“We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death, and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”
When taking my son to school in August, I got a chance to do something I don’t get to do very much anymore. Just like you, I got to sit and listen to a sermon on Sunday morning. As I sat and listened to the preacher talk very simply about Jesus and forgiveness, I was struck by how good those words are to hear. The part that most struck me was not filled with fancy oratory or captivating illustrations. It was just the simple gospel message. We hear it so often that sometimes it’s hard for us to hear.
I think the same thing can be true of the events from Jesus’ life that won us that forgiveness. Most of us have had the facts behind Jesus’ suffering and death for our sins drummed into us from the time we could first talk. But it is still good for us to follow Jesus on his path to the cross and consider the love behind his suffering for us.
Thus Jesus tells us and his disciples that he was going to be betrayed to the chief priests and condemned. He knew all about it before it even happened, but he didn’t try to stop it. Jesus wasn’t forced to do what he did. His love for you and me led him to offer himself willingly.
Jesus knew that mocking and flogging and crucifixion were waiting for him in Jerusalem. Those chief priests who had been offering sacrifices for the people for thousands of years now made Jesus the final sacrifice for sin by nailing him to a cross. But not out of love for God, and not before they humiliated him, and tortured him, and found the cruelest way possible to kill him. Even all this suffering did not compare to the load of sin Jesus carried for all people as he was crucified. Yet all the way to Jerusalem, Jesus knew. He knew that his path to greatness was through suffering. He willingly took our place because he loved us. Nothing mattered to him more than freeing us from sin and death. This path is not one that we can follow and imitate. This path is one that we can only follow and appreciate.
The gospel is good news. Take a moment and just listen. It is still that good.
Picture By Amrei-Marie - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/ w/index.php?curid=50804475