This time of year begs us to stop for a moment and consider what Christ has done for us. It could be the newness of spring, the hope of new possibilities, but it's a time we pause and remember Jesus' ultimate sacrifice on the cross—for us.
Every year I like to listen to an Easter sermon and read those passages on Jesus' final moments in the Gospels. It can be hard to read the full account of Jesus' sufferings, but I think it's an important reminder, not only of our need for a Savior, but for the promise of a new kingdom—one where death is defeated for good.
For today's blog post, I would like to dial in on Luke 23-24, and focus on Jesus' goodness and selflessness to the very end. This piece of Jesus' personhood is so stunning to witness, so heartbreaking to grasp, and it deserves our attention today.
Mocked & Rejected
When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” ~ Luke 23:32-37
Up until this point, Jesus has faced continuous betrayal and rejection. From His own disciples, Judas and Peter, to Pilate and the growing crowds. Imagine the isolation, the despair that Jesus must have felt in this moment, as He was led up to Calvary to die.
In this moment, we see the depravity of man on full display. Here was Jesus, pure and blameless, a lamb sent to be sacrificed. He was mocked and despised by His fellow man. At our core, we are as sinful as those casting stones at Him. We too are responsible for His crucifixion, and it's important to realize this.
Until we realize our own failure to accept Christ, we can never fully appreciate the immense gift of grace that He has so freely given us.
What brings me to tears as I read this is Jesus' words to the Father, still petitioning for His enemies. "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Jesus' love for us in this moment is staggering. We can't even fathom such a love. This is the Jesus who continually prayed for His enemies throughout His ministry. This is the Jesus who recognized our own blindness to truth and sought to do something about it. He would not be satisfied with our demise. We would be reconciled with the Father in the end.
Sacrificed on Our Behalf
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. ~ Luke 23:44-49
We see here how all of Creation groaned with the suffering and death of Christ. There are even historical accounts of earthquakes and a solar eclipse happening at this moment—all reflecting our collective grief.
The Savior of the world has died.
Next, the veil of the temple was torn in two. How is this significant? What does this mean for us? We now have access to God without restrictions, and the Lord's Spirit is everywhere, not just in the temple. This was a radical thing to behold, and the future would be forever changed from this moment on.
Lastly, Jesus cries out, "It is finished." The Greek word, tetelestai, means "paid in full." Though Jesus died, He was the victor in this situation. He fulfilled His glorious purpose as a sacrifice on our behalf. This was how we were made right with God.
Yet He Remains the Victor
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ~ Luke 24:1-7
Despite the horrible atrocities committed against Jesus, He is forever the victor, the champion over sin and death.
It's important to note that while Jesus was on the cross, He was fully in control in every moment. He very well could have executed His wrath and judgment toward His oppressors, but instead, He fulfilled the Father's command and died a horrific death.
We see later on in chapter 24 how Jesus truly defied death and rose to heaven, shocking every bystander. The tomb could not hold Him. Death could not defeat Him. The Lord's power would always prevail over darkness.
- Until we realize our own failure to accept Christ, we can never fully appreciate the immense gift of grace that He has so freely given us.
- Through Jesus' death and resurrection, we now have access to God without restrictions, and the Lord's Spirit is everywhere, not just in the temple. This was a radical thing to behold, and the future would be forever changed from this moment on.
- Despite the horrible atrocities committed against Jesus, He is forever the victor, the champion over sin and death.
Remember God's Forgiveness