"Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus away." John 19:16 (NLT)
Arrested in the garden. Mocked and taunted as an imposter. Slapped and slugged. Spat upon. Blindfolded. Flogged with a whip made with pieces of lead and stone. Forced to carry His own cross upon raw shoulders. Bloody. Swollen. Unrecognizable. A crown of thorns driven into His scalp. Nails driven through His hands and feet. Raised to die upon a cruel cross. His clothing gambled over. A spear driven into His side.
His response? "Please forgive them for they know not what they do."
After a celebrated entry into Jerusalem just days before, our Lord cried out for the forgiveness of those who had tortured and were killing Him. As He hung there, suffocating and enduring the pain of His weight pulling Him down, the spikes in His hands and feet ripping through His flesh, His request of His Father was for forgiveness.
We know the story of the crucifixion. Most of us have heard it since we were young. But do we truly understand the agony Jesus withstood for our sakes? Because of OUR sin, not His, He was punished in ways that we cannot fathom. There had to be a sacrifice. A perfect Lamb. Every strike was ours. Every taunt, every lash with the whip, every drop of spit on His bleeding body was for us. So great is His love for you and me that He was willing to take our punishment upon Himself so that we could be reunited with our Creator and have the promise of eternity with Him.
But the story does not end with His death. He did as He promised and rose again. Luke 24 tells us, "But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn't find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. The men asked, 'Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn't here! He is risen from the dead!'"
As we go through the rest of this Holy week, my prayer is that each of us will spend time alone with the Lord seeking understanding of the depth of His love and all He endured so that all we have to do to be saved is to repent and believe in Him. As Jesus stands defending us before the Father, may we strive to build a deeper relationship with Him.
May His mercy and grace surround us all. God bless.