Today is the Fifth Sunday of Easter. In this week’s reflection on our Collect, I want us to think a little about what it meant for the human Jesus to willingly suffer the agonies of crucifixion — for us.
The crucifixion of Jesus was a truly horrific event. You don’t have to look too hard on the internet to find a graphic description of what happens to the human body in a crucifixion: there are many websites that will happily serve that up for you, and take great delight in doing so, no matter how it might make you feel. As far as I can see, though, most of what’s available appears to be condensed from “The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ” by C. Truman Davis, M.S. March, 1965.
One such page can be found on the ethoughts website. It has what it claims to be a medical description of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which has a warning at the top, “This may disturb you, so don’t read it if you don’t want to; it’s pretty horrific…”. If, after reading that warning, you still want to read the page, you can find it by clicking here.
But it’s the reality of what crucifixion is that actually makes the whole event even more remarkable. Jesus would have known all about the horrors of crucifixion. It was something the Romans had been doing all too frequently for a number of years, and others had used it as a punishment before them too. Jesus and his disciples would have seen many people hanging from crosses as they journeyed around the Holy Land. He would have known the agonies and horrors the victims of crucifixion suffered. He would have seen it with his own eyes, and heard it with his own ears — and smelled it with his own nose. In that land, at that time, it would have been unavoidable.
Even so, knowing what he would face, Jesus still went to Jerusalem, where he would put himself in the most danger. He could have gone anywhere. Jesus could have avoided what was to happen. But he didn’t. He willingly gave himself up knowing full well what doing so would mean.
Why? Why would any man do that? The answer is “Love”. Love for the world; Love for those around him; and Love for each and every one of us. He opened wide his arms on the cross for us, because he loves us. His wounds, what he suffered on the cross, are proof of that love for the world — his wounds declare his love for the world.
Jesus loves each and every one of us so much, that he was willing to die an agonizing death on the cross for us. He once said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends…” (John 15:13-14a).
We are his friends, and he laid down his life for us; because he loves us.
your wounds declare your love for the world
and the wonder of your risen life:
give us compassion and courage
to risk ourselves for those we serve,
to the glory of God the Father.
Additional Collect for The Fifth Sunday of Easter
is Copyright © The Archbishops Council