In 564BC Arrichion of Phigaleia, the new Olympic champion in the pankration - a cross between boxing and wrestling - received his victory olive wreath posthumously. Competing for his third Olympic crown, Arrichion had found himself being choked in a stranglehold from behind. Unable to free himself from the ferocious grip, Arrichion managed to grip his opponent's ankle and twist it until it broke. In agony his opponent submitted, but by then the damage was done - Arrichion's throat had been crushed and even as he was proclaimed the winner, he breathed his last. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3534988.stm)
Arrichion died because he could not breathe.
George Floyd died because he could not breathe.
Arrichion's opponent has been forgotten but George's assailant is Derek.
Derek Michael Chauvin (// SHOH-vən; born March 19, 1976) is an American former police officer who was convicted of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The murder set off a series of protests in the Twin Cities and across the rest of the United States, later spreading around the world. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Chauvin)
In this season, I've been entrusted the opportunity to provide spiritual care to sworn officers and the communities they serve. What I've heard from officers can be distilled to, "Chauvin #u(&*d up." I share my experience among officers but do not speak for officers.
Derek and George placed me in crosshairs: an urban Black male among officers. I'm asked, "What do you think about all of this, Alex?" My mind has been on the Bible.
Paul, the Apostle, wrote, "...all have sinned (read "#u(&*d up") and fallen short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23) The expletive is "hamartano" in Greek. To "hamartano" is to miss the mark, fall short, come late, be behind, come short, lack, suffer need or be inferior. Arrichion's opponent fell short, so did Derek and so have we.
Indignation may pounce if anyone compares us to Derek but our self-righteousness melts by considering the word "all". All of what we do today, night or day, will unfold under the sky. Orbiting astronauts share the same sky with each of us. The totality of the sky is the totality of the inclusive language in Paul's indictment of those who've sinned. All of us.
Arrichion died under the sky.
George died under the sky.
Jesus died under the sky.
Jesus of Nazareth died because he could not breathe.
Crucifixion was invented by the Persians in 300-400BC and developed, during Roman times, into a punishment for the most serious of criminals...Someone nailed to a crucifix with their arms stretched out on either side could expect to live for no more than 24 hours. Once the legs gave out, the weight would be transferred to the arms, gradually dragging the shoulders from their sockets. The elbows and wrists would follow a few minutes later; by now, the arms would be six or seven inches longer. The victim would have no choice but to bear his weight on his chest. He would immediately have trouble breathing as the weight caused the rib cage to lift up and force him into an almost perpetual state of inhalation. Suffocation would usually follow... (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2004/apr/08/thisweekssciencequestions)
He died on a cross for our hamartano: big ones and little ones, hidden ones and those caught on camera. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. Christ died for our sins. Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.
As the sky is above all things, so is the name of Jesus above every other name. If the sky has seen what Derek did, and what we've done, how much more the Maker of the sky?
Arrichion received a crown of olive branches under the sky.
George Floyd became a martyr under the sky.
Jesus was raised from the dead under the sky.
The Olympian and martyr had unexposed sin, for which Jesus died: so too readers and this writer. In the wake of the Derek's verdict, we are still experiencing the result of sin. Juries help; protesters help; politicians, schoolchildren, housewives and officers help; judges, preachers, businesspeople and homeless citizens help; straight, LGBTQI, White and colored people help, but each of us falls short.
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We need a Savior.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:8-11)