Jesus: Out of reach? Out of sight? Out of mind?

I read something last week that shattered my image of the Easter story.

Countless illustrations had generated a picture in my mind of Jesus on a cross that was raised high into the air,  elevated so far above ground level the Roman soldier who pierced His side with a spear would have to reach overhead to stab the Son of God.

Crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, by Marco Palmezzano (Uffizi, Florence), painting ca. 1490

I had an out-of-reach Jesus, vicariously paying the price for my sin.
And then I read this (read all the way through!):

Despite the fact that the ancient Jewish historian Josephus, as well as other sources, refers to the crucifixion of thousands of people by the Romans, there is only a single archaeological discovery of a crucified body dating back to the Roman Empire around the time of Jesus. This was discovered in Jerusalem in 1968. It is not necessarily surprising that there is only one such discovery, because a crucified body was usually left to decay on the cross and therefore would not be preserved. The only reason these archaeological remains were preserved was because family members gave this particular individual a customary burial.

jmtimages via  PhotoRee

The remains were found accidentally in an ossuary with the crucified man’s name on it, ‘Yehohanan, the son of Hagakol’.[37][38] Nicu Haas, an anthropologist at the Hebrew University Medical School in Jerusalem, examined the ossuary and discovered that it contained a heel bone with a nail driven through its side, indicating that the man had been crucified. The position of the nail relative to the bone indicates that the feet had been nailed to the cross from their side, not from their front; various opinions have been proposed as to whether they were both nailed together to the front of the cross or one on the left side, one on the right side. The point of the nail had olive wood fragments on it indicating that he was crucified on a cross made of olive wood or on an olive tree. Since olive trees are not very tall, this would suggest that the condemned was crucified at eye level.

It’s that last sentence that snared me.
Can I imagine a crucified Christ at eye level? A Savior King paying the ultimate price for my sin, my failures, my shortcomings, right in front of me, face to face?

Maybe it’s just me, but somehow that simple shift in mental imagery changes things. Suddenly, the price paid is even more personal. The love offered so freely through His sacrifice even more real.

When you picture the crucified One this Easter weekend, when you bring to mind all He has done to make the way into eternal life for everyone who believes, will He be lifted up out of reach? Just out of view?

Or will you let yourself look upon Him, face to face, eye to eye, and accept that what He did on Calvary, He did for you and me, personally, individually? He would have done the same — endured that horrible, gruesome, execution — if you or I were the only person on earth who would ever accept it by faith.

Don’t let Him get out of sight this Easter. Because out of sight is too often out of mind.

2 thoughts on “Jesus: Out of reach? Out of sight? Out of mind?

  1. Jeanette Levellie says:

    Oh, Niki. I never knew this. It changes my ideas, too! I like the thought of looking Jesus in the eye as He died for me, but it also makes me very uncomfortable. I know He's there because I put Him there with my sins, but I also love Him for going willingly.

    And, thank God He didn't stay dead–He lives forever!!!

  2. Niki Turner says:

    @Jeanette Levellie AMEN! The idea of being eye-to-eye with Him as He took my sins is so personal, so intimate, it IS uncomfortable. And at the same time it increases my gratitude for the price He paid! Happy Easter!

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