Excerpted from the March/April 2015 issue of Christian Woman Magazine.
Warning cones surrounded the huge red fire truck, stopped on the freeway overpass. Three firemen stood saluting atop their rig. An enormous American flag hung gently below the overpass. All motorists traveling that freeway viewed that scene as they passed under.
This impressive scene was repeated for miles and miles on freeways in our area on two separate days that sad week. The respectful reverence honored two officers fallen in the line of duty. Tears welled up in the eyes of those passing this awesome sight.
As they served to protect our communities, a gunman violently took their lives in a situation that covered two counties. Apparently, some people have no respect for the life our Lord granted us.
Each of the officers left a wife and several children. My heart ached for the family and friends of these dedicated officers. Community support was tremendous.
At each of the services, thousands of uniformed officers filled the seats. Tributes were paid to these men whose lives were ended sooner than expected. Eerie bagpipes mourned as their players marched down the aisles.
Lakes of tears flowed for these officers and their families; tears of sadness for loss of life; tears of compassion for the families; tears of concern that such a tragedy happened in an otherwise peaceful community.
The gunman took refuge in a family home in the area. The occupants escaped, but the house remained a crime scene. That family could not return home. Bullet holes riddled the side of the house, windows were broken, and glass strewn inside and out.
The memorial services offered a fitting farewell to the dedicated officers who lived in the community and spent years protecting citizens and property.
These sad stories are repeated throughout our country as officers performing their duty are attacked and gruesomely killed.
Thousands of military troops also live in rugged and dangerous conditions in an effort to protect our freedom. Many lives of men and women are lost in the warfare. Our hearts hurt for their families and friends whose lives must go on without their loved ones.
Extraordinary ceremonies accompany many of these heroes as they return home under draped American flags. We stand quietly in reverence and respect. Our tears flow readily at the stirring sight, as they should.
I have shed tears in both of these situations. They remind me vividly of our Lord’s death.
Jesus was, and is, our ultimate hero. He suffered horrible pain and humiliation in His last days, as recorded in Matthew 27 and Luke 23. Painful flogging tore at His skin. Rulers sneered at Him.
They stripped off His clothing. They draped a scarlet robe on Him, twisted a crown of sharp thorns and put it on His head. They put a staff in His right hand, knelt down, mocked Him, spat on Him, and struck Him in the head with the staff.
After taunting Him, they removed the robe and put His own clothes back on Him. Chief priests, teachers of law, elders and even those passing by mocked Him. One of the criminals on a nearby cross hurled insults.
One brief and encouraging conversation occurred at the crosses; the other criminal was aware that Jesus had done nothing deserving of death and pleaded with Jesus to “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus responded, “You will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:42-43).
Soldiers continued mocking Jesus, and offered Him wine vinegar, mixed with gall – which He refused to drink. They cast lots for His clothing.
Those who knew Jesus looked on at a distance. He had no fitting farewell. His family did not receive an outpouring of support from the community. He had no memorial service with bagpipes, family, friends and tributes. No solemn service was held, and no Honor Guard escorted Jesus to the tomb.
Joseph, a member of the council, a good and upright man, had not consented to the decision to crucify Jesus. After Jesus died, Joseph asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. Joseph took the body down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in an unused tomb cut in rock.
No caravan proceeded to the gravesite. The only procession consisted of a few women from Galilee, trailing behind Joseph. They observed the tomb and how Jesus’ body laid in it and then went home to prepare spices and perfumes.
Jesus’ death was in God’s plan. Our Lord suffered and gave His life for us – that we might have eternal life.
Although no fitting memorial occurred at the time of Jesus’ death, we have an opportunity to remember and honor Him every Sunday. We take the bread representing His body and cup representing His blood each Lord’s Day, in remembrance of our greatest and supreme hero – our Lord and Savior.
Sue Latham lives in Antelope, Calif., and attends the church of Christ in Roseville. She has three children, 12 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. She helped establish the annual Northern California Ladies’ Retreat more than 35 years ago and has taught Bible classes for children and women for many years.