When I was forty, my doctor sent me to get a bone scan. Frankly, I can’t remember what the problem was, but I remember the scan. They injected me with some radioactive dye (I think I still glow in the dark). Then they put me on a table and lowered a huge machine onto my entire body. I felt like a human sandwich as I lay there spread-eagle between the two hard surfaces. It was like a giant mammogram (not that I’ve ever had one of those—I’ve just heard).
As I recall, they didn’t find anything conclusive about my malady. However, as I was leaving the torture chamber, the technician had these parting words for me. “You’ve got the beginnings of arthritis in your hands and feet.”
Fast forward twenty-seven years, and I can attest to the technician’s ability to read scans. I do, indeed, have arthritis. Now, however, it seems to be all over the place—hands, feet, hips, back, you-name-it. It doesn’t bother me all that much until I do something physical.
“Sixty-seven is the new ninety-two.”
Since spring has sprung, I spent a couple days doing the obligatory yard prep—tossing around bags of mulch, trimming greenery, and such. Man, was that technician correct! You know how people like to say fifty is the new forty? Today, I’m saying, “Sixty-seven is the new ninety-two.” Oh, my aching back (and hips, hands, and feet). Lord, have mercy. It’s on days like this that I actually feel old.
I don’t want you to think I’m complaining because I’m not (well…maybe a little). It could certainly be a lot worse. I’ve got a wonderful life, arthritis notwithstanding. Plus, the springtime aches and pains cause me to think about loftier things.
On approximately this day a little over two thousand years ago, Jesus went through a few things that make my little bout with arthritis seem like a day at Disney World. As a friend of mine euphemistically put it, “He had a bad weekend!” As he hung on the cross, he could have thought, “Thirty-three is the new one hundred forty-two.”
“We probably broke his heart.”
I don’t say these things to make light of what he did for us. Quite the contrary… His scourging and death on the cross are almost unthinkable. If you’ve never considered the things he went through, read a physician’s description of the physical agony of this passion. Then, add to that the psychological embarrassment, the physiological shock, and the weight of the world’s sin. Aside from all that, we probably broke his heart. These things are unbearable, but he bore them for us.
Because it’s over and done with, we seldom consider these things. We just figure he had to do it, and so he did. Actually, he didn’t have to do anything. He’s God. But fortunately for us, as the Apostle Paul said, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” (1 Corinthians 5:7)
So, at this point, every arthritic joint in my body is crying out, “Thank God for Sunday…literally!”
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]