Thoughts in a Coliseum

VeronaJesus and Verona? Why, yes.

 First, let’s ask:

  • At what point in history would there be relative calm in Palestine?
  • Who would inflict the cruelest possible death?
  • How would the Gospel be spread quickly and efficiently?

Answer? The Romans.

And here we are in Verona with remnants of the Empire everywhere. Massive walls, bridges, and gates.  Everything beautifully engineered.

Sam, Jan, and Katarina on the Roman bridge over the River Adige.

Jan, Sam, and Katarina on the Roman bridge over the River Adige.

We are visiting Sam’s cousin, Jan. He moved to Italy over 20 years ago with his wife, Katarina, and their young daughter, Sabrina. They settled in a little town south of Verona called Isola della Scala.  Wine grapes, corn, sunflowers and, of all things, tobacco are grown in this region of Veneto.

And a bonus: the third largest coliseum in Italy smack in the center of Verona.

 Interior ring under the arena seats.

Interior ring under the arena seats.

The coliseum is almost intact. Finished in 30 a.d., Jesus’ ministry had just begun. He was walking Judean roads as festivals began to be held here. He was ministering in Galilee as gladiators initiated this arena.

He was healing and teaching while the massive, brilliant, cruel empire ascended around Him.

I think about this as we sit high up in the coliseum on the beautiful pink-tinged stone quarried from that region. I think about how the purposes of God transcend completely the most grandiose plans of men.

 Theater seats of Verona stone.

These theater seats don’t recline.

  • Jesus was born at a time when Rome kept Palestine on a tight rein to ensure calm in that fractious area. He traveled about quite freely in His 3½ years of ministry. And people came from long distances to hear Him.
  • The Romans devised methods of torturous death with their usual calculated precision. Hence, crucifixion. Jesus held back nothing with His sacrifice.
  • But here is the final irony: Jesus came when the vast network of Roman roads could speed the Gospel to every corner of the known world. And they did.

Theater and opera now draw crowds where men fought and died for sport. The floor of the arena is being prepared for the night’s performance of Verdi’s Aida. Fake facades are being nailed in place. Large sphinxes are rolled in near tall fake pillars.

 Set prep for Aida. Instead of blood sport.

Set prep for Aida. Instead of blood sport.

While the bones of the once great Roman Empire are now tourist attractions, the blood of the Christ they crucified still saves. For me, sightseeing here is a special pleasure. Reminds me that the Gospel will always survive the hubris of man.



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Victoria Kochergin on August 4, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Amen! Well said! God always had a perfect plan for everything. 🙂


  2. About those fries? Did you save me one?
    and PS: You are my “Gold Standard:”


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