“If you reject Him, He answers you with tears. If you wound Him, He bleeds out cleansing. If you kill Him, He dies to redeem. If you bury Him, He rises again to bring resurrection. ~Charles Spurgeon
In the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He was assulted by none other than satan, himself. Yet, He refused to surrender, choosing instead to hold onto His destiny for life. In the end of Jesus’ ministry, He was attacked for His very purpose for living. Not in the wilderness, but in the garden and He, our Savior, was His own adversary. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Matthew 26:38). Although being fully God and fully man, Jesus dreaded death by crucifixion so much that He confessed He was overwhelmed. Gethsemane, the name means, the place of crushing. Imagine, after thirty-three years of living, healing and teaching, this is where Jesus starts to die. Without the affliction of Gethsemane, there would be no salvation at Golgotha. He pleaded with His Father, calling Him, “Abba”(Daddy), to spare His life, beyond being comforted.
“And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood…”
Was Jesus fighting for His life? He expressed our same human dilemmas, avoiding pain, holding onto life and struggling with thoughts of death. And if He had never suffered this temptaion, we wouldn’t be able to overcome ours. “Not My will, but Thine be done.”
While temptations we face get power from our fleshly desires to say no to God and yes to ourselves, Christ’s strength came from saying YES to the Father, Who also gives us the grace we need to obey.
Now consider this, while six-hundred men were sent out to arrest Jesus, only as little as four soldiers carry out His execution. Dressed in purple, crowned with thorns, and labled, “King of the Jews,” Christ took His first steps as a condemned man. They stripped Him of His outer garments, stretched out His arms, set His feet and impaled Jesus’ flesh deep into the wood. The sentenced had been carried out and all that lied ahead for Jesus was agony and waiting. “And they crucified Him.” (Mark 15:24) Crucifixion was death by exhaustion- every minute consumed with the painful necessity of struggling to breath. The legacy of this death is still with us in the word “excruciating” which literally means, “out of the cross.”
Hanging between heaven and earth, Jesus became the only force of reconciliation between God and every human being. He allowed Himself to be brutally beaten and executed. His will and pulse were no more. He wasn’t unconscious; He was dead. With His own blood, He paid the penalty for sin and death, all alone, in the dark. Through this violent death came grace and all of heaven waited for God to make His next move.
Could there be any corner on earth where someone would not find some representation of the cross? It is the universal sign of a once suffering and now risen Savior; it is the sign that Jesus was here!
The Turning of the Tables
But now, the violence is over and the tables are turned because God raised Jesus from the grave! Jesus Christ is now the One Who delivers the blows to the kingdom of darkness! The Resurrection is nothing less than the death of Death. “By His power God raised the LORD from the dead, and He will raise us also.” (I Corinthians 6:14) How amazing this wonderful hope we now have in Christ! But, have you ever noticed how quietly the Resurrection arrived? There were no “angels we have heard on high, singing gently or’e the plain” or Magi bringing their gifts. No Voice thundered from heaven. Jesus simply, walked out of the grave and revealed Himself in an intimate way. [ Please read His personal conversations He had with His followers].
He walked out looking differently. He sounded the same, but at first glance, no one was sure. “Look at My hands and feet. It is I Myself.” (Luke 24:39) Why did the Father choose not to erase the scars of humiliation? The violence that fell on Jesus ended with His death on the cross. The violence that occurred when He destroyed death was accomplished by God’s power when His Son walked out of the tomb. The final violence is an invitation from the Crucified One to a crucifixion. And the crucifixion is ours as recorded by Jesus in Matthew 16:21-25, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it.”
The fact is, if we choose to take up the name “Christian,” we too, must be recognized by our scars. At the heart of Christ’s Glory is servant-hood, the true mark of a crucified life.
~Christina Wright thanks to Micheal Card and Pastor Chris Esparza