By Thomas Francis
Would the pain never end? Would the blood never stop flowing? It felt as if her heart was being torn, ripped from the chest, pierced by a sword. Must she be forced to watch this carnage, this horror? This was her son! Would they never stop taunting Him? Wasn’t it enough that they had beaten Him nearly to death? Did they have to strip Him and crucify Him? Listen to the laughter as they divide his clothes. Listen to the coarse, gleeful mocking of the priests and leaders of the people.
“This is MY SON!” The words screamed through her mind. What had He done to make them hate Him so much?
Her mind flooded with memories: the miracles she had witnessed and the many more of which she had heard. Lepers were cleansed, sight restored, demons cast out. The lame walked, the dumb talked, the blind saw, and the deaf heard. Diseases were cured, and even the dead were raised. Hadn’t they seen? Didn’t they marvel at this display of God’s power and goodness? Were they so hard that they could not understand?
Then there were His teachings. He had told them about the kingdom of heaven. He had spoken with power, with such wisdom and understanding. Yet they had continued to challenge Him, question Him, even accuse Him of doing good in the name of evil. She had heard the rumors of their wanting to see Him dead, but like this? How could Jews stoop to using the power of the hated Romans to have one of their own crucified?
Hush! He is speaking, “I’m thirsty.”
“Oh my dear son, I am your mother. Call me and I will come to you and take care of you,” her heart cried. They raised a sponge to His lips. How many times had He come to her as a child? “Momma, I’m thirsty.” How she had loved to hear his voice and provide for His needs.
He was her firstborn. She remembered the beginning of the story—the stranger who had come with the announcement, “You will have a son, and He will receive the kingdom of His father David.”
How could this be? “I am a virgin!”
“The Holy Spirit will come to you, and your son will be called the Son of God.”
What a time! First the angel’s announcement to her, then his night visit to Joseph assuring him of her integrity and even naming the coming child, “Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Such lofty promises. Wonderful expectations.
How could it come to this? The Son of God—naked, beaten, mocked, taunted, and nailed to a Roman cross? The words of Simeon, the holy man in the temple came to her memory, “A sword will even pierce your own heart.” Oh, that the Roman guards would pierce her heart and remove her from this horror forever!
“It is finished!”
“NO! He’s my son!” No mother should have to watch her son die. Not like this. Could the pain, the despair, the agony and depression get any worse? His name is Jesus— “our Lord saves”. Why didn’t he save my son? Why my son? Why did Jesus have to die?
I like to think that at this time, in the deepest point of her agony and despair, she heard a voice—a voice of unexpected comfort, a voice she remembered well from the days of her youth when she had reeled from the news of the promised birth. Only this time, the voice almost sounded like a sob: “Because He is My Son, too.”
The question has been asked for two thousand years and is only answered when the Gospel is really understood in one’s heart: Why did Jesus have to die? It’s a simple question, yet it’s so hard to understand unless one finds it for oneself through the regeneration of the soul by the Holy Spirit. As with all life-changing questions, the answer starts in the beginning.
The Bible says that God created man and pronounced him “good”. Our first father and mother were created without sin. They enjoyed perfect fellowship with God. They walked with Him and talked with Him. What a shame on humanity that they didn’t find this to be enough. The deceiver told them that they could be like God, that they could know something that only He knew. They could know good from evil. Consequently, in their pride they sinned and entered into a willful rebellion against their Creator and Friend. The Bible says that because of Adam’s sin, all humans who followed are “sin”. We don’t just commit sin, we ARE sin, from the moment of conception. It is the very nature of humanity. There is no part of us that is not touched and stained by sin.
The Bible says that God is holy, sinless, perfect, all knowing, all-powerful, and totally sovereign. God hates sin. He will not allow it to be in his presence. For this reason natural man is not allowed into a perfect relationship with God. Because man is sin in his very nature, he stands before God’s justice condemned, guilty, and completely helpless and hopeless. He has nothing to anticipate except God’s wrath.
The Bible says that only by the shedding of blood can there be forgiveness of sin. There had to be a perfect, sinless blood sacrifice. Nothing less holy, less perfect, less sinful than God himself would satisfy God’s standard of justice. God had to die for man, or man had no hope of ever being saved from God’s wrath.
The Bible says that God became a man called Jesus and became the “propitiation” for our sin. That’s a fifty-cent word with a ten dollar meaning. It means that Jesus, the sinless God-man, became the receiver of all of God’s complete, total wrath against sin, so that we could be spared from any of God’s wrath against our sinfulness. Jesus became our sin substitute, if we believe in Him.
When Jesus came to save His people from their sin, He didn’t save them with His miracles, although there were many of those. He didn’t save them with His teaching, although His words established the principles by which Christians live. Jesus came to die in the most shameful, painful, horrible way possible—on a cross. It pleased God to crush Him in order to save us.
Early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb. Who would roll away the heavy stone, they wondered? Light was just dawning, but suddenly they could see the empty gash where the stone had been. What had happened?
Fearfully they approached and looked inside. “It’s empty! The tomb is empty! Where have they taken Him? Why would they move Him?”
“Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” The angel messenger took their breath away. “He’s not here. HE’S ALIVE!”
“How? We watched Him die. We saw the spear tear into His side and pierce his very heart. We watched as Joseph and Nicodemus wrapped His body with 75 pounds of burial spices!”
The meaning of the angel’s words settled slowly into the women’s hearts. They needed a day and several visits from Jesus to believe the truth fully. Is it any wonder that this one single event became the center focus of the church from that moment until this day? The way the believers worshiped, the day on which they worshiped, even the message they preached in worship all centered in the event we celebrate as Easter.
It is only in the message of Easter that we have hope. We can add nothing to what was fulfilled at that event. Without the message of Easter, we can never be good enough to satisfy God’s standard of justice.
Pause a moment and gaze into the empty tomb. Then raise your eyes to see that bloody cross. Listen for the voice that has assured and comforted believers in Jesus through centuries of persecution, faith, trial, and final triumph.
“He that has the Son, has life. He who has not the Son, does not have life” (Jn 3:36).
“I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has already passed from death to life” (Jn 5:24).
“Come to Me, all who are tired and overloaded. And I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).
“Those who come to me, I will never cast away.”
“No one can snatch them out of my hand” (Jn 10:28).
The message of Easter means life forever with Him, if you believe in Him and trust Him completely by faith. The message of Easter means that your life forever with Him begins this moment if you believe in Him and trust Him completely by faith. The message of Easter is as certain as God Himself, because it is HIS plan and HIS way to save HIS people from their sin. It’s HIS way. It is the ONLY way, If you believe in Him and trust Him completely by faith.
Do YOU believe in Him and trust Him completely, by faith? †
Thomas Francis lives with his wife Carol in the rolling hills of horse country, in Marion County, Florida, where they have found their heart’s earthly home. They have two children, three grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. They are members of College Road Baptist Church where he is the teacher of an adult Sunday School class. Begun five years ago with a membership of two, it now has a membership of near 50 with an average attendance of 30. The Bible has become a passion for him, and he reads it through several times a year. Despite being permanently disabled, Thomas says that God has blessed him greatly, and he praises His name.