For April 7, 2023
It was early Friday morning of Passover Week, and Jesus had not yet slept. After He celebrated a festive yet somber Passover Seder with His Disciples, Judas Iscariot betrayed Him into the hands of corrupt religious leaders for thirty pieces of silver at the Garden of Gethsemane,
He was unjustly tried, condemned, and hastened before Pilate, Herod Antipas, and Pilate again and condemned to death. However, not before vicious, bloodthirsty Roman soldiers savagely beat him without mercy and led Him to the place, called Calvary, where they crucified Him. (Luke 23:33)
At first glance, the sinless, guiltless Jesus Christ would seem to be a victim of egregious injustice. …and He was.
Yet there is more to this story. God said that all souls belonged to Him and the soul that sinned would die. (Ezekiel 18:4) Further, the Bible teaches that all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory or righteous standards. (Romans 3:23)
A cursory glance at events happening in our world shows how human hearts and minds have been cursed by sin (and death). To remedy sin’s curse, God sanctioned blood to made atonement for sin. (Hebrews 9:22) In short, sin produces death and blood atones for sin. Thus, as the Son of God, our Lord accurately predicted His vicarious death and suffering,
And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. John 3:14-18 (NLT)
Although our Lord had the opportunity to escape death on the cross, He sought to fulfill God’s will instead of His own. Even after being beaten, spat upon, insulted, and crowned with thorns, our Lord was willing to suffer even more disgrace and humiliation by being stripped of His clothing, affixed to a wooden cross before throngs of mocking people. He had the power and the right to command legions of angels to destroy all humanity instantly; yet, He yielded His life for our sins and became the Perfect Intercessor.
It was supposed to be like any other Sabbath in Jerusalem, with throngs of people converging to observe the Passover according to Mosaic Law. The three-year disturbance instigated by this charismatic “rabble-rouser” ended with His crucifixion between two thieves on Calvary and His burial in a borrowed tomb.
Some of the Jewish leaders demanded that the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate assign soldiers to guard the tomb, and seal the stone door with a Roman seal, to thwart any attempt to steal His body.
Like many other clerics, Jesus Christ became a martyr for His “offensive” beliefs and teachings. Moreover, His death was to quell the spiritual conflict with the religious leaders and Rome. …but little did they know.
Before going to Calvary’s Cross, Jesus prayed for His Believers. He closes His prayer by interceding for all those who will follow Him because of His Disciples’ testimony and the Comforter’s (Holy Spirit’s) revealing work,
I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began! O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them. (John 17:20-26 (NLT)
Jesus prayed for us today who believe the Disciples’ message. It is because of their faith and courage we can experience our resurrected Savior,
That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the Saints what is the width and length and depth and height to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19 (NKJV).
Jesus prays that as His Believers, we will be one with each other, with Jesus, and the Father. Ours is a unified faith and message that reveals God answered His prayer. We belong to each other, and we belong to Christ—and He belongs to the Father. Here we extend our unity and love to become family—a Christian family—with perfect, eternal unity that will forever reveal the matchless wisdom and power of God,
As children of God and joint heirs with Christ, we have the privilege of sharing both in His sufferings and in His subsequent glory. …God gives us the privilege of walking the same path Christ walked, enduring sufferings in this life that we may also receive great glory in the life to come. …Because we are God’s children, our relationship with each other is far deeper and more intimate than the relationship that angels, for example, have to one another. For we are all members of one family.1
Ultimately, it is because of this one incredible moment in history that we would be reconciled to God and have our sins forgiven, as this beloved hymn relates,
The Old Rugged Cross
George Bennard (1873-1958)2
On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross, The emblem of suff’ring and shame; And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best For a world of lost sinners was slain.
Oh, that old rugged Cross so despised by the world, Has a wondrous attraction for me; For the dear Lamb of God, left His Glory above To bear it to dark Calvary.
In the old rugged Cross, stained with blood so divine, A wondrous beauty I see; For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died To pardon and sanctify me.
To the old rugged Cross, I will ever be true, Its shame and reproach gladly bear; Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away Where His glory forever I’ll share.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged Cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged Cross And exchange it some day for a crown.
Because Jesus died, we can present His righteousness, grace, and love through our worship, service, and fellowship as His Beloved Followers. Won’t you give Him your heart today and receive God’s perfect sacrifice for sin? Forgiveness can be yours today because Jesus Christ died for your sins.
What a Wonderful Savior!
- Wayne A Grudem, “The Privileges of Adoption,” Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004) 741.
- Kenneth W. Osbeck, “The Old Rugged Cross,” 101 Hymn Stories, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1982) 254