Friday, April 6, 2012
John 19:1-3, 16-18 1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. 3 They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. 16 Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus; 17 and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them.
Liberia knows the impact of slavery. Joseph Jenkins Roberts (JJ Roberts), the son of a freed US slave, was the first President of Liberia. A monument in his honor sits atop a hill, near the Atlantic Ocean in Monrovia. At the base of the monument is a sculpture titled, “Slave Trade.”
While Roberts was seeking to end the slave trade, his own life was impacted by slavery. Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Roberts immigrated to Liberia with his family. Roberts, the son of freed slaves, became a successful government official in Liberia, serving as sheriff, chief justice and lieutenant governor. He served his first term as president from 1848-1856. Among the challenges facing Roberts were negotiations with native Liberians.
From the beginning, immigrants from the United States sought to distinguish themselves from native Liberians. The challenges brought violence as they struggled for land. To facilitate a growing population of freed slaves arriving in Liberia, the new government was seeking to purchase land from natives. The challenges that resulted turned violent, as divisions grew between the natives and the Amerio-Liberians.
Jesus offered us a “slave trade,” of a different sort. While the freed slaves from America knew the impact of freedom, Jesus would release us from slavery to sin and death. In Jesus’ death, we find life. On the cross, Jesus extends his arms of love for us.
For who you are, King Jesus, we humbly kneel before you at the cross. We stand in awe of you, knowing the world judged you by the very name we exalt you. Help us, Lord, to experience the fullness of your sacrificial love for us.
Forgive us, Lord, for our voices can be found among the crowd shouting, “crucify him!”
Have mercy on us, Lord, for we can be found among the crowd mocking you.
Forgive us, Lord, for we can be found bartering for our share of you.
Lord, have mercy on us, for we do not have the faith we need to live in response to your love for us.
For the people of the world enslaved this day, unleash your power to the church to reach out in love, to stand against the powers of child slavery, human trafficking, and any suppression of life you call precious. Thank you, Lord, for releasing us from slavery of sin and death. Reign over us, we pray, King Jesus, as we offer ourselves to you. Amen.