I cannot help but wonder what was occupying Jesus’ mind during this pivotal week; His last week walking this earth before offering Himself as our sacrificial lamb. He knew what was ahead for Him. He knew before time itself. He knew His sole purpose was to suffer and die for our sins. He knew as He grew from a boy into a man what His purpose, His destiny, was. And yet He came.
He did not have to. But He did.
Before creation itself, the plan for our salvation was in place. Jesus would come to this earth, born of a virgin, fully human and fully God. As God the plan was crystal clear, but what about the human part of our Savior? I can only imagine what this last week must have been like for Him.
He did not have to. But He did.
While He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, scripture says His sweat was like drops of blood. Luke 22:44, “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” He was terrified! At any time, Jesus could have commanded the angel who had appeared to strengthen Him (Luke 22:41-43) to take Him away, and the angel would have. But He (Jesus) did not.
Jesus did not have to allow Himself to be arrested. But He did. He did not have to submit Himself to the torment and humiliation of the mock-trial, the beatings, the curses, the betrayal; He did not have to grieve as He listened to the very people, who only days before had shouted, “Hosanna, Hosanna!” and now were shouting, “Crucify him!” But He did.
Jesus was beat to within an inch of His life. Scripture says He no longer looked human. Isaiah 52:14 “Just as there were many who were appalled at him – his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness.” Jesus was whipped 39 times with a whip called a cat-of-nine-tails; his flesh was literally torn from his bones, muscles and possibly organs exposed. Pilot set the punishment at 39 lashes because most victims died from 40 lashes. Jesus did not have to endure this torture. But He did.
And then there was the cross!
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!” Jesus cried out. God can’t look at sin, He cannot! This meant God could not look at Jesus. God turned His back, not because He did not love His son, but because He hates sin. For the first time in eternity Jesus felt alone, truly alone. Abandoned.
He did not have to do any of this. But He did.
Anywhere along the line Jesus could have said, NO! With one word He could have called down a legion of angels to rescue Him. With a wave of His hand, He could have caused the Roman soldiers to fall to their faces. He could have simply walked away. But He did not.
Jesus became the ultimate sin sacrifice to rescue us from Satan’s grasp. He paid our ransom. Through His sacrifice, through His blood, we who ask Jesus to live in our hearts, are saved. If He had walked away, we would still be the devil’s hostages. It was only through His blood, freely given, that we could escape the wages of sin, which is eternal death.
The devil thought he had won, Jesus would die—game over. But he was so very wrong. There was one little part of Salvation’s plan that the evil one forgot. Yes, Jesus would die, but Sunday would come! Jesus would and did Rise!
During this week, as we await to celebrate Resurrection Day, let us take time to reflect. What was this time like for Jesus? And let us truly give Him thanks for doing what He did not have to do.