SCRIPTURE: Revelation 13:8 (KJV)
…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
On February 15, 1947 Glenn Chambers boarded a plane bound for Quito, Ecuador to begin his ministry in missionary broadcasting. But he never arrived. In a horrible moment, the plane carrying Chambers crashed into a mountain peak and spiraled downward. Later it was learned that before leaving the Miami airport, Chambers wanted to write his mother a letter. All he could find for stationery was a page of advertising on which was written the single word "WHY?" Around that word he hastily scribbled a final note. After Chambers's mother learned of her son's death, his letter arrived. She opened the envelope, took out the paper, and unfolded it. Staring her in the face was the question "WHY?"
No doubt this was the questions Jesus' disciples asked when He was arrested, tried, and crucified. And it was probably the questions Joseph of Arimathea asked himself as he approached Pilate and requested the Lord's body (v.58). It must have nagged at him as he wrapped the body in a linen cloth, carried it to his own freshly hewn tomb, and rolled the massive stone into its groove over the tomb's mouth. In the face of his grief, Joseph carried on. He did what he knew he had to do. None of Jesus' relatives were in a position to claim His body for burial, for they were all Galileans and none of them possessed a tomb in Jerusalem. The disciples weren't around to help either.
But there was another reason for Joseph's act of love. In Isaiah 53:9, God directed the prophet to record an important detail about the death of His Messiah. The One who had no place to lay his head would be buried in a rich man's tomb. Joseph probably didn't realize that his act fulfilled prophecy. The full answer to the why of Jesus' death was also several days away for Joseph and the others. All he knew was that he was now a disciple of Jesus -- and that was enough to motivate his gift of love.
To that nagging question of Why … why did Jesus have to die? Why was it necessary to have a death on the horrific cross at the hands of the Romans? Why that death in that method? Max Lucado states in his book, God Came Near (page 39) – “Jesus was born crucified. Whenever he became conscious of who he was, he also became conscious of what he had to do. The cross-shaped shadow could always be seen. And the screams of hell’s imprisoned could always be heard.”
Why? When one’s view of the world sees nothing but suffering and aguish, individuals confused and lost within their own lives, people staggering under the weight of trying to make sense out of life with little positive possibilities … then we begin to ask the deeper question of “Why not?”
To say simply, “Well, it is God’s will” and leave at that is to fail to embrace the full force of the event of Calvary. Simplistic answers to complicated questions don’t cut it at this point in our Lenten journey … and yet, I keep coming back to the statement in our scripture for today: “…from the foundation of the world.”
Jesus crucifixion is the solid rock on which this world is built. This world … all of life and everything in it finds its foundation on the crucifixion. This single event is the keystone that holds it together. Removing it only causes the blocks to begin to tumble into rubble. Many have tried over the years to make light of the cross and the crucifixion. They have tried to construct theological reasoning that places the cross somewhere on the side of urban legend and biblical mythology. And, yet there it stands. It cannot be denied or explained away. Truly it is the foundation.
Never let us take your sacrifice on the cross for granted nor seek to live our lives as if it doesn’t matter. Bring us to a deeper appreciation and heartfelt gratitude for building our lives on the solid rock foundation. Amen