Lenten Reader -- Day 18
Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” Then one of them, named Caiphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” So from that day on they plotted to take his life. (John 11:47-50, 53) ----------
When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. (John 18:1-3)
Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people. (John 18:12-14)
At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips." (Luke 22:66-71)
Jesus, the only person to never sin, the most loving and perfect human being to ever walk the earth, surrendered himself into the hands of sinful men who would execute him. He could have saved himself. He could have just walked away (he’d done that before when a group of people attempted to stone him). He could have called angels from the heavens to wage holy war against his enemies. But he did not.
He did nothing to save himself because he was submitted to the will of the Father.
God’s justice says sin must be punished. A debt has been incurred and restitution must be made. Jesus was well aware of this, having spoken about hell more than he did about heaven, and he was determined that no one need go there. He knew the stakes of this moment. He knew that only a sinless sacrifice could atone for the sins of every human being in the world.
He knew this was all part of God’s plan to ultimately triumph over evil. And so, because of his faith in his Father’s perfect plan, the Son suffered on the cross the condemnation that we never have to experience. The Apostle Paul would later write, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
The price has been paid in full. The consequence has come and gone. All that is left now is to abide in Christ and praise him for having chosen to suffer in our place.
Lord Jesus, because of your love you emptied yourself out for me, becoming obedient to your Father’s will, even to the point of taking my sin and my shame onto yourself in an agonizing death on the cross. Such love goes beyond my ability to comprehend, but you willingly embraced the purpose for which you came to earth. You submitted this way because you could see beyond the immediate humiliation to the joy that was set before you. You knew that this was the only true way to lead others into freedom. You taught, both by your words and by your actions, that the way to life is through death. May I also learn to look beyond the immediate pains of this life to see what you are preparing for me. May I learn that it is through giving up my life for your sake that I will truly find the life that is abundant and blessed. May I learn the wisdom of humbling myself now, so that I will later be exalted. In your precious name I pray. Amen.