It was my purpose in this story, to bring the reality of the story of the cross to the children. I feel sometimes that all of us, adults and children, have heard the story over and over and get somewhat jaded or overexposed. But it is worse than that. This precious story is competing with cartoons, Family Guy, TV comedies, all sorts of murder and thievery, for the children's attention. The story of the cross MUST become a reality to them and somehow show them the utter worthlessness of all that other stuff!!! You could actually take just one section and talk about it with them after reading it. Sometimes that is a better strategy to help them internalize the truths presented.
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It is easy to say “Jesus takes my sins,” “Jesus died for me,” or “Jesus took my punishment.” But what do those statements really mean?
Proxy = someone who is your substitute when you cannot be at an important event, such a proxy ballot for voting.
There were many proxies at Jesus’ trial and crucifixion.
…After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
…When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
Both Peter and Judas were my proxy! Whether I choose either Peter or Judas to be my proxy depends on a decision to be willing to repent and ask for God’s forgiveness, or become totally overwhelmed with guilt and no desire to ask God for help.
...And the Jews cried out all at once, saying, “Away with this man Jesus, and release unto us Barabbas”: (he was in prison for murder and causing an uprising in the city against the Romans.)
Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, tried to speak to them again; But they yelled, “Crucify him, crucify him.” So Pilate said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found no reason for him to die: I will therefore whip him, and let him go.”
And the crowd immediately yelled louder, that he be crucified. And the voices of the mob and the chief priests prevailed. Then Pilate gave the sentence to crucify Jesus. And Pilate released to them Barabbas the murderer, whom they desired; but he delivered Jesus to be crucified.
Barabbas was my proxy! Because I have had hatred in my heart toward others, I am Barabbas the murderer. I am waiting to be crucified with the two other thieves. But Jesus also was my proxy, took my place, and set me free. My punishment was given to Him; He accepted the punishment for my sins and took them to the grave. He has given me eternal life because He is still my proxy standing at the throne of God.
Pilate was my proxy! I am Pilate whenever I go along with the crowd to do evil and do not stand up for the right.
Then the soldiers spit in his face, and shoved him around; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, They put a crown of thorns upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! They yanked out pieces of His beard, then took the reed, and hit him on the head with it. Then the two thieves, along with Jesus, were led out of the city to be put to death.
And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, the soldiers crucified him along with the two thieves, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. As the nails were being pounded in, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
The Roman soldier is my proxy! I am the soldier nailing the spikes into Jesus’ feet and wrists. Every time I choose to sin, I am pounding the spikes into Jesus all over again. And what was that He just said? “I forgive you”.
They set up over his head a sign written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew; THIS IS JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then the soldiers took his clothes and divided them up four ways, to each soldier a fourth. But his robe was seamless, a single piece of weaving, so they said to each other, "Let's not tear it up. Let's throw dice to see who gets it." Then they all sat down to watch him and the thieves die.
Then many chief priests sauntered by and mocked Him, saying; ”He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he is the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.” Both thieves also said similar unkind things to Jesus.
The Pharisees, scribes, and thieves were my proxy! I am a Pharisee, scribe, and thief who mocked Jesus. Every time someone swears using the name of God; or, if someone is saying something about God’s character that is not true, and I do not speak up to defend Him; I am just like those that mocked Jesus.
After a while Jesus' mother, his aunt, and Mary Magdalene stood at the foot of the cross. Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple John standing near her. He said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then to John, "Here is your mother." From that moment John accepted her as his own mother.
John was my proxy! I am John every time I help my mother, father, family members, friends, or others around me; I am obeying Jesus’ request to take care of His mother.
Then one of the thieves mocked Jesus saying, If you are Christ, save yourself and us. After all, you were able to get Barabbas freed, why not us? But the other thief had seen and heard things that changed his heart, and so he rebuked the first thief, saying, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that we are all in the same trouble? And rightfully so; for we are receiving the reward of our misdeeds: but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he asked Jesus, “Lord, do you think you could you remember me when you come into your kingdom?” And Jesus said unto him, “Now I tell you for sure, that you will be with me in paradise.”
I am one of the two thieves. Which one I am depends on my decision to ask Him for help. It is very dangerous to wait until the last few minutes of your life to decide you really do need Jesus. By then you might never ask Him for help. Or Jesus could have died before you decide to ask. So, decide while you are young to follow Him, and ask Him if you can become His friend.
Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, stopped breathing and died. Immediately, the veil of the temple was torn right in the middle into two pieces, from the top to the bottom; and there was a great earthquake, the rocks were torn apart; And the graves were opened; and at His resurrection, many bodies of the saints which slept, arose and came out of the graves.
Now when the centurion who was watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and all the things that were done, he said, “Truly this was the Son of God. “
The Centurion is my proxy! I am the Centurion every time I speak up for Jesus or witness about Him. I can say, just like the Centurion, “Surely this is the Son of God.”