Saturday, April 5, 2014
What Was Jesus Thinking?
The last week of Christ’s life takes more space in the Gospels than any entire year in His ministry, and a six hour timespan on the day of His death takes up as much space as the months He spent in Galilee. The Word tells us of much of what happened and words spoken during this paradigm-changing, single most crucial week in history. Yet it leaves to our imagination much of what Jesus thought and felt.
Imagine that you are a parent, and that your beloved children have committed crimes against the powers that be. Justice demands their severe punishment and execution, and they are condemned to die an excruciating, prolonged death. But you have arranged to substitute your life in their place, and you willingly agree to suffer and die so that they may live. You know when, where and how your gruesome execution will occur. You know that you are innocent, yet all will believe that you are guilty and deserve to die.
So you warn your children that you will be put to death, and you explain the specifics without going into detail about the horror. You know that your time with them is short, and you want to impart to them all of your wisdom and Godly example before you die.
But sadly, they just don’t get it. They don’t realize they are guilty of any serious offense, so they don’t understand the need for your sacrifice. You tell them you are going to die, and they argue over who will have more privileges when you’re gone. You explain the most important life lessons you want them to understand, backed up by your Godly example during your time with them, yet they not only fail to understand but don’t even care to learn.
You fill your last moments with them with meaningful family time, commemorating what has been and what will be, but they’re distracted with arguing with one another. You ask them to pray, not for you and your ordeal to come, but for themselves, that they will have the spiritual strength to carry your message forward. Instead, they fall asleep. You are arrested, tried, and put to death, and they run away, abandoning you instead of being proud to be in your family.
Yet this is just a poor illustration of what Jesus suffered. His sacrifice paid for all sins (John 1:29), past, present and future, of all mankind, not against a worldly power but against God the Father Himself, against the Creator and Ruler of the universe. His love was infinite and completely self-sacrificing, taking no thought for His own desires but willing to give His all to save us (John 15:13). His sacrifice was not just for those who loved ad trusted Him as He walked this earth, but for all of us, all sinners (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8; Isaiah 64:6), children of the devil (John 3:10), and enemies of God (Romans 5:10) deserving eternal punishment in hell.
One of the many ways in which His life was unique was that His divine omniscience allowed Him perfect foreknowledge of coming events (Acts 2:23), with all their detail and ramifications. He had known since the beginning of time that man’s salvation demanded not only His coming to earth wrapped in human flesh, but His agonizing death on the cross (Revelation 13:8; Psalm. 88:15). He knew that even His closest disciples would be clueless about what He was telling them (Matthew 12:40; 16:20; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-34). Their priority was not His mission as much as their own power and prestige (Matthew 16:21-23; 20:20-28; Mark 10:35-45).
Just as He supernaturally knew how to arrange His last Passover meal with His loved ones (Matthew 26:17-18; Mark 14:12-15); He also knew that they would be more concerned about who would betray Him (Matthew 26:21-25; Mark 14:18-21) and who among them was greatest (Luke 22:21-24) than about understanding the eternal significance of the bread and wine, symbolizing His body broken and His blood shed for the remission of our sins (Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24).
I wonder if His perfect knowledge made His sadness and pain easier or more difficult to bear? It may have been even more painful because He knew the details of how He would be betrayed by Judas and Peter (Matthew 26:47-50; 69-75; Mark 14:29-31; 43-46; 66-72), abandoned by the others (Matthew 26:31-43; Mark 14:27; 37-40), doubted by Thomas (John 20:24-25), and accused, humiliated and tortured by His very people that He came to save (Matthew 26:59-68; Mark 14:55-65).
Yet His unspeakably horrible trial may have been made possible to endure by His foreknowledge of the ultimate result. As difficult as it is for my limited human mind to fathom, He not only willingly sacrificed Himself (John 10:17) and set His face resolutely toward Jerusalem (Luke 9: 51; Isaiah 50:6), but He endured His suffering for the joy of giving us eternal life (Hebrews 12:2).
He knew that He would restore Peter and the others to vital positions of ministry (John 20:15-19), that even Thomas would no longer doubt (John 20:26-28), that He would convert Saul to Paul and give the gospel of grace to be spread to all peoples (Acts 9), and that His resurrection would conquer sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:20-57). Praise God that all who trust in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) now have eternal life!
© 2014 Laurie Collett