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The Incredible Sacrifice Of God's Only Begotten Son

Just as there were many who were appalled at him - his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness... But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. - Isaiah 52:14 and Isaiah 53:5

The other day I was contemplating the incredible suffering that Christ endured on the way to the Cross and the even greater suffering He went through while on the Cross and I was reminded that for this very reason He came into the world.  The Cross was not an afterthought, neither was it an accident.  It was God's very purpose from the beginning.  And when I say "beginning", I mean the very beginning of time:

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. - 1 Peter 1:18-20 

All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast - all whose names have not been written in the Lamb's book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. - Revelation 13:8

God created mankind with free will knowing that we would reject Him, knowing that we would reject truth, knowing that we would defile ourselves in the worst ways imaginable.  Yet He wanted a love-relationship, not coercion.  Love cannot be forced.  And since love cannot be forced, mankind had to have a choice.

Despite the choice of rebellion we have all made at one time or another, He has provided for us abundantly in the gift of Christ, His only begotten Son.

Murder, blasphemy, pornography, adultery, rape, vulgarity, materialism, idolatry, mistrust, hatred, genocide, pedophilia, deceit, lying, jealousy, theft, dishonor, torture, homosexuality, vanity, and on and on and on.

Humanity is covered in filth.  As far as our own ways and choices are concerned, we are dead where we stand and deserving of Gehenna.

Yet God loves you and me so much more than our trespasses:

Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. - Romans 5:20 

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8

Listen, if you are still unsure of what to believe I can point you to a thousand resources demonstrating the truth of Christianity (some examples here, here, and here), but let me simply tell you what sets Christianity apart:

GRACE.

Literally every other religion on the planet gives humanity the central role in redemption - either through man's own "righteous" acts or man's own "wisdom".  Christianity stands alone stating the obvious, that man is powerless.  God is the center and God is the Redeemer.  God did all the work for you.  He saved us if we would but accept His salvation.

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. - 1 Corinthians 1:20-25

As I pondered the incredible sacrifice Christ made I remembered the Shroud of Turin, which I personally believe is the authentic burial cloth of Christ (see why here, here, and here).

Unlike all the quaint medieval pictures of a slightly uncomfortable man with a few small trickles of blood, the Shroud of Turin demonstrates the reality of the Cross.  It was a sacrifice so bloody and gruesome that no picture can beautify.  It demonstrated the real cost of sin.  And that cost was paid by God's only begotten Son.  No one can say for sure whether or not the Shroud was Jesus' actual burial cloth, but either way, it shows the reality of the crucifixion.

The floggings of the man were not merely on His back, but also all over His chest, shoulders, and both sides of His legs.  The evidence shows He was flogged by at least two Roman soldiers, one on either side.  They used both the infamous flagrum and also some sort of wooden whip.  Levitical law permitted a man to be whipped no more than 40 times, and so as not to break the commandment, Jews would allow no more than 39 stripes.  Yet Jesus was not flogged by the Jewish authorities with a mere whip.  Instead, He was handed over to the Romans who were masters of the most terrible torture with no sense of humanity.

The man on the Shroud appears to have over 115 stripes from the Roman flagrum:

And separately, over 170 stripes from a wooden reed like this:


Some estimates even put the number of total stripes as high as 372 as shown below (the image below just shows the deepest blood marks in each stripe):


The real crucifixion would have looked more like this representation of the wounds shown on the Shroud:


There are no words to describe what Our Savior did for you.  All you can do is humbly accept His sacrifice.  Look upon the one who was pierced for you.  He holds His arms out wide for you if you would only but stop your fight and yield.  Accept the Good News.


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