Easter is tomorrow and I’ve been putting in a lot of thought about what it really means. As kids, we think it’s all about finding eggs around the yard and eating a bunch of candy, but as we grow older and grow in our faith, we begin to see that there’s so much more to Easter than just a big bunny hopping around and getting kids all crazy hyper with a sugar buzz.
Easter is about the fulfillment of everything that Jesus came here to do. This past week represents the week that Jesus, knowing what was about to happen (he wept tears of blood asking God to allow Him to not have to go through it), went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. He was welcomed into town by a large crowd cheering and applauding. He went to dinner with His friends. He taught them a couple of final and very important lessons. He was betrayed by a close friend that He had travelled with for 3 years. He was put in front of a crowd that wanted to see Him executed while a murderer went free. He was beaten, tortured and ultimately crucified.
And on the 3rd day OUR KING DEFEATED DEATH AND WAS RESURRECTED!!
My thoughts have turned to more of the bleak side of what happened those last few days and hours, trying to really get what He did for me. I think of the Last Supper and how He knew that His friend had already betrayed Him to the high priest. And even knowing that, He still chose to take the position of a servant and lovingly wash Judas’ feet before the meal. He was trying to show all of the disciples that they were to serve and love everyone, even someone that they would have every right to hate. He never tried to flee and get some place safe, because He knew how important His death would be.
He had to stand in front of people, many I would assume had cheered for His arrival, only to have them chant to release a very bad person from execution and send Him instead.
I’m no doctor, but I have been looking into what He would have experienced in His final hours on earth. He was flogged and had His flesh ripped from bone. The flogging, aside from being unbelievably painful, would have created a large amount of blood loss that would likely lead to the body going into shock. The soldiers placed a robe on Him which would have helped to slow or even stop the bleeding and had a crown of thorns smashed down on His head, creating even more bleeding and quite possibly damaging one of the main facial nerves, creating even more pain. And then the robe was taken off of Him and many of the wounds would probably have started to bleed again.
While suffering blood loss and being in shock, He would have had to carry a large and heavy piece of wood several miles through crowds that were cheering for His death and would be throwing things, hitting the soon to be executed and making it as difficult as possible for them to make their final walk. He was in such bad shape that a soldier had someone from the crowd come and help him carry His cross.
After arriving at Golgotha, He was nailed onto the cross that He had carried. His wrists (hands would rip when the weight of the body is placed on them) had 7 to 9 inch nails driven through them, probably damaging even more nerves and causing more pain and blood loss. The crosses actually looked more like a capital T than the more traditionally thought of t. He would have been lifted up the by the top portion that His wrists were nailed to until it was set in place, putting the entire weight of his body on those nails. Once in place, His feet would be nailed to the lower, upright portion.
With the physiology of how taking a breath works, He would have had to use the nail in His feet to lift Himself up enough to be able to inhale. Exhaling would have been difficult and carbon dioxide would have been filling His blood. After a short time, fluid would build in His chest cavity (which explains the water that came out when He was pierced with the spear), making it even more difficult to breathe and making it much more difficult for His heart to function properly. Each breath would be more difficult and excruciating than the last.
This makes it even more special that He was able to get a breath in His final moments to be able to call out to God “Forgive them Father, for they don’t know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:24). With everything that He was suffering through, His final words were asking God to forgive us for the agony that He had to experience because of our sins.
I try to keep this blog light hearted and fun and I tried to keep the above information from being too gruesome and difficult to read, but I think it’s imperative to have a little more understanding of what was truly happening to Jesus. He didn’t just fall asleep and never wake up, that wouldn’t have been a sacrifice. He chose to follow God’s will and endure the above death that He didn’t deserve.
Even though I am the person that I am, even though I sin and fall very short of the example that He set, even though I have not lived the life that I have been called to, even though I spent years not seeking Jesus and loving Him completely, He still chose to suffer the way that He did to be able to save me from what I so rightly deserve. From what each of us deserves. A death and eternity apart from God. Jesus knew that the only way we could be forgiven and be able to have a deep and meaningful relationship with Him that would save us would be to suffer the way that He did.
For many years I had thought that the tearing of the Temple veil after Jesus died was the rage and pain of God the Father losing His only son. Recently, I’ve come to realize that I wasn’t even close. God lived with the Israelites in the Temple, behind the veil. The veil tore because now the Holy Spirit could live inside of us for the first time! God could be with us in a much closer and more intimate way than ever before because our sin would have killed us the instant that He touched us, but because Jesus paid the price for our sins, God could be in our hearts. God could be accessible to each and every person, not just the high priest or prophets that He spoke with.
King Jesus set our hearts free to accept God in a way that no one could have ever thought possible. The enemy thought that he had won when his plots and schemes finally caused Jesus’s death, not realizing that it was actually God’s plan all along, to be able to defeat the enemy in a way that he never would have seen. Not only did God require a sacrifice for sin, but He provided the last sacrifice of life that would ever be needed, the only truly perfect sacrifice of His son Jesus.
And tomorrow, we celebrate our King rising victoriously from the clutches of death to sit beside God and fulfill all that God had promised.
I will never be able to say it enough, but thank you Jesus for saving me. You didn’t deserve Your suffering and I don’t deserve Your love or sacrifice. I may never understand why You chose to show me grace but I will always try to accept that grace and not let the enemy trick me into thinking that it wasn’t for me.