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This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving.
A time originally set aside by the Pilgrims to give thanks to God for their winter provisions.
Later, made a holiday for the nation to give thanks to God.
And now, more and more it seems more like gluttony day or football day.
But as I was reading the Bible this morning, I was struck by a scene that we truly should be giving thanks for,
And it probably isn’t quite for the reason you’re thinking about right now.
This time of year, I’m frequently reading in the book of Mark.
And yes, there are plenty of things to give thanks for in that book.
This year though, I’ve been reading near the end of chapter 14, when I was struck by this idea.
Yes, we are all thankful for the fact that Jesus paid for our sins,
But as I was reading, something more came to mind.
I am thankful that no accusation against Jesus could stand.
After all, if He was to be the perfect lamb of God, He needed to be perfect.
I’m sure all of us have experienced a time when false accusations were made against us.
And our natural reaction is to fight back, to defend ourselves, to defend our honor.
But that is not what Jesus did.
The stoic resolve.
In the face of all of His accusers, Jesus says nothing.
Sure, their testimony did not agree.
The case of the priests, elders, and scribes was falling apart right in front of their eyes.
We can be thankful for that, can’t we?
Jesus could have argued, “Where is you evidence?
Your witnesses can’t even agree.”
But He did not.
He simply stood there, silently.
Have you ever thought of being thankful for that?
Finally, the high priest asks Jesus a question,
And He answers.
From a human stand point, Jesus was scott free.
None of the charges against Him held any water.
Sure, the priests, elders, and scribes could of had Him punished,
But He would have been vindicated in the eyes of most of the people.
But Jesus was asked a question.
He didn’t answer the accusations, but He did answer the question.
“I am.”
“I am.”
Two of the smallest words in the English language,
But loaded with so much meaning and pathos.
We should be thankful,
That Jesus did not deny who He is.
That we will see Him sitting at the right hand of God.
But that is not what struck me.
We all know the rest of the story.
Jesus is taken before Pilate.
Again, Jesus does not answer the accusation, but answer the question.
And His answer is not only true, but we should be thankful that it is.
As perverse as it may feel, we should be thankful for the chief priests who stirred up the crowd,
The crowd that called for his crucifixion.
And we should be thankful for the beatings Jesus suffered,
Because it fulfilled the prophesies about Him.
And we should be thankful for the crucifixion itself.
For the fact that He refused the wine & myrrh that would have eased His suffering.
That while He was being mocked, ridiculed, and tormented, He never shot back.
He never cursed those who were torturing Him.
He never scolded the crowd that stood by to watch, just in case Elijah showed up.
He never called out those who cast lots for His clothing.
He was the perfect lamb, led to the slaughter, an offering for our sins.
But even this is not what struck me.
When I read this, I was reminded of a story I had just recently been told.
About a young man whose family had been destroyed.
Grandparents who suffered from racism because it was a mixed race marriage.
A mother who had been stolen into sex trafficking.
A young man, who at the age of ten thought it would be better to end his life.
Until he was introduced to that man on the cross.
The only one who could take on the sins of the world.
The Son, who was forsaken by His Father.
The only one who could change this young man’s life.
But only because, hanging on a cross, forsaken by God, He drank the cup that His Father wanted Him to.
I met that young man earlier this week.
He is about my age.
He is a Bishop in his church.
Through his work, he has brought fresh water to millions around the world.
But if I were to ask him, I believe he would say what he is most thankful for, is the fact that he was able to lead his mother to the man who gave up His will to do the will of the Father.
The man who was forsaken by God to save those who are suffering.
We have so much to be thankful for.
I am thankful for my lovely wife, my fine daughter, and the brothers and sisters I have here in this congregation.
I am thankful to live in a land where the greatest medical problem is obesity, not starvation.
I am thankful to have been born in a country where we can live free.
But most of all, I am thankful for the words, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”
And the Son of God who was willing to be forsaken by God,
So that the bishop I met could not only have his life redeemed, but his mother’s.
So that all of us here could live changed lives.
So that we all could approach The Almighty.
So as we enjoy our meal this afternoon,
As you hopefully enjoy time with friends and family.
Yes, even as you enjoy the turkey and football.
I hope you will take some time to be thankful to the God that made all of it possible.
And to His Son who suffered,
Not only so we can enjoy our Thanksgiving Feast, but the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Revelation 19:9 (NKJV)
Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ”
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