On the Cross
Friday, April 2, 2010

It's Good Friday, and a good time to reflect on all that Jesus has done for us.

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.

Surely He has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered Him stricken by God,
smitten by Him, and afflicted.

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.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet He did not open His mouth;
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so He did not open His mouth.

By oppression and judgment He was taken away.
And who can speak of His descendants?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of My people He was stricken.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in His death,
though He had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in His mouth.

Yet it was the Lord's will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes His life a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring and prolong His days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

After the suffering of His soul,
He will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
and He will bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great,
and He will divide the spoils with the strong,
because He poured out His life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For He bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

— Isaiah 53:3-12

He Bore It All

On Jesus was placed all the sin of all mankind, for all time, that He might be the redemption for all who put their faith in Him.

This is what He bore for our sake:  He was betrayed by one of His own followers, one who had been with Him and part of His ministry for the last three years.  He was sold out unto death, for 30 pieces of silver, and betrayed even with a kiss.  Do you think that stung?  That Judas would, to the very last, feign fellowship and greet Him with a kiss, even as he came to hand Him over to those who sought His life?  Not only that, Jesus was disowned by the very one who swore he would lay down his life for Him.  Disowned.  "I don't know Him."  From the one who was among Jesus' most zealous disciples.

He was prejudged, and wrongfully condemned.  Through all the false accusations, Jesus remained silent.  But to the one relevant question, He gave an answer:  "Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!"  When He said yes, they accused Him of blasphemy, and declared that He was deserving of death.  Note that such a statement is only blasphemy if it's not true.  If an ordinary man made such a claim, it would be blasphemy.  But spoken by the true Son of God, it's not blasphemy at all.  The ruling council had already judged Him.  When they asked the question, they didn't want to know the real answer.  They weren't even open to the possibility that He might actually be the Messiah.  They had already decided, had already made up their minds.  And so they sought to put Him to death.

He was handed over to the authorities, mocked, beaten, spat upon, and treated with contempt by Herod and his soldiers.  He was rejected by His own people.  The very people to whom God said, "I have loved you with an everlasting love," and "I have engraved you on the palms of my hands," they clamored for His crucifixion and demanded His death.  And though Pilate confessed that he found no fault in Jesus, he ordered Him to be scourged, and handed Him over to be crucified.  Not that He had committed any crime, but rather, the life of the one and only precious Son of God, was treated as utterly worthless, not even given any value as a human being.

He was brutally flogged, a barbaric practice that tore both flesh and muscle from the body, and hung upon a cross to die.  And there, He experienced the most wretchesd moment in all eternity:  as the sin of all mankind was laid upon Him, His fellowship with the Father, that bond of love which had been perfect and unbroken from all eternity, was severed.  Broken.  He was alone, despised, rejected, and condemned, though He was innocent.  And His soul cried out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"  And in this manner, death took Him.

Life for Life

Jesus endured all this, that we might have forgivness in His name, forgiveness for our sins, and that our fellowship with the Father, which is broken because of our sin, might be made whole.

Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.  For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.  Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

— John 3:14-18

He gave His life so that we might live.  Therefore,

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

— Hebrews 12:2

What was the joy set before Him?  Our redemption.  Amazingly, that we might be purified and have fellowship with Him.  He who was valued of no worth, valued us so much that He would go through all that suffering just to be with us for all eternity.

Comfort in Sorrow, Hope in Suffering

Have you ever felt betrayed?  Disowned?  Rejected?  Have you ever experienced the grief and loss of broken fellowship with someone you loved?  Have you ever felt that you were prejudged, misjudged, wrongfully condemned?  Have you ever felt that you were treated with contempt, devalued, and esteemed of no worth?  Take hold of the cross, and remember that Jesus suffered all of that and more.  "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses." (Hebrewes 4:15)  Consider Jesus' words:

A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.
It is enough for a student to be like his teacher, and a servant like his master.

— Matthew 10:24-25

For if we take part in Christ's sufferings, we shall also share in His glory (Romans 8:16-17).  For God did not abandon Him to the grave, but raised Him from the dead and exalted Him to the right hand of the Father, in glory, and gave Him a name that is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  He was vindicated.  And in Him we have the hope of eternal life, where there will be no more sorrow, nor suffering, nor sickness, nor death.

The ransomed of the Lord will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

— Isaiah 51:11

Praise be to God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, forever and ever.  Amen!

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Say to the Daughter of Zion,
"See, your King comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey."
— Matthew 21:5