(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional; This is not medical advice or scientific fact; the following article is simply my personal findings on studying Covid-19 via the internet. The following article is not intended for anything more than a personal opinion piece.)
Welcome back, and
Yesterday we covered
a ton of information about the birth of Jesus and why the virgin birth sets Him up to actually be the son of God, the significance of His triumphal entry, the importance of Passover and the famous “last supper” that took place while the disciples celebrated this holiday.
During this meal, the one who is to betray Jesus is revealed.
That would be no other than Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve called disciples, the one charged to watch after the money. Throughout the gospels Judas’ greed is hinted at, and there are theories that he even pocketed some of their money that was to be used for their ministry and travels for himself. It’s no wonder that he was interested in selling Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver (see Zechariah 11:13 for the prophecy).
John 13:2 says,
“And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot Simon’s son, to betray him”.
When Jesus announces that one of them will betray him, John 13:26-27 says,
“Jesus answered, ‘It is he who whom I shall give a piece of breath when I have dipped it.’ And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him, Then Jesus said to him, ‘What you do, do quickly.'”
It’s interesting to think
about how on earth someone who followed Jesus around for three years, saw the miracles he did and the love he gave could betray him. It all comes down to free will and truly believing in Jesus as Savior, not just playing the part.
Jesus will never ever make us love Him; he wants us to choose Him.
That’s why I believe he allowed there to be a fruit of knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden. He created Adam and Eve as beings to know God and enjoy fellowship with Him, but they had to choose this fellowship. Even though God directly made them, He would not make them love Him.
As discussed above, Eve was deceived. Adam chose to sin. Same with Judas.
Judas had a choice to resist the temptation to betray Jesus, but he dwelt on the thoughts too long and chose to allow Satan to enter him and at that point he was doing Satan’s will by betraying him.
The crazy part is it was also God’s will that Jesus should die on the cross in order to save the world from their sins and provide us a way to spend eternity with God forever in heaven. This is why Jesus still called Judas to be one of his disciples, even though He knew Judas would ultimately betray Him.
There was a heavenly purpose behind it.
Jesus and the remaining disciples headed to the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed for God’s will to be done, and where Judas eventually brought the Pharisee’s troops to arrest Jesus. This was a place that Jesus typically went to pray and would have been well known to Judas.
“When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus, therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am He.’ And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them.”
Jesus was then taken away in the middle of the night to his first trial before the high priest’s father-in-law, Annas. Then he went before the high priest Caiaphas.
It’s important to note
that this was an illegal Jewish trial as it was held in the middle of the night. The pharisees so hated Jesus that they started breaking their own laws in order to see him killed. They were not legally allowed to execute anyone after Rome took over in 6 A.D (according to the MacArthur Study Bible) so they sought out the Roman government (who they also hated) to get THEM to execute Jesus. That’s why Pilate, the Roman governor got involved. They were so intent on seeing the end of Jesus that they sought the help of their enemies to kill Jesus! And Jesus, knowing that this was the will of God, and out of his LOVE for mankind willingly went to the cross, having done nothing wrong, to be killed.
“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall never perish but have everlasting life.”
The crucifixion of Jesus was horrendous.
It was brutal, public, humiliating, and very drawn out. Jesus was beaten nearly to death before He was even crucified.
Mark 15:15 says,
“So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released to the Barrabas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged him, to be crucified.”
The MacArthur Study Bible says,
“Scourged with a whip (known as a flagellum) consisting of a wooden handle to which metal-tipped leather throngs were attached. Being scourged with a flagellum was a fearful ordeal, ripping the flesh down to the bone, causing severe bleeding. It was a beating from which prisoners often died.”
And who was Barrabas?
He was a Jewish extremist criminal and a murderer of Roman guards.
It was customary each year at Passover for Pilate to release one criminal to the crowd in order to appease them. The crowd (many of whom had just been crying Hosanna on Palm Sunday, but, as Jesus foresaw their superficial praise, were by the Pharisees) literally chose a murderer over Jesus. And what was Jesus’ supposed Crime? Blasphemy. Meaning, he claimed to be God…
The crowd’s choice to have Barrabas over Jesus truly shows the depravity of the people’s hearts.
Mark continues in verses 15:16-20 saying,
“Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and began to salute Him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.”
Crucifixion was meant to send a message to the entire community
that whatever this person did, you do NOT want to replicate, or you will be next on the cross. A lot of Christians today wear cross necklaces or jewelry to remember the death of Jesus.
I’ve heard it said
back in biblical times, that would be the equivalent of us wearing an electric chair around our necks or tattooed into our flesh. The cross was a gruesome instrument of death, and Jesus willingly embraced it in order to pay the punishment for the sin of mankind. Why in the world would he do this?! Because He loves us. Because each of us are born with a sin nature, and we all have made decisions that have gone against God’s will. We have all spat in His face and metaphorically nailed him to the cross because of our rebellion against him.
deserve to die and be separated from God forever. God is holy and cannot be in the presence of sin. Sounds grim…. and it is, without Jesus. But with Jesus there is life and freedom and forgiveness.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“But God demonstrated his own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Jesus took our place on the cross, even though He could have called, and God would have “provided [Him] with more than twelve legion of angels” to come to His defense at any moment (Matthew 26:53b).
He did it out of love, and this is what we remember on Good Friday.
Ever wonder why it’s called “Good” Friday,
when something so horrific happened? Because the death of Jesus saved the world from the power of sin and death, to those that call on His name and trust in Him as Savior. And it’s important to note that while Jesus hung on the cross, the Jewish people were slaughtering their own lambs as God commanded to celebrate Passover.
Many of them at that time didn’t see that Jesus WAS the PERFECT, SPOTLESS Passover lamb whose blood was shed once and for all! Not another creature’s blood, either animal or human, needed to be shed ever again, because the precious blood of Jesus was sufficient to pay for the sins of the world.
It only makes sense to have the one person who was without sin his entire life, the son of God, be the one to be able to pay for all the sins of mankind. He died for you and for me, and this is what a Christian remembers on Good Friday and at every communion out of reverence, respect, and gratitude.
Now, if the story had ended here,
it would have been a nice sentiment to have Jesus willingly die for people that He loved, but meaningless to you and me today. If the story had ended here, Jesus would have been like any other religious leader that lived, claimed to be some sort of deity, and then died. Christianity would be like any other religion out there, and to the skeptics that say “Well, all religions are the same,” would have been right.
BUT THEY ARE WRONG.
Let’s take a look at the entire chapter of Matthew 28:
“Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.
But the angel answered and said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.’ So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to bring His disciples word.
And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, ‘Rejoice!’ So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, ‘Tell them, “His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.” And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.’ So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day. Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”
This chapter is full of life changing truth for you and me to hold onto. On the third day (third day meaning, Friday He died, Saturday, and then Sunday He rose. This was how days were recorded by Jews, not a literal 72 hours like we think of “days” today) Jesus rose from the dead! How sad is it that the Pharisees of the day bribed the guards to spread the story that the disciples came back and stole Jesus’ body, and how much sadder is it that people believed them! They would have had to get past the guards, who were ordered to guard the body! Their lives were on the line if they let anyone past! Also, how on earth would the disciples have moved that stone away, especially in time before the guards could see what was going on?
This wasn’t just some small rock,
it was a huge stone, large enough to cover a man-sized entrance into a tomb! This theory is ridiculous and sad. Jesus is the only religious leader to have claimed to come back from the dead and is still alive today. And Jesus knew what he was doing, he made his re-appearance very public. He appeared to his disciples, but also to hundreds of other people before he ascended back into heaven and during his ascension. We have eyewitness accounts recorded, documented, and preserved to this day!
That is why we can trust the Bible
to be true. It is the most copied scripture in all of history, with thousands and thousands of copies, some dating to thousands of years old! And yes, we lose a lot of meaning in our English version of the Bible, but that is why we have those who have studied Hebrew and Greek and the original manuscripts that are preserved (for example, the dead sea scrolls. If you’ve never heard of them, check them out!) to ensure the most accurate translation of the Bible possible. And if Jesus is God and able to bring himself back from the dead, He is able to preserve his word through generations so you and I can read it and come to a saving knowledge of Him.
Jesus is alive today,
and I’m living proof of it. I was once in darkness, now I’m in light. Ever since I decided to trust in Jesus as my Savior (and not just because I was taught this by my parents, I made the decision for MYSELF), I have seen God’s hand moving in my life. From my education, to my career choice, to my marriage and now to my child and the blessing of watching him grow. Jesus has directed my life and given me the wisdom and confidence to know that one day (and with everything going on in our world right it could be very soon) when I pass from this life into the next, I will be in the presence of God because of JESUS’ sacrifice for me. Not because of anything I’ve done, because I by nature am a sinful human being who makes decisions in rebellion to God, but because Jesus lived, died, and rose again for me, I can trust that He paid the punishment for my sin and I will be with him forever in heaven.
You can have this confidence too.
You just need to decide whom you will serve and what you believe.