The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
When I was in high school, I helped out as a “junior sponsor” at church camp several times. One year, I developed a close friendship with a young lady who was also serving in that capacity. We became girlfriend and boyfriend. One evening, following campfire, we let some of the other sponsors take the children back to their dorms and we took a detour across the campground toward the dining hall. On the way, she felt a terrible pain on her foot. She thought a bee had stung her, while my best guess was a scorpion or something that crawled on the ground. Little did we know that what she had received was a poisonous snake bite, likely a copperhead of small ground rattler. She spent the night in hospital receiving anti-venom treatments.
I did not see her until the next week when we both attended Senior High Week as campers for the same camp. A friend of mine and I had hauled some hay that weekend for one of the preachers and so I arrived at the campground as the opening fun and fellowship time was being held. Little did I know that there were plans for me among the preachers that they implemented when I walked into the building. It was a Kangaroo Court. I was immediately accosted by one preacher who took me by the arm and led me to the stage. I was introduced to the Judge (the same preacher whose hay I had hauled). Another preacher was selected as the prosecutor and another was introduced to me as my defense attorney. Well, my defense attorney might as well have been my prosecutor because he turned every word that came out of my mouth completely around to make me look guilty. I didn’t stand a chance. All, in great fun and, to the hilarious laughter of all the young people, I was convicted of a crime I did not commit. I was pronounced “GUILTY AS CHARGED” of the heinous crime of biting this innocent young woman on the foot.
The preacher who served as the Judge took me outside to his pickup to perform the execution. We walked to his pickup truck that I had used to haul his hay, pulled out a .357 revolver and fired it twice in the air, symbolic of my execution and pulled out his checkbook and wrote me a check for hauling his hay.
While this Kangaroo Court was all in great fun, a much more serious one took place around the first century. A man who had lived a perfect life, who had healed the sick in droves, who had taught multitudes about God’s love and forgiveness and had never hurt a flea, was betrayed by one of his best friends, turned over to his accusers and tried on charges that were totally false and trumped up against him. Known liars were bribed to testify against him and he was found guilty of blasphemy against God. All the while he did not offer a single word in his own defense. He was handed over to the authorities to be tried again by a mob and beaten over and over again. Then he was executed in the most horrific and humiliating method in history.
While Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God was falsely convicted, there was someone else who deserved his sentence. That person was me. That person was you. That person was every person who ever sinned against God. The reason He did not defend himself was that Jesus wanted to take our punishment upon himself.
He loves us and wanted to take our place so we could have eternal life.
This Sunday we will continue our series of messages titled Death March (events leading to the cross) with a message titled Heaven’s Own Tried and Condemned based on the account given in Mark 14:53-65 & Mark 15:1-15. We will look at the bizarre trial and conviction of the Son of God and see what it means to us. I hope you will come and share in this moving account from the amazing life of Christ.