By Pastor James C. Johnson
On Easter Sunday many Christians will joyously celebrate the resurrection and life of the Lord Jesus, and rightfully so.
However, Christian person, before you eat another Cadbury Creme Egg or sugary Peep, it is first appropriate to reflect on Christ’s death. Before we reflect on the victory of the resurrection, consider what initially looked like the defeat of the cross.
Matthew 27 records the death of Jesus and 4 types of agonizing abuse which led up to His death. And, as you read through this, remember that He willingly laid down His life. No one took His life from Him. And, remember that His death was a substitutionary death. He Who knew no sin, went through all of this abuse for sinners like you and me.
First, reflect on the physical abuse.
They spit upon Jesus. They smote Him across His head with a reed and plated a crown of thorns. He was scourged with a cat-of-nine-tails. John 19 indicates that they punched Him with their fists before nailing Him to the cross for Roman crucifixion. The physical abuse was excruciating and this is only a brief description of what He went through physically.
Secondly, consider the civil abuse.
The civil authority played games with His clothes. They “parted His garments casting lots.“ The civil authority, these Romans soldiers, treated Him like a game for their amusement.
Thirdly, they verbally abused Him.
The Bible says that 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. Certainly the pain caused by words and verbal insults is subjective; we get to determine how badly words hurt, but no doubt that the people "reviling Him" intended to hurt Him with those abusive and aggressive words.
Fourthly, they religiously abused Him.
The chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked His claims as the Son of God and the True King of Israel. These "religious" leaders hated Jesus' claims as the Christ, and they hated Christianity. They preserved Jesus as a threat to their religious empire.
As I mentioned previously, Jesus, who Himself never sinned, went through all of this abuse, physical, civil, verbal, and religious, to die a substitutionary death for sinners like me and you.
Everlasting life came with a huge price tag. Before we rejoice in the gift of eternal life, make sure we reflect on the cost of that gift.
Children 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, and may we faithfully and humbly reflect on Jesus’ sinless & substitutionary sacrifice for us.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." - John 15:13
Consider reading the Bible's account of the crucifixion: Isaiah 53:3-7; Matthew 27:27-56; Mark 15:16-41; Luke 23:26-49; John 19:17-30.