Jesus’ death is not usually something we’ll run into accidentally.
Easter, on the other hand, seems to be a part of our culture that’s here to stay. Even if you have to wade through egg hunts and chocolate rabbits, any trip to the grocery store this time of year will remind you Easter’s on its way.
Not so with Good Friday.
In contrast to our culture, and even some streams of Christianity that downplay Jesus’ death, Scripture will not let us accidentally skip over the Crucifixion. The Apostle Paul was adamant to “preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23), going so far as to say, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). And each of the four gospel writers are intentional to portray Jesus’ ministry as moving with purpose and resolve toward the cross. Jesus was a man on a mission that culminated in his own sacrificial death.
• “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Mt. 16:21).
• “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31).
• “Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again’” (Luke 18:31-33).
• “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit…Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour” (John 12:23-24, 27).
Those who penned the pages of the New Testament highlighted the Crucifixion because of its central place in both Christendom and the story of mankind. Easter Sunday without it becomes empty triumphalism.
The greatest victories aren’t those that come easy, but those that defeat the strongest foes, that overcome the most insurmountable odds, that cast down the foulest of evils.
If we let it, Lent points us “like a flint” towards the Cross.
We practice prayerful self-examen, confession, and repentance during Lent because as we glimpse the magnitude of sin and corruption in us, we come to know more clearly the magnitude of what Jesus lovingly took into Himself on the Cross, and this magnifies the victory of His resurrection even more. Whitewashing our sin or downplaying its wretchedness, only closes us off from the life that is ours through Christ’s resurrection.
In other words, Lent invites us to peer more fully into the cup Jesus drank down to the dregs for us, that we might drink more deeply of the gift of His resurrection.
Question: What do you do (or not do) during Lent that is helpful to your relationship with Jesus?
Yours in Christ,