I'm studying through Matthew during my quiet time and, early last week, I read the chapters on Jesus' arrest, torture, and crucifixion. I sat in despair at the horror these chapters described.
I was drawn to Isaiah 53 - words written hundreds of years before Jesus' birth. Jesus knew the agony that faced Him and yet He came.
- Esteemed not
- Stricken by God
I remembered the words Jesus spoke to Peter in the garden as He stood in front of the soldiers who came to arrest Him:
"Do you not think that I can call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more that twelve legions of angels?" Matthew 26:53
Jesus had deliverance within His grasp, but He refused to reach for it.
With a spoken word, He could escape the agony to come, but He remained silent.
He chose to walk the path to the cross. He willingly sacrificed His life for mine.
I can't describe the grief, amazement, and gratitude I felt. How can we stand in the face of such love? To fall to our faces is the only acceptable response.
Why? Why would Jesus suffer this way? Hebrews 12:2 says, "...for the joy set before him endured the cross..."
I'm sure Jesus was eager to experience the joy of returning to Heaven to become one with His Father once again. Did Jesus rejoice to know He would soon hear the praises of the angels instead of the scorn of the world around Him? His eyes were focused on the glory awaiting Him rather than the agony He experienced.
But I think there was an even greater joy that filled His heart: the joy of knowing you and me - all of us who love and believe in Him.
He died to cleanse us of the hopelessness and despair that tries to destroy us.
He rose to give us eternal life with Him.