A Devotion for 26 March 2021 Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord), the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10)
“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 29Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 30When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. 31The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. 33But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: 34But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. 36For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. 37And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.” (John 19:28-37; all scripture quoted is from the king James Version)
Though the human body is the work and craftsmanship of our Maker in His own Image, men attempt to disfigure and distort that image by means of body piercings and tattoos. “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:28) But there are certain piercings of the body that have redeemed us from our sins – those of Calvary suffered by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His body, it is believed, will be the only imperfectly pierced Body in Heaven. The most beautiful expression of that prospect is in the Chorus of a hymn (My Savior First of All) by the blind Fanny Crosby:
I shall know Him, (I shall know Him,) I shall know Him,
And redeemed by His side I shall stand;
I shall know Him, (I shall know Him,) I shall know Him
By the print of the nails in His hand.
Fanny was blind from infancy and used terms of ‘feeling’ as much as sight. Though she will have perfect vision when she meets the Lord, she speaks in terms of her contemporary blindness.
He arose from the Tomb and ascended into Heaven with just those scars of piercings He suffered for us.
In discussing the three heart piercings, we must realize that the hearts of all who believe should be pierced upon consideration of the cross and its purpose in our lives. We all share the guilt of the Roman soldiers and the Jewish rulers who perpetrated the atrocity; but there is a specific piercing of hearts that must be looked upon with particular reverence – that of Mary (the mother of Jesus), the Heart of our Lord Himself, and the Heart of God the Father. We will consider the three in order of mention:
THE HEART OF MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS: Mary was the specially chosen vessel of God by which means His Son would be born into the world. She was called and anointed in the tender and innocent age of youth. That calling was an overwhelming revelation to one so young and so simple. Yet, Mary heard the words of Gabriel and hid them in her heart. The profound implications of all that God spoke to her through His Archangel, Gabriel, were not fully comprehended and perhaps faded into the remote venues of her memory for a time. This can be easily understood from our own perspective from the moment of our own salvation – the glorious warmth of the Spirit, the eagerness to serve the Lord, and the motivating impulse to share the Gospel far and wide gradually sank into less invigorating emotions of our soul as time passed. Many years (thirty) passed from the memorable birth of Her Son until His ministry began. She watched Him grow in the apprenticeship to His presumed father, Joseph, (but God was His Father). The fact that He demonstrated a stellar character and sinless nature were perhaps attributed by His mother to her oversight and nurture in righteousness. When He began His ministry, He spoke of matters incomprehensible to a Jewish mother who cared more for His physical well-being than His spiritual wisdom and insights of the Divine. She simply could not understand why He repeatedly provoked the ire of the Jewish rulers in placing Truth and righteousness above His own safety. We are not told of any regular attendance of Mary at those events in which Jesus worked many miracles and even raised the dead. Her only witness of a miracle was a material one of wine.
“While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Matthew 12:46-50)
Mary was a conventional mother as well as the chosen vessel of God for the birth of His Son. Her thoughts were more attuned to the family circle of this world and not that of the Family in the Kingdom of God because that matter was above her comprehension. Perhaps she could have understood if she had been a more frequent listener to His teachings. But she apparently, like his brethren, considered Him to be overly zealous of imparting His doctrine to the detriment of His safety. Not until after the resurrection does Mary seem to fully comprehend the role of Her Son in the Redemption of souls and the purpose of God the Father in sending Him.
Mary was bound to the foot of the cross by the love of a mother’s pure heart for her Son. She had watched the terrible wounds being inflicted on the darling of her heart from Pilate’s paddock to Golgotha. She saw the streams of blood cascading down His brow from the hateful thorns driven into his head; she witnessed as they disrobed Him and laid Him upon the cross made, perhaps, of the same wood as that of His manger at birth; she heard the solid thud of the nails as they were driven into His hands and feet; and she witnessed the terrible jolt of His body as the cross was raised and dropped precipitously, and without feeling, into the hole prepared for it. She heard the malicious comments of those who gloried at His suffering. She watched in deep sorrow and tears as His life’s blood slowly trickled down the rough-hewn wood of the cross . . . and she was helpless to render any comfort whatsoever to her beloved Child. Finally, she saw Him gasp His last breath, heard His last words, and then, after His death, the Roman centurion thrust the spear through His side and into His heart. At that moment, Mary must have recalled the words of old Simeon: “…Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35) Slowly, her understanding grew more keen of all that had transpired with her beloved. A sword did pierce Mary’s heart at Calvary as surely as it did the heart of Her Beloved Son.
THE HEART OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST: That heart was mighty to save and to forgive. It was a heart not unlike that of every man, yet larger than the Universe itself. Death of the cross has been described as a slow death of asphyxiation resulting in congestive heart failure as fluids gather around the heart and lungs. When the spear pierced the side of our Lord, blood and water flowed forth – the same fluids associated with congestive heart disease – but this blood and water flowed forth from the Fountain of Living Waters that cleanses from sin. The Heart of Christ was opened for us and all who are the chosen of God. “. . . . when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.” (John 19:33-34)
THE HEART FO GOD THE FATHER WAS LIKEWISE PIERCED: Imagine a father, with the power to save his son, watch such a terrible event without interceding! That would be the most grievous experience imaginable. But God withheld His hand of power and allowed His streams of mercy for us to flow freely in the blood of His only Begotten Son. At the 6th hour (noon), God the Father turned His face away in inexpressible grief at the suffering of His Son. Darkness prevailed upon the scene from Noon until 3 PM when our Lord gave up the ghost. That was the moment of the sealing of our salvation, and the moment when the floodgates of mercy were opened in our direct access to God the Father through the Mercy Seat of Christ. He became our High Priest and Intercessor – but not without excruciating pain of the three hearts mentioned.