Crucifixion I

on Sunday, April 01, 2007

PhotoCredit: miriam_1973

Today is Palm Sunday. This marks Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem while the crowds cheered him and some shouted that he was the King of Israel. Yet paradoxically, despite the strong up-swelling of support, Jesus entered the city not as a conquering hero of the people astride a noble steed but rode in like a humble servant on the back of a donkey. Thus begins an amazing final week in the life of Jesus.

This story can be read in the Gospel of John from chapter 12 to 20. If you are not familiar with the story, may I suggest you read it. It is a fascinating account and has all the elements to make it a great story.

The story starts with a dinner amongst friends, the calm before the storm. Yet even here we learn that there is embezzlement going on behind the scenes (John 12:6) and away from this peaceful scene, Jesus’ enemies, which included respected and powerful members of the community were plotting and mobilizing (John 12: 10).

The next day was the triumphant entry into the city. Jesus’ popularity with the common folk was never higher and many believed that he would become King (John 12: 12-15). Yet at this moment, the story foreshadows the future with Jesus saying that he must die even as a kernel of wheat must die in order that it may grow and produce many seeds (John 12: 23-24).

Jesus is a man on a mission but he is not a two-dimensional character. He suffers from doubts but yet he re-affirms his dedication to the mission that God the Father has given him. His followers and all present receive two divine signs, a voice from heaven and Jesus prophecy specifying how he will die. The people though are not happy. Their hero speaks not of victory and the lifting of Roman oppression but speaks of his own death and defeat. Many begin to lose their faith in their hero (John 12: 37).

Despite, his impending doom which he himself predicted, Jesus continued to spend intimate moments with his disciples, teaching them revolutionary ways of thinking, like the greatest should serve the least (John 13: 1-17). The story now darkens with hints of betrayal from amongst his closest friends. Jesus knows who will betray him and asks only that he does it quickly (John 13:18-30).

The disciples begin to get worried and Jesus begins to reveal to them the extent of the plot against him and warns them that they too will later suffer for their beliefs and obedience to God. Jesus comforts them and prays for his frightened flock.

The plot now moves quickly to the dreadful act of betrayal (John 18: 1-11). Judas who has been at Jesus side for most of three years meets Jesus in an olive grove, hugs him and kisses him. Alas, the kiss was the signal for the soldiers to arrest Jesus; the irony of being betrayed with a kiss. Judas’ motivation? Greed.

Next comes the court scenes. The law is subverted but a show trial is carried out. Jesus stands alone. All his friends desert him. Some would be so intimidated by fear that they would deny ever knowing him (John 18:25-27).

The legal maneuvering comes to a climax when the plotters appeal for the Roman Governor to pardon a known murderer but to sentence Jesus to death. Pilate the governor wants to release Jesus as he finds him innocent of any wrong doing but is afraid of losing control of the angry mob. The mobs chant for Jesus’ blood; they warn Pilate that releasing Jesus may be construed as treason against Caesar. Pilate relents and sends Jesus to be executed by crucifixion (John 18: 28 – 19:16).

What follows is a dark tale of torture, abuse and finally a poignant death. There are no angry words from Jesus, no curses or threats. Instead, he asks God to forgive his enemies even as they stand and taunt him and mercilessly watch him die (John 19:17-37 and also Luke 23:34). The whole point of his mission was to bring forgiveness to men.

And so, Jesus died. For his mother and his family, the grief was soul-rendering. For his followers, they saw their hope die and were powerless to do anything. All that was good had been snuffed out. The forces of evil were rejoicing. It looked like the end of all the wonders that Jesus had shown them.

But like all the best of stories, hope will reappear from the ashes and victory will be snatched from death’s jaw. However, that story is for the sequel, “Crucifixion II: the Resurrection.”


Janice Thomson said...

Thanks LGS for a wonderful post on this beautiful Spring morning...I look forward to the sequel.

patterns of ink said...

Great post, LGS. I'm sure you have heard this sermon, but just in case, I wanted to send you the link to the audio presentation of Tony Campolo's "It's Friday but Sunday's Comin'"

Ellie said...

Great post LGS.

I haven't heard Tony Campolo's sermon that patterns of ink is talking about, but I had the pleasure of meeting him and shaking his hand one night and he is such a dynamic fellow. His message, the evening I met him, was so intense, the most intense I have EVER heard in my life. I will be checking out the link.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

You're most welcome. Sequel is better than the first.

Don't know Tony Campolo but Tony Anthony (3 times world martial arts champ but also ex-prison convict) is coming to town of an evangelistic campaign. I'll post on that within the next month. Thanks. I'll check out the link.

Wow, Great testimonies to Tony Campelo's ministries. Praise God.

etain_lavena said...

Enjoy your special time of worship:)

Becky Wolfe said...

Beautiful truths of a time that should be retold over & over again! Looking forward to the second part!

squirrel said...

You did a great job summarizing the greatest story ever told! Praise God!

Proxima said...

William Shakespeare said that "All the world is a stage and we are but actors upon it"

If this is true, then Jesus's story could not have come to pass unless Judas had played his part. I think Jesus knew this when he said "One of you shall betray me..."

It was meant to be as it was.



Ruth said...

looking forward to part 2. Thank you for reminding me what life is all about.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

etain, becky, squirrel, ruth,
Thank you.

Absolutely right about Judas' role. In the bible, there is a tension between the fact that God is all powerful and all knowing and the fact that man has a free will. So Judas had a choice. He was free to choose to betray Jesus or not. However, it was always part of God's plan for Jesus to be betrayed and to die on the cross. God's will cannot be twarthed. God knew what Judas would do. Jesus knew what Judas would do and he allowed it for the sake of the greater plan of salvation and the greater good.

Michael C said...

I always try and watch Passion of the Christ the Saturday night before Easter. Wonderful post!

Josie said...

LGS, this amazing story is the one upon which Christianity is based, isn't it? It's a story I never get tired of hearing. When I was a little girl my favorite part was Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey. He entered the world after his mother traveled to Bethlehem on a donkey, as well, didn't he? And you're right, Jesus was definitely not a two-dimensional person, was he?

What a great post!


(I had to take down my previous blog, but I have a new one and you can link through here.)

HMYU said...

Hi Big Guy! Thought I contribute a poem as Easter nears.......I try including some photos but...aaargh!! Just can't figure it out so the photos are left in my blog.

Here goes.

"Easter as I see it....."

I see disunity among Christians,
I see no peace among nations,
I see the Gospel twisted of its facts,
And I see now why God had to act!

I see deterioration in moral values of the human race,
I see corruption and injustice showing its ugly face,
I see no hope for us all at this age,
But yet I see each individual knitted and created in God’s image!

I see sky scrappers and man-made achievement,
I see man’s pride with all it’s invention,
I see self-reliance is the key to life,
And I see now why Christ had to give up his life!

I see nature being plundered and raped,
I see no hope for all the creatures that God made,
I see how marvelous God's hand in all creation,
And I see only through Christ, we can have redemption!

I see the cross where you and I should be the one carrying,
I see death as our destiny with eternal suffering,
I see this journey to Calvary no one is prepare to take,
And I see Christ who took all these for our sake!

”My God, My God, Why have thou forsaken me?”

I see pain on His face at Calvary,
I see grief and sadness, with breath barely,
I see much tears and blood that were shed,
But I do not see Him with any regret!

I see bondage in the human race,
I see death and destruction we will surely face,
I see God’s intervention in human history,
And I see hope, for Christ who died and now arose in all glory!

”Forgive them for they know not what they are doing”

I see sadness,
I see gentleness,
I see forgiveness,
And I see love manifested in all its greatness!

I see Christ as the living Savior,
I see His grace is for all without condition or favor,
I see salvation if we only believe,
And I see there is hope with God's full pardon......what a relief!

“As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” ~ Joshua 24:15

I see Christ ascended up in glory,
I see now this is the Gospel story,
I see no matter who says whatsoever the contrary,
I will still declare....He lives! He lives! And He lives in me.....what a mystery!

HeiressChild said...

hi LGS, i'm still catching up on my blog reading. i saw this post sunday, and definitely wanted to come back and read it and leave comments. this is what is known as laying down One's life for a friend. i'm glad Jesus counted us all as friends. excellent written, riveting story. i can't wait for the sequel.

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