My sister-in-law Claudia has a beautiful framed vintage print, depicting a group of children with Jesus. One little girl, seated on his lap, is peering with concern into his palm. The picture is entitled, How Did You Hurt Your Hand? It always gives me pause when I see it, with its simple yet profound question.
This year I have been privileged to become acquainted with the devotional writings of Dr. J. R. Miller, a 19th century minister who, in addition to pastoring several churches in Pennsylvania and Illinois, wrote dozens of books and articles, many of which are still in print today.
The past few mornings the readings have coincided perfectly with Easter week, and I have been challenged and moved by Dr. Miller's insights and illustrations.
Today's reading speaks of a painting of another group of children, trying to comprehend the willing suffering of Jesus Christ. I wish I could find the print to which Dr. Miller refers, but even without the visual image, his description speaks volumes. I'd like to share this devotional message with you today.
There is a picture which represents the after scenes on that day of the crucifixion. It is all over. The crowds have gone away. The evening sun is shining out again on Calvary. The body of the Saviour has been borne to the sepulchre. The cross has been taken down, and lies on the ground. A company of little children, bright with the glow of childhood's innocence, led to the place by accident or curiosity, are seen bending over the signs of the day's terrible work. One of the children holds in his hand a nail which a little time before had pierced a hand or a foot of the patient Sufferer, and stands spellbound with horror as he gazes at it. His gentle heart is shocked at sin's dreadful work. On all the children's faces the same expression of amazement is depicted.
No one with pure and gentle heart can ever look at the death of Christ on the cross with any but feelings of amazement and horror at sin's awfulness. It was sin that nailed Jesus on the cross. It was sin that wreathed the circlet of thorns for his brow...
...we helped to do it. Our sins drove the nails. Would you see what sin is? Stand by the cross and ponder its terrible work there in the death of the Redeemer. See what it cost the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world.
--Dr. James Russell Miller, 1895
This is one of my favorite hymns; and this is a particularly beautiful recording of it. It touches me more deeply, I believe, than any other piece of Christian music.. I hope this leads you into a deeper time of spiritual thought and devotion to our awe-inspiring Lord this Resurrection Day weekend:
Christ died for our sins,
according to the scriptures.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
--words of the Apostle Paul, 1st Corinthians 15: 3-8
words of the Apostle Peter, 2 Peter 1:15-17