Where Mercy Met Justice

wooden cross erected in a cemetery

The word resounded in my ears
With all the comfort of a battle cry.
My sentence was to be carried out at dawn—
Stripped and forced to stand alone in shame
While beaten with forty stripes save one,
Then marched outside the city gate
To hang on a cross until dead.

The night passed slowly, but surely.
I did not sleep,
For the weight of my guilt was heavy upon me.
I was getting justice,
No less than I deserved.
Yet somehow I dared to pray for mercy.

The hour of execution arrived,
And I was escorted to the judgment hall.
The room was filled with men in black.
Some wore hoods over their faces.
Another Man was there, dressed all in white.

“Have you anything to say for yourself?”
The executioner asked.
“Sir, I am guilty as charged,
But I plead the blood of Christ.”
“Noted. But you are still guilty,
So let the sentence be carried out.”
The hooded men stripped me of my garments
And tied me to the whipping post.
Then on my back I felt
The softness of lambs’ wool come down and around me,
For the Man in white had taken His robe
And with it covered my shame.
Then He stretched Himself around me
And let my stripes fall on His back.

When the scourging was done,
They released me, unharmed, from the post,
And I stood by helplessly watching as
They did far worse things to Him—
Pulled out His beard,
Pressed a crown of thorns into His head,
Blindfolded Him, slapped His face, and spat upon Him—
All because He took my place.

He carried my cross outside the city gate.
When we reached the hill, we stopped, and He looked at me.
I should have been repulsed at the sight of Him:
He was such a bloody mess
That He hardly looked like a man anymore.
And the stripes which disfigured Him
Were meant for me!
His eyes gleamed through the blood as He gazed at mine and said,
“Neither do I condemn you. Go,
And sin no more.”
Then He stretched out upon the cross—
My cross.

The soldiers laid aside the rope they would have used for me,
And instead drove spikes through His hands and feet.
Then hoisting the cross into position,
Dropped it violently into the hole.

It took so long for Him to die.
God had given me the mercy for which I asked;
Now I begged mercy for His Son.
The afternoon sky went dark.
My shame had been covered in a robe of white—
His was veiled in black of night.

When God’s wrath was satisfied,
My Savior summoned all His strength and loudly cried,
“It is finished!”
The debt of my sin was paid in full.
I was free!
And still I wore His robe of righteousness,
And still I do today.

Three days later Mary went to the tomb,
But He was not there.
He stole the sting of death,
Robbed the grave of its victory—
He lives!

Isaiah 53:5  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 14:19  Because I live, you shall live also.

Copyright © 2018 Angela Umphers Rueger – All Rights Reserved

Photo taken in Montgomery, AL, 2017



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