Friday, March 12th John 19:16-22

Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.'” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” John 19:16-22

When all is said and done, there is only one important mountain. It isn’t Mount Vesuvius, home of the gods. It isn’t Mount Everest, the natural world’s tower of Babel. It isn’t a place of glory and honor but a misshapen hill in the center of a town’s garbage dump. Golgotha. The Place of the Skull. Mount Calvary.

Moses left the mountain to travel back to the Egypt from which he had fled. He later came down another mountain to bring order into the lives of his followers, order which they rejected.

Elijah came down from Mount Carmel to the desert into which he retreated in fear for his life. Jesus came down from the mountain of his transfiguration to the crowds who waited down below – the hungry crowds who didn’t realize what they were hungry for.

No one stays on the mountain.

Jesus spent a horrific day on that final mountain. But he didn’t stay there. From his mountain to his tomb. But he didn’t stay there either.

And where did he direct his disciples to meet him after his resurrection? To another mountain top in Galilee. Yet even then, Jesus met them only to send them. To send them back to the plains with a story to tell and a mission to accomplish. If you are a person of faith, baptized into the kingdom, and you are willing to carry that story to another person, then you are evidence of the faithfulness of those first disciples.

There was a disagreement on Mount Calvary. Some argued that the sign should read, “This man said…” But Pilate wouldn’t give. He left the sign up that declared the bloodied Jesus to be King of the Jews. Was this Pilate’s way of sticking it to those who made his life complicated? Was this God’s ringing endorsement of the suffering, redemptive, love of Jesus? Can’t it be both?

Few of us live on mountain tops. Most of us think they are nice to visit. They put our lives into perspective. They teach us about God’s vastness even as they encourage humility in us. But ours is not a mountain top faith. Ours is a faith lives in the valleys, the highways and byways of the lives of real life people. May the mountain tops of our faith – especially that misshapen hill outside of Jerusalem – bring purpose and meaning to our lives.

Let us pray: Thank you, Jesus, for taking our brokenness unto yourself as you were lifted high on Golgotha. May your redemptive love flood us with courage and conviction as we tell your story in words and deeds. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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