|Posted by Lorraine Serra on March 27, 2014 at 9:25 AM|
This “cross thing” is a very gruesome thing indeed. Why would anybody surrender to it willingly, especially if you didn’t deserve it? But, that’s exactly what Jesus did. He had the chance to answer his accusers in a way that would have saved him from this death sentence, yet He did not.
This song and these images can help prepare us. Amazing Love.
Let us consider some of the prophecies written centuries before Jesus was born, that He quoted in Matthew's account of the final days of Jesus Christ, as well as His own prophecies of what was to happen.
Why did He do it? Was there no other way? His critics of the day must have thought He was insane, or stupid or perhaps, a fraud, after all. Remember the taunting crowd as Jesus hung nailed to that cross for three hours?
“He saved others so let him save himself if he is truly the Son of God!” Matthew 27:42
The Bible tells us that Jesus was fulfilling his mission upon the earth. The very reason he was born was to die in this humiliating, torturous, gruesome way. Appalling, unnerving, nauseating. This crucifixion is in our faces. Are we looking at it?
Spend some time reading through the Gospel of Matthew beginning in chapter 26 through 27. Jesus revealed to His disciples, on the feast of Passover, that He would be the lamb for the ultimate sacrifice. He quoted the prophets who foretold of this day, this sacrifice:
In verse 34: Zechariah, "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones." We recall that Jesus introduced Himself as the Good Shepherd.
In verse 64: Daniel "From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man throughout the 4 gospels.
He reveals His identification and empathy with mankind, while declaring His Divinity as Messiah at the same time. This term is used in the prophecies of Daniel and Ezekiel, and in the Psalms about the coming Messiah.
In verses 20 through 25, Jesus prophesied the betrayal by Judas while He and His disciples were at the table to celebrate Passover. In verse 45, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus declares it is time, and in verse 50 He speaks directly to Judas, accompanied by the chief priests and an armed crowd, "Do what you came for, friend."
The arrest, torture and crucifixion of Jesus Christ was no work of man, but the plan of God.
And do not forget the heartbreaking prophesy Jesus made to Peter in verse 34, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
I find it incredible that Peter missed what Jesus said in verse 32! "But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Even in this most sacred hour, God has set forth an example in His Holy Word, that our human nature is so self-centered. How did Peter, and the rest, miss this prophetic word about resurrection?
Whether you are familiar with Christian theology or not, you may certainly question the concept of one man taking the punishment for the many. It seems to defy logic. And not just any man; the Son of God! Really? Divine Royalty? The apostle Paul even wrote about this in his first letter to the Corinthian church in Chapter 1:
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."
Perishing? Who is perishing? Who is being saved? Who needs to be saved? What are we being saved from? Have you ever asked these questions?
Who wants to make sense out of this “cross thing” anyway? It is such a stunning, shocking and horrifying picture. Such torture and brutality is hard to conceive of. Yet, humanity has been known to dish out quite an abundance of it through the centuries, even still today.
We shudder to see news reports of the senseless slaughter of the innocent around the world. We have recently witnessed one regime destroying another, even torturing and eliminating its own people who resist submission to tyrannical governments in the Middle East. Genocide in many countries, and wars among and within nations, and even the gang violence in our city streets make it quite clear that there is something inherently wrong with humanity.
With such evidence of evil around us, the cross of Jesus Christ is raised up as a very contrarian solution. It certainly demands some concentrated meditation, not a passing review. This historic event has divided some and united others. It has impacted millions as the revelation of a pure, undeserved gift of love from an Almighty God, while at the same time becoming a stumbling block of absurdity to others.
The rule of Rome made common use of crucifixion to maintain control over people. It was the punishment for rebellion. This tool of ultimate torture and disgrace, though, became God's remedy for every evil in men's hearts.
On that cross we observe the most scandalous and illogical divine exchange: Jesus Christ, known for healing miracles and great wisdom, compassion and turning the other cheek, took upon Himself the punishment for all the rebellion of mankind. The sinless One, took our sin, our punishment.
What was at stake that it would require such a sacrifice as this? Until next time, I pray your heart is moved to a deeper consideration of the Cross. We have only begun to understand why. Next time, we will look at more prophesies fulfilled and the connection with breaking bread in communion.
Lord, help us to see you with new eyes and a new heart. Amen.
Categories: Journey To Victory - The Cross & The Crown