It is that time of year again when our hearts are focused on the powerful events that culminated in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and we should desire to take some time out of our busy schedules to reflect on all that is entailed in what we know as Passion Week.
This year, I led some of our congregation in a study on the various details and prophetic fulfillments that transpired during the time that Jesus was dying on the cross for our sins. I did not prepare any fancy illustrations to grab the attention of the audience, nor was there a “wow factor” designed to keep people’s attention, there was simply, yet very profoundly, the text of God’s Word before us, which is more than sufficient and speaks for itself.
Our study involved reading through the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion, comparing the details, and trying to take in the many ways that all four accounts complemented one another. Each of these inspired books in the New Testament tells the same story, all while adding unique details and elements. We will not take time now to compare them, but I would suggest you take some time to sit down and read through these passages: Matthew 27:32-66, Mark 15:12-47, Luke 23:26-56, and John 19:15-42. I liken these four writers to eyewitnesses at the scene of a crash; each one providing what he saw in order to record one big picture of the scene.
John penned some things that Luke did not record, and Mark supplied some details that Matthew did not. Yet, the entire masterpiece of God’s story came together with impeccable precision, just as he had orchestrated it.
Passion Week, particularly Good Friday, is not the time for us to weep and mourn over a dead historical figure, because Jesus Christ is not dead! This is the time of year we set aside to reflect on the horrific pain and agony he willingly endured for you and me. The cross was not an atrocity that could have been avoided, for if our Lord chose to forego the cross, we would be without hope and still be under the curse of sin. We do not enter into this time of reflection with a heart of remorse, rather with a heart of rejoicing because we know that our Lord uttered the words, “It is finished.” Words which communicate the amazing fact that the price for our sins was paid in full!
We know that Calvary’s cross was no accident, and it certainly did not take God by surprise. In fact, God knew long before he created us that we would violate his holiness and rebel against him. Therefore, in love, he made a provision for our redemption and restoration to him. The cross purchased the eternal life that we could neither earn nor deserve. God loved us so much that he did not even spare the most precious possession he had: his Son (John 3:16).
On several occasions in the Gospel accounts, we read of Jesus telling his disciples about his mission. Matthew 20:17-19 tells us: And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” Yet they acted as though they did not know what he was talking about, especially following the events surrounding the cross, as we see their dismay. They forgot, or perhaps failed to process, what he had told them must come to pass.
The cross was absolutely necessary for our redemption, and without it, we would have no hope of going to heaven, experiencing our own resurrection from this world, or having our many sins forgiven. It was not something that, given the opportunity to go back in time, we should change; what was done once-for-all was exactly according to the perfect will and plan of our sovereign God. Jesus was not murdered; he willingly gave his life and died in our place. So as you take some time to contemplate and reflect upon the level to which our Savior went in order to offer us forgiveness of sin, please do not be sad, but be joyful that the price has been paid and he has given us hope and everlasting life! It was all part of God’s design and God does not make mistakes.
As you reflect, do not entertain feelings of regret or remorse, simply relish in the reality of redemption, restoration, and rejoice that your sins have been forgiven. The blood of Jesus will never lose its power!
John Mallonee is the Senior Pastor of Blessed Hope Bible Church in Liverpool, PA. Called to this ministry in 2012, he also networks with the American Pastors Network, and serves in a leadership role as a millennial pastor. John has worked on the board of the millennial pastor initiative alongside Statistician George Barna, Tim Barton, President of WallBuiders, Honorable Sam Rohrer (President of APN), and others. He has a Bachelor of Ministry (B. Min.), a Master of Theology (Th. M.), and a Doctor of Theology (Th. D.) from the College of the Open Bible and Theological Seminary, Greenville, SC. John is a published author and currently writes a daily online and print devotional. In addition to writing, he also produces a weekly radio spot, Weekend Devotion. John and his wife Rebekah have four children: Rachel, Hannah, Isaiah, and Sarah Beth. The family currently resides in Newport, PA and is actively involved in their community. You can follow John on Twitter at @soul_dr1982 or visit his website: https://www.johnmallonee.org/.