1 John 2:2, “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world”
What we call “Good Friday,” wasn’t so good for those who were standing at the cross of Calvary on that most dreadful day! The greatest man that history ever knew was nailed to a Roman cross and murdered. For His enemies it was a victory of sorts; for the soldiers it was simply another day’s work; for His followers it was the death of their brightest hopes and greatest dreams. But no one would have called that Friday “good.” Isaiah penned these words, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief … he was despised, and we esteemed him not”.
My beloved, have you ever considered the sufferings of Christ? Horrible, unrelenting, excruciating, unbearable and unspeakable pain. They spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands (Matthew 26:67). With each scourging and beating Jesus received across His back prior to the crucifixion so disfigured Him that He didn’t appear to be human. When His suffering was over, a spear was thrust into His side. His executioners confirmed their success and declared Him dead.
Dan Baumann, in his book “Dare to Believe”, shares some thoughts that can deepen our gratitude for what Jesus Christ did for us. He wrote, “We have perhaps unwisely and sometimes unconsciously glamorized the cross. Jewelry and steeples alike are often ornamental and attractive but carry nothing of the real story of crucifixion. It was the most painful method of public death in the first century. The victim was placed on a wooden cross. Nails were driven into the hands and feet of the victim, and then the cross was lifted and jarred into the ground, tearing the flesh of the crucified and racking his body with excruciating pain. Historians remind us that even the soldiers couldn’t get used to the horrible sight, and often took strong drink to numb their senses.”
While writing this my thoughts were of the life of Corrie Ten Boom. One such experience of her life relates so succinctly to this devotional when she went to minister to prisoners. She wasn’t looking forward to her turn to speak. She and the others in her ministry team had gone to a prison to talk to the inmates about Jesus Christ. They had set up their equipment at one end of a long corridor lined with cells. The men peered through the bars to see the visitors.
First, a woman sang, and the prisoners tried to drown her out. Then, when a young man stood to pray, the noise grew worse. Finally, it was Corrie’s turn. Shouting to be heard, she said, “When I was alone in a cell for 4 months.” Suddenly, the corridor grew quiet. With those few words, Corrie established a bond with the prisoners. They realized that she knew what they were going through. Her time in a World War II prison camp made her one of them. They listened, and six of them responded to her invitation to receive Christ as Savior.
So, why did Jesus allow the injustices against Him? A songwriter wrote, “He could have called ten thousand angels,” but He didn’t. Why was He so passive in this matter? Why didn’t He defend Himself and plead His case? He didn’t take any of those actions because He chose to submit to the Father’s will instead. Difficult though it is to understand, “It pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief” (Isaiah 53:10). Why did it please the Father to allow His Son to suffer so? It pleased Him because Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Suffering Servant, was the sacrificial lamb for mankind, whom Isaiah referred to as the flock that had gone astray.
Although Jesus Christ was the sacrificial lamb, He was also the good shepherd who gave His life for His sheep (John 10:11-17). He suffered death, because death is the payment for sin (Romans 6:23). Since Jesus was to die at the hands of sinful men in fulfillment of the Scripture, there was no legal way He could be legitimately found guilty. He suffered a miscarriage of justice so that He could provide justification for the very people who had put Him to death.
John testified that Jesus loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood (Revelation 1:5). John the Baptist described Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Peter said that the full weight of our sins fell upon Jesus (1 Peter 2:24), and the apostle Paul understood the significance of the cross. He had done many things in which he might have found personal satisfaction and pride (2 Corinthians 11:16-12:13). However, in his letter to the Galatians he wrote, “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (6:14).
The illustration of Corrie should also remind us of the importance of Jesus’ coming to this earth. When He “became flesh and dwelt among us,” He became one of us. He lived. He was rejected. He was humiliated, and He suffered physically and mentally. Therefore, He truly understands our suffering and He knows exactly what we’re going through. The resurrected Savior in the person of Jesus Christ invites all men and women to come humbly in faith to Him. By believing that He died in our place on the cross, we receive full forgiveness. The question then remains:
(1) Have you been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ?
(2) If not, there is no better time than the present to accept His free gift of salvation!
We can never sacrifice enough for the One who sacrificed His all for us.