March 7, 2017

He refused to escape so we could be set free!

Last night we watched a TV show about an abduction; the person taken was able to defend herself with a dumbbell and escape. At bedtime, I read a few more chapters in a novel where the protagonist has nightmares and begins to remember being abducted as a child. She also escaped, but cannot remember how.

When Jesus was abducted in the Garden of Gethsemane, He did not escape. He could have called “legions of angels” but He choose not. He’d said to His Father, “Not my will, but thine be done” and meant every word. His captors took Him to the Roman governor for a trial of sorts and that didn’t go well either.

“So (Pilate) delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’” (John 19:16–19)

Crucifixion is an excruciating death. Why would anyone submit themselves to such horror, particularly someone who was innocent of all charges and could have simple walked away. But Jesus was not just anyone; He was and is the Son of God and He was on a mission. His assignment was to take the sin of the world upon Himself and pay the penalty sinners deserve — separation from God and death. He resisted any thoughts of overpowering His captors and any thoughts of escape. He endured the pain but also the shame of all our sin.

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’ A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:28–30)

His assignment was finished. The price for sin was paid. God’s wrath on sin was satisfied.

“And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” (Isaiah 53:9–10)

When Isaiah wrote, ‘It was the will of Lord to crush him,’ he did not mean that the Father was delighted that His Son experienced such agony. It means that He had a plan. In another passage, God says, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” How then could the death of His sinless Son be pleasing unless the prophet meant that this horrid death made an infinite change to the wrath and justice of God?

The death of wicked men could not satisfy the justice of God, nor could their torments in an eternal hell. Even though we deserve to pay the wages of our sin, only the death of a sinless and perfect sacrifice would do. Jesus became sin for us and with His sacrifice, sinners are redeemed and justified. The spiritual state of millions has been altered because the Son obeyed the Father and died for you and me.

Jesus is the founder and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that was set before him He endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2) Those who stood at Calvary’s cross saw the horror and agony, but God saw the result — and because of it and because of His incredible obedience, the Lord was satisfied.

Jesus, these thoughts are somber and yet at the same fill me with great joy. Because You were willing and obedient, I have an eternal relationship with You, one in which You traded my sin for Your righteousness. I am forgiven and set free from the fear of death and judgment, and from the power of sin to destroy me. The Father was satisfied and You declared Your task as finished because my debt is paid!

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