The soldiers and the crowds have left
The bodies have been taken down.
But the events of the past few hours are still fresh in the minds of those who were there.
They remember the cries and the agony of the two thieves on the hated Roman crosses, the accusation in one of their voices “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself–and us, too, while you’re at it!”
They remember that he spoke to one of them about being in paradise that day with Him.
They remember the One who spoke only a few words from his cross and never a complaint.
They remember the wind that began to blow, the darkness that covered the whole land at mid day as the ground shook and trembled.
They remember that the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; that the rocks were split. That graves were opened, and many bodies of the holy men and women who had fallen asleep were raised from the dead
They remember the one of whom Pilate said “In him I find no fault”.
They remember being part of the crowd shouting ” Give us Barabbas, Crucify Him”.
They remember the one who spoke as no teacher or rabbi ever had. Who healed blind men, delivered children from evil spirits, made the lame man walk and fed the multitudes with a few loaves and fish from a little boys lunch
They remember the one who raised Lazarus, the Roman officers servant, and the little girl from the dead. The one who healed the lepers, and set the madman in chains free.
They remember the woman who spent all her money on doctors who could not heal her but after touching the hem of his garment was made well
They remember the prostitute set free from seven demons, the woman caught in sin saved from certain death and what he said, “Woman where are your accusers. Do they not accuse you? “No Lord” “
Then neither do I. Go and sin no more”.
They remember he had compassion for the people, that they were like sheep without a shepherd, no one to help them, no one to rescue them.
They remember that he offered those who were helpless, sick, oppressed and poor, life more and better than they could ever imagine.
They remember that he never claimed an earthly kingdom or even had a place to lay his head, but spoke of a kingdom where there were many mansions, room for all.
They remember the one who never claimed to be a king but said ,
“I am the way the truth and the life”.
They remember shouting out as he rode into Jerusalem,
“Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”
They remember the he was spit on, mocked, and beaten but never defended himself but instead said ,
“Father forgive them they do not know what they are doing”.
They remember his last words on the cross
“It is finished”
And as they remember all these things the weight of what has happened comes crashing down upon them, it all becomes clear and they begin to wonder-
“What have we done”?
Why did we allow this to happen?
I believe there are two things we must understand about this event, the one that more than any other changed the course of history.
One: It was not an accident, a situation gone horribly wrong, a mistake.
Through the years the Romans have been held responsible, the religious leaders, and some would even retaliate against the Jewish people for their part in the death of Jesus.And while it is true that those in that time share responsibility focusing only on guilt shows a lack of understanding of God’s plan and purpose.
We see echos of this, in a conversation with his disciples Jesus asks “Who do you say that I am?” and commends Peter for getting the answer right. “You are the Christ.”
Jesus then begins to explain what is going to happen that He would have to go to Jerusalem. There the elders, chief priests, and scribes would meet Him; He would suffer at their hands; and He would be killed.
Peter maybe a little frightened, sad or prideful says:
No, Lord! Never! These things that You are saying—they will never happen to You!
Jesus (turning to Peter): Get away from Me, Satan! You are not thinking about God’s story!
If we just look to assign blame we miss the greater purpose now as Peter did then
There are numerous statements by Jesus himself that clearly show his purpose for coming to earth was to die. Caiaphas the high priest unwittingly agrees with this with this statement in addressing the Sanhedrin the judicial council of that day.
“Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.”
Those who contributed to the punishment and death of Jesus are not blameless, but we see even in this the heart of God that even in this horrendous act is willing to offer forgiveness and reconciliation.
Two: No one not the disciples closest to him, those who followed him, the Pharisees, the religious leaders, or the powers of hell and their dark master understood the significance of the cross. This is made clear in scripture-
But we do impart God’s mysterious and hidden wisdom. Before the ages began, God graciously decided to use His wisdom for our glory. This wisdom has not been grasped by the ruling powers of this age; if they had understood, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.
1 Corinthians 2:7-8
They did not understand that the cross would be the undoing of Satan’s grip on humanity and that the death of Jesus would bring life.
We again see the heart of God and his love for his creation through the writing of the apostle Paul.
Paul the one time persecutor of Jesus and the church understood this truth intimately and personally
“When the time was right, the Anointed One died for all of us who were far from God, powerless, and weak. Now it is rare to find someone willing to die for an upright person, although it’s possible that someone may give up his life for one who is truly good. 8 But think about this: while we were wasting our lives in sin, God revealed His powerful love to us in a tangible display—the Anointed One died for us.
It is a new day hope out of tragedy, life out of death, victory from defeat!
Forgiveness is available.
There are two enemies left to be defeated, the best is yet to come!