As we study the gospels it’s quite clear that Jesus knew the purpose for which He came to earth, and that was to redeem mankind out of the hand of the enemy, and reconcile us to Father God. Several times in Scripture Jesus spoke to His disciples about His pending death and resurrection. He also predicted Judas Iscariot’s betrayal and Simon Peter’s denial (John 13). In the ninth chapter of Luke we read that ‘As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem’ (Luke 9: 51). The King James Version says that Jesus ‘set his face’ in the direction of Jerusalem, which further emphasises the determination He had to fulfil His purpose, no matter what the personal cost.
In today’s scripture Jesus is about to be arrested and eventually will be led off to die on a cross. Judas has just betrayed him for thirty silver coins; the price for a slave! He guides a detachment of soldiers and officials from the chief Priests and Pharisees to the olive grove, where Jesus and His disciples are meeting. In their hands they’re carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Neither Jesus, nor those in His company at the time, were blind to their intentions. It was obvious that they’d come to arrest Jesus. Everyone would have been seized with a sense of dread, but only Jesus fully knew what would unfold over the next few days. Yet He still surrendered Himself to them, and more importantly, to the will of God. When Peter tried to defend Jesus and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest, he was told to put down his sword. ‘Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?’ (Matthew 26:53-54).
Jesus also knew that He’d be bound, brought before Annas and the high priest, Caiaphas, and would undergo an illegal trial (John 18:12-13, & 24). He knew that He’d stand before Pilate, who would try to release Him, but would eventually give in to the wishes of the Jews (John 19). Jesus knew that He’d be brutally whipped by the Roman soldiers, until His flesh hung like ribbons from His back; that they’d ridicule him, spit on Him and press a crude crown of thorns on His head; dress Him in a purple robe and pretend to pay homage to Him. He also knew that they’d pull out His beard and strike Him in the face. Jesus knew that the crowds, incited by the Religious leaders, would cry out vehemously ‘crucify, crucify!’ Jesus knew that long, thick nails would be hammered into His ankles and wrists and that He’d die a prolonged, agonising death.
He knew that even while He hung exposed on a crude Roman cross, the venom of His accusers wouldn’t be satisfied, and they’d continue to mock Him in His vulnerable state. ‘Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God’, they would taunt. The two robbers crucified with Him would also heap insults on him. His beloved Mother would watch all this from the foot of the cross and it would pierce her heart like a sword. Jesus even knew that His Heavenly Father would turn His face away from Him as the sins of the world were laid on His shoulders, and for the first time in all of eternity, He would experience the pain of being forsaken. Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, knew all of this, long before it took place, yet He still chose to give His life as a ransom for many. He died for you and He died for me! O what a Saviour we have! O what great salvation!
Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, that even though You knew what awaited You, when You left heaven and came to earth, You still came. Thank You that You endured the cross, scorning its shame, so that I could be reconciled with Father God and spend eternity in heaven. I’m forever grateful to You. Amen.
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