On Good Friday I was reading the last few chapters of Matthew, which describes the events leading up to the crucifixion. I stopped abruptly when I read today’s verses. In context, Judas had just betrayed Jesus with a kiss; men armed with swords and clubs had stepped forward to seize him and impetuous Peter had just drawn his sword and sliced off the ear of the servant of the High Priest. It was an overwhelming and confusing few minutes. Jesus responded to Peter by commanding him to put down his sword and then he spoke out those words that so impacted me. ‘Do you think I cannot call on my father and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels.’ (Matthew 26:53).
For me it was an important reminder that Jesus’ life was not taken from Him but that He willingly gave it up (John 10:18). In the book of Luke we read that Jesus resolutely set His face towards Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). He was well aware of what suffering awaited Him there and He had determined that He would not be deferred from His purpose. In the garden of Gethsemane we read that Jesus surrendered His will to God again and with an anguished prayer prayed ‘Not as I will, but as you will’ (Matthew 26:39). Even while being mocked on the cross by the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law Jesus chose death over retribution. I would have been tempted to respond to their challenge but Jesus didn’t (Matthew 27:41-42). He chose to stay on the cross, not to be a hero, nor because He wanted to make a point. He chose the cross because He knew His purpose for coming to earth was to lay down His life the ransom of many (Matthew 20:28).
Jesus chose the nails. He chose the mocking and the whipping and the humiliation. He chose separation from His heavenly Father for my sake and for yours. He knew that His decision to endure the cross and scorn its shame would change the eternal destination of billions (Hebrews 12:2). If that doesn’t cause a wave of gratefulness to well up from deep within you, I don’t know what will. Never, ever forget that He chose the cross and He chose the nails and He did it for you and He did it for me.
Prayer: Thank You, thank You, thank You, Jesus, for dying so that I could be forgiven for my sins and be welcomed open-armed into heaven. Thank You for choosing the cross. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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