On Easter, many Christians will gather together in the company of the redeemed to joyfully celebrate the resurrection and never-ending life of the Lord Jesus with singing, fellowship, and the preaching of the Word. After the corporate celebration, they will eat good food and enjoy Easter candy with their families. Perhaps your family has Easter traditions like these. Such celebration is appropriate for believers.
Before you enjoy the sweet taste of a Cadbury egg or a sugary marshmallow Peep, however, and even before celebrating the glory of the Resurrection, it is first appropriate for you to reflect on Christ’s death. Matthew 27 records four types of agonizing abuse Jesus endured as He was led to die.
First, consider the physical abuse Christ endured. This was the most obvious and infamous way that His enemies abused Him. The Bible records that those who arrested Jesus spit on Him; that they smote His head with a reed and platted a crown of thorns for His head. John 19:3 records that the Roman soldiers who nailed our Lord to the cross first punched him with their fists. The physical abuse Jesus suffered was excessive, excruciating, and cruel.
Second, consider the civil abuse our Lord suffered. The civil authority, the Roman keepers of the peace, played games with his clothes. They “parted his garments, casting lots” (Luke 23:34). The Roman civil authority treated Jesus like a game for their amusement.
Third, consider the verbal abuse Jesus endured. Matthew 27:39-44 indicates that the crowd who observed the crucifixion verbally abused the One who hung dying. As people passed by, they “reviled Him” with their words and insulted Him. The cliché “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is not really true. Words do hurt. The insults hurled against the Savior wounded His spirit just as the physical abuse had wounded His body.
Fourth, consider the religious abuse Christ was subjected to by the religious leaders of His day. The chief priests, together with the scribes and elders, mocked His claims of being the Son of God and the true King of Israel. Jesus, who Himself never sinned, endured this abuse by rebellious sinners to die a substitutionary death for sinners like me and you.
These aspects of abuse our Savior endured should encourage us to pause. Before we rejoice in the victory found in the resurrection, it’s important for us to reflect on the humiliation of His death. Our everlasting life came at a great price. Before we rejoice in the gift of eternal life, we ought to reflect on the cost of that gift.
Two implications of the high cost of salvation are important to consider. First, people that do not understand the cost of a gift usually take that gift for granted. May we never take the gift of eternal life for granted. Second, may we remember Jesus’ instruction that a disciple of Christ must “take up his cross and follow [Him]” (Matthew 16:24). One commentator points out that “taking up your cross” was a one-way ticket. Bearing a cross is a one-way journey with no turning back. When people in Jesus’ day saw a man carrying the crucifixion beam across his shoulders, those people knew he was walking in one direction and that he was not coming back. When Jesus says, “Take up your cross,” He is essentially saying to His disciples, “the pathway that I am going to walk is the pathway that you must walk.”
May we walk a path of love and service for others in a Christ-like way. May we sacrifice our lives for the Father’s glory and in service to the redeemed, with no turning back. May we be faithful to that path even if it means physical, civil, verbal, or religious abuse.
May every Christian understand and apply Paul’s words: “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). May we live like that, for God’s glory!
The above article was written by Pastor James C. Johnson. He is the pastor of NorthStone Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL. To offer him your feedback, comment below or email us at email@example.com.
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Christ is our Savior, but He is also our King. Pastor Johnson unpacks this idea below.