer who responded to Him with heartfelt love. But, even then, he was a flawed sinner in a disrupted condition with his Creator. No sacrifice could take away his sin from their relationship (Hebrews 10:4). That is because, though we can see sin’s obvious effects in this world, its roots lie in another dimension. The physical sacrifices of the Old Testament could not reach the world beyond to mend our sin broken condition with the Almighty in His realm. So, The Father offered His sacrifice instead. God loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to bring us back to Himself. Now on Good Friday, the God-man fulfills His destiny as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Behind the scenes in that spiritual dimension, strange things are happening.

Jesus stands before His Father. He is not alone. Beside Him is a sinner; it could be anyone of us. They are gathered together for-of all things-a wedding. This sinner has accepted the Lord’s proposal in marriage and is betrothed to the Son of God. We call this many things: accepting Jesus as Savior, entering into Christ’s sufferings, being baptized into His death, etc. It all comes down to the fact that this sinner now belongs to Jesus. Everything of Christ belongs to this sinner. The two have become one. The Father pronounces them man and wife and then requires a dowry to atone for the sins of this new couple. Jesus, acting out of love and as our high priest, pays it with His own blood. They both die. He dies physically on the cross. The sinner dies spiritually with Him in the sacrifice. Now, all that’s left is to wait for the resurrection.

The idea of marriage to Jesus for salvation may seem a little farfetched…but think about it. The description of the believer as being a priest, a bride, and part of Christ’s body, all fit into this scenario. The Bible’s teaching of us dying with Christ, rising to new life, and reigning with Him in glory also works with this concept. The sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ is the most intimate relationship that a person can enter into. We must expand our thinking into it! That’s why faith is so necessary for salvation. Only faith can bring you to that deeper dimension beyond space and time to the cross. There you can meet, Jesus Christ the lover of your soul. There, by faith, you can join with Him in His death and rise again! Then you will realize a deeper living faith as you see your life along with Christ’s being played out in the Mass:

“… In the eucharistic celebration we do not simply remember an event in history. Rather, through the mysterious action of the Holy Spirit in the eucharistic celebration the Lord’s Paschal Mystery is made present and contemporaneous to his Spouse the Church. Furthermore, in the eucharistic re-presentation of Christ’s eternal sacrifice before the Father, we are not simply spectators. The priest and the worshiping community are in different ways active in the eucharistic sacrifice. The ordained priest standing at the altar represents Christ as head of the Church. All the baptized, as members of Christ’s Body, share in his priesthood, as both priest and victim. The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of the Church. The Church, which is the Body and Bride of Christ, participates in the sacrificial offering of her Head and Spouse. In the Eucharist, the sacrifice of Christ becomes the sacrifice of the members of his Body who united to Christ form one sacrificial offering (cf. Catechism, no. 1368). As Christ’s sacrifice is made sacramentally present, united with Christ, we offer ourselves as a sacrifice to the Father. ‘The whole Church exercises the role of priest and victim along with Christ, offering the Sacrifice of the Mass and itself completely offered in it’ (Mysterium Fidei, no. 31; cf. Lumen Gentium, no. 11)” (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist: Basic Questions and Answers).

Finally, in our reading in Philippians 2:6-11, we get a synopsis of the humiliation, passion, and exaltation of our Savior concluding with every knee bowing and every tongue confessing that Jesus is Lord. Just one more thought. Jesus is God. Glory, honor majesty, worship belong to Him already. What, then, did Jesus get from His mission here on earth? He got you. Nails didn’t hold Him to the cross; love did. He’s waiting for you. Place your faith in Jesus. Too much is at stake. Do not neglect His salvation. There’s a new life of faith, a marriage feast, and a happily ever after waiting for you.

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