It could have been me doubting the unbelievable story the women were recounting about the empty tomb, the angels, and their words – “He is Risen!” Now we usually just give the apostle Thomas the bad rap of doubting the resurrection…but in Luke 24: 9-11 it tells us that when the women came back from the empty tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others…but no one believed them, for their words seemed like nonsense. How many times had Jesus told the apostles about what was to happen? How He must suffer, die, and then be raised from the dead three days later. Still they did not believe it when it really happened. Yes, I could have easily been among those doubters when the words, “He is risen!” echoed across that room.
It could have been me speaking with such irreverence towards Jesus. The Greek word for “hurled insults” in this verse is Blasphemeo, where we get the word blaspheme from. The robber who reviled Jesus, mocked Him by saying, “If You call Yourself the Messiah, then show us by rescuing Yourself from Your own impending death!” So any time I operate in disbelief and mistrust of the Lord…I’m basically hurling insults His direction also. Yes, it could have been me.
It could have been me among that group of dosing disciples. There they were in the Garden of Gethsemane, having just been warned by Jesus to watch and pray as He moved off to pray alone. Coming back to them, Jesus was dismayed to find them all sleeping and asked, “Are you sleeping? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you won’t fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Mark 14:38) Yes, it could have been me that Jesus found asleep. For how many times have I started to pray only to have my mind wander and become distracted after only a few minutes?
We were all once, “…without hope and without God in the world.” We were separated from Him by a chasm so deep and wide… there was no way of getting across by ourselves. In this bleak darkness our desperation grew, and we felt the hopelessness of being abandoned. But God then provided the bridge across that vast chasm…it was in the shape of a Cross. The gracious gift of redemption and reconciliation was bound to this Cross as the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ, ran down it. Yes, we were all once hopeless and cut off from God…but then God built a bridge for us…in the shape of a Cross.
It says in Matthew 26:62-63, ” Then the High Priest stood up and said to Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against You?’ But Jesus remained silent.” In this hastily assembled kangaroo court, the priests, scribes and elders gloated in the fact that they finally had Jesus where they wanted Him. They had lined up false witnesses to testify against Jesus…but He wasn’t taking the bait. The High Priest believed that he was in total control of the situation…but he had no idea that he was simply a pawn being used by God within the annals of eternal redemptive history. Jesus had no reason to answer the High Priest… no need to justify or defend Himself. For the plan of salvation, created before the dawn of time, was playing out perfectly.
No matter how many animal sacrifices were made in the Temple…they never fully removed the people’s sin. It wasn’t until Jesus Christ gave Himself up as the unblemished Lamb of God that humankind was finally delivered from the guilt and punishment of sin. Hebrews 9:12 says, “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” God offered His only son, Jesus, to take our place on that Cross. He died as an atonement for our sins…His blood being shed once for all. Which means He only had to died one time, not over and over again like the Temple sacrifices. For it was Jesus that took upon Himself the sins of the entire world that you and I might be redeemed and set free.
It was Roman custom to have the condemned person carry the cross on which he was to suffer through the streets as a means of spectacle, humiliation, and as a deterrent for others. But Jesus is calling us to follow Him…to purposely take up and bear that figure of shame. For on that cross our sins were brutally nailed…on that cross our redemption was sealed in blood. To the Romans, the cross was a symbol of shame…but to Believers, it’s a symbol of salvation.