“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5
We just celebrated Easter, and for some, it was nothing more than a few extra holidays with the promise of a long weekend of fun. Yet the Easter period is unlike no other. It is a time to reflect on the Purpose and the Person in whose memorial it was established. It is especially for all Christians, to remember that when death was the only inheritance that was ours, when we had no hope of being rescued from the hopelessness of our sins, God gave us His Son to die so we can live. It is the basis of our hope of eternal life. And it is the core of all Easters.
THE PURPOSE FOR JESUS’S DEATH
The story of Jesus’ birth was ordinary enough. Born in a manger by two peasants – the hallmark of insignificance. Dedicated at the temple with two pigeons – the least sacrifice for the poorest of the poor. Groomed in a carpenter’s shed for a life of toil – the legacy of a poor pedigree.
But Jesus was born for a specific purpose. It was a purpose that His place of birth, His station in life, His choice of trade, or His earthly pedigree could not obliterate and had been carefully selected to prepare Him for. He was born for a specific purpose unlike no other, and for which no other could fulfill – to reverse the plight of man originally created in God’s glory and declared good and perfect.
Jesus was born to pay a debt. But it was not a debt that He owed. It was a debt that we owed, but could not pay:”all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23. Yet He agreed to pay our debt because of His love for us. The price would cost His life. The path would cost Him pain. He would be cut off from earthly support, and subjected to ridicule and mockery. His own disciples would doubt His divinity, and those who had experienced great miracles of healing and deliverance would not be able to help Him.
THE PRICE JESUS PAID
Knowing the horrors of this Passion, Christ had pleaded “Father, let this cup pass over me.” But, knowing the hopelessness of sinful man without the atoning sacrifice of His blood, He had concluded to His Father, “Not My will, but Yours.” – Matt. 26:39.
The devil tried everything possible to prevent Him from going ahead with the plan for man’s salvation. He alone on earth understood what it meant for Christ to complete that sacrifice for man’s redemption. He knew it sealed his doom. He knew helpless captives would be released from His grasp, that his hold of death and hell would be broken, and man could be reconciled with His eternal Father.
The devil had successfully worked through the years to diminish the focus of the religious rulers on the Bible. And he had achieved so much success that they did not recognize Jesus when He was among them, teaching, healing, and preaching.
They did not even realize the role they were playing in the fulfillment of prophecy. Satan had had His beloved cousin – John the Baptist killed – to discourage Him from entering fully into His ministry. He turned Jesus’ brothers against Him, making them deny Him publicly. He filled His disciples with fear so that they fled from Him at His time of greatest need. None of these however defeated the purpose for which Christ was born! He was born to die for the sins of the world.
THE PROMISE GOD DELIVERED
Before Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, God had promised that the curse of sin that separated man from God would be broken. He promised a seed or an offspring of woman that would crush the head of Satan – Genesis 3:15. Faithful Israelites had waited for generations for the fulfillment of that promise. Some grew weary, thinking God had forgotten. But God had promised, and at the appointed time, He delivered. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of God stands for ever.” – Isaiah 40:8. Christ was born and went through the pain of death just so that we might be saved. He fulfilled His part of the bargain – made the atonement for our sins – 1 John 2:2.
While still on the cross, the curtain that had previously separated the Holy place from the Most Holy place was torn in two from top to bottom. What used to be hidden was then exposed and made public, symbolizing that the separation that had existed between God and man was cleared. The High Priest had stopped being the intermediary between God and man and all men were able to get to the heart of God directly. None could stop the removal of the partition and none could deny it. God had delivered and spoken plainly, in the language of heaven. When Christ said “It is finished” on the cross, it was truly finished.
On the part of Pontius Pilate, he thought he was done with Jesus. After he yielded to the demand that Jesus be crucified, he washed his hands to convince himself that he had not sinned. He knew the accusations against Jesus were false. As the appointed Judge of the people, he had found no fault in Jesus. But rather than acquit and disband the mob, he agreed to their demands by condemning an unjust man to death of the most excruciating kind. The Jewish leaders asked him for extra guards to prevent the body of Christ being stolen by His disciples. He agreed.
God would allow no weak or corrupt Judge to hijack the narrative of His plans for the salvation of man. Pilate had agreed that Christ be crucified and His body guarded by extra soldiers. But no ruler or priest can prevent the fulfillment of God’s promise. The decrees from Pilate’s washed, could not keep the Saviour in the grave. After death, He was to rise again. And on the third day, Jesus did rise from the dead. He had done His atoning sacrifice and reconciled God and man. He had a new phase of work to commence – interceding with God for man – and nothing could hold Him bound.
To be continued!
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