“Jesus… Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…” (from Hebrews 12:2)
Today, is the day that we Christians recognize and reflect upon the events that led up to, and the crucifixion of, our Lord Jesus. It was the most harrowing day of our Lord’s earthly life. It is also so important that we realize the fact that Jesus willingly accepted everything He went through on this day. It was all done to Him… for us – for each of us.
There is little dispute that the worst possible way for anyone to die is by crucifixion. What makes it so horrific is not just that it is tremendously painful, but that it is a terribly slow death – eating away the life of the dying, hour after hour. Death comes, eventually, by suffocation – as there is no longer the strength to manage another breath.
Jesus went to that cross, willingly. Jesus died that horrific death, willfully.
But Jesus experienced more than just suffering and death on that day.
He was betrayed by someone in His own company – by a friend whose “kiss” condemned Him to those who hated Him. He did not resist His betrayal.
He was brought to (an illegal) trial on trumped up charges – and was condemned in that court by false witnesses. Jesus did not resist the terrible injustice.
Jesus was blindfolded and repeatedly beaten and slapped by those who mocked Him by commanding that He identify those who struck Him. Jesus willingly received the abuse of His abusers.
In his greatest hour of need, all His friends abandoned Him – leaving Him totally alone, to face the worst that any human being could experience. One of His own even blatantly denied that he was ever with Jesus at all. Jesus even saw and heard His friend’s final denial. Jesus willingly accepted a broken heart.
Jesus found Himself at a real trial, before a real governor and was found innocent. But to settle the societal unrest that was growing, Jesus was ordered to be unmercifully beaten by professional torturers. He allowed His flesh to be ripped from His body and for His blood to pour out – and He did so willingly.
When His release was arranged, all the people He had helped in His time of ministry turned against Him and demanded His death! Jesus felt the onslaught of ungratefulness and met it with willing submission.
He was forced to carry His own cross to the place of His execution. He was stripped of ALL His clothes. He was slammed to the ground and His hands and feet were nailed to a cross – the force of the spikes shattering His bones. He felt the full brunt of this world’s powerful cruelty. Willingly.
And while suffering through the final hours of His earthly life, He was the focus of merciless ridicule and mockery… and He received all that hate, willingly.
I say “willingly,” because the Bible tells us that Jesus could have ended any of His ill-treatment at any moment. He could have asked for divine intervention… and twelve legions of angels would have swept in and rescued Him from all danger and mistreatment (Mt. 26:53). But that NEVER happened. Jesus willingly accepted every terrible thing that happened to Him, for a very good reason…
WE are the reason!
Jesus stood in our place that terrible day – and He faced everything we have to face. He stood in the place of every person who has been wrongfully treated, wrongfully accused, betrayed by a friend, denied by someone close to you. He stood in the place of the abused, the mistreated, the hated, the shamed, the ones flooded by regret and pain. He stood for those who are the victims of the ungrateful – and for those who feel all alone.
And, on that cross, He was carrying ALL that. He was carrying YOU and ME. He was carrying, not only our sins, but also ALL our griefs and sorrows — and for all humanity.
So that all that is terrible and horrible about this life could die with Him.
This is what we need to see, when we think about Good Friday – Jesus did all He did for us. So that we could all put an end to the powerful hold of sin and hate upon our lives. So that we could all walk in the newness of Life…