This week is Holy Week for the Christian faith. This is the week in which we mourn and celebrate the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a week that stands out amongst all other weeks. The week begins with Palm Sunday. It is here that the Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. People were all in the streets praising Him as the Son of David. They waived palm branches and shouted,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
They celebrated the entrance of what they assumed would be the King of Israel, a good man. A prophet. And he was that, but he was also much more. He was the Messiah. He was the Savior. It would be hard to predict that later that week people would be shouting “Crucify Him!”
This week means a lot to me. It hopefully means a lot to all Christians. It’s hard. I feel like so much of the world’s understanding of Jesus’ death is the physical. Oftentimes I feel the church has probably overemphasized this aspect of his death. Of course it was horrible. Of course it was brutal, and yes he die for us. But the details leading up to his death I feel are so key in explaining what happened those last few days and hours before his death. None of this caught Jesus off guard. He knew that this was to happen. He predicted his death to his disciples on three separate occasions, much to their disliking. Yes, Jesus was betrayed, but he knew what was coming. He knew he was going to be betrayed. He knew that his disciples would scatter taken into custody. He even predicted that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed, although Peter said he’d be willing to die for Jesus. He had the power to take on a whole mob of just by saying “I am he” (John 18:5-6).
This wasn’t something that he was looking forward to by any means. He did go to the garden and pray that “if it be possible, take this cup from me.” But he quickly added, “Not my will, but yours be done.” The prayers he prayed were passionate. He was already under much distress knowing that he was soon to die a very horrible death. His death was simply a meaningless and unjustified death. It was a sacrifice. A willing sacrifice. A sacrifice that would take away the sins of the world. And as he passionately prayed, sweating drops of blood (Luke 22:44), we see the disciples sleeping. Unaware of the anguish of Jesus. Unaware of what he was doing for them. They had no idea. They had no concept of what Jesus was really doing for them. And as soon as Judas came to betray Jesus the disciples fled (although Peter did stick around long enough to cut off someone’s ear).
Then people made false accusations against Jesus, yet he kept his mouth closed. People hit him, spat upon him, mocked him, and still he remained silent. Like 1 Peter 2:23 says, ” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
Pilate somewhat attempted to save Jesus from death, but bowed to the pressures of the crowds. Jesus was beaten. He was mocked. They gave the true King of the universe a crown made of thorns, and smashed it into his head. Thorns, a result of the fall of humanity into sin. They put on him a purpose robe, mocking him as king in his royal colors. The statements made by the mockers were made as insults in mockery, but were ironically more true than they could ever perceive. Jesus’ statement of “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” could not be more accurate nor loving.
The crowds demanded that Jesus be crucified. The death of criminals and rebels. This was the most shameful of all deaths. This was the most humiliating and public of all deaths. This was an extremely long and painful way to die. But Jesus carried his cross as far as he could bear. Then he was nailed to it with a big sign in multiple languages that read, “King of the Jews.”
People still hurled their insults at him. People still mocked him. I can’t help but wonder if I would have been one of those people if I there.
“If you’re REALLY the Son of God, then why don’t you save yourself? You saved others…why don’t you get off that cross and save yourself?”
Good Friday is a reminder that we are very glad He did not get off that cross. He became sin. The one who had never sinned became sin for us. God’s righteous judgment that is due to us because of our own sin was all put on Jesus Christ right then. Like Peter said in 1 Peter 2,
‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’ For ‘you were like sheep going astray,’ but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
Or like Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
Jesus satisfied God’s wrath toward sin in his death.
Jesus died. But that’s not where it ended. There’s more to the story.