But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.Isaiah 53:5
Mel Gibson’s presentation of Jesus’ suffering in The Passion of the Christ was very difficult for me to watch.
Even just reading the gospel accounts of His (Jesus’s) betrayal, trial, rejection, desertion, ridicule, severe physical abuse and subsequent crucifixion are more than I can handle.
I am tempted to gloss over the manifestation of His passion and go straight to the hope found in His resurrection.
And yet it is by His wounds that I am healed.
His bearing the ultimate punishment of sin on my behalf is what got me the spiritual freedom I am privileged to enjoy today.
He, being blameless, endured the pain from separation from God, on my behalf so that I wouldn’t have to.
Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”Matthew 27:46
And He made this sacrifice willingly, with determination, humility and dignity.
“Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? “How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?”Matthew 26:53-54
So Pilate said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above…John 19:10-11
His life wasn’t taken from Him, it was freely given for me.
… for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:2
This year, His passion for me has been impressed upon my heart in a way that has never happened before.
In the six weeks leading up to Easter Sunday, I have come to experience and know Christ in a whole new way through a study and teaching on thirty-two of His names. He has come alive to me as the Word that became flesh, the King of kings that became the suffering servant and bore my sorrows. His deity and humanity have both challenged and grown my faith.
During the passion week, my Bible study on the Gospel of John took me, in great detail, through His betrayal and trial. I could not answer the questions and read through the commentary and discuss the study questions with my Bible study group without being overwhelmed with emotion and my eyes filling with tears.
I am sad for what the Creator of the universe went through. I am overwhelmed by His choice to go through this out of love for me and by the love that continued to pour out of Him as He hung on that Cross. And I am grieved as I see myself in the various agents of abuse – the religious leaders, Judas Iscariot, Pilate, the Soldiers, Barabbas, the onlookers and the two criminals crucified with Him – during His betrayal, trial and crucifixion.
Christmas is met with a great deal more anticipation and celebration in our culture than is Easter and yet if it wasn’t for Easter – Christmas would have no meaning.
Easter represents the pinnacle of the Christian faith. It is in His death and resurrection, on our behalf, that we have hope.
When my grandmother died I wrote a eulogy for her in which I expressed that her funeral, while it was a time of mourning was also a time of celebration for the life she led and the way she impacted those around her. Her death was the end of her physical and earthly life but the beginning of another eternal life and one day I will share in that with her.
I can’t speak to everyone’s experience of grief and mourning I can only share what God has revealed in my very ‘specific’ experience and I believe the lessons may vary depending on the unique circumstances.
For the believer, death is not the end and we can take comfort in that. For the believer, our hope is not in any specific outcome of any situation but rather in the person of Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on the Cross – eternal life free from sin and its effects. Because He died, rose from death and lives, we can endure all things knowing that in the light of eternity they are temporary. In the words of the famous hymn, because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
This however does not mean we do not or should not feel pain or grieve hardships and losses. We were blessed with a range of emotions that are so valid that when the creator of the universe walked the earth – He experienced them too. He also experienced sadness and grief among other emotions. In John 11:33-35 Jesus was moved and wept at the death of His friend Lazarus and at the grief displayed by the mourners. But we, believers, know, that joy will come in the morning (Ps. 30:5).
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
This Good Friday I reflect anew on the person of Jesus Christ and the hope that His death and resurrection give me.
…who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8).
(Repost from 2014)