2011-04-21 - Turning for the Finish Line
Matt 16:21 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. (NASB)
The Son of Man has know for some time that He would be lifted up like the bronze serpent Mosses lifted up on a pole in the desert. Any one of the snake-bitten Jewish people who would lift up their eyes and look at the salvation that the Lord had provided them would be saved from the poison in their blood. Three decades before His birth had been announced by angels to shepherds fulfilling a prophecy made thousands of years before. Sometime a year to two later wise men came from the east to worship Him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. Peter had just answered Jesus' question, "Who do you say that I am?", with a stunning profession of faith.
Matt 16:16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (NASB)
The millenia of waiting for Israel is over. Their Messiah had come to save His people, but not in the way that they had expected. His return in power and great glory would have to wait. The plans of God were greater than anyone knew. He would also gather the gentiles before crushing the enemy's head finally as foretold to Eve. Today our enemy is mortally wounded. His lies and decite continue to spread the poison that sin is acceptable, but his real power has been destroyed.
Jesus had been running the race visibly since His baptism. There was still a great deal of work and training to do before the finish line was crossed. One of the more difficult parts would be to prepare his disciples for His death. The idea of His death would fly in the face of their understanding. If we were there we would have been just as confused as well. The promised King had finally come to throw off the yoke of their enemies. But greater enemies had to be dealt with before that kingdom could be established.
They would not understand Jesus plans though He spoke plainly. The would argue against Him, try to derail His path from Jerusalem. Even when Jesus was finally crucified they missed His promise. He had shown them power over sickness and death. He had forgiven the sin of men and women alike and told them they were not condemned - power over sin. And still what Jesus tried to tell them did not penetrate. At Gethsemane Jesus humbled 300 soldiers by speaking His name - power over the world system. Today we have hindsight for the clearer pieces, but there are things that will always be beyond our comprehension: The Son of God putting off his divinity and putting on our frail human flesh to become one of us and know our difficulties perfectly. The depth of love that would willingly allow the Creator to have His creation drive railroad spikes through His wrists and feet to hang Him publicly from a cross in shame.
There is victory after death - after smashing through the finish line. But tonight I want to stop here as Jesus begins that final lap and think about the sacrifice that He suffered. It started with His fortold birth putting off His divinity and walking through this life to His equally prophetic death at the hands of humanity. Our sin put Him on the cross and He willingly paid the price to purchase our salvation with His own blood. He knows one thing a believer will never know - the pain of having the Father turn His back on us.
In the garden Jesus asked His disciples to pray with Him for one hour. For today stop here and consider the unpayable debt of gratitude we owe our Savior and what it cost Him to free us.
Grace & Peace,