For the past few days, I’ve been doing what many mothers do this week of Easter. Prepare. The plastic eggs stuffed with candy filled the baskets for the hunt. Fruit carefully cut with toddler standards for the school party. Chocolate bunnies, pastel…well, everything and shredded multi-colored basket grass…check, check, check. And, the clothes – let’s not forget the clothes that were carefully purchased to not only meet Easter standards, but also the liking of the children.
Now, I, probably like many other mothers out there, have no idea what I’m going to wear for the blessed event, but the children will look nice. Let’s all just hope they will stand near each other and smile for the photo so I can prove that, at least for a moment, my son wore something other than gym shorts.
And, though there is nothing wrong with all this running around, I’ve had a couple of things on my heart this week that, even in the midst of bunny buying, occupied my mind.
Jesus knew his destiny and his fate the whole time. Now, I know this isn’t the most profound thing you’ve ever heard, but It’s gotten my attention all week.
He knew that he was born to die. He knew about the suffering and about the crucifixion, but there is so much more.
He knew he was the Lamb of God long before John the Baptist proclaimed this truth. He knew when he turned water into wine that the wine represented his blood that would be shed. He knew when he fed the five-thousand, gave sight to the blind and healed the sick that each miracle pushed him closer to his ultimate fate. He knew when he raised Lazarus from the dead that the Jewish leaders would plot to kill him. He knew when he rode the donkey into Jerusalem that the same people shouting Hosanna would only, a few days later, shout Crucify. And, he knew when he sat with the disciples for the passover feast – his last meal – that Peter would deny him and Judas would betray him. He knew he would be arrested, wrongfully accused, flogged, humiliated, beaten, spit upon, nailed to a cross and crucified. He knew.
He knew all these things and he did it anyway.
See, I think the thing that sometimes gets lost in the pageantry of this holiday is that Christ was human and holy. Even though he had supernatural power within him to heal the sick, give sight to the blind and raise the dead he was also human. He felt the weight of of the world literally when he told the disciples in Matthew 26:38 just before he was arrested, that his “soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”. He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me” (Matthew 26:39). Yet he submitted to the Father’s will.
He heard every lie that was told when he sat before the Sanhedrin court. He knew there was no guilt. As he stood before Pilot, the governor, he knew they would release Barabbas and hand him over to the Romans.
He heard every insult yelled at him by the Roman soldiers. He felt the humiliation as they stripped him and spit on him. He knew they were mocking him when they placed a purple robe on his back and a crown of thorns on his head. He knew.
Then the pain. Oh, the pain. From the very beginning he knew about the whip that would be used to beat him almost to the point of death. The leather straps that held small, sharp sheep bones and iron balls meant to cut his skin and bruise his body…he knew. And, he knew they’d stop just shy of death so they could torture him more with crucifixion.
He felt every pound of the cross bar that was placed on his shoulders as he walked to Golgotha. He knew he wouldn’t be able to carry it. He felt the pain as he likely fell face first to the ground. And, he knew about Simon from Cyrene who would carry his cross long before he looked him in the eye.
He felt every inch of the nails as they pierced his wrists and feet. And, as he hung on the cross he felt the pain of every movement and every breath until his last.
From before the very first miracle, he knew the prophesy that needed to be fulfilled. He knew what it meant to be the sacrificial Lamb of God.
I’ve been studying the cross this week and the thing that strikes me is that in theory, based on what is known about crucifixion at the time of Christ, the picture we have all seen may be a little off. It’s likely that the body of Jesus was hanging just a few feet off the ground. There are several reasons for this but the point is that he was right there – eye level – or almost. Looking in agony at his family, his friends and likely many people he’d healed. The soldiers, the religious leaders and his accusers all there, right there. And, he knew when he looked at them, right at them, they had no idea what they were doing.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
Knowing all these things and possessing the supernatural power to stop the process, he pressed forward each and every time. Giving everything up because he knew something else.
He knew about you and he knew about me. He knew about every person past, present and future that needed a savior. He knew about every sin, every transgression and every offense. He knew about all the shame and all the humiliation. He knew what was required of him and he loved us enough to bare it.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5)
This changes the image of the cross for me. He knew about everything from start to finish and it was worth it. You were worth it. He knew we needed healing not just for our bodies, but for our souls. Healing from our past and for our future. Healing for mind and our spirit. He knew that his wounds would heal us and that his death would save us. He knew the whole time from start to finish.
***image from Hope Point Church, Spartanburn, SC