There seems to be a prevalent idea out there that Jesus was led to the cross like a lamb without a will of His own -- that He was a poor victim, betrayed by his friend, arrested and sentenced without a fair trial, having no other choice but to die in a cruel and shameful way before the mocking world. But the Bible tells us otherwise.|
"Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father." -John 10:17-18
The agony that Jesus voluntarily endured at Calvary gave us forgiveness of sins and peace with God; it wiped away our guilt and released us from the fear of death that held us in bondage (Col 1:14-15, 20, 2:13-14; Heb 2:14-16). Jesus endured patiently the sufferings of crucifixion because of the joy He was looking forward to (Heb 12:2). In the Upper Room, only a few hours before His arrest, He asked His disciples to rejoice with Him for He was going to return to His Father (John 14:28), knowing fully well that He had to face the crucifixion first. He didn't wish us to focus on His pain, but to rejoice with Him that He was going to conquer death and sin because of His great love for us (2 Tim 1:10, Heb 9:26; 1 John 3:16). The Lord of Life doesn't need our pity; He deserves our worship.
"The Passion of the Christ" seems to have brought a new awareness of the sufferings of Jesus which can be a good thing in our world that largely tries to hide from pain and death. Yet, very little has been said about His resurrection, as it would somehow be less important, a separate entity of its own. But as Paul said in 1 Cor 15:17-19: "And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable." It wasn't enough that the blood of Jesus dripped to the ground on Calvary; to obtain eternal redemption for us He had to enter the Most Holy Place in Heaven with His own blood (Heb 9:12-13, 23-24). It wouldn't have been possible had He remained lifeless in the tomb.
As important as it is to remember the passion of Jesus and not take His sacrifice for granted, He Himself wished us to rejoice in His resurrection and not mourn over His death. When He met Mary Magdalena and "the other Mary" after they had seen the empty tomb, He greeted them in the following way:
"And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him." -Matt 28:9
Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday go hand-in-hand. We can never separate them from each other, for without death there cannot be a resurrection and without a resurrection there is no meaning with death. As Christians we know that our death is only the end of life as we know it here on earth, not an end of life itself. That is the hope the resurrection of Jesus gives us (1 Cor 15:20-23). So let's rejoice in it, for indeed "He is risen!" (Mark 16:6).
Your sister in Christ,