Monday, April 18, 2011

Christ's Passion

In a few days, Christians around the world will celebrate Easter. This is the day we remember as one of the most important events in human history. But first we also remember Good Friday, the day that necessarily precipitated Easter yet is so difficult to comprehend. To be honest, a lot of the time I don't want to think about Jesus' suffering because that would mean looking at my own shame. However, Easter doesn't have any significance if the Cross on Good Friday didn't avert any wrath that was supposed to be ours.

The Passion of the Christ (Widescreen Edition)Many people have seen The Passion of the Christ, which depicts with graphic visualizations the torture our Lord bore on our behalf. Yes, the physical pain was great and immeasurably gruesome. But there were other reasons that made His road to the Cross torturous.

He was innocent. Jesus committed no crime deserving any punishment. He did not steal, lie, or cheat yet His message was offensive. He lived a life of poverty and nothingness, giving everything He had to those around Him. Anyone who was in need He did not turn away; even in His final hours of life He offered forgiveness to a sinner on a cross next to His. Though He was undeserving of the penalty of death, He accepted the punishment without a word.

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He was betrayed. One of his friends, whom He had poured himself into throughout His ministry, gave away that friendship and ultimately Jesus' life for 30 pieces of silver. Jesus had to have known from the beginning that Judas would betray Him, yet He treated him no differently, offering Judas the same confidence and trust He gave His other disciples who were faithful.

He was forsaken. The second-most incomprehensible fact about Christ's Passion was that the Father did not spare His wrath from His own Son. No one has been or ever will be faithful like Jesus, and yet God withheld His protective mercies. His Abba abandoned Him to die amidst sinners and scoffers, who ridiculed and mocked Him. Christ was alone. Utterly alone.

He was obedient. The greatest and most unbelievable thing our Lord did was obey God's will one hundred percent of His life. At any time He could have called a legion of angels to deliver Him. Think about that for a minute. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and even raised the dead. Yet He willingly gave up His own life. It wasn't a sudden death by any means, but Jesus faithfully complied with every opportunity He was given. There was not a single moment He failed, and by this obedience He was perfect.

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He is able. God's righteous judgment was deservingly directed toward us. His wrath was our punishment because of our sins, and there was nothing we could do to evade this eternal consequence. Levitical rituals merely symbolized and predicted Christ, and were empty with regard to our standing in God's court. Jesus bore all of this alone - the guilt and the punishment - because He could.

This Friday (particularly in light of recent controversies and discussions on the topic), consider hell. Yes, hell. Open your Bible and read how Jesus describes the unquenchable wrath that you and I deserve for our sins. Then remember that, knowing this torment, Jesus volunteered Himself on our behalf. Take the time to set your mind on just what it was that Christ's life was given over to, and then say along with Isaiah (12:1):

"I will give thanks to you, O LORD,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me."

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