Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush Him; He has put Him to grief. Isaiah 53:10
I hope you have been able to take a little extra time this week to consider the events of “Passion Week” or “Holy Week.” I like the designation “Passion Week” because Jesus’ passion for us was displayed in an indescribable way as He went to the cross to suffer on our behalf (as our substitute). The Gospel writers record several of the events that happened the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. We are familiar with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday. We know that Jesus cleansed the Temple by driving out the money changers (Luke 19:45-46) and He taught daily in the Temple area. Jesus, on the Mount of Olives, gave some extended teachings on end time events. These teachings have come to be known as His Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25:46).
We know that Jesus was able to eat the Passover meal with His disciples (Last Supper) as He shared a new covenant with His people and the associated symbols (bread and wine representing His body and blood). We know that Jesus then went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray as He waited for His betrayer. We are familiar with Judas’ betrayal, the mockery of a trial, Peter’s denial of Jesus and Pilate’s cowardness. We know that Pilate had Jesus scourged by the Roman soldiers and then sentenced Jesus to be crucified.
The Gospel writers do not spend much time describing the agony of crucifixion because the original readers would have been very familiar with the suffering and torture associated with crucifixion. Sometimes we can get side-tracked with the brutality of the cross, and do not give enough thought to ALL that Jesus accomplished for us (salvation) on the cross.
This year I have been blessed by going through a devotional book called, “An Ocean of Grace: A Journey to Easter with Great Voices from the Past.” (I highly recommended this 40-day devotional for 2022)! This week I have been enjoying a short book called, “The Cross in Four Words.” Those four words are freedom, forgiven, justice, and purpose. God’s plan of redemption is so amazing and I think that He gets more glorious and praiseworthy the more we look to the cross!
One of my favorite passages to consider on Passion Week is Isaiah 53 (The Suffering Servant). Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned-every one-to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” We are the wayward, selfish, sinful sheep and Jesus willingly takes all our sin upon Himself. Isaiah’s prophecy about the suffering Servant (who is Jesus) was written approximately 700 years before Jesus was born. This reminds us that the suffering of Jesus was part of an eternal plan, made between the members of the Trinity. Listen to Isaiah’s description (in Isaiah 53) of what Jesus would experience on our behalf:
- He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.
- Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
- He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
- He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
- Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt.
- He poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressor; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
We cannot picture Jesus going to His death kicking and screaming. No, He willingly laid down His life that He might ransom/save us. There has never been a greater display of passion and love! Let us ponder the events and praise the Lamb of God who died to take away the sins of the world.