READ John 19:1-37
Like most boys, when I was little I wanted to be just like my dad when I grew up and do what he did. Maybe you can relate. Because he was a pastor, this made for some very interesting moments!
Beginning when I was still a pre-schooler, I would regularly set up a little pulpit in our living room, put on a pair of my father’s old glasses, and lead simple church services. I did my best to follow the examples I saw every Sunday. We had singing and preaching and even communion from time to time. I would do this with any audience I could scrounge up – even babysitters.
My favourite topic to “preach” on – and one which I returned to over and over again – was Jesus’ death on the cross. To this day, I still have some of my simple childhood sermon notes on this theme. I was absolutely captivated by the extent of Jesus’ sacrifice for me and all people. It gripped my mind and my heart.
But I sometimes fear that I have lost my childlike wonder at what Jesus experienced and accomplished on that first Good Friday more than 2000 years ago. I have read the four Gospel accounts and heard messages preached about his death so many times that it is easy to almost gloss over. Sorta been there, done that. How about you?
Or perhaps the idea of the crucifixion of Jesus seems so gruesome that you would rather not think about it and instead just fast forward to the good stuff of his resurrection on Easter Sunday?
Today’s passage in John 19:1-37 recounts numerous details from the day of Jesus’ death. Condemned by the Jewish religious leaders. Sentenced by Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. Whipped and slapped and mocked by the soldiers. Stripped of his clothes and his dignity. Tortured by crucifixion on the cross. Mourned by his mother and close friends. Pierced in his side with a spear. And ultimately declared dead.
Why did he go through all of that? Why allow those people to treat him with such contempt? Why be willing to suffer such torment?
Jesus was the Son of God, the promised Messiah, the Lord of heaven and earth. He didn’t have to endure it. Even one of the criminals on the cross beside Jesus recognized that he could have saved himself (see Luke 23:39). So why did he do it?
The simple answer is, because of his amazing love! You see, Jesus loved you to death.
Romans 5:8 says, “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” First John 4:10 says, “This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”
Jesus loved you to death. Good Friday is an opportunity to remember once again this incredible truth – and even more importantly, to experience the reality of Jesus’ love for you personally.
REFLECT Would you take the time to slowly read through these verses and meditate again on all that Jesus went through for you? Don’t rush through the passage – linger and ponder. How does it impact you to read the account of Jesus’ death through the framework of love? Have you experienced his love personally? What is your response to Jesus’ sacrifice today?
BOTTOM LINE Jesus loved you to death.
LIVE First John 4:19 says, “We love each other because he loved us first.” The Bible teaches that your love for others is a natural response to first experiencing Jesus’ love for you. Who around you needs to encounter Jesus’ love – whether for the first time or in a renewed way? How can you practically demonstrate it? Who can you share this wonderful message with?
PRAY God, thank you for showing me your love in such a tangible and transformational way. Jesus, thank you for loving me to death! Thank you for being willing to suffer on the cross so my sins could be forgiven, my life made new, and my future secured. I am so humbled that you would love me even when I wanted nothing to do with you. Please help me to experience your love in a fresh way this Easter season. And Jesus, give me the courage to share your love through what I say and do with those who so desperately need it. Amen.