Again? Really? Will I ever get over it? Hopefully NOT.
This is Passion Week and as has been my custom for umpteen years, I spend Tuesday thru Friday reading the Gospel accounts of Jesus' last 24 hours on earth.
Pretending that I am an organized, efficient person, I start with Matthew. After all, it is the first book of the New Testament. And to no suprise, I then tackle Mark, Luke and finally John.
This morning I began by looking at three places where Jesus told His disciples what was going to happen. He literally said in Matthew 16:21, 17:22-23 and in chapter 20:18-19 that He was going to Jerusalem to be crucified and would rise again. Do you think the apostles didn't hear Him? Or perhaps they weren't sure of who this Son of Man was? Did they purposely forget it? Whatever the case, they were warned.
Matthew 26 and 27 tells us the horrific story. But first Jesus spends one last meal with His disciples celebrating the Passover. This is probably the holiest day of the Jewish year as they were commanded to remember how GOD spared His people from the destruction He sent over the Egyptians. In case you don't know this story, Moses instructed the Jewish people to get a one year old lamb and they were to slaughter it, roast it and then eat it (along with some bitter herbs and bread without yeast in it). They were to sprinkle the lamb's blood over the doorposts of their home which would signify that they belonged to the LORD, and at midnight, the angel of the LORD "passed over" their houses sparing them the loss of their first born child and animals. This angel took the life of every first born in Egypt.
Celebrating this event was a BIG DEAL and Jesus would not miss the opportunity to be with His closest friends remembering the LORD's provision of the Israelite community. It was at this, His Last Supper, that Jesus broke bread and gave thanks and gave it to His disciples and said : "Take and eat, this is my body". Another hint.
Immediately He took the cup of wine and offered it to them and said : " Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the Covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.". The significance would not be lost on His followers in days, weeks and thousands of years to come.
Oh LORD JESUS, You are the sacrifical Lamb, poured out for ALL of us. Your life and blood, You sacrificed so that our sins would be taken care of...ONCE and FOR ALL.
Our sins have been "passed over" because of what You did for us.
Was it easy? NO WAY.
In fact, Jesus knew how difficult it was going to be and in anguish cried out to His Father : "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will , but as you will." And He said this not once but three times.
Being fully God, He knew what was coming, but being fully human, Jesus knew the agony, the pain and the death He would be facing, and wanted out.
(who wouldn't want out of this?).
In a series of bogus, trumped up charges, Jesus was sentenced to crucifixion. Now begins the part of the story that gets me everytime. Any and every time I think about what Jesus Christ did for me, suffered for me, I get shivers and my eyes well with tears.
A sampling of what is written:
"they bound Him, led Him away and handed Him over to Pilate"
"But he (Pilate) had Jeus floggend and handed Him over to be crucified"
"then they spit in His face and struck Him with their fists. Others slapped Him."
"After they had mocked Him, they led Hm away to crucify Him."
Oh LORD JESUS, how could they have done this to You?
They spit on you. To me, spitting on someone is the most degrading thing one person could do to another, and here are these Roman soldiers who get a kick out of doing this to the Savior of the world.
They also struck this King of Glory with their fists and slapped Him.
Lest I pass judgement on these men, I realize that I did this to Jesus too. Every single person who has ever lived, has somehow insulted this spotless Lamb of God.
I know, we weren't there and we didn't spit on Him, hit him, flog Him or slap Him personally, but our selfishness, our rebellion, our stubborn pride (and by our, I really mean "my") have struck Jesus and hurt Him.
And the result of all this? Jesus was nailed to the Cross, became thoroughly dehydrated, suffocated and eventually died. In His worst moment ever, He was alone. Even His Father could not look at the disgusting garbage dump His Son had become as He took on the sins of the entire humanity of the world.
Jesus cried out : "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
When He realized that His own Father would not come to His rescue, "He gave up His spirit".
The GOD of our universe and all creation, all alone. Crushed by the heaviness of mankind's sins, Jesus is left to die.
Because He knew it was THE ONLY WAY, we could ever have a relationship again with His Father.
"Amazing LOVE, how can it be, that thou my God should die for me".
I am visibly shaken knowing that I am the one who flogged Him, who spit on His face, who struck Him and slapped Him. My sins nailed Him to the Cross.
This kind of love is so absolutely hard to fathom. I can't even get my head around it . I am awed, humbled and ever so grateful for His Love for me-and for you. We certainly don't deserve it, we've done nothing that merits this amazing love and yet we are forgiven and bathed in His Love and Grace.
This week called Passion Week should initiate such a passion filled response to His love, that we become and long to be, those who would show the world this amazing, loving , grace filled God. That all may begin to know and understand how passionate He is in pursuing us.
Thanks be to God!!!