The Feet of Jesus

Like many of you under a COVID-19 stay-at-home order, I am living a life of boredom ease on my couch as Holy Week approaches. However, I am also recovering from foot surgery. My bones had shifted out of place, but my doctor was able to fasten several small, metal plates inside my foot, reconstructing its original shape. Though well worth it, the pain involved can be electric, and that has me thinking about the feet of Jesus.

Jesus’ death by crucifixion is almost too overwhelming, physically and psychologically, to take in as a whole. (The one time I watched Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, I lay wailing on the floor, which is not like me at all.) However, it’s important to understand the agony of His death so we might better understand the immensity of our sin. And the sacrifice required to pay for it. In this case, consider the barbarous destruction of Christ’s feet.

Death by Crucifixion

Edwards, William & Gabel, W & Hosmer, F. (1986).

You’ve seen the pictures of Christ on the cross which depict large nails run through His hands and feet. Although there were multiple methods, commonly the feet were crossed one over the other and secured with a single spike. We know that no bones were broken during the crucifixion, so the nail would have been driven between the metatarsals, damaging several major nerves. Due to the slack position of the torso, it would have been necessary for the victim to push upward on those impaled feet and screaming nerves to take a full breath. Jesus did this for about six hours before He succumbed to His injuries.

Considering the accidental pain of changing positions or flexing my toes right now, I can’t fathom the agony Christ endured bearing the weight of His exhausted body on His damaged feet. Unbelievably, this was only a small part of His physical suffering. And that physical suffering was only a small part of His torture. It was a symbolic snapshot of the deeper spiritual anguish of bearing the sins of the world.

The Feet of Christ

The feet of Christ bled for me. Those beautiful feet which arrived with good news. Those miraculous feet where many were healed. Those well-traveled feet where Mary sat rapt. Those human feet whose wounds convinced Thomas of the the resurrection. Those conquering feet which bruised the head of Satan. Those kingly feet which will one day rest upon God’s defeated enemies.

But, this week, as we contemplate the pain that Jesus’ feet endured for us, we might do best to imitate the sinful woman who wept over His feet, washing them with her tears. We will be in good company to bow there, grieving, to offer our gratitude and praise. We will be exactly where God wants us to be: worshiping at the feet of Jesus.


Related:

Humbled at His Feet
Fall at the Feet of Jesus
The Resurrection Gambit

I am Barabbas

All four Gospels in the New Testament record the story of Barabbas, a notorious prisoner who was released as a favor to the Jews at Passover. (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23 and John 18.) The Roman governor, Pilate, offered to free Jesus instead, but the politically motivated crowd chose Barabbas. We don’t know what happened to this man after his release, but I see his story as a beautiful metaphor of the substitution which Jesus has offered me.  And so this poem (with its imagined ending) is about me. I am Barabbas.

I am Barabbas, a sinner in chains.
My heart is a prison of stone.
Guilty of murder and sentenced to die,
Unrepentant, desperate, alone.

The scrape of a key in the lock at my door
Sends chills through my fevered brain.
I tremble with fear at the specter of death.
I rage at the imminent pain.

What is this judgment: “Another shall die,”
And I shall go free in his stead?
Who is this sinner more hated than I,
Who bears such a price on his head?

Blinded by sunlight, awash in the crowd,
I hear them shout “Traitor!” and “Lord!”
They say he is chosen, a prophet of God;
They will give him a prophet’s reward.

He died like a king, forgiving them all,
Refusing the gall and the wine.
Could He see that his pain, the terror and shame,
Was mine – was all of it mine?

I ran from the mob which would make me a stooge.
I ran from the guards, as well.
I ran from the one who had taken my place,
I hid in my own private hell.

Three days he stayed in the prison of death,
And my guilt was only increased.
But the grave was undone by the Power of Love –
He rose, and we both were released.

I am Barabbas, freed from my chains.
For my crimes the Innocent died.
Redeemed in His name, forever I’ll serve
The Risen and Glorified.


Originally published here in 2012.


Related Material:

More on Barabbas as our substitute

What the resurrection means for us

What else it means for us

Steadfast Love

I’ve been studying Psalm 103 with a group of close friends recently. It soothes my heart to read about God’s kindness and love. But it’s even more powerful when you see it in action, up close in real life. I’d like to share one of those experiences with you in the words of my friend, Judy.


When we first started this journey, the familiarity of the verses caught me off guard. I thought it was because of the songs I had sung in church that often contained the words of this passage. But when I opened my personal Bible, I was shocked to find that this psalm had walked with me through some very difficult times in the worst period of my life. How had I not remembered that?

As I read over my journaling and ran my fingers over the highlighted portions, my heart was overwhelmed with His compassion to me, His struggling daughter. My friends have asked me how I have joy after struggling through the long, drawn out separation, divorce and end of my marriage. I had fought so hard to keep that relationship alive that the end rocked my foundations. Psalm 103 was the answer to that question. During those dark, lonely, grief-stricken, paralyzing days, I spent so much time in the Scripture. Motivated by joining a Bible study, by new women friends who were strong in their faith, by my own desperation to find healing, I poured myself into the Word. Reading. Cross referencing. Listening to sermons. Praying. Memorizing. Begging God to heal these broken places of my life. And He did. My marriage ended, but my relationship with the true lover of my soul continued and thrived.

I don’t always remember exactly which verses helped. Healing is not a bullet point list that we can move along in a linear fashion, accomplishing each task to claim that we’ve completed the process. It’s more like a twisted, spiral, conic section of repetitive behaviors, thoughts, processes; moving forward, then backward, then completely turned around and right side up again. It’s a constant choosing to do the next thing. To believe truth. To insist upon writing those truths of God on my mind and heart.

Psalm 103 contained one of those truths. Three times I had returned to this psalm during that season. Three critical times. Wow. I thought to myself what was the number one thing I learned during that time from this psalm of David? This: God’s steadfast love was with me. Four times it is mentioned.

  1. “Who crowns you with steadfast love”
  2. “The Lord is…abounding in steadfast love”
  3. “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love”
  4. “But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him”

Steadfast love. In my personal life, human love has proved itself to be elusive and transitory. Yet, there it is in black and white in Psalm 103. Repeated four times. It doesn’t just say “love.” Every single time the adjective “steadfast”’ precedes it. Steadfast is defined as “firmly fixed in place, immovable, unwavering, loyal.” And my heart clung to that character of God as I walked the journey of separation, loss, betrayal.

What comes before each of those four steadfast love phrases in this psalm?

  1. “Who redeems your life from the pit”
  2. “The Lord is slow to anger”
  3. “He does not deal with us according to our sins or repay us according to our iniquities”
  4. “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more”

Whoa. Four hardest things in life – I’ve gotten myself into a terrible pit I can’t get out of. I’ve done something to incur the anger of God. My sins demand payment. Death. His answer for each one – steadfast love.

This week I received a call from my ex-husband asking if we could meet. We’ve had very little contact over the past year, and he has never before pursued a meeting with me. My mind has run amuck with all the possibilities – and not in a calm, reassuring, confident way. This morning as I meditated on this psalm, my question to God was how could I glorify Him in this meeting. And His answer – rest in the knowledge of My steadfast love. Take the bedrock of truths that I have built into my heart, mind, character and walk confidently toward whatever this meeting holds. No matter what the news is or how it affects my future, one thing is unwavering, firmly in place, immovable, loyal – the love of God.


Related Material:

Blue Dye by Denise Habicht
Dear Soul by Gracelaced (Ruth Chou Simons)