A mid-week devotional from Central Presbyterian Church helping us to help prepare our hearts for the day ahead. If you would like to receive these in your inbox, please let us know. Find the complete archive here.
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”
Jesus and the disciples set out once again, this time towards Jerusalem. It was a journey they had taken twice before to celebrate the passover together, but this time things were different. Over the last three years as the crowds around Jesus grew larger with each successive miracle, the opposition from the Pharisees and Sanhedrin had grown to a fever pitch. The disciples knew that as they drew closer to the city, they were heading directly into the belly of the beast. When Jesus had announced that they were headed back towards Jerusalem, Thomas declared, “Let us go with Him that we may die too!” It is unclear whether this was a statement of false bravado or sarcasm.
As always, Jesus led the way. While the disciples at times talked a big game, every step they took was one step closer to impending doom. They couldn’t understand how their beloved teacher, the one who spoke and loved in a way the world had never known, the one they had come to understand as the final fulfillment of God’s promised Messiah, could be so foolish. Didn’t He know what would happen to Him? What would happen to them all?
Of course, He did know. He had known all along. Throughout His life, He knew what must take place in Jerusalem. Every time He had celebrated the Passover, He understood that the blood of the lamb painted upon the doorposts of every home in the nation was not pointing back towards something God had done in history to redeem His people, but pointing forward to what He was about to do as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
He told them exactly what was about to happen. He would be handed over to the chief priests and scribes. He would be condemned to death and delivered to the Gentiles—literally “the nations.” They would mock Him. They would spit on Him. They would flog Him. They would kill Him. But three days later. He. Will. Rise. It wasn’t a prediction so much as it was a guarantee.
But even though Jesus spoke with them plainly about what was to happen, now for the third time, they still did not understand Him and could not comprehend the words coming from His mouth. As they walked the road up to Jerusalem, they were certain that this was the end. And to some extent, they were correct; this was the end of the beginning, but just the beginning of the end. This was the plan of the Father, Son, and Spirit from the beginning of the beginning. These terrible things must take place in order to bring about the greatest thing in the history of history.
Today is Wednesday, but Friday is coming. Jesus knew what lay before Him. He knew the pain He must endure. He didn’t want to suffer, He did not want to die. But as always He submitted to the will of the Father. As Scripture tells us, for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross. What was that joy? What did He see? He saw us. You and me and all who would place their faith and trust in the innocent blood of the perfect Lamb.
He knew that we could not climb that hill, so He climbed it for us. He knew that we could not endure the wrath of the Father, so He drank that cup for us. He knew exactly what it would cost, and He was willing to pay the price.
Today is Wednesday, but Sunday is coming. If Jesus didn’t rise, He is nothing more than a fool and a criminal. If Jesus didn’t rise, Good Friday is not good. If Jesus didn’t rise, there is no forgiveness. If Jesus didn’t rise, all hope is lost.
But rise He did, just like He said He would.
Prayer for Today:
Lord Jesus, as we draw close to Easter, we remember that You are exactly who You said You are. You knew exactly what loving the likes of us would cost You, and You paid the price with joy. Like the disciples, we can’t understand Your ways. We don’t know why You choose to love us like You do. And there are not enough words to express our gratitude for what You have done for us. Thank You for walking that road, climbing that hill, and rolling away that stone. In Your perfect name we pray, Amen.