Moment of Glory


(Spectrumbot) #1

I leaned against the aged stone wall and gazed down on a narrow street below me. Ashen buildings deeply furrowed with centuries of scars, lined the cobbled road, and a determined wind hurled dust and pebbles along the way like so much confetti in a parade. With the coming of the evening, the western sky had darkened to a putty grey, and I pulled my jacket around my neck in defense of the chill.

In this ancient part of Jerusalem, where our Lord entered the city 2,000 years before, I stood, solemnly absorbing its significance. Near me, a score of people circled their tour guide, listening intently through headsets as he spoke of Jesus’ entrance on Palm Sunday. I knew the scene well. His arrival was chronicled in all the Gospels. But the guide’s words were of little interest to me, and I found my mind wandering, reflecting on that historic moment and its meaning. For it was here, where He entered Jerusalem, cloaked in a shroud of humility and grace, riding on the back of a young donkey. It was here He would spend his final days, before offering to all of us the ultimate sacrifice.

I closed my eyes and imagined that moment. Soon the voices around me were silent and I could see it unfold before me.

***

The streets of Jerusalem were filled with an air of excitement that day. It was a palpable spirit of joy and celebration that could be sensed by the hundreds who clustered along the road. Waiting. They spoke excitedly of a Man who was coming. One who had healed the sick and crippled across all of Israel, and fed thousands with just a few fish and loaves of bread.

He spoke of loving your neighbor as you would yourself. That the meek and the broken hearted would be blessed and inherit the earth, and that all sins would be forgiven if they sought God and confessed their transgressions.

The jubilation and hope gleamed in their eyes, and as the Man neared the outskirts of the city, the spirited voices of the crowd grew louder and louder. Men and women laid their cloaks and strands of palm branches on the cobbled road ahead of Him.

“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest” they cried, and many fell to their knees in reverence.

And then He could be seen. He came down the road riding on the back of a young donkey. He wore a simple white robe and His hair and beard gleamed like strands of gold when the sunlight struck His face. And in His eyes shone an incredible intensity like a flickering candle in a darkened room.

“He has come!” the people shouted, and as the Man and His followers passed by them, many dropped to their knees in prayer, knowing that they had just seen the son of God.

***

His entrance into Jerusalem would have been a glorious moment to have seen. It was a time when Israel rejoiced with the coming of the One who would finally deliver them from bondage. Yet days later, He would be shunned and sent off to die. Thoughts swirled through my mind as I considered what it must have been like for Him as He rode into the ancient city.

As the Son of God, Jesus knew what the future held. That He would be betrayed by one of His own disciples. One that He loved like all the others. He knew that He would be spit on and beaten unmercifully. By the first century, the Romans had perfected the barbaric art of crucifixion. An act that exacted incredible pain and suffering on those that opposed them. And Jesus knew full well, the anguish He would be forced to bear as He carried the cross up the hill known as Golgotha.

The tortuous beatings would be so severe, He would be on the brink of death when He reached the top of the hill, where they would lay Him down and brutally pound iron stakes into His hands and legs. He would be forced to carry a heavy wooden cross on his shoulders through the streets of the same city He had triumphantly ridden into a week before. Only on the day of His crucifixion, there would be no cheering. The only voices would be from those who would ridicule Him and laugh at His suffering.

With each step he took, the weight of the cross would cut deeply into His flesh, and as he fell again and again, He would be forced to lift it up and place the rough splintered wood on shoulders, bloodied and shredded to the bone from the whips used by Roman soldiers. There would be pain and sadness in His eyes and drops of His precious blood would fall to the earth only to be crushed and forgotten under the sandaled feet of the soldiers who held Him captive.

As the Messiah, He knew everything that He would be forced to endure. But perhaps the human side of Jesus would have felt the same unadulterated terror any of us would have experienced. Yet He embraced this unspeakable death willingly.

His sacrifice brings to mind the story in Matthew chapter 8. A Roman Centurion asked Jesus to save his servant who was paralyzed and suffering greatly. The Centurion spoke the words that feel woefully inadequate for me when I reflect on all that He went through.

“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…”

I ponder those words now as I stand at this holy place. And as I envision our Lord’s struggle up the torturous hill, carrying Mankind on his blessed back, I feel overwhelmed with guilt. Guilt that I too, find myself adding spikes to His cross, through my own sins. And I know I am truly not worthy of the extraordinary love and sacrifice our Lord has given us.

The Bible speaks often of the suffering that will always be part of our lives. Yet it’s Saint Paul’s words in Romans 8:18 that best puts that in perspective for me.

“I consider that the sufferings of this present time, are nothing compared with the glory that will be revealed for us.”

In my own life, whatever physical, emotional, or spiritual challenges that may threaten to bring me to my knees, I will always know that His suffering was far more than I could imagine, or I could ever bear. And that He gladly endured it all for you and me.

Bob Blundell is a freelance writer living in the Houston area. He has had previous work published in magazines such as Liguorian, Testimony, The Living Pulpit, Reachout Columbia, and Halo.

Photo by hellojardo on Unsplash

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9543

(David) #2

In this ancient part of Jerusalem, where our Lord entered the city 2,000 years before, I stood, solemnly absorbing its significance. Near me, a score of people circled their tour guide, listening intently through headsets as he spoke of Jesus’ entrance on Palm Sunday. I knew the scene well. His arrival was chronicled in all the Gospels. But the guide’s words were of little interest to me, and I found my mind wandering, reflecting on that historic moment and its meaning. For it was here, where He entered Jerusalem, cloaked in a shroud of humility and grace, riding on the back of a young donkey. It was here He would spend his final days, before offering to all of us the ultimate sacrifice.

I think you’re a month off in your timing. The vernal equinox was on March 20 this year (and will be the rest of this century) as was also the full moon. The Easter formula of Constantine (and his Roman Catholic Church) specified that Easter would be the first “Sunday” after the first full moon on or after the March 21st vernal equinox. What I here you say and the rest of the world say is that March 21 is more important than the vernal equinox. The whole vernal equinox question also misses the mark because it seeks to undermine the meaning behind the crucifixion which was the establishment of a new order of time. It was Constantine’s (he was the pontifex Maximus) goal to tie the Easter observance to his Roman Calendar and the Roman pontiffs have been following suit ever since.


(Lynden Williams) #3

The portrayal in this piece, though completely accurate, is the principal reason I avoided the Mel Gibson movie of the crucifixion. I am sure that the physical suffering of Christ was beyond our comprehension, but the weight of sin of the entire world is what was most devastating to Christ. We will never understand the extent of that burden, not even in heaven. Carrying that burden was what caused the Father to have to turn away from even looking at his Son. Jesus became sin for us. Sin is painful, sin is destruction and death. That is where the suffering climaxed. That is what took his life, and that is what saves us. As hurtful and repelling as the physical scene of Calvary, it pales in comparison to the burden of our sin and the complete and utter separation from His Father. We must not lose sight of that.


(Cfowler) #4

Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of the Christ” was, IMO, a masterpiece. So many biblical movies aren’t very well done. They usually come across as unauthentic to the time, place and people. Sometimes just plain hokey.

The crucifixion scenes were extremely brutal and difficult to watch. No doubt about that. It has been quite a long time since seeing the movie. It’s not for everybody, but it is epic and powerful.

Has anyone else seen it?


(Steve Mga) #5

Mel’s “Passion” was probably the closest as anyone has ever been “allowed”
to depict the physical abuse of what our Savior endured by everyone who
were releasing their rage on Him for their various reasons.
The church authorities because He was undermining THEIR religion because
He was helping the common person to look at the Torah in new ways and was
becoming too popular. Fear that all this would upset their relations with Pilate
and Herod.
The Roman soldiers because He was a Jew and they could take ALL their anger
out on Him and did so for all the troubles other Jews had caused them.
By the time Jesus cried out – It Is Finished – He had been on the go at least
36 hours with no sleep or opportunity to “rest”.
Blood loss, dehydration, no food alone, then all the trauma His body suffered with
loss of skin and muscle.
There is no way the Gospels could depict the event in words. No artist has ever
been bold enough to paint the passion scenes, nor has anyone produced a
crucifix that depicts the horror.
Something Seventh-day Adventists miss teaching both children and adults is by not
having the 12 Stations of the Cross and discussing them for the benefit of the
children and youth. ACTUALLY – the whole season of Easter passes SDAs by
without a whimper most of the time.


(Cfowler) #6

That’s true. I’d forgotten about that. When I joined the SDA church in 1976, I was confused/surprised/baffled by the lack of any talk of Easter/the Resurrection. It was strange to me. Many years later, there started to be more recognition of Easter/The Resurrection.


#7

Jesus’ incarnation, life lived, crucifixion, resurrection,
ascension, glorification and mediation:
What wondrous love! Grace unlimited, but not cheap,
given freely to us all!
No pre-conditions - Lent fasting, penance, rituals, stations
of the cross, pilgrimages, flagellations, etc, Just the same counsel
as given to the rich, young ruler.
Sometimes people can’t see the forest because of all the trees.


(Steve Mga) #8

At my Sunday church this week, beginning tomorrow with the processional
with Palm Sunday, I have a whole week of daily celebrations. Monday - the
stations of the cross. Wed – Tenebrae, Thursday – Maundy Thursday with
Agape Meal, foot washing, Friday – Good Friday service, Saturday night –
Easter Vigil with ringing of the bells [everyone has one] at midnight,
Sunday – Christ has Risen celebration.


(David) #9

Don’t forget the mark on the forehead! That’s the one that really takes the cake! That anyone would be so foolish to allow someone to put a mark put on their forehead.

Revelation 13:16: And he causes all, both small and great, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads.

I wouldn’t let a priest get within a mile of my forehead!


(Steve Mga) #10

David –
The sign of the cross in ashes is ONLY on Ash Wednesday when the season
of Lent begins [40 days of being with Jesus in the Wilderness].


#11

Sin has weight? How does that work? How much does sin weight per person?


(David) #12

Continuing the discussion from Moment of Glory:

Yes Steve but the ashes are from the palm fronds from the unholy week the year before. Like I said, I wouldn’t let a priest get within a mile of my forehead!


(Lynden Williams) #13

“Weight” is a metaphor. I never thought I would have to explain that.


#14

Well, you didn’t explain it. :wink: You just said it was metaphor. You didn’t actually say what the metaphor was of and whether this concept actually makes sense as a metaphor for anything.

Again, what you’ve said was “but the weight of sin of the entire world is what was most devastating to Christ.”

How could you rephrase what you’ve said without employing the said metaphor and explain it with more clarity?

Was it extreme emotional anguish due to disappointment and rejection? Are you talking about unbearable mental state of deep and momentary hopelessness?

I’m not really sure what you mean by “the weight of sin of the entire world”.


#15

Actually, Christ, His incarnation and private and public life on Earth, and especially His crucifixion, and His humiliating yet mysteriously premature death (His bones did not need breaking) and His resurrection 40 days later (just 10 days before Pentecost) all the way up to the throne of God as our human representative (not just up from lying in a tomb) . . . all of this began to become the re-focus of Seventh-day Adventist attention beginning with James and Ellen White in the 1850s. Then after James prayed to die, not live, Ellen White prayed for helpers to replace him, and recognized Ellet Waggoner and Alonzo Jones as the team sent by God to do so.

It was a vision of Christ crucified, for himself – Ellet Waggoner – personally, that changed his own method of Bible study in order to find that same Christ everywhere in it. This bright vision occurred while he was sitting in a tent on a gloomy, rainy day during a camp meeting in Healdsburg, CA. Ellen White was speaking in front of the audience, but he couldn’t remember what she was saying after seeing his own vision of Christ crucified.

Jones had his own reasons for studying the Bible differently than the older SDA leaders, but His conclusions harmonized so closely with Waggoner’s and Ellen White’s that the older leaders and their loyal, ‘compliant’ younger SDA disciples suspected them all of collusion during their train ride from California to Minneapolis where they were all 3 attacked for their stress on Christ, and Him to be seen in the law. (Ellen had had no time to ‘collude’. She had just made a rush visit home to California from a lengthy European tour, before leaving for Minnesota, as I recall.)

Again, in the 1930s after Waggoner, Jones and White were all dead, Taylor Bunch tried to revive an interest in their focus on Christ and His cross, through a series of vespers presentations in Battle Creek, comparing the ‘parallel movements’ of Israel out of Egypt and refusing to enter more immediately into the Promised Land. . . with the Advent Movement’s repeated refusal(s) to follow Waggoner and Jones (‘Caleb’ and ‘Joshua’, and/or ‘Moses’ and ‘Aaron’) into a Christ-focused approach to the ‘Heavenly Canaan’, which involved more than just intellectual doctrinal ‘belief’ of the ‘mind’.

Ellen White’s Steps to Christ definition of true ‘faith’ in God as involving the ‘affections’ (of the ‘heart’) was not at first published by the Review and Herald, since too many SDA leaders like Uriah Smith could not be trusted to handle it. She broke with her own ‘counsel’ and went to a non-SDA source to have S2C published, just as she had witnessed the SDA leaders involved with the American Sentinel religious liberty magazine joining with and bowing to non-SDA, anti-Sabbath forces in her Salamanca, NY vision. (It was soon after she related this vision to SDA leaders in person that she got the mysterious ‘call’ to Australia.)

These attempts to bring Christ and His cross, and His resurrection… into the SDA limelight have been repeated by several SDAs over the years since, with similar results. Threats were even made to remove the ministerial credentials of Robert Wieland and Donald Short when they challenged the General Conference to live up to their past mistakes in 1888, beginning around the time of the formation of the modern State of Israel.

The last attempt by Wieland and Short was made during the ‘Primacy of the Gospel’ committee meetings which were declared decided and were closed from the GC ‘Majority Report’ of the Biblical Research Institute, side upon the 1st anniversary of president Folkenberg’s resignation in 2000. (Folkenberg was eager to revive the focus on Christ begun by Waggoner and Jones at the Minneapolis GC session in 1888, when they were witnessed crying out, ‘Christ is everything !’ in the face of the opposing ‘Law is everything’ camp. Ellen White observed that it was ‘Christ in the Law’ that made the face of Moses shine when he returned from the mountaintop to the people below.)

Donald Short died soon after the PGC-silencing ‘Majority Report’ of the SDA BRI, in 2004.
Robert Wieland followed him into the silence of death in 2011.

Now, with such major ‘1888’ SDA players in their graves, or soon heading there, it remains to be seen who will finally be successful in returning the focus of the SDA General Conference back to the long-missing Christ and His humiliating crucifixion and completely glorified resurrection as our ‘Example’. Will Pergerson showed great promise in taking up the cause, until he crashed in his malfunctioning airplane after take-off at the Battle Creek airport while attempting to return home to Berrien Springs in 2015. Much publicity and ado was, at first, the result of that tragedy, but despite the promises of SDA leading figures, the focus on ‘Christ Our Righteousness’ has again apparently, humbly, given way to the all-consuming SDA obsession with ‘GC complicity, our righteousness’, as it has repeatedly, patiently done so for the last 131 years . . .

“Behold I (Christ) stand at the door (of doctrinal pride) and knock …”

But, as usual, where the SDA church could have, and should have, been leaders of the other Christian religions in correctly embracing and proclaiming such Christ-centered doctrines as the cross and resurrection of Christ (and even ‘Women’s Ordination’…) – from SDA hearts, to all hearts – it remains consistent, and compliant, instead, with the long traditions of its more cold-hearted, more intellectual, and more dignified, more ‘fallen’, more proud leaders. Laodicean leaders who refuse to fully confess to the SDA congregation, and to the world, that such leading ‘Princes’ of the SDA movement, as they are, have ever fallen in pride, and broken faith with the humiliated and glorified Christ.

When you see such a truly weeping, sin-confessing SDA leader – a new Jehoshaphat – be sure to elect them as General Conference president, whether they are male, or female !

http://www.gospel-herald.com/wieland/pers_resp_to_pgc.htm


(Michael Wortman) #16

I haven’t seen Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” because I’ve not cared for his other work, which may be unfair, but I was touched by the Italian director Pier Paulo Pasolini’s “The Gospel According to St. Matthew.” Some were offended because the director was known to be an athiest, a homosexual, as well as a Marxist. His response to that criticism was “If you know that I am an unbeliever, then you know me better than I know myself. I may be an unbeliever, but I am an unbeliever who has a nostalgia for belief.” One particularly haunting and beautiful scene in the movie which for me was more affecting than the crucifixion, has Odetta, in the foreground, singing “Sometimes I feel Like a Motherless Child” as the slaying of the infants occurs behind her.


(David) #17

Continuing the discussion from Moment of Glory:

What are you going to do when the pope does away with the moon altogether? https://www.nola.com/religion/2016/03/answer_near_on_ancient_questio.html

Why waste your time on the caprice of men who don’t know what they believe?


(Lynden Williams) #18

Since you’re obviously not getting my point, I am going to try another tack. There have been many people throughout the millennia that have endured physical suffering similar to what Jesus did on the cross. The early Christians were tortured horribly by the Romans. We know that all but one of the 11 disciples died at the hands of others, because of their faith. What sets the crucifixion of Jesus apart from all of the physical aspects of His death is the single point I was making. No one else bore the sins of the entire world. No other person has ever died for the sins of anyone else. That is the exclusive domain of Jesus Christ alone. And I feel, regardless of what anyone else feels, that the suffering that He endured was far greater than any physical pain involved. I am not going to continue belaboring the semantics of this any further.


(Michael Wortman) #19

David, I don’t understand your sensitivity to the timing of religious ceremony. In the Adventist church it is customary to celebrate communion 4 times per year without regard to its relation to Passover week. Does this also go against your belief system? Attempts to regularize the timing of religious celebrations by any church doesn’t seem particularly heinous to me. To relate changes in timing to the Catholic tradition may ring true to many Catholic-phobic SDAs, but anti-Catholicism and the timing of religious celebration seem, to me, to be two separate issues. Is it your belief in the Jewish tradition of the timing of festivals that motivates your strong stand?


#20

Why would an Adventist ever be opposed to the scheduling of the Last Supper, even weekly? As oft as ye drink this cup and eat this bread, you do remember… has nothing to do with any denomination. It has to do with Remembering Jesus and His gift for us.