Throughout history, many men and women have died noble deaths for the sake of a cause. However, God ’s own Son, Jesus Christ, was nobler by far. He laid down His crown and His life for us sinners. Yes, He took the rap for our crimes for the sake of justice. Because His word warns: “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), our heavenly brother entered time and history to die in our place so we wouldn’t have to. He and Our Father decided this. As such, Jesus suffered more than any person who has ever lived. Not just physically, but also in mind and spirit.
Physically, he travelled the valley of despair. His accusers lied about Him. The ruling elite made false accusations He would lead a revolt because they were smug in their religion. They hated Him for teaching a new way: to love others more than yourself. Moreover, His judge denied Him a fair trial, when all Jesus was really guilty of was blessing, comforting and teaching others to know God: our Father and Creator. So they convicted Him. And His punishment was brutal. They spat on Him. They jammed a crown of thorns on His head. They whipped Him until He slumped from exhaustion, until blood dripped down His tortured brow from where the crown of thorns gouged Him. The whip was barbed with bits of jagged bone and metal, and it shredded His back with each cruel stroke. And as if that weren’t merciless enough, the crowd jeered Him the whole while. Yes, they laughed at poor Jesus! Oh, how heartbroken He must have felt.
Then they forced Him to carry the cross they would hang Him on to a place called Golgotha. He staggered beneath the weight of it. When he nearly fainted, someone else was ordered to carry it the rest of the way. Once Jesus reached the hill where they intended to kill Him, they drove nails into His hands and feet, and strung Him up on that cross. There He hung for six hours, naked, for the whole world to gawk at. Every joint in His body was yanked excruciatingly out of place. His chest heaved as He gasped for air under the scorching noonday sun.
Simultaneously, Jesus suffered mind staggering overkill as He bore the full weight of everybody’s sins upon Himself. Now, all of us know what it feels like emotionally to be burdened as a consequence of sin. We feel guilt, shame, loneliness and despair. So imagine how Jesus must have felt bearing the full measure of everybody’s un-confessed sins…everybody who had ever lived or who would live. We know He felt deeply distressed before they tortured Him because the Bible says He wept in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane beforehand. His words were, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death” (Mark 14:34).
Worse, because He had become sin for us, in His heart of hearts, Jesus knew He was getting what He didn’t deserve, for the Bible says, He “…committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth” (I Peter 2:22). Yet despite this, He let them lead Him as a lamb to the slaughter (Isa. 53:7). Yes, God’s own Son, our own heavenly brother, innocently endured a death sentence—for us—a sentence He didn’t deserve. The accounts of Him in the Bible prove it. In these accounts He healed, loved and restored people. He wasn’t at all a rabble-rouser.
Finally, but most note-worthy, Jesus suffered spiritual agony at that darkest of hours when even, as history states, the sun eclipsed briefly as a sign of His judgment. To be sure, at that moment, Jesus was utterly forsaken by God the Father. We know this because just before He died, Jesus cried out, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46).
Before then, nobody had ever felt God’s absence, for no one knows what it truly feels like to be abandoned by God. To be clearer, even if we never give God a nodding acquaintance our whole lives, we still feel a measure of His peace in the world because we still feel God’s presence of goodness in His creation. As the Bible says, “He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). But at that moment, Jesus was utterly forsaken by God the Father, who withdrew His Spirit to judge His own Son for mankind’s sins.
The absence of God’s presence meant the absence of love and peace and hope and joy—the absence of everything that was good in the world. What was left, what tore Jesus apart more than the heartless crossbars upon which He was strewn—was infinite sorrow, rejection and condemnation. An innocent man was damned that day as He heaved His final breath.
But God had a plan. He had allowed His Son to go through all this for a reason: to spare us from God’s judgment; for it is written that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin (Heb. 9:22). And since “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), God’s own holy Son, sinless and blameless, laid down His life in our place so we wouldn’t have to. That’s what makes Him the noblest. And He did this because He and our Father in heaven love us so much They want to share eternity with us.
Yes, God wants justice, but He wants us even more. And He says so: “For I have no pleasure in the death of the one who dies…Therefore, turn (to Me) and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32). That is why Jesus warned us about hell more than any other topic in the gospels. Hell was “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). Hell is a place where “the worm never dies and the fires are never quenched” (Mark 9:44). Hell is where unrepentant souls will suffer eternally, because they chose the fleeting pleasures of sin over obedience to God. There they will writhe in flames, the stench of sulfur and desperation choking the air, while their cries of torment echo forever.
No, with every fiber of God’s being, He does not want anyone to go to that place. That’s why He gave us the Bible…so nobody would. Besides this, people only go to Hell because they choose to go to Hell, anyway, not because God wants them to go, for God has provided a way of escape through His Son. As the Bible says, if we confess we are sinners and invite Jesus into our lives we will be saved (Romans 10:9, Rev. 3:20).
The sacrifice accomplished, three days later Jesus rose from the grave by the strength of His heavenly Father. He had triumphed over death! And His resurrection is a fact, attested to historically, for He appeared before more than 500 people at once (I Cor. 15:6).
Justice had been served. Sin had been paid for. And eternal life could now be anyone’s for the asking. Jesus had bought it for you and me.
Later, before His awed disciples, Jesus rose into the clouds to join His Father in heaven, where He now reigns with Him in glory. But before He left, Jesus commissioned His followers to tell everyone the good news: Jesus had died in our place! All we need do is accept that, and we can become His friends. In fact, that is all God has ever wanted is our friendship, and to help us through this life.
If only we will let Him.
Yes, Jesus paid a hefty wage for our sins. In doing so, He experienced more agony, more despair and more rejection than anyone who has ever lived. He paid the ultimate price: body, mind and spirit. And He did it for you and me!
If Jesus is not your Lord, won’t you privately ask Him into your heart? Oh, how He yearns for you to do just that because He loves you so much. After all, He created you. All you have to say is: “LORD, You’re right—I am a sinner. And I believe You died for my sins. So right now I accept You as my Saviour and receive the gift of eternal life You bought for me on the cross. Please bring some Christians across my path to tell me more about You? In your name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.
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